Have you ever wondered how a podcast episode actually gets from your computer to your listeners?
The key is your podcast RSS feed, which shares all of your new episodes automatically with all podcast directories, like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
But how does it work?
In this short post, I’ll explain what an RSS feed is, how to create yours, and why you need one to automatically post your weekly episodes to major podcast directories.
Podcast RSS feed 101
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It’s a type of web feed that allows both humans and computer applications to get regular content updates in a standardized, text format.
This used to be a very popular way to stay updated on blog content before email marketing took over.
But what matters for us is this: all podcast listening apps – like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and all the rest – use an RSS feed to automatically update your podcast anytime you release new episodes.
That’s why you need to create your own RSS feed. You’ll submit your feed to each directory once, and then boom. Automatic episode publishing to all directories after you’re approved.
Now let’s find out how to make one because it’s way easier than it sounds. (Hint: no tech experience needed.)
How to create your podcast RSS feed
There are platforms called podcast hosting platforms that primarily exist to make it easy for us podcasters to create RSS feeds without knowing any tech.
Your hosting platform will let you drag in your audio files, name your episodes, add descriptions, and easily schedule them for release on a certain date and time. (Some familiar platforms include Buzzsprout, Simplecast, Transistor, Libsyn, and many more.)
Here’s what the workflow feels like each week:
- You create a great podcast episode.
- You log into your podcast hosting platform.
- Using simple tools, you drag in your audio file and add in your episode description and other key details.
- You schedule your episode to publish on a certain date and time.
- When the episode is published, your podcast audio host will create a new file entry in your RSS feed. And since you’ve previously submitted your podcast to all of the listening apps – a one-time task – now your new episodes will appear automagically any time your RSS feed changes.
If “RSS feed” still sounds super scary, it’s just a URL! Here’s my RSS feed for Book Smart, which I host using Transistor:
When I click that button, it copies my RSS feed URL to my clipboard. Here’s what it looks like, although Kudos to Transistor for making this look legible:
No matter which podcast host you choose, your RSS feed URL will look similar, with the podcast hosting service in the URL, your podcast’s name, and either the word ‘feed’ or ‘RSS.’
By contrast, here’s the RSS feed for Everything is Teachable, which is more representative of what yours probably looks like. (Click on it to see what I mean – it’s nonsense to mere humans.)
But don’t worry; this isn’t your website. This is just the data you’ll share with the directories so that your episodes make it to your loyal listeners. (Appearance doesn’t matter; no listeners will see it like this.)
After submitting your RSS feed to those directories, you should be all set!