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Saturday
Dec032011

Podcasting with Squarespace

Are you thinking about creating a podcast and using Squarespace as your host? I had trouble finding information to help me do that. What follows is what I have learned. So far.

Why do I use Squarespace for my podcast?

I bet most serious podcasters host their podcast blog on a Wordpress installation, and with good reason. Wordpress has a whole ecosystem of plug-ins that take care of many podcast publishing details so you don’t have to. Also, there are a huge number of resources available for help when you need it: websites, instructional videos, books, and podcast consultants. Everything points to WordPress when it comes to a blog for hosting your show.

But do you have to use Wordpress to publish a podcast? Not at all!  In fact, you can use any blogging service. It will just take a bit more work if you don’t have a toolset like what is available for Wordpress. And the process can be a bit more manual.

I use Squarespace as the blogging platform for the Podcasting Passion podcast. Why? That’s not easy to answer. For one thing, I’m a contrarian who likes a challenge. And it was a challenge to figure all this out.

I also get nervous about a mission critical process (like publishing my podcast!) that relies on a collection of plugins. Plugins are like a drug: once you start you always want more. Then you end up with a software system that’s made up of too many components written by different developers that all must somehow work together. In my mind, it’s a dubious strategy that can lead to trouble down the road. Yet, I realize that thousands of others are successfully operating Wordpress-based podcasts every day.

So rational or not, I decided to ignore the conventional wisdom and create a podcast on Squarespace. If you want to do the same, here are the steps I went through:

Get your Squarespace blog

Go to Squarespace.com and sign up. It’s not free but it’s not too expensive. Squarespace features a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) design interface that allows authors without much technical knowledge to create impressive web pages.

Get your Domain Name and Point it to Squarespace

With Squarespace you get your own URL that looks like this:

http://yourpodcastname.squarespace.com

but it’s better to get your own domain name. You want to do that for branding purposes as well as search engine optimization. I’ve been particularly pleased with hover.com for domain name registration.

When you have your new podcast domain name, you want to point it to Squarespace. That way, when someone visits www.yourpodcastname.com, they go to your Squarespace blog. Start by visiting your domain name registrar and create a CNAME record that points your domain to www.squarespace.com. In Hover this is very easy to do – under Domains, click your domain name, then click the DNS tab. With other registrars, you may have to request that they do it for you.

Next, log into your Squarespace account, click Website Management, then Custom Domain under Structure. Enter www.yourpodcastname.com as the new domain to map to. Your visitors never see yourpodcastname.squarespace.com, only www.yourpodcastname.com.

Sign up for an Audio Hosting ServiceLibsyn

You need a place to store your podcast MP3 files. If you are serious, you’ll use Libsyn.com and pay the small monthly fee. If you don’t know what to do, use Libsyn.com. Just my personal opinion, of course!

Create an RSS feed in Squarespace

When you sign up with Squarespace, you automatically get an RSS feed for the blog (a “journal” in Squarespace-speak). If every post is a podcast episode, this feed is fine. If you mix podcast episodes with blog posts that are not podcast episodes, or if you want future flexibility, then create a feed for just the podcast episodes. You do that by creating a special “Category” in Squarespace for that purpose.

Squarespace creates a different RSS feed for each Category you create, so you want to make a Category for your podcast episode posts. You can use any name, but you’re probably best off calling it something like “podcast.” If you intend to use your blog as the home for multiple podcasts, then create a unique Category for each podcast.

To create a Category for your podcast, view the journal page in Structure Editing mode:

 

 

 

Then click the "configure this page" link.

 

 

Select the Categories tab:

 

and create a category, like "podcast:"

 

Alternatively, you can create a Category in the Editor when posting a new entry. Next click the Feeds tab:

 

and note the Feed URL of your Category. For the Podcasting Passion podcast, the Feed URL is:

http://www.podcastingpassion.com/journal/rss.xml?categoryId=4405000

 

Create a Feed in Feedburner

Now you need a way to syndicate (or “burn”) your RSS feed. That’s what Feedburner does. Go to feedburner.com and log in with your Google (Gmail) account. Put the Category Feed URL from Squarespace in the Original Feed in Feedburner. Choose a name for your Feedburner feed to go at the end of http://feeds.feedburner.com/. I used PodPassion, so the podcast feed is I will use everywhere is:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/PodPassion

You only have to do this once.

Create your podcast

Finally it’s time to do your thing and create a fantastic podcast MP3. Be sure the file is tagged properly. Upload the MP3 file to your hosting service (probably Libsyn, or Archive.org if you are cheap) and note the resulting link to your MP3 file.

Create your blog post in Squarespace

Create a new “journal entry” in Squarespace and write the blog post or show notes for your podcast episode. While you’re doing that, uncheck the Published box until you are absolutely finished creating the post. Include a link to the MP3 file from your hosting service in the post. Probably you’ll also want to include an audio player and a link to directly download the podcast MP3 file.  Before you publish the post, be sure to set the Category to the one you’ve chosen for your podcast. In my case, the Category is “Podcast.”

 

 

One more thing: iTunes uses some special tags that you want to have in your feed. Squarespace interprets special HTML codes in your journal entry body and inserts them as iTunes tags in your RSS feed. They don’t show up in your post, just in the RSS feed. View your post in HTML mode, and type in the ones you need. Some of the tags that Squarespace understands:

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-AUTHOR: Someone -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-SUBTITLE: Podcast -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-SUMMARY: A Summary -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-ENCLOSURE-URL: http://somewhere.com/somefile -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-ENCLOSURE-LENGTH: 1024 -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-ENCLOSURE-TYPE: audio/mpeg -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-DURATION: 00:00:30 -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-EXPLICIT: yes -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-EXPLICIT: no -->

<!-- RSS-ITUNES-EXPLICIT: clean --> 

That Summary tag above is what goes in the Description column in iTunes, so you’ll want to add that one. Make sure to place a space after the colon, or the tag won’t be properly created.

That’s it – publish your post. Feedburner will pick it up, and since you’ve given iTunes the Feedburner feed, your iTunes subscribers can then download your podcast to their device.

Summary

To summarize, we have these one-time steps:

  1. Create a Squarespace account.
  2. Point your podcast domain name to Squarespace.
  3. Create your Squarespace RSS feed.
  4. Record your Squarespace RSS feed in Feedburner.
  5. Use the Feedburner feed when you list your podcast in directories, including iTunes.

Then, for each podcast episode, upload your MP3 file to your media host and create a Squarespace blog post that includes a link to your MP3 file.

Who needs Wordpress?

 

Thursday
Dec012011

PP012 Erk - Organic Podcasting Part 2




This episode is Part 2 of my conversation with Erk, who produces a number of podcasts that you can find over at Channel Erk.

We talk about Erk's simple mobile recording kit that lets him continue to create episodes even while on extended trips away from home. He uses the Zoom H4n for interviews, recording ambient noise, and creating soundscapes in an engaging way that puts the listener right there with him. Remember, if you don't have a recorder with you, you can't record audio. But then, your smartphone may be all that you need!

One of the messages here is that podcasters need to think about the degree to which we over-produce or over-edit our podcasts. Certainly, there are some shows that need to be as technically perfect as they can be. But for all the rest of them, consider the "organic" approach that Erk takes.

Let the "imperfections" in a conversation bring life and realism to the recording. Use the ambient noise that "intrudes" on your recording to help create and support the atmosphere that defines the context for the podcast.

Plus you might spend less time in front of the DAW and more time creating content.

Thursday
Nov242011

PP011 Erk - Organic Podcasting Part 1

Guest Erk produces a number of podcasts in different styles on a variety of topics. He records his shows in a natural way, treating them almost as objective representations of the environment, not subjective interpretations by the producer. Consistent with that approach, Erk does very minimal post production.

We talk about how Erk began to podcast, what led him down the path to producing multiple podcasts, how his mum contributed to the podcasting, and how Channel Erk came to be. We discuss outtakes, regular release schedules, how Erk fnds the time to produce so much, and his minimalist editing approach.

Thursday
Nov102011

PP010 Steve Visscher - Covering News Events on your Podcast

Guest Steve Visscher from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast talks about the recent episode he and co-host Grant McHerron produced based around a major news event that directly relates to the theme of their podcast.

To their audience, the big story was the industrial action at the airline Qantas, the subsequent lockout and shutdown by the company, and how the Government got involved. Steve and Grant were able to line up interviews with major players and authorities in this contentious issue: labor union leaders, politicians, journalists, and others. It was a massive accomplishment for a podcast.

We talk about creating relationships that give you and your podcast access to major figures in your niche and the importance of timeliness when covering news topics. Also the need to explicitly understand your role in the interviews, especially when the topic is controversial. Steve has quite a few tips for podcasters who find themselves in a position where they can create great content around a major news event. A lot of it has to do with how you prepare and position your podcast to be ready for these events when they come up.

Listen to PCDU Episode 77: Qantas: After the Grounding to hear Steve and Grant's podcast episode covering the news event.

Wednesday
Sep282011

Episode 009 Wayne Henderson - Professional Voice Actor

Wayne Henderson is a professional voice actor, having done voice acting for radio and television commercials, voice-overs for corporate videos, instructional and training CDs, videos, and website audio. He creates his own Podcasts and does Podcast intros and outros.

We wanted to see if we can learn something from Wayne that we can use to make the voice of our podcasts sound better, and also to talk about the benefits of using a voiceover guy to make our podcasts more effective.

Wayne and I start by considering the importance of the voice and how to take care of yours. Then on to mistakes podcasters make - primarily being too far from the mic and using a bit rate that is too low.

Wayne recommends getting the best mic you can afford. He uses two processing methods: the Aphex Aural Exciter on the hardware side, and Cliff Ravenscraft's "special sauce" applied with Adobe Audition on the software side. (Cliff, the "Podcast Answerman" is a great resource for podcasters.) Audition is complicated while Audacity is simpler and free, and you can achieve most of the same effects under Audacity with plugins.

Wayne points out the importance of having a plan for your podcast episode.

We talk about when a podcaster might want to consider a voiceover, and what options you have, like voices.com and elance.com. Wayne explains his approach to developing a voiceover for a podcast, and how lots of communication is important.

We also mention Daniel Lewis and his Episode 50 of The Audacity to Podcast, How to Improve Your Voice from a Cheap Microphone with Audacity.

Follow Wayne on Twitter at @TIWWH

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