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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
To summarize, we have these one-time steps:
- Create a Squarespace account.
- Point your podcast domain name to Squarespace.
- Create your Squarespace RSS feed.
- Record your Squarespace RSS feed in Feedburner.
- 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?