How to Publish Your Podcast

Written by
Brandon Copple
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9
min read

You made a podcast. You recorded it, edited it, cleaned up the audio, and added some tasteful music. It’s done, and now you’re standing in your kitchen, pouring yourself a celebratory mug of Ira Glass’s tears. 

But don’t celebrate too much: nobody has actually listened to your podcast yet. And they won’t — unless you publish it to a podcast directory, where listeners and subscribers can actually find it. 

Getting your podcast onto those directories isn’t as easy as you might think—you can’t just upload directly to Spotify, or to Apple Podcasts, or any of the others. Instead, you’ll need to go through a podcast hosting service. Here’s how to do that and submit your podcast to the directories.

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

What is a podcast directory?

A podcast directory, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher, is a website or app where people find and listen to podcasts. Directories categorize podcasts, alphabetically and by genre, to help listeners easily find new shows and episodes. Like a library or a phonebook, a directory is an organized repository where you can find what you’re after.

Directories are important for podcasters because they are the best and, in reality, the only way to attract potential listeners to your show. If you’re going to the trouble of making a podcast, you should be syndicating to the directories. They make your podcast:

  • Discoverable — because they’re organized and accessible. Some platforms are more specialized and allow you to connect to an audience that’s already engaged with your topic. Some are more expensive, and include curated category sections. 
  • Reputable — because directories feature ratings and reviews, which give your podcast legitimacy and help build your reputation.
  • Shareable — because they give you a link to post on social media, where, according to a 2018 study by Nielsen, 94% of podcast listeners are active.

Spotify and Apple Podcasts are by far the world’s most popular directories. Chances are, if you listen to podcasts, you’re using one of these apps — and so are your potential listeners. According to Buzzsprout, Spotify recently became the most popular podcast directory, seeing 31% of monthly downloads, with over 299 million listeners in more than 180 countries. Apple Podcasts, which used to be part of iTunes, gets more than 26% of monthly downloads, and is home to the largest collection of shows.

If you’re overwhelmed by the number of podcast directories, don’t worry. Many directories source their podcasts from Apple Podcasts, which is also an aggregator. This means when you list your show with Apple and enable RSS feed access, it automatically shows up on other podcast listening apps, including Overcast, Castbox, and Pocket Casts.


How to publish your podcast

You don’t actually upload podcast episodes straight to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or to any other platform, because podcasts aren’t actually stored in directories. Rather, you’ll go through a podcast hosting service, which receives and stores your media files, then relays them to directories.

There are three main steps to publishing your podcast: 1) upload your media to a hosting service, 2) submit your podcast to a directory, and 3) publish episodes to your website. Let’s get into it. 

1. Upload your media to a hosting service

Hosting services store and distribute podcasts to directories. When you create a new podcast on your hosting service, it generates a unique link known as an RSS feed. This feed contains your podcast’s metadata, and is the signal used to deliver your episodes to directories. It governs whether your podcast appears in relevant searches, as well as what your listeners see about your show, from your cover art, to your episode titles and descriptions. With an RSS feed you’re showing Spotify, for instance, where your podcast files are.

To use a metaphor, think of your hosting service as a warehouse. The podcast directory is your product catalog and your RSS feed is your delivery van. Your listeners order your products (your podcast episodes) through a catalog (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or another directory). Your RSS feed then delivers your episodes from your warehouse (your hosting service) to your listeners. All of this happens in a matter of seconds. 

Here’s how to make it happen: 

  1. Create an account. Find a podcast hosting service and sign up. There are plenty of options, some free, some paid. Keep in mind that most podcast platforms, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts, require an RSS 2.0 conforming feed and that the server hosting your audio files supports byte-range requests, which allows the files to be streamed.
  2. Add your podcast details. Fill in the details about your show, including a title, description, and category. At this stage, these details should reflect your show, not your episode. Have a clear, concise name for your podcast, and one or more sentences describing it to your potential listeners. Select the category that best reflects the content of your show. Although you might be able to specify more than one category, many podcast directories only recognize the first.
  3. Add cover art. Cover art is a requirement, and an easy way for your listeners to visually identify your show. As a general rule, cover art should be simple, legible, effective at both its original size and at thumbnail size, and should contain your show’s logo. The industry standard requires a square image (1:1 ratio) of at least 1400 x 1400 pixels, no more than 3000 x 3000 pixels. Avoid blurry, misaligned, mismatched, or pixelated images.
  4. Create a new episode. Add your episode title and show notes, which is a short description or summary of the episode. Show notes sometimes include links to a transcript and other resources mentioned in your episode. Specify the season number and episode number if applicable. Episode-specific cover art is optional.
  5. Upload your episode. When prompted, upload an .mp3 audio file of your first episode to your hosting service. Your first upload doesn’t need to be a proper episode. It can be a trailer, which you can specify in your podcast details. When the upload is complete, hit Publish. Your first episode is now live, and your show now has an RSS feed.

We’ll note here that Descript lets you upload directly to hosting services like Buzzsprout, Captivate, Castos, Transistor, and Wistia, so you don’t have to download the file to your device then upload it to your hosting service.

2. Submit your podcast to a directory

Now that your show exists, you want to set up the one-time connection between your RSS feed and one or more directories. Depending on the directory and the hosting platform, you can either submit your podcast directly through your host, or by manually providing your RSS feed to a directory. 

How to submit your podcast through your hosting service

Some directories, such as Spotify, allow you to list your podcast directly through your host with only one or two clicks. 

Find the Directories section on your hosting service and select the platform you want your show listed on. Review your podcast information, making sure it meets the directory requirements. (Most directories require that you have at least one published episode, a show description, original cover art, a category, a language, an artist, and that you’ve checked the explicit checkbox if your show contains adult content. If you’re missing any of these, your listing can be delayed or rejected by the platform.) 

Submit your show and wait for approval. It usually takes 2-5 business days. Most hosting services send an email once your podcast is approved.

Note: You only have to submit your show once per directory. Once a directory knows your podcast, future episodes will appear automatically.

How to manually submit your podcast RSS feed to a directory

If you’re submitting to a directory like Apple Podcasts, which requires you to manually submit your RSS feed on Apple Podcasts Connect in order to pass Apple’s validation, you’ll need to go through a few more steps.

Apple Podcasts

  1. Create an Apple ID for your podcast or log into an existing account.
  2. Review your podcast information on your hosting service. Make sure you have a show description, original cover art, a category, a language, an artist, and that you’ve checked the explicit checkbox if your show contains adult content.
  3. Copy your RSS Feed link from your hosting service. It’s usually in the Directories section.
  4. Open Apple Podcasts Connect, and log in if you aren’t already.
  5. Click the + icon next to Podcast, then click New Show.
  6. Select Add existing show (RSS feed).
  7. Paste your RSS Feed link under RSS Feed URL.
  8. If you want your podcast to appear in other directories like Overcast, Castbox, and Pocket Casts, check the box labeled RSS Feed Access.
  9. Review the details and click Submit for Review.
  10. Wait for approval. It usually takes about 5 business days, but could take up to two weeks. Apple will notify you via the email address linked to your Apple ID.

Spotify

  1. Create a Spotify account for your podcast or log into an existing account.
  2. Review your podcast information on your hosting service. Make sure you have a show description, original cover art, a category, a language, an artist, and that you’ve checked the explicit checkbox if your show contains adult content.
  3. Open Spotify for Podcasters, click Your Dashboard, then Get Started.
  4. On the next page, paste your RSS Feed link under Link to RSS feed. Before proceeding, you may need to verify that you own the podcast using the email address associated with your RSS feed.
  5. On the next page, add your podcast information, like the category, language, and country, and click Next.
  6. Review the details and click Submit.

3. Add your podcast to your website

Your podcast probably has a website where your listeners can find news, photos, and additional information about your show (if it doesn’t, you should create one). A website can also allow you to run sponsorships, sell subscriptions, or otherwise monetize your podcast. Regardless, your listeners will expect to be able to stream episodes directly from your web page.  

The easiest way to add your podcast to your website is to insert a podcast player, generated by your hosting service, by pasting the player’s embed code into your website. An embed code is HTML source code that enables you to display shared media on the web.

  1. Find your podcast’s embed code on your hosting service. Either go to your episode and find its link or embed option, sometimes symbolized with a </> icon, or find the Players section. 
  2. Most hosting services offer separate players for each episode or multiple episodes in one player. Copy the embed code of your preferred player and paste it to the post or page within your web editor. 
  3. If you click Preview or Publish your episode should appear on the post or page as a podcast player.
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Written by
Written by
Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
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Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

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