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What is a podcast RSS feed?

As an ambitious podcaster you have come across the words "RSS" and "feed" and doesn't it sound like jargon?

You realize you must learn what that is and that it is something necessary for starting a podcast but you seem to be confused.

"I just want to start a darn podcast, not fight with technical b—-terminologies!"

Alright, I get you.

Here's everything you need to know, plain and simple.

What is an RSS feed?

A Rich Site Summary is a bunch of text that allows applications to access updates to websites.

Let's say you had a news related website and an app that displays the latest news from multiple sites. How could the app understand where are the latest news on the site, and information like title, date, author and body?

Applications are not humans. They can't look on a website and say "oh, here's the latest!".

And then... how can they display the correct information on the app?

Here's why the RSS feed is needed. It's a bunch of text formatted in a specific way that these apps will understand and know how to fetch the necessary data from.

No matter what the website's design, layout or structure is, an RSS feed will have a predefined format that computers will understand and it won't affect the appearance of the site.

In other words, you've got the presentation of the website that users see and the ones that computers see (RSS feed).

(Read more about RSS feeds in Wikipedia)

What is a podcast RSS feed?

podcast rss feed hosted on nightcast

But wait, ain't RSS feeds just for news websites?!

No, as apps that display news need a way to understand what the latest news are and the corresponding metadata, podcast apps need a way to find what the latest episodes are.

And how will they find these data?

Through a podcast RSS feed!

A podcast RSS feed will contain podcast information (like title, description, author, arwork...) and episode information (title, number, description, date published...)

What did we say above?

You may have a website for your podcast but you also need an RSS feed so apps can grab and list your episodes!

And we are glad that podcasts are working with RSS feeds because it's an open format, meaning not a single company (like Apple, Google or Spotify) can control them and do what they want with them.

You can own your podcast's RSS feed and do whatever you want with it!

Why do I need an RSS feed for my podcast?

Well, without an RSS feed apps will not be able to list your podcast and episodes.

They won't know where or how to read the necessary information.

An RSS feed is absolutely necessary to get your podcast to apps like iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and so on.

It's okay if you just want to upload a bunch of files to your website or blog for your audience to hear, but without an RSS feed they won't be listed in these apps!

Every podcast on these apps you're using has an RSS feed.

If you see their episodes on their websites too, they're both posting them there and using an RSS feed for the podcasting apps to grab them from.

How can I create a podcast RSS feed?

A feed isn't binary code. You can —kinda— read it and spot your podcast and episode's information (see below) but if you already knew about coding you wouldn't be here.

You're here because you just want to start a darn podcast, not learn how to write code.

Wouldn't it be great if you just submitted your podcast's information through a nice and simple web interface, the heavy lifting would automatically be done for you and you'd get an RSS feed?

Just like that, plain and simple.

Oh, we've got you covered. Nightcast (or another podcast hosting service) is exactly that!

You quickly register an account on our home page and you're directed to that magical web interface.

Here you click the "New Podcast" button, fill in some information through a form (there's no confusing fields, there's helping tooltips for each one) and you create your first episode.

"Great, but how will I build my RSS feed?" you may ask...

Didn't you realize? You submitted the necessary information and we did the heavy lifting.

You already have a podcast RSS feed by now!

Just click on the "Podcast Info" button and voila. Here's your brand new RSS feed!

That's it. You officially now have a podcast!

How can I submit my RSS feed to iTunes / Apple Podcasts?

You now have everything you need to get your podcast to iTunes / Apple Podcasts (or any other podcast app out there).

The process is straight forward and the steps are:

  1. Copy your RSS feed's link
  2. Create an Apple ID
  3. Submit your RSS feed's link to Apple
  4. Wait a bit and your podcast is now available
  5. ... profit?

We have even made this process simpler for you, we cover everything in "How to get my podcast on iTunes and Apple Podcasts?" and even have a whole how to start tutorial!

Read them and you will get your podcast up in no time!

By submitting your RSS feed to Apple Podcasts more apps will automatically discover it and list it!

On Nightcast's Dashboard you can find instructions for submitting your RSS feed in every other app out there too!

What items must my podcast RSS feed contain?

Okay, okay, you've read everything you need to know about how to start your podcast, go and start it now, your audience awaits for you!

Oh wait.. you are still here?

Are you interested a little bit more on the technical details?

Alright, below is an example about how a podcast RSS feed looks like.

Try to spot the following information:

  • Podcast Title
  • Description
  • iTunes Categories
  • Author
  • Episodes
    • Episode Title
    • Description
    • Number
    • Release Date
    • Link
    • Duration
  • ...

Best thing is... You don't have to see these information or this jargon ever again.

You will submit your new episodes through a beautiful web interface and they will appear on your audience's apps or your website using a beautiful embed player!

Example of a podcast's RSS feed

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss>
    <!-- some information deleted here from the example  -->
    <channel>
        <atom:link rel="self" type="application/atom+xml" href="https://feed.nightcast.net/1"
            title="MP3 Audio" />
        <generator>Nightcast (https://nightcast.net/)</generator>
        <title>Anthem.gr Podcast</title>
        <itunes:new-feed-url>https://feed.nightcast.net/1</itunes:new-feed-url>
        <description>Το podcast του anthem.gr (Ανεξάρτητο κι Αυτόνομο μουσικό webzine)</description>
        <copyright>© All Rights Reserved</copyright>
        <language>el</language>
        <pubDate>Mon, 03 Feb 2020 18:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
        <lastBuildDate>Mon, 03 Feb 2020 18:00:00 GMT</lastBuildDate>
        <link>https://anthem.gr/podcast/</link>
        <image>
            <url>https://storage.nightcast.net/cover/0/1.jpg</url>
            <title>Anthem.gr Podcast</title>
            <link>https://anthem.gr/podcast/</link>
        </image>
        <itunes:category text="Society &amp; Culture">
            <itunes:category text="Personal Journals" /></itunes:category>
        <googleplay:author>anthem.gr</googleplay:author>
        <googleplay:image href="https://storage.nightcast.net/cover/0/1.jpg" />
        <googleplay:summary>Το podcast του anthem.gr (Ανεξάρτητο κι Αυτόνομο μουσικό webzine)</googleplay:summary>
        <googleplay:explicit>Yes</googleplay:explicit>
        <itunes:type>episodic</itunes:type>
        <itunes:author>anthem.gr</itunes:author>
        <itunes:image href="https://storage.nightcast.net/cover/0/1.jpg" />
        <itunes:summary>Το podcast του anthem.gr (Ανεξάρτητο κι Αυτόνομο μουσικό webzine)</itunes:summary>
        <itunes:subtitle>Το podcast του anthem.gr (Ανεξάρτητο κι Αυτόνομο μουσικό webzine)</itunes:subtitle>
        <itunes:keywords>greek, podcast, anthem, anthem.gr</itunes:keywords>
        <itunes:owner>
            <itunes:name>Anthem.gr Podcast</itunes:name>
            <itunes:email>null@anthem.gr</itunes:email>
        </itunes:owner>
        <itunes:complete>No</itunes:complete>
        <itunes:explicit>Yes</itunes:explicit>
        <itunes:block>No</itunes:block>
        <!-- episode items -->
    </channel>
</rss>

Example of an episode's RSS item

<item>
    <title>Στοιχειωμένα Σπίτια</title>
    <itunes:episode>1</itunes:episode>
    <itunes:title>Στοιχειωμένα Σπίτια</itunes:title>
    <itunes:episodeType>full</itunes:episodeType>
    <itunes:block>No</itunes:block>
    <link>https://anthem.nightcast.net/e/stixiomena-spitia</link>
    <guid isPermaLink="false">7f857ce7-7e4d-40bf-afff-a92182b2a682</guid>
    <description>Στο πρώτο επεισόδιο, ο Τζανέτος αφηγείται ιστορίες για στοιχειωμένα σπίτια: Από τον κακοδομημένο αστικό πυρήνα της Αθήνας, μέχρι μία προπολεμική μονοκατοικία της Πολωνίας! Στις επόμενες εκπομπές επιστρέφει η υπόλοιπη ομάδα του anthem.gr, ενώ σύντομα θα ακούσουμε και καλεσμένους που ειδικεύονται στη θεματολογία αυτή.</description>
    <content:encoded>
        <![CDATA[<div>Στο πρώτο επεισόδιο, ο Τζανέτος αφηγείται ιστορίες για στοιχειωμένα σπίτια: Από τον κακοδομημένο αστικό πυρήνα της Αθήνας, μέχρι μία προπολεμική μονοκατοικία της Πολωνίας!<br><br></div><div>Στις επόμενες εκπομπές επιστρέφει η υπόλοιπη ομάδα του <a href="https://anthem.gr/">anthem.gr</a>, ενώ σύντομα θα ακούσουμε και καλεσμένους που ειδικεύονται στη θεματολογία αυτή.</div>]]>
    </content:encoded>
    <pubDate>Mon, 07 Oct 2019 23:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
    <author>anthem.gr</author>
    <enclosure url="https://mp3.nightcast.net/0/1.mp3" length="20216287" type="audio/mpeg" />
    <itunes:author>anthem.gr</itunes:author>
    <itunes:duration>2526</itunes:duration>
    <itunes:summary>Στο πρώτο επεισόδιο, ο Τζανέτος αφηγείται ιστορίες για στοιχειωμένα σπίτια: Από τον κακοδομημένο αστικό πυρήνα της Αθήνας, μέχρι μία προπολεμική μονοκατοικία της Πολωνίας! Στις επόμενες εκπομπές επιστρέφει η υπόλοιπη ομάδα του anthem.gr, ενώ σύντομα θα ακούσουμε και καλεσμένους που ειδικεύονται στη θεματολογία αυτή.</itunes:summary>
    <itunes:subtitle>Στο πρώτο επεισόδιο, ο Τζανέτος αφηγείται ιστορίες για στοιχειωμένα σπίτια: Από τον κακοδομημένο αστικό πυρήνα της Αθήνας, μέχρι μία προπολεμική μονοκατοικία της Πολωνίας! Στις επόμενες εκπομπές επιστρέφει η υπόλοιπη ομάδα του anthem.gr, ενώ σύντομα θα ακούσουμε και καλεσμένους που ειδικεύονται στη θεματολογία αυτή.</itunes:subtitle>
    <itunes:keywords>στοιχειωμένα, σπίτια, horror</itunes:keywords>
    <itunes:explicit>Yes</itunes:explicit>
    <googleplay:explicit>Yes</googleplay:explicit>
</item>