There you are. You’ve designed a podcast, recorded your voice and produced a final *.MP3 file. You’ve decided on a podcast media host, created an account, started a show. Once you’ve uploaded your first *.MP3 file, you finally receive the one thing that ACTUALLY makes you a podcaster: a freshly minted RSS feed file with a single episode in it!

What comes next?

You’re going to need a base-of-operations that everything can be centered around. So you go about purchasing a domain name, building a website, and embedding your media’s hosts podcast player on the front page. Now listeners can come to your website and play your podcast because that’s how this thing works, right?

Wrong.

You are ready — There is no doubt about that! You already have a website for your show, a media host to hold your content files, a first episode, and that RSS Feed. You’ve certainly come 80-percent of the way there. However, it is that last 20-percent that needs to get done before you will start to find an audience.

It’s time to go where your audience actually listens to podcasts.

It’s time to tell the top podcast directories that your podcast exists!

Apple Podcasts

1. First, you will need an Apple ID of your very own. Your Apple ID controls everything you do in Apple Podcasts. If you have some other services submit your podcast to Apple Podcast chances are it will be with THEIR Apple ID. That might work for now, but what happens when you want to change services or that service goes out of business? The process for rescuing your podcast WITHOUT it being connected to your own Apple ID is not fun. So don’t submit a podcast to Apple Podcasts with using your own Apple ID to do it!

2. With that public service announcement over, you need to next log in to Apple Podcasts. This is where you can submit your RSS feed to Apple Podcasts (and not much else). However, before you can submit, you have to VALIDATE it first.

3. What happens if you fail the RSS Feed validation in Apple Podcasts? Here are a few of the most common errors that cause a problem:

  • No episodes in your RSS Feed — You are required to have at least one episode n your RSS Feed. If you did create at least one episode, make sure your RSS feed has been updated to include it.
  • Poorly formatted show art — Your show art could be the wrong dimensions. It must be at least 1,400px-by-1,400px square but no more than 3,000px-by-3,000px square. The SQUARE part is important!
  • File size too large — Your show art file should be no more than 512Kb. Anything above that will be rejected. This means the file weight of your show art needs to be reduced by changing the resolution of your show art.
  • Poorly formed RSS file — Because not all media hosts are not created equal, your RSS file might include strange characters, be missing tags or have tags that are empty. Be aware of what Apple Podcasts require to be in your RSS file and that you have an RSS file that isn’t missing the required metadata.

4. After your RSS Feed has passed validation, the SUBMIT button will become active. Once you press submit, your podcast will enter the “Submitted for Review” holding pattern and Apple will send you an email to the address connected to your Apple ID telling you:

“Your podcast feed, [RSS URL] was successfully added and is now under review.”

5. That’s it! Now you have to wait.

How long do you have to wait? That depends on when the Apple Podcasts team reviews your submission and allows it to enter their directory.

I imagine this process takes place in a room full of desks going on as far as the eye can see. And on each of those desks are thousands of stacks of papers with only three people in the whole room going over each sheet of paper one by one. Your podcast submission is just one of those sheets among the other 2,000 they get every week.

This is the “black box” process that could take a short as 24-hours to as long as 3-weeks to complete. So when I say all you can do is wait, then all you can do is wait!

Spotify

1. First, you will need a Spotify Account just like all the other directories (see a theme forming here?). Once you have a Spotify account, you need to log in and begin the process.

Note: If you have a podcast media host that does this for you AND gives you Spotify stats, then you might not need this step. However, what happens when the relationship between your media host and Spotify ends? Will you know how to get your Spotify stats then? Just saying… 

3. You will be asked to “Get Started” by linking your RSS feed with Spotify by clicking the GET STARTED button.

4. Add your RSS Feed to the form provided. Some hosts provide a different RSS Feed URL for Spotify submissions. Make sure you place the correct RSS Feed into the Spotify form.

5. When you place your correct RSS Feed into the form, it should automatically validate it and display the “Looking good. Let’s keep going” message. Additionally, your podcast — complete with show art, title, author, and description — will appear. If you don’t see any errors, click NEXT.

6. Spotify will then do something cool: they will verify that you actually own your podcast by sending a code to the email in your RSS Feed. You should see that email address on the screen. If it is correct, click SEND CODE to continue the process.

7. Now it’s time to enter your Verification code. Check your email for the code and enter it in the form. You should see it check your code and display the “You’re verified! Let’s continue” message. If you don’t see any errors, click NEXT.

8. Next, you will be asked to provide some information about your podcasts such as your country of origin, language, hosting provider, and primary category. When you select your primary category you will be given the option to choose up to 3 sub-categories in that category. You can also add additional categories by selecting the link at the bottom. Once your done adding this information, click NEXT.

9. Finally, you will be asked if what you entered looks good. If it does, click the SUBMIT button.

10. You should see the screen change to a party with the message “Nice! We got your podcast. It takes a few hours for your podcast to show up on Spotify.” Below that message will be a TRACK PODCAST button.

You should now be able to see your podcast in your Spotify Podcast Account. This is where you can add a trailer, see stats, find your Spotify specific podcast links, and even download buttons for your website.

Stitcher

1. First, you will need to join Stitcher’s membership for Podcast Creators. Once you have an account, you can click the ADD A SHOW button. This will activate the Add Your Show popup window that will ask you for your RSS Feed. Place your RSS Feed URL in the form provided.

3. Stitcher will make sure your RSS Feed is valid behind the scenes. If there are no errors, you will be asked to “Confirm This Is Yours” via email. Click the “Got It” button to begin confirmation.

4. In your email, you will be sent a confirmation email from Stitcher that requires that you click the “I Approve. Add This Show to Stitcher” button. When you click it, you will go back to Stitcher and be asked to log in. Once you’ve done this, you will have successfully added your podcast to their directory.

5. If you go back to the Stitcher popup window, there is one more step to complete: Terms of Service. Read through the Stitcher Terms of Service, if you like what you see then click the “Agree” link to continue.

6. That’s it! You should see a “High Five! Your show has been added” message and a link to return to the Partner Portal. Click the “Take me to the Partner Portal” to see your show in your account.

7. It takes some time before Stitcher uploads the content from the RSS Feed. This includes show art, episode titles, and links. As with all the directories, give it some time and check back later. You should see it available within 72 hours. The operative word here is “should”!

8. Meanwhile, if you click the podcast’s show art (which may or may not be showing at the moment) you get a few details about your show in Stitcher. The Manage Show page will allow you to add social links and your website, while the Promote Show page will give you the Stitcher Show URL and links to a Website Embeddable Player.

Over the next few days, use the Stitcher Show URL to quickly check to see if your Stitcher listing is complete. You should get a “Welcome to Stitcher” email at some point as well.

TuneIn

Multiple directories, multiple ways to submit, and no two are the same. This is the case with TuneIn. But why is TuneIn a little different? For starters, you need to be everywhere and TuneIn is another directory that listeners like to use. Where listeners like to listen to podcasts is where YOU should be — so why NOT TuneIn too!

But if you need a real business case for going through the TuneIn submission process then understand that when you ask the Alexa smart speaker for a podcast, TuneIn is the directory she searches using the TuneIn Skill. If your podcast is not in TuneIn, Alexa will not find it unless you have a custom Alexa Skill created specifically for your podcast. This makes having your podcast in TuneIn a good idea (unless you can afford to have an Alexa Skill).

1. First, you have to go to the totally super-secret TuneIn Add Podcast Contact Form with the most obscure of titles: Email Us! But unlike their generic contact form, this form asks all sorts of podcast-related questions.

2. Fill in all your information as required and be careful to put in the right links and check your spelling. There are few warnings and no take-backs after you submit.

3. With all your podcast’s info on the form, check the “I accept and agree to the Terms & Conditions” that you hopefully read. Then click the SEND EMAIL button.

4. That is it! You should see a “Thank you for contacting TuneIn!” message on the screen but not much else. The length of time it takes TuneIn to process your request is somewhat of a mystery. Just know that when your podcast is ready in TuneIn you should get a welcome email from them. I received mine in about 6-days.

5. Roughly a week later, you should receive an email from TuneIn’s Broadcaster Support informing you that your podcast has been added to their directory and will available within 24-hours.

The weird thing is that the email announcing that your podcast is now in the TuneIn directory doesn’t give you that actual link to your podcast. Which means you have to go find it yourself.

To do that, you need to go to TuneIn.com homepage, click on PODCASTS in the main navigation, and search for your show. If it is available, you should see it appear in the search results. Click on your podcast’s title to inspect your TuneIn page. From here you can see episodes, download the embedded player, and inspect your information.

Remember, however, that what you really want it that URL at the top of your browser! THAT is the link you want your listeners who use TuneIn to go to from your website or shownotes link. Save that link in a safe place so that you can find it again without having to go through all the trouble of looking it up.

Google Podcasts

Finally, we get to Google Podcasts. Understand that Google Podcasts submissions are different. Correction — it is non-existent! Google Podcasts doesn’t have a manual submission process like the other directories — yet. Instead, they crawl the web looking for podcasts connected to your website and eventually find yours. If it meets their requirements, Google Podcasts will list it.

NOTE: Google Podcasts is NOT Google Play Music. They are two different Google things and expect Google Play Music to go away at some point in the near future. You CAN submit your podcast via Google Play Music but it is not how you get your podcast in Google Podcasts.

Can we speed up the Google Podcast non-submission process? Maybe. Here’s a process that may shorten the discovery chain for you and your show:

1. First, find out if your podcast is already in Google Podcasts. Google just recently created a front page to Google Podcasts that can help you with your search.

2. If your podcast is not listed (which is most likely will not be), then you need to work on getting Google interested in crawling your podcast’s website. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that your RSS Feed link is somewhere on your website. Google will eventually crawl your site AND the podcast website created by your media host. If the Google Crawler finds your RSS Feed link, it will attempt to follow it and find all the episodes listed in the RSS file. If and when that happens, you don’t need to do anything else.

3. Unfortunately, with billions of websites on the Internet needing indexing, Google may not get to yours anytime soon. So you need to help Google out! Start with confirming that your website domain name (e.g. http://gagglepod.com) is listed correctly IN your RSS Feed. If you are using your media host’s website AS your website, then make sure THAT the website domain name (e.g. https://podwrecked.libsyn.com) is listed. Don’t flip-flop between your podcast website and your media host’s website for your podcast. They are different sites! Pick one and go forward.

4. If you have all your configurations correct, the next way to push Google’s search-hand is to go to Google’s Podcast Publisher Tools and place your RSS Feed URL into the top form field to see if Google Podcast already has it listed. Chances are it won’t (especially if you did step #1 above) — at least not yet. Google does things in Google-Time. That could mean a few days or even weeks before the Googlebot comes around to crawl your site.

5. You can go the extra mile and politely ask Google to crawl your website. This includes a little more work to include verifying with Google that you own the website or getting even more involved with creating a Google project. I’m not convinced that these work to speed up the process of getting your podcast in Google Podcasts. Some developers claim that when you get your site into the Google Ecosystem the Googlebot puts you at the top of the list. So you never know!

What now?

Now you get to wait. And wait. And wait some more! If you’ve done everything above all you can do is keep checking. It will show up at some point. If it has been 2-weeks and you STILL cannot find your podcast in any of these directories, then you should investigate. Otherwise, keep waiting until you magically find your podcast listed where you think it should be.

It takes time for these directories to index your RSS Feed. Think about the other 2,000 podcasts being created each week, all asking to be indexed right alongside yours! If you have to wait, why not go find some of the other 200 other directories out there and add your podcast them too!

A Quick Strategy to Consider While Waiting

Look, you’re going to be waiting a long time when you submit a new podcast to any directory. Facebook groups are full of new podcasters freaking out when Apple doesn’t list their podcast within an hour of submission. Don’t be that kind of new podcaster. Waiting for your new podcast submissions to be approved is a right-of-passage for ALL podcasters!

One big problem that new podcasters run into is the infamous “Launch Date”. The idea that you need to launch your podcast on a certain date because it is part of a marketing campaign or needed to mark a special anniversary, trips up to many new podcasters to ignore. They get into a big rush to get their podcast submitted to all the big directories only to be stymied by long submission delays.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment!

If you already know you’re going to be waiting, do something early to take advantage of that delay. A sneaky way to get around this problem is by creating either a short episode #1 or a trailer. This episode is either a summary of the highlights from what is to come, an introduction to your podcast, or a quick-win that early listeners can benefit from. THIS becomes your first episode and is already something you need to get yourself a valid RSS feed.

Once you have that episode up in all the directories THEN decide your “Launch Party” date. Why? Nobody knows you exist! Just because you have an episode out there doesn’t mean anyone has found it, heard it, or even knows it can be discovered. Use this special podcast anonymity to create Episode #2 — the REAL episode that will launch your podcast. That way you never have to wait for your new episodes to show up in all the directories.

You will have already have paid the waiting time price and be ready on any date you choose!

Now go create something great!