307: Podcasting 101: Publishing New Episodes To Podcast Directories
How long does it take for new episodes to show up in the directories?
Is something wrong? Did I mess up?
No. Directories do not update in real-time. When you schedule a new episode to publish at a certain time, you are scheduling the episode to publish to your RSS Feed and not the time it will be in the directories. After the episode is published, your RSS Feed will ping the directories and they will update your show listing, but it takes a little time.
Is my RSS Feed broken?
Probably not. But I will cover some troubleshooting tips in this article so you understand how it all works and will help you achieve peace of mind when it comes to publishing your podcast episodes.
How long does it take before my episode goes live?
– Subscribers will get new episodes soon after they are published.
– Directory update times vary. It can take a few minutes or up to a few hours.
Subscribe to your own show in Apple Podcasts and other podcatchers to monitor publishing, troubleshoot, and better understand your listener/subscriber experience.
❌ Rather than announcing new episodes every Friday at 7:00 a.m., consider:
✅ New episodes every Friday (Example: I scheduled new episodes to publish at 12:01 a.m. on Fridays so it was available on Fridays in all time zones and in all directories and apps). By the way, early risers appreciate waking up to new episodes.
Be consistent. Subscribers will put your show into their routines (breakfast, gym, commute…), so pick a scheduling time and episode publishing workflow and stick with it week after week.
What is an RSS Feed?
- Every podcast has a unique RSS Feed and is usually generated by your podcast hosting company. It is the backbone of your podcast, but it mostly works behind the scenes.
- The RSS Feed for your podcast is a text document full of code that contains all of your show and episode information along with all the necessary podcast tags and metadata, etc. (Tip: copy/paste your RSS Feed in a browser window to view the contents of your RSS Feed).
- You do not share your RSS Feed to promote your show. RSS Feeds do not work like a typical hyperlink.
- You submit your RSS Feed URL to all of the major podcast directories when you first set up your show.
- Your RSS Feed is the link between your show and all of the directories and apps (when you publish new episodes, it is your RSS Feed that tells the directories to update).
- Your RSS Feed is what your subscribers subscribe to. (Tip: Do not experiment or mess with your RSS Feed or you will risk losing your subscribers. If you break the link between your subscribers and your RSS Feed even for an instant, you risk losing all of your subscribers, so be very careful and ask for help if you are not sure of something).
- When you publish a new episode or make any changes to your show in your podcast hosting dashboard, your RSS Feed updates as soon as you press ‘Save’ or ‘Publish’.
What is Syndication?
- RSS Stands for Really Simple Syndication.
- Syndication is the term to describe the flow of how your RSS Feed is able to push out changes you make to your show (publishing new episodes for example) to all of the directories and apps so they update whenever changes are made.
- When you change your show artwork or replace an audio file or fix a typo in your episode notes, as soon as you press ‘Save’, your RSS Feed updates and the syndication process will ping all directories, devices, and apps ‘listening’ to your feed and they will update your show listing with the changes made in the RSS Feed.
- Think of podcast syndication a little bit like magic. You work on your show at your hosting company or wherever you generated the RSS Feed and once you press ‘Save’ or ‘Publish’ your show listing magically updates everywhere so people around the world can listen and enjoy.
What is a Podcast Directory?
- A podcast directory is a library or catalog of podcasts.
- Podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts and Overcast pull episodes from podcast directories.
- Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) is currently the largest podcast directory with over 819,000 shows in its catalog.
(🤓 Good resource for podcast directory stats: My Podcast Reviews by Daniel J. Lewis)
- Major podcast directories include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Deezer, etc.
- Submit your show to as many directories as possible as you only have to do it one time and it will increase your exposure. Tip: Before you submit your show to a new directory, first do a search for your show as you may already be listed and did not even realize it. If you are, just make sure it is referencing the correct RSS feed.
- 🧰 Resource: Here is a list of popular podcast directories along with links and instructions on how to submit your show and how to update your RSS Feed at each directory. (Source: Simplecast Help Center)
Tip: Create a master document for your podcast using Apple Notes, Google Docs for easy reference and copying/pasting when submitting to new directories. I use Apple Notes and have my show title, description and RSS Feed at the top and then have a master list of directories. Every time you add a new directory, add the link.
The Flow (How It All Works)
- Your podcast has an RSS Feed that contains all of your show and episode information.
- You submit your RSS Feed URL to all the major directories when you first set up your show at a hosting company or wherever you generated your RSS Feed (Directories include Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, etc).
- Syndication is the term to describe the flow of content between your RSS Feed and all of the directories, apps, and subscribers to your RSS Feed.
- Your fans/listeners subscribe to your Show RSS Feed in Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, Overcast, Spotify (wherever they listen to podcasts).
- You publish new episodes or make changes to your show or episodes wherever your show is hosted or set up and these changes are saved directly in your RSS Feed.
- Subscribers to your show will get new episodes almost immediately after the episode gets published if all is working properly. (Remember: Subscribe to your own show. If you do not get new episodes as a subscriber, go into troubleshooting mode to nip any issues in the bud. Stay calm and be patient. Things happen, but if you understand the process, most things can be fixed 👍)
- Directories will automatically update after you publish a new episode, but it can take up to a few hours for all of the directories to update.
Troubleshooting Tips (Episode Not Updating):
- Check wherever you schedule or publish new episodes.
Did your episode actually publish on time?
Check your podcast hosting dashboard to confirm the episode published on time. (Check your time-zone publishing settings if there were issues)
Contact tech support if you need help.
- Subscribe to your own show in Apple Podcasts and other podcatchers on your mobile devices. If your latest episode is available, then all is working properly and your subscribers also got the new episode. Apple Podcasts in the web browser and the desktop app can take a couple of hours to show new episodes, so be patient. They will update.
Tip: Force-quit Apple Podcasts and re-open to check for updates and changes.
- Are new episodes showing up in some directories, but not others?
Did you recently move hosting companies?
Check to make sure the directory is using your current RSS Feed and update it if necessary. (Some directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher have dashboards where you can manually update your RSS Feed).
- Google Podcasts not updating?
Visit Google Pubsubhubbub: https://pubsubhubbub.appspot.com/publish/
(Paste in your RSS feed in the ‘Topic URL field’ and press Publish. It does not look like anything happens, but it will force Google Podcasts to re-index your feed)
5. Apple Podcasts not updating or having issues? Sign in to Apple Podcasts Connect and ‘Refresh Feed URL’ and this will force a refresh of your feed and will expedite the update process for Apple Podcasts. The Refresh usually takes about 30 minutes.