1. DO NOT Host your mp3 files on your own webserver
Hosting your files on a webserver is the single quickest way to get kicked off of your web hosting server. Plus, if you get popular at all, your mp3 downloads will compete with your website and your RSS feed. It’s simply not a good idea.
2. DO NOT Use Feedburner (or feedblitz or any other 3rd party RSS feed service)
We have beaten this dead horse but I get calls every week from someone who is on feedburner and something goes wrong. Eliminate that problem by eliminating feedburner from your system. You give Feedburner a feed to “burn”, use that feed directly.
3. DO NOT Use your hosting company’s RSS feed
Using a feed that doesn’t have your domain name in it simply means you do not own that feed. Your hosting company does. It’s like email. If you have aol.com or hotmail.com in your email address on your business card, it makes you look stupid. Or at very least, unsophisticated or too lazy to do the work needed to have your own domain in your email. Same goes for feeds. If you run your feed from your own domain, it looks better than yourpodcastname.hostingcompany.com/rss. Plus, if your hosting company goes out of business (which DOES happen and has happened in the past) you will have trouble getting your subscribers back.
4. DO NOT Listen to anyone that tells you that WordPress Feeds are unreliable
There is a very well known podcaster / podcasting company rep that is spreading the BS that WordPress Feeds are unreliable. The simple fact that it’s WordPress does NOT make it unreliable and the fact that it’s from said hosting company, does NOT make it reliable. They have their feed problems too. Just like any system, there can be problems. (If there were no problems ever, why would they need a support department??) This person (and others) are using it as a marketing tool to make you think that if you host your own RSS feed, you are somehow more likely to have problems. That is simply not true. I know of several networks that are running WordPress feeds (many of them!) from one WordPress site and have no problems. It’s more about the server than it is about the system. This Hosting company (and the one I work for by the way) have very reliable and robust servers that cost a lot of money to maintain. A $3 a month shared hosting plan on a Web Server is not very likely to be able to handle a ton of traffic. That’s because it only costs $3. You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes. If you get really popular, you may need to step up to a higher level server. I run Podcast Help Desk and all my other sites save one, on Godaddy’s mid-level Linux servers. Yes, it costs more than $3 a month. But not that much more and my sites have never gone down. I don’t get Serial or NPR level’s of traffic. If I did, I could get a much bigger server, still run WordPress and be just fine. You can’t expect a 20 year old Toyota mini truck to haul the same load as an 18 wheeler, so you must get the vehicle that is needed for the job at hand. Same with webservers. But as I said # 3, it is worth the trouble because you want own your own brand, your own platform totally without any 3rd parties in your way.
5. DO NOT Use anything but MP3 for an audio podcast
I’m sure I will get some “feedback” from my friend Charles on this one, but Do NOT use another file format other than MP3 for your audio podcast. At least not at this time. AAC (or Apple’s M4A) format is great for music. Great for iPods, iPhones and the such, but it’s not great for older mp3 players that people still use. It also does not work as well for web players. Does it work? Yes, 90% but mp3 works 100%. Stick with that until something better comes along.
6. DO NOT Encode your MP3’s any bigger than 128kbps Stereo
In fact, most of the time, 64kbps Mono is good enough. (Constant bit rate too). Anything bigger is just wasting your hosting space and your listeners data plans. The biggest podcasts out there encode at 64kbps mono or lower. Some as low as 48kbps. Think of it this way, most people listen to podcasts using earbuds that came with their phones or plugged into their car stereo with all the other noise going down the road. They are not going to notice the difference between 128kbps or 320kbps.
7. DO NOT Make your website so complicated that you can’t even find your podcast on it.
I run into this alot. Someone will call me and I will ask what their website is so I don’t have to ask them what their feed is. (figuring they will have it on their site). Well, that is not always the case. A lot of the time, I have to ask them how do I find your podcast. Don’t do this!! If your podcast isn’t on the front page of your website, at least make is painfully obvious how to find it on your site. Don’t make me guess. You are podcasting because you want people to listen to your show. Don’t make it hard for them!
8. DO NOT Start more than one podcast or start a podcast network (until you know what you are doing and maybe not even then)
I understand, you start a podcast about whatever subject and you get excited about podcasting. Then you think to yourself, I’m interested in this subject, I’m going to start a podcast about that. And before you know it you are at a Podcasting Anonymous meeting… “Hi, I’m Mike and I’m addicted to starting podcasts” I’ve done this! Too many times. I still struggle with it. Don’t be like Mike, start one, get good at it. Make good content and repeat. You don’t need to podcast about everything. You will be surprised about how much time just one show can take up, let alone, 5 of them. (I’m down to 4 now with no schedule)
9. DO NOT Name your podcast anything with “on fire” in it (or any other copycat moves)
Just because someone with “on fire” in their podcast title seems successful, does not mean if you put that in your tile, you will be successful. That person is the best at being that person. You are best at being you, not the on fire guy. Be yourself. Fake is easy to pick up in a podcast and you will lose more than you gain by trying to be someone else. On that same note, you do not need to interview someone to have a podcast. So much time is spent talking about how to interview and how to record skype that could be better spent just talking into the mic about something that you know about or are thinking about. I do interviews, but that is not my show format. I do them when they come up. Not just because.
10. DO NOT Obsess over stats
I see so many people obsessing over stats. They spend time refreshing their stats 3 or 4 times a day and worrying about why they don’t have any downloads in Idaho for this or that episode, that could be spent doing show prep or promotion or interacting with their audience or potential audience. Stats are great. But think of them as the reward instead of the only goal. Yes, it is a measurement of how many people you are reaching. If you reach 10 people deeply and help them, inspire them or just entertain them instead of reaching 100,000 people who barely listen to you because your content sucks, but is promoted well, which would you rather have? I’d go for the 10. If your goal is to make money, those 10 might be more valuable than the 100k depending on how you reach them.
11. DO NOT Obsess over iTunes “New & Noteworthy” (also rankings, reviews and ratings)
That is another dead horse worth beating again. For the record, New & Noteworthy is NOT the key to success and riches in podcasting. You don’t have to do anything special to get in N&N other than have a lot of new subscribers and/or get hand-picked by a few people at Apple. There is no trick to it, and it really doesn’t do too much for your show’s reach. Also, you don’t have to get there in the first 8 weeks, you can get there anytime. I’ve had shows in N&N before and didn’t notice. I’ve had shows in there that were 8 years old and have 12 episodes (It happened to one of those podcasts I started and dropped after I realized I didn’t have time to do that show anymore)
12. DO NOT Ask an expert about how to do something or for help with a problem and then argue with them. (Personal pet peeve)
Happens to me a lot. People ask questions because they don’t know this or that about podcasting, WordPress or Whatever and then when I give them an answer that is true, they don’t want to believe it and argue with me. I’m not saying I’m always right. But, there are things I know to be true and if you are asking me for advice, unless something has changed and I don’t know about the change, Believe me. I will never intentionally steer you wrong. If you can prove I’m wrong, then go for it. I welcome opposing views, but when I say that you “don’t upload anything to iTunes’ and they say well, they do. They are wrong. (Just an example).