Blog

Podcast RSS Feed: What Is It, Why You Need It, How To Get It

Content

Podcast RSS Feed: What Is It, Why You Need It, How To Get It

It’s a mysterious sort of alchemy: you can record your own voice, cast it out into the ether of the internet, and somehow, it’s transformed into a podcast that anyone in the world can download and listen to.

How does this happen?

Many new podcasters have the vague idea that they’ll just upload their audio files directly to Apple Podcasts (or whatever podcast app they prefer). But the truth is a bit more complicated than that. It all comes down to one thing: an RSS feed.

In this post, we’ll walk you through what exactly an RSS feed is and why it’s a crucial element in getting an audience for your podcast. Then, we’ll show you how to get (or find) your own RSS feed.

What Is a Podcast RSS Feed?

Today, almost all websites provide at least one RSS feed. They’re most commonly used to subscribe to things like news sites, email lists, blogs, and—you guessed it—podcasts.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” (or occasionally, “Rich Site Summary”). The RSS feed has been around since 1999 when internet browser Netscape introduced it as an easy way for internet users to stay up to date on their favorite websites. 

An RSS feed is also commonly referred to as:

  • RSS stream
  • RSS channel
  • Newsfeed
  • Web feed
rss feed icon

Users who subscribe to RSS feeds do so by adding the link to some kind of feed reader or aggregator. Once you’ve added an RSS feed to a feed reader, it will automatically check for updates at regular intervals. The source site’s new content will appear on the news feed for the user to access at their convenience.   

So what does an RSS feed look like when it comes to podcasts?

Each time a podcaster uploads a new episode to their host site, the RSS feed will reflect that change. Feed aggregators (in this case, podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify) will update in real-time to show the new episode in each subscriber’s podcast news feed. The subscriber can then listen to the podcast episode at their convenience.

What Is the Difference Between a Podcast and an RSS?

A podcast is an audio (and sometimes video) show that’s published online and distributed via RSS feed to subscribers. The RSS feed is the link between the podcast audio/video files and the audience; it lets subscribers stay up-to-date with new podcast episodes. 

While a podcast is a lot more than its RSS feed, without one, a podcast wouldn’t have an audience.

Do I Need an RSS Feed for My Podcast?

Absolutely, unequivocally, YES! 

If we haven’t made it clear by now, your podcast won’t get any listeners without an RSS feed. It’s the way podcast listener apps like Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Google Podcasts, and Spotify access your episodes. 

You need an RSS feed to submit your show to podcast directories. Without an RSS feed, there would be no way for anyone to discover, download, or hear your podcast content.

How to Create an RSS Feed for a Podcast

There are a few ways to get an RSS feed for your podcast. The easiest way is to choose a podcast hosting platform.

If you had a blog, you’d choose a host like WordPress or Squarespace on which you could build and store your website. That platform would generate an RSS feed URL that you could share with your followers so that every time you publish a new blog post, your subscribers will see it in their feed readers.

A podcast hosting platform works much the same way, but for podcast media files. You’ll use a podcast host to store your show’s media files for distribution. The best hosting platforms—like Buzzsprout, Captivate, and Podbean—come with additional features beyond acting as a storage server, such as:

  • An RSS feed
  • Data analytics 
  • Integration with your own website
  • Premium subscription for podcast monetization
  • Podcast transcription services

If you use a podcast hosting platform (which we recommend), you’ll just need to find your show’s RSS feed on your dashboard. 

Create an RSS Feed without a Hosting Platform

If you’re using a self-hosted website to host your podcast, you’ll need to use a plugin to generate a podcast-only RSS feed. Your website already has its own RSS feed, of course, but it would include other content (like blog articles). 

So if you want to submit your podcast’s RSS feed to podcast directories, you need a podcast-only RSS feed.

PowerPress and Seriously Simple Podcasting are two of the most popular plugins for creating an RSS feed for your WordPress website.

Podcast RSS Feed Requirements

If you’re creating your own RSS feed, you’ll need to make sure it fits the Apple Podcasts RSS feed requirements. The technical requirements include:

  • Feed URLs must fit RSS 2.0 specifications and not be password-protected. They should also include the following XML declaration:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><rss version="2.0"    xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd"  xmlns:content="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/content/">
  • Artwork for your show should be displayed
  • Your host server should be enabled for HTTP HEAD requests and byte-range requests
  • Each episode should have a unique <enclosure> tag, along with its URL, length, and type
  • Each episode should have a permanent, globally unique identifier (GUID) 
  • Use only ASCII filenames and URLs that include a-z, A-Z, or 0-9
  • Case sensitivity should be respected across all XML tags 

This may seem like a bunch of gibberish—in which case, it’s probably best if you use a podcast hosting platform to do all the behind-the-scenes coding for you. But if you want to give creating your own RSS feed a shot, the good news is that Apple Podcasts will notify you if any part of your RSS feed is incorrect once you’ve submitted it. 

And if you’re accepted onto Apple Podcasts, your RSS feed should be acceptable to other directories as well.

How Much Does a Podcast RSS Feed Cost?

Generally speaking, podcast RSS feeds are free. 

The best way to get an RSS feed is through your hosting company, which means an RSS feed will come at no additional cost beyond your hosting fee. And if you use a WordPress plugin to generate your RSS feed, there are free options—including PowerPress and Seriously Simple Podcasting.

Where Can I Distribute My Podcast?

Once you’ve found or created your show’s RSS link, start submitting it to directories. If you want the best chance of having your show seen by as many people as possible, you need to submit your RSS feed to as many podcast directories as you can.

Because Apple Podcasts is the largest directory in the world—and many smaller directories pull their content from Apple Podcasts—we recommend starting there. 

To upload your podcast to Apple Podcasts, simply:

  1. If you don’t have one already, create an Apple ID and authenticate it on the iTunes app
  2. Log into Apple Podcasts Connect and follow the prompts to set up your account
Join Apple Podcasts Connect

3. Once you’ve created your account, select the “+” icon in the top left corner of the screen to add your podcast’s RSS feed

add podcasts on apple podcasts

That’s it! After 24-48 hours, if your RSS link is approved, your show should be discoverable on the Apple Podcasts app. 

Other great places to distribute your podcast include:

  • Spotify
  • Google Podcasts
  • Stitcher
  • TuneIn
  • Amazon Music and Audible
  • iHeartRadio
  • Podchaser
  • Blubrry
  • Castbox
  • Podbean
  • Podcast Addict

Check out our Ultimate Podcast Directories Guide for step-by-step instructions on submitting your RSS feed to all the major podcast listening apps.

Podcast RSS Feeds: A “Really Simple” Way to Distribute your Content

An RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a link to a stream of content. Whether it’s a blog, a website, or a podcast, an RSS feed lets subscribers consume new content whenever it’s published, without needing to manually check the source website.

RSS feeds work by being added to an RSS feed reader or aggregator. Once that RSS link has been added, the feed reader (or in our case, podcast listening app) will check for updates at regular intervals. It will pull updated content to its news feed for the subscriber to access at their convenience.   

If you’re a podcaster, it’s likely that you use one of the major podcast hosting platforms to store your media content. 

In that case, you simply need to find the RSS feed for your show on your hosting platform dashboard. That’s the link you’ll use to submit your show to all the major directories—and from there, start getting listeners and building your audience.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Highly curated content, case studies, Riverside updates, and more.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related articles

10

min read

The Best Video Editing Software for Every Level and Budget

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.

13

min read

The Best Podcast Apps in 2021 for both listening + recording

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.

11

min read

Best audio editing software for every skill level + budget

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.