Why you need a podcast-only RSS feed and how to make it – TAP128

Podcast RSS Feed

Learn about a podcast-only RSS feed, three options for creating one, and how to fix if you already podcast without it.

What is a podcast-only feed?

This is an RSS feed that contains only podcast episodes. No blog posts, pictures, or anything other than downloadable media linked in the enclosure tag of an RSS feed.

Do you need podcast-only feed?

In short, yes.

Everything you publish on a WordPress website—blog posts and podcast episodes—will go into the RSS feed. WordPress defaults to 10 items in your RSS feed (Settings > Reading > Syndication feeds show the most recent …).

If you podcast and blog once each per week for ten weeks, you’ll have twenty items: ten blog posts and ten podcast episodes. With a site-wide/all-inclusive feed limited to ten items, your feed would look like this.

  1. Blog post
  2. Podcast episode
  3. Blog post
  4. Podcast episode
  5. Blog post
  6. Podcast episode
  7. Blog post
  8. Podcast episode
  9. Blog post
  10. Podcast episode

When a podcast app checks your RSS feed, it will ignore anything that isn’t a podcast episode (define by the enclosure tag in the RSS feed). So the app would only see five of your latest episodes because your five blog posts bumped out the other episodes from the feed.

A podcast-only feed would not be affected by the blog posts, so your feed would look like this.

  1. Podcast episode
  2. Podcast episode
  3. Podcast episode
  4. Podcast episode
  5. Podcast episode
  6. Podcast episode
  7. Podcast episode
  8. Podcast episode
  9. Podcast episode
  10. Podcast episode

Even if you currently don’t have plans to blog on your podcast website, you should still setup a podcast-only feed in the beginning. It won’t hurt you, but it will save a lot of frustration if you ever do decide to blog.

What to do with the podcast-only feed

Submit your podcast-only feed to—as you probably guessed—any podcast app or directory. When someone subscribes with iTunes, they will never view your RSS feed in a reader, so they will never need your blog posts. The same applies to nearly every other podcast directory or app.

You don’t need a blog-only feed

You may think that because you need a podcast-only feed, you should also have a blog-only feed. Nope!

If someone subscribes to your site-wide feed (blog and podcast) in an RSS reader like Feedly or the late Google Reader, they will be able to read your blog posts, read your podcast shownotes, and even listen to your podcast from their app. To remove the podcast from this feed will prevent your loyal readers from conveniently consuming your podcast episodes.

3 ways to create a podcast-only feed

Whether you’re starting out or trying to correct your feed (I’ll explain how to do that in a moment), these are the three ways to make your feed, in order of my recommendation.

1. PowerPress feed

PowerPress automatically provides a podcast-only feed. It will usually look like “theaudacitytopodcast.com/feed/podcast/” (assuming you have your permalinks set to something other than the defaults). Find it under PowerPress > Settings > Feeds > Podcast Feeds.

This is my top recommendation for a podcast-only feed because you can do great things with this feed. Activate PowerPress’s Custom Channels to change the title or enable the “Feed Episode Maximizer.”

By default, this will grab any podcast episode you’ve entered into the “Podcast episode” widget in a WordPress post. If you run multiple formats, like audio and video (as I do), then I recommend creating a separate channel for the alternate format. With multiple channels, /feed/podcast/ would only be your default channel.

If you enable the custom channels (to use Feed Episode Maximizer or change the podcast title), you don’t have to enter any extra information as it will pull from your default PowerPress settings. Or if you use FeedBurner’s SmartCast, then it will override most of the podcasting information you enter.

2. Category feeds

I don’t recommend using a podcast-only category feed unless you’re running multiple podcasts through a single site. Category feeds don’t currently offer the Feed Episode Maximizer.

To setup this option, create the category for your podcast. I recommend simply calling it “Podcast.” If you have more than one podcast, then create more descriptive category titles.

This RSS feed would look something like “theaudacitytopodcast.com/category/podcast/feed/,” where “podcast” is the slug from your category name.

If you have only one podcast on your site, then you can set your podcasting settings in the default PowerPress settings (PowerPress > Settings) and it will apply to your category feeds as long as “Enhance All Feeds” is selected (PowerPress > Settings > Feeds > Enhance Feeds). You do not need to enable Category Podcasting if you are enhancing all feeds.

For running multiple podcasts on a single site, setup each category and enable the Category Podcasting feature in PowerPress. Then add podcasting to each category and enter its appropriate feed information (title, description, cover art, etc.).

Now place only podcast episodes in this podcast category. Any blog posts you place in this category will still go out to your RSS feed, but this feed won’t include anything outside your podcast category.

3. Yahoo! Pipes

You still have an option if you can’t use #1 or #2, or you’re using a third-party service that doesn’t give you much control. This solution uses more third-party tools and will, unfortunately, slow down how quickly your feed updates and introduce the possibility of more errors.

You’ll need to use both Yahoo! Pipes and FeedBurner. Yeah, it’s that ugly.

You can clone my own Yahoo! Pipe, or follow these instructions to create your own.

  1. Create a new Yahoo! Pipe.
  2. Drag in “Fetch Feed” from Sources.
  3. Enter your source RSS feed (not your FeedBurner feed).
  4. Drag in “Filter” from Operators.
  5. Click and drag the bottom handle of “Fetch Feed” to the top handle of “Filter.”
  6. Click and drag the bottom handle of “Filter” to the top handle of “Output.”
  7. Set the “Filter” module as follows.
    yahoo_pipes-podcast_filter
    1. Permit items that match any of the following
    2. First rule: item.enclosure > is > [leave blank]
    3. Click the + button for a second rule: item.description > Matches regex > http://.+mp3
    4. Repeat #3 for other formats in your feed (like “mp4” or “mov”)
  8. Save and run the pipe.
  9. Right-click on “Get as RSS” to copy the RSS feed URL.
  10. Burn a new feed with FeedBurner using this feed URL. Enter your podcast information in the SmartCast feature because Pipes strips almost everything from your feed except the items.

You may also need to add other details to your feed with FeedBurner’s options. Like I said, it’s ugly, but FeedBurner’s feed will now be your podcast-only RSS feed.

Yahoo! refreshes the pipes about every twenty minutes, and FeedBurner refreshes about every thirty minutes. So it could take up to an hour for a new podcast to appear in your feed.

How to switch to a podcast-only feed

Did you launch your podcast with a site-wide feed and now realize your mistake and want to fix it? You’re not alone. I did that, too.

You can’t fix every podcast client out there, but you can fix iTunes, which is the most popular directory and many mobile apps pull data from iTunes and will even respond similarly to this change.

We need to add the <itunes:new-feed-url> tag to your RSS feed to tell just iTunes (and it’s nice cousins) to use a different feed.

<itunes:new-feed-url>

This tag allows you to change the URL where the podcast feed is located. It is added at the<channel> level. The feed format is:

<itunes:new-feed-url>http://newlocation.com/example.rss</itunes:new-feed-url>

After adding the tag to your old feed, you should maintain the old feed for 48 hours before retiring it. At that point, iTunes will have updated the directory with the new feed URL. For more information, please see the “Changing Your Feed URL” section above.

  1. In the PowerPress settings for whatever feed iTunes currently uses, go to the iTunes (Settings) tab.
  2. Click on Set iTunes New Feed URL.
  3. Click OK on the warning.
  4. Enter your new podcast-only RSS feed URL for “New Feed URL.”
  5. Click Save Changes.

Add the podcast-only feed on your site for courtesy

Not everyone subscribes to podcasts with iTunes or Apple devices, so post your podcast-only RSS feed on your site so these people can easily subscribe.

My new Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress has a special podcast-only RSS option that will work perfectly for you!

Hear my two-part interview on School of Podcasting!

Dave Jackson kindly invited me onto his School of Podcasting to talk about the Podcast Awards, running a podcast network, and other fun podcasting conversation. Check out both parts!

  1. 357: Creating an Award Winning Podcast
  2. 358: Building a Podcast Network

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Disclosure

This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, live near Cincinnati with their son, "Noodle Boy."

34 comments on Why you need a podcast-only RSS feed and how to make it – TAP128

  1. JD Sutter says:

    Blogger does support category feeds. One of my shows is hosted on Blogger and I use separate feeds for full site and podcast only.

    1. Thanks for clarifying that! I thought that was the case, which is why I was a little vague on that point.

  2. Hey Daniel,
    Thanks so much for this. I was just to the point of starting to “freak out” about making sure I’d set this right in Powerpress. Your explanation of the feed-maximizer and why to use Custom Channels cleared a lot of things up for me.

    Just to make sure I understand…if I leave my WordPress RSS feed number to the default of 10 and then turn on Feed Maximizer, it will make the first 10 “full feed items” but it will then put up as many stripped down podcasts as possible. So if I had 30 podcasts, even though my wordpress default is set to 10 rss feed items, Powerpress will send out all 30 (or as many as it can) with the first 10 being full and the last 20 being stripped down. Did I get that correct?

    Thanks so much, and thanks for your reply on Linkedin as well.

    Best,
    Biagio

    1. Thanks, Biagio! You’re almost there with understanding Feed Episode Maximizer (FEM).

      WordPress’s default feed item limit is in Settings > Reading. But when you use PowerPress’s default podcast-only feed, a custom channel feed, or enable category podcasting, you can set the item limit for that feed.

      So if WordPress is set to 10, FEM would do nothing special unless you set PowerPress’s item limit to more than 10.

  3. Lee Anderson says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for this podcast! I was just starting to set up my
    podcast feed with Feedburner when I came across this. I’m going to redo it with Powerpress. Perfect timing.
    Thanks again,
    Lee

    1. I’m glad I “saved” you at just the right time, Lee!

      1. Sorry if I missed this. Do you still use Feedburner for your site-wide feed?
        Thanks.

        1. Yes, I do, but the URL is slowly changing to feeds.noodle.mx instead of FeedBurner’s domain. But all I use FeedBurner for is to see the general direction of RSS subscribers. I don’t use any of FeedBurner’s features, especially not SmartCast.

  4. Joe Mastroianni says:

    Aside from the convoluted Pipes/FeedBurner solution, why not just manage a feed manually using something like FeedForAll (http://www.feedforall.com/)? Using a tool like that puts your feed 100% under your control, it’s the least painful part of publishing my show.

    1. That’s a good question. But I would say that using PowerPress is a far easier way to maintain control over my RSS feed. Using a separate feed generator means posting content twice (once on the site, once in the RSS feed).

  5. Peter Bui says:

    Thanks for the show and thanks for the update about Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Donated a fair amount to them and look forward to getting my t-shirt and other gear too 🙂

    Good to see that they’ve already reached their $30,000 goal and now as I donated well over $60,000.

    Peter

  6. Roger Williams says:

    Very interesting article. I just stared with Feedblitz. Since I don’t use a WordPress site, I think I am safe. But, I will have to keep an eye on that point. Thanks!

  7. Mayor Gia says:

    I know this is old, but I have a question. I have a blogger blog (www.mayorgia.com) and I’ve recently started posting podcasts on it too. I have an rss feed (feedburner), and I don’t want to change that to a podcast only feed because people are subscribed for blog updates. So what do I do? Can I just make another feed for podcasts only? If so, what site do I use? (Also, I’m kind of dumb at all this). Thank you!!!

    1. JD Sutter says:

      Since you’re using Blogger, you can just add a label to all of your podcast episode posts and then create a separate RSS feed from posts with that label.

      Here is the format for the feed:

      http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/labelname

      You could then use that feed URL alone, or send it through feedburner.

      1. Mayor Gia says:

        Thanks so much for responding! Silly follow up question. Now I have this url: http://mayorgia.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/podcast

        Are you saying I can submit that right to itunes, or do I need to “send it through” feedburner (which I’m guessing involves some kind of black magic and sacrificial goats)?

        1. Mayor Gia says:

          Oh wait, I logged into my feedburner account and it said “burn a feed here” and also “check box for podcast,” so I think I may have possibly cracked their code. Again, thank you for your help, JD!

          1. Mayor Gia says:

            …no? 🙁 I embed a code from archive.org. I don’t see the enclosure links field under links. Is that bad?

          2. FeedBurner can turn links into enclosures for you, since you’re not using the preferred platform.

            And since you’re not on a better platform, the best thing to do would be ask Apple to change your feed to your new podcast-only feed from FeedBurner. This won’t affect your current subscribers, which means all your current subscribers will still have podcast episodes pushed out by blog posts.

            But until you’re on a more flexible platform, this is the only way.

            Thanks to JD for stepping in and helping!

            Faithfully,

            Daniel J. Lewis
            Internet entrepreneur, award-winning podcaster, web designer, consultant

          3. Mayor Gia says:

            Gotcha. Thanks guys!

  8. Powerpress want that you have already a podcast and can’t create for you the Podcast… And Itunes want that you have already a podcast, with other words your tips are not working today anymore, or maybe have never worked,

  9. Aaron says:

    I know that this post is over 4 years old now, but is there any suggestion for how to accomplish a podcast-only feed now that Yahoo! Pipes no longer exists? I host my podcast on SquareSpace and have only recently needed to have a podcast only feed.

    Thanks!

    1. Charles Thompson says:

      http://www.podcastgenerator.net/ is helpful for this I believe. I’d throw it in a sub directory, you can change the website URL the feed shows in the config.php file.

  10. Horrible. I listened to this a while, and now think I need WordPress web site AND other things, AND other things, AND other things AND other things, to get RSS feed.

    Then I need OTHER things.

    Look is there anyone home that can tell me where to put an audio recording or a video recording and that be searchable as a podcast?

    I don’t want to spend hours or days learning word press. ANd then do 10 other things and then other things.

    How can I get a pod cast parked somewhere on the internet? Surely we don’t need our own web site, and 10 other things to get this done?

    1. I understand the frustration, Mark. Since you don’t want to get into WordPress, the easiest platform for you would be Libsyn.com. They can host your media, give you a basic website, track your stats, and create the RSS feed you submit to podcast apps and directories. They’re a great all-in-one package! So check them out at Libsyn.com and use promo code “NOODLE” to get a free month. (If you wait to sign up until after March 1, you’ll actually get the rest of March and all of April for free!)
      Libsyn also has a great support team if you need help with their platform.

  11. FAISAL IMAM says:

    Hey Daniel, thank you for posting this article. Our organization is trying to create a podcast RSS feed, while hosting the files on our internal servers. We would just like the users of the site (they have to log in to the site) to have access to the RSS feed. What is the best approach here? Doe sthe XML file still need the itunes tags, or do we format it as a normal RSS feed? Thanks for any help you could provide.

    1. The iTunes tags will help ensure it displays properly in most podcast apps, even if you’re not submitting the feed publicly.

      1. FAISAL IMAM says:

        Thank you for the quick response Daniel, and that makes sense. I have the feed submitted to Apple and waiting for approval. This approach will take care of users accessing the podcasts via the apps on their mobile devices, but how can the users on desktops access it? If I use it initss current format, it just shows the XML file with all the tags etc. Does it need CSS for formatting? Thanks again for your guidance.

        1. If it’s a private RSS feed, you don’t need to submit it to Apple Podcasts, and they’ll probably reject it anyway. Instead, give your users the URL to the RSS feed with instructions for manually pasting it into their podcast apps. You can also create a few one-click links, like itpc://[feed URL here without https://] and use SubscribeOnAndroid.com.

          1. FAISAL IMAM says:

            I’ll look into the one-click links. Thanks again Daniel!

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