Really Simple Syndication feed or RSS feed, may seem less than simple if you have no clue what it is or what it does for you as a podcaster to begin with. Let’s dispel the myth that this is some technically challenging mobo jumbo, and free your mind from the frustration and confusion that may accompany this simple term by utilizing the wonderful concept, taught in all elementary English classes, the 5 W’s.
What Is An RSS Feed?
RSS feed can be referred to as several names such as; Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, or even RDF Site Summary, but for our purposes, we will keep it as RSS feed for ease of use and understanding. Basically, this feed is a web based, text only, filing system for websites. It is a system set up to put new information in a standard format for applications to access with little effort and common attributes. Your RSS feed is set up to allow people to find available content as well as new content when it comes to your podcast or any content you post to a website.
Who Sets Up The RSS Feed?
Even though you can manually set up your own RSS feed through a number of steps, when it comes to podcasting, your podcast host will set up and update your RSS feed for you. Once you have set up an account with a podcast host of your choosing, they will create an RSS feed unique to your podcast, as well as keep it updated with any new files you upload. As you accumulate episodes, each new episode will be listed at the top of your RSS feed.
Where Do You & Your Listeners Find Your RSS Feed?
Again, with a podcast host available, this isn’t something you yourself will need to be concerned with as much as the rest of what we have discussed in the Four Pillars of Podcasting. Sometimes, letting others take on the work for you is well worth your dime. Your listeners will most likely never have to look for your actual RSS feed as they will, fingers crossed here, hopefully have hit that subscribe button on your podcast, allowing them to be automatically updated with any new content on your podcast, as soon as it is uploaded and released to the directories, such as Apple or Spotify.
Now, if you have accompanying content with your podcast, such as a website, or blog, you can usually find a small icon in the URL bar that allows you to connect to the RSS feed for that website. It can also be found by right clicking on a website, going to Page Source, and then using the Find feature, and typing in RSS. But, this is not truly necessary so add it to your brain for trivia night at the local bar and grill.
For all our needs, having a podcast host will take care of this for you and your listeners.
Why Do Podcasters Use an RSS Feed?
Your RSS feed will contain all your information for your show and each episode. Your unique feed will list your show’s name, the date it was uploaded, links connected with your episodes, your descriptions and much more. It’s like the podcast show’s index file, but without it, your show will be nothing more than a file that isn’t accessed by the public.
When Will Your RSS Feed Be Used?
Although not as popular as they once were for every type of website, RSS feeds are still important for podcasts. It is through these feeds that your podcast host will get your new episodes out to the directories that they upload to, making them aware that there are new episodes available for listeners to download or stream from their personally chosen apps. It can be viewed as a memo to the directories that tells them, “Hey, we have something new to put out there,” and in turn, those directories send a memo out to your listeners that alerts them to new content.
Along with alerting them to new content, your podcast host will know what information you will be required to have to be placed in these directories. Some directories have specific guidelines and your podcast host should alert you to any of these requirements, such as cover art, or number of available episodes for example. Once you have all the requirements in place, then they can move forward with alerting the masses that you do indeed have awesome new material to share. And that folks, is why we are doing this, right?
So, although RSS feeds are not something for you, as the podcaster, to be concerned whole heartedly with, they are an important factor to launching your podcast and therefore a factor you should be aware of, as well as being a building block in the construction of the fourth pillar.
A Little Extra
If the thought of using an RSS feed interests you, either by creating your own or using it to find out available content or new content from sites you are interested in, you can take advantage of a few of these available sites.
Computing Tidbits – This site gives you a helpful manual to help in creating your own RSS feed for websites. Tidbits offers several plan options.
Make Use Of – Here you can find a more technical guide to manually creating an RSS feed.
Feedly – Offers RSS feed readers with several plan options.