How to Subscribe to a Podcast
Subscribing to a podcast just so happens to be the easiest – yet most important – part of the podcasting process. (Shall we call it the “podcess?” ) We will first explain to you how podcast subscribing works, and then give you some options on how to do it yourself.
How Podcast Subscribing Works
Ever wish you could be notified when a website you like had been updated? Would it be nice to get that content delivered directly to you, downloaded, and ready for you to listen or view? It’s not only possible, the technology exists and it is super cheap and easy to use. So easy, in fact they’ve called it “Really Simple Syndication” or an RSS Feed. It’s on the wings of the RSS Feed that podcasting works.
When you subscribe to a podcast – in techy terms – what you’re doing is connecting a RSS Feed with an attached enclosure to a podcatcher. Yup, there’s vocabulary involved, but I’ll explain. We’ve also got episodes to include in this vocab as well.
I’ll break this down metaphorically using newspaper delivery as the framework for our explanation. That’s something even grandma can understand. And after this, she’ll even be able to subscribe to a podcast and so will you.
For this example, please consider the newspaper Printing Press, the newspaper itself, and your mailbox. I’ll relate these three directly to the first three above.
- You call the Newspaper company and subscribe to the newspaper.
- The newspaper is written, aligned and printed at the Printing Press.
- The newspaper is distributed to paper boys and girls who bring it to your mailbox.
We understand this process quite well. This process is almost identical in podcast subscription.
- You find the RSS Feed Address for the podcast you want to subscribe and place it in your Podcatcher.
- A new episode is published and your podcatcher discovers it when connected to the internet.
- Your podcatcher downloads the new episode and it’s ready for you to listen.
Your RSS Feed Address could be a number of things, but it’ll be just like any other web address. Ours for AMPed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/ampedmp3. Sometimes podcasts will have options to automatically subscribe and you’ll be able to circumvent this step, but other times you’ll have to find the feed address itself. If you can’t find it, email the podcast publisher and they will tell you.
A Podcatcher, which would be equal to your mailbox, is a piece of software that can read these podcast RSS feeds. The most popular is iTunes, others are Juice, gPodder and there are many more. This is what you download and use to subscribe to a podcast.
Once you have told the Podcatcher which show you want to subscribe to and where it is, it will download any new episodes (equal to the newspaper) and notify you when they’re ready.
How to Subscribe to Podcasts Yourself
The Basic Idea
On a basic level what you’ve got to do is…
- find the location of the feed
- and tell your podcatcher where it is.
The industry term for this is, “subscribe to a podcast,” which is what you want to look for in whatever podcatcher you’ve got.
Subscribe to a Podcast Using iTunes 11
I’ll provide two ways to subscribe in iTunes. The first, easy way is only if the podcast is already in the iTunes Podcast directory. If it’s not, you can usually still subscribe using iTunes but you have to do it manually.
The traveled path: if you want to browse the iTunes Store Podcast Directory and do all your subscribing, listening and downloading from there it’s pretty easy.
- Open iTunes on your machine
- Click to the iTunes Store homepage
- Click on “Podcasts” in the upper store navigation. (Figure 1 below)
- Browse and select a podcast of which you would like to subscribe.
- Click the big “Subscribe” button underneath the podcast’s logo. (Figure 2 below)
The not-so traveled path, also known as the “geek” path: This method will also work nearly in principle with any other podcatcher.
- Find the RSS feed address for your podcast. This is a URL for the location of the feed starting, just like a website, with http://. This can be found in many ways. Here are a few ideas: (1.) Find the RSS feed icon on the podcast and right-click or control+click and copy the link location. (2.) If you find the base location for the podcast on the site, which could look like http://coolpodcast.com/categories/podcast/, you can just add “feed” onto the end so it looks like http://coolpodcast.com/categories/podcast/feed. (3.) If they have a Feedburner link, copy and use that link.
- Open iTunes
- Force iTunes to display the Menu Bar by clicking on the settings menu in the upper-left hand corner of the window (in Windows) and selecting, “Show Menu Bar.” You can also use the keyboard shortcut control+b. (Mac users, please let me know if there are any differences on the Mac.)
- Under File, click “Subscribe to a Podcast”.
- Paste the URL into the box that appears and click “OK.” (Figure 3 below)
- You should now be subscribed.
Now that you’ve learned how to subscribe to podcasts you can head on over to our Current Members page, choose a show which you might like to listen and subscribe.
Good luck and let us know if you have any questions.