The Cheap and Easy Guide to making and releasing a Podcast, 2014 edition

podcast-headphones

Podcasts are internet radio shows. Anyone with a computer can make one and publish it to a potentially enormous audience, for less than 100 dollars / euros a year.

After a decade releasing podcasts, here’s the simplest, cheapest and most flexible way I’ve found to distribute one. It’s not free but it’s inexpensive. Podcasting can certainly be done for free, but you’ll pay in time and effort later on, especially if your show takes off.

The beauty of this method is that you can actually host multiple podcasts and an essentially unlimited audience from the same website (without any additional cost). You don’t need to worry about bandwidth or additional fees. This is my current workflow, and once it’s all set up, it only takes about five minutes to put out a new podcast episode.

Note: The following guide assumes you’re using a Mac. It’s just as easy on Windows / Linux, but the software for recording, tagging etc is different. If you’re using windows, just use the substitute software MP3 Tag for Tagr, and CDEX for MAX.

The Guide

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 17.25.12

1) Record and edit your first episode

You can do this directly through your laptop in Garageband (free), or on Reaper (reasonable), or Adobe Audition / Logic (expensive). Or you can use an external recorder, or even in a pinch a smartphone. For more details about a decent recording setup see here. Export your final show as a WAV.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 17.26.10

2) Convert your episode to MP3

I’d suggest using the free OSX conversion programme MAX. It’ll make smaller higher quality MP3’s than say Audition, Garageband or Reaper. In MAX, go to preferences -> formats -> MP3/ and set encoder quality to portable.
Now click on File -> Convert files and find your episode. Encode your WAV file to MP3.

3) Create a graphic for the podcast.

There are any number of ways to design a logo. Probably the simplest is to use a logo design app like Logo Design Studio Lite (3 dollars on the OSX app store). You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel JPG graphic to use for itunes etc. You can upscale one from a smaller resolution, provided it’s the right aspect ratio (i.e.: provided it’s square). You can do this with Preview in OSX. Save a smaller version for your website and episode art (say 500 * 500 pixels).

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 17.25.46

4) Tag your MP3

I’d suggest using the OSX tagging programme TAGR. It’s 10 euro from the iTunes app store. You can drag your episode art into the box on the bottom left of TAGR (marked ‘artwork’, see image above). This will be the art that appears on smartphones and MP3 players when listeners play the programme. Enter the name of the episode and programme and all other relevant details. Save the file.

5) Set up an account at wordpress.com

Lots of people will suggest buying your own webspace and installing wordpress from wordpress.org, or some other blog software. You can do this, but I’d recommend against it unless you’re a professional web developer. WordPress.org is easy to install, but difficult to keep secure from hackers, and time consuming to maintain. WordPress.com is cheaper and more than good enough for podcast hosting.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 17.28.20

6) Purchase a domain name & space upgrade

Go to the wordpress store – your link will be something like https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/wp-admin/paid-upgrades.php

It’s 15 euro for registration and mapping.

It’s 40 euro for a 25 gig upgrade, enough for well over three hundred, two hour long podcasts.

7) Make your first WordPress post

Make your first post with an audio file attached. To do this, upload the audio file in wordpress’s media uploader, and then paste it into the body of the post.

Don’t forget to name your post. E.g.: ‘Great Podcast – Episode 1 – The Beginning’. Now create a tag in WordPress for your podcast, which you can add in the Tags box, on the bottom right. This tag can be anything, usually the name of your programme: But make sure it’s all one word.

Now when you go to https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG – you’ll see all the episodes of the podcast.

Copy the link to the tag RSS feed, which should be – https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG/feed

9) Make a Feedburner Feed

Go to Feedburner.com and ‘burn’ a new feed, using the RSS feed you copied from your wordpress tag above. Give the new feed the name of your podcast and go through all the set up on the feedburner site. The resulting feedburner feed is the feed you’ll submit to itunes etc.

14) Create a graphic for your podcast

You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel graphic to use for iTunes, which you again upload directly to WordPress, and link via your feedburner settings. If you don’t have one big enough, just expand an existing image, no ones looking at it in that definition on itunes away. Check the feed is working by viewing it on feedburner.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 17.48.56

15) Submit your podcast feed to iTunes

You can do this here. You’ll need iTunes installed for this to work, and you’ll need at least one episode already in the feed to have it approved. Approval usually takes a couple of days to a week. Make sure not to include profanity in the podcast name or description as this will get your feed rejected. If your show is explicit, tag it as explicit at this stage (and in Feedburner).

16) Making Additional Episodes

Be sure to include the relevant tag every time you make a new post. Each new post, correctly tagged and with an audio file attached, will become a podcast episode. The name of the post will be the name of the episode in iTunes and in the podcast RSS feed on Feedburner.

17) Publicise

Submit your Feedburner RSS feed to Stitcher and any other third party podcast lists you’d like. Stick your show up on Facebook etc.

WordPress Hack Attack

Evil Hacker

Synopsis:

I detail my experiences with a WordPress hack across multiple shared hosting sites, the steps taken to recover WordPress and secure against future attacks.

Introduction:

On the December 15th I discovered a number of my WordPress installations had been compromised. Rather than a concerted attack, this was likely the result of widely available scripting tools that allow ‘crackers’ to exploit known vulnerabilities in out of date WordPress installs. Due to the large number of WordPress installs on my server, and a reluctance to run bleeding edge software, I’d been a little remiss in updating WordPress. While none of my installs were more than a couple of months out of date, 5 of my 8 WordPress installs were infected.

Viewing the source code of my sites in Firefox confirmed that advertising links had been inserted directly into the wordpress PHP code – behind a DIV visibility tag – presumably to increase the Google ranking of trojan or spam sites. Additionally, the SQL databases in which WordPress stores it’s data had, in several cases, had additional users added. These fictitious users were most often called simply “WordPress”.

I’m going to outline in this post the steps I took to deal with this infection and to reduce the chance of future attacks. I’m not a security professional, or even a programmer, so my advice is provided ‘as is’. Implementing these measures won’t protect you from a dedicated hacker – if someone wants to crack your website in particular, especially on shared hosting, no amount of effort will stop them. However, these techniques should recover your site, and make WordPress a little less vulnerable to automated scripting attacks.

Continue reading “WordPress Hack Attack”