Updating RSS Feeds for Podcasts

Sammy says, "I have produced my first podcast, and it is now listed with iTunes. My dumb question is what do I do with the second edition? I have recorded my second podcast, uploaded it to my server, and have created the RSS file for the second podcast. But I don't know what to do with that second RSS file. Do I upload it to my server, and put the number 2 on it? How do I get iTunes to recognize that there is now a second podcast available? As I said, I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I have scoured a dozen "learn to podcast" sites, but none talk about posting a podcast, BEYOND the first one."

This is most definitely not a stupid question. One of the most confusing things about creating RSS feeds in general is the process of creating them in the first place. When you create your RSS feed, you are essentially creating a running list of entries rather pointing to each new entry with a corresponding new RSS file. Ideally, you don't want to manually edit this file at all, you want software to the work of adding new information to the RSS feed and properly appending it.

The first time you created a podcast was likely the first entry in your RSS feed. This entry is defined as being a single item by surrounding it with >item< and >/item<. Now that you are ready to publish your second entry, you want to add a second >item< to your RSS feed. This way, you only ever publish one URL that people subscribe to and as you add new podcast episodes, every subscriber will get notification of the latest update.

Ideally, using an online publishing service like TypePad, Blogger, Liberated Syndication or MSN Spaces will automatically generate an RSS feed you can use for your podcast. Some of those services don't directly support RSS with the necessary enclosures for podcasting, but you can create a free FeedBurner account and then promote your FeedBurner URL as the subscription address for your podcast.

If you prefer not to use on of the online publishing solutions, the next best alternative is using a desktop application for publishing your RSS feed. Currently the best desktop application for RSS publishing is FeedForAll. There are some cheaper alternatives like Podcast RSS Buddy, but frankly they don't work all that well and result in headaches like duplicate entries. FeedForAll is available in both Mac and Windows versions, providing the desktop equivalent of a content management solution for your podcast, text, video blog or anything want to syndicate using RSS. The software provides a simple series of text fields for you to automatically generate all the text, enclosure details and information required to publish RSS 2.0 feeds for podcasting, complete with the relevant details for iTunes.

My personal preference is to use an online content management solution, because you get the benefit of managing everything in one place. I use Movable Type and Liberated Syndication for all the podcasting publishing I do currently. Movable Type requires you to have your own server and some minimal understanding of installing Perl applications, but you could easily use the hosted TypePad alternative. Liberated Syndication manages audio file hosting and the creation of Web and RSS files. Free solutions like Blogger and MSN Spaces require you to find hosting for your audio files and the additional step of signing up for a FeedBurner account to create the RSS feed.