This article is the first in an ambitious series of how-to's on podcasting. Reasons? Well, first, since I'm giving more and more seminars on various aspects of podcasting lately, writing things out in bullet points (oh, how I love the bullet points!) helps to organize my thoughts and makes the presentations much easier to customize and piece together. So the brain dump aspect is purely selfish.
But I've also run into a lot of my clients, former clients and friends lately who "know I do that podcasting thing" but ruefully admit that they "haven't figured out how to listen yet." And as I eagerly start babbling about podcatchers and iTunes, I see their eyes glaze over as they start to make a shopping list in their heads. Butter, milk, oh and don't forget we're out of coffee.
"It's really easy," I enthusiastically insist, "... so much more accessible than it used to be, when you had to purchase a podcatching program that only geeks knew about."
Cotton balls, fruit, crackers and toothpaste.
"And you don't need an iPod to listen, even!"
Cat food, kitty litter, those small packets of oatmeal, brown sugar flavor like I like...
Yeah. And if podcasting remains out of reach for some folks, I'm OK with that. But I think everyone should have the option of trying on a few podcasts and seeing if they educate, inform, entertain or otherwise improve their lives.
So here is Heidi's Ultra-Easy, Bullet-Pointed, Even-My-Mother-Can-Do-It guide to listening to podcasts. (Your comments and feedback are appreciated):
1. Go to the iTunes download page. Click the button that says Download iTunes 7.1.1--Free. Info: ITunes is a popular podcatcher or aggregator, which is a program that automatically loads and stores new episodes of all the podcasts you choose to subscribe to.
2. Open iTunes. In the left-hand sidebar, click on "Podcasts" with the purple logo.
4. Now comes the fun part! What are you interested in? You can browse by categories or check out the most popular podcasts. If you are looking for podcasts on a specific topic, try typing a term (such as "pet food," "yoga" or "Firefly") into the search box in the top right-hand corner.
5. Once you find a podcast that sounds interesting, click Subscribe. The latest episode will be downloaded for you, and iTunes will automatically load any new episodes as they come out.
6. Click back on Podcasts with the purple logo in the left side bar, and you'll see your new subscriptions!
Now, to listen directly from your computer, just click the episode and the Play button at the top left. Voila!
OK, that's the easy-beasiest way. A few other options:
Want to burn to CD-ROM and listen to your podcasts on any CD player?
- In iTunes, click on File and then New Playlist.
- Drag and drop each podcast episode you'd like onto the Playlist, which will appear in the left sidebar.
- When you've dropped all the episodes you'd like to hear (remember that an average CD will hold about 74 minutes of talk or music), click on the playlist. You should see all the podcast episodes you dropped into the playlist.
- Insert a recordable CD into your computer's CD-ROM drive.
- Select File and then Burn Playlist to Disc. Once you get the message that the disc is burned, you'll be able to play the CD in most CD players.
Want to listen to your podcasts on an iPod?
- Open iTunes.
- Connect your iPod or mp3 player to your computer using the cable provided.
- Under iTunes then Preferences, choose:
- how often you'd like your podcasts updated (every hour, day, week or by hand)
- what you want to do when new episodes are availabe (download all or just the latest one)
- how many back episodes to keep on your iPod (last three, last 10, all unplayed, etc.)
- Under the Podcast tab, you can also customize how many episodes of podcasts are loaded to your iPod
- Your iPod will update automatically according to your preferences!
Want to subscribe to a podcast that isn't available through iTunes?
- From the podcast website, locate the feed URL (it should look something like http://heidimiller.libsyn.com/rss or http://feeds.feedburner.com/agreatpodcast)
- Open iTunes. Under Advanced, click Subscribe to Podcast. Paste the feed URL there and click OK.
If you have feedback on how to make these more for-your-mom clear or a suggestion for the next podcast how-to, please comment below and join in the conversation. Your feedback is most welcome!