The festival of WordPress
January 22, 2021

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WordPress: Your One Stop Shop for Podcasting

Podcasting is growing more each day, and there are lots and lots of tools emerging to help people podcast. From Libsyn to Patreon, podcasters need to manage several different platforms to make their show as good as possible.

But with WordPress, you can handle the podcast, shop, community, and membership all in one place. With the right plugins, it makes WordPress the only platform you need for your podcast.

Speaker: Joe Casabona

Time: 5:00pm UTC
Region: Americas
Stage: BOH Stage

I want you to imagine that you want to bake cookies for some of you, you probably don’t even need to imagine it. Maybe you just want to bake cookies, or at least now putting the idea in your head. You want to bake cookies. So you determine the cookies you want to big. By going to your favorite cookbook, you make a list of all the ingredients that you need.

And you go to a grocery store. And when I say a grocery store, I mean a grocery store, you’re not going to go to a bunch of different grocery stores to buy the ingredients you need to bake cookies. The ingredients to bake cookies are pretty universally found at all grocery stores. They’re pretty simple.

So they’re not like a specialty item most of the time. So you’re probably not going to go to one grocery store to buy sugar and then another grocery store to buy flour. And then another grocery store to buy chocolate chips. You’re going to go to one grocery store to buy all the ingredients. And I’m not saying this is the case.

When you do all of your shopping for your entire household, some grocery stores have better produce. Some grocery stores have better meat. But for the task of baking cookies, this single project, one grocery store will suffice the same goes for your podcast. You don’t need a bunch of different services for your podcast.

You don’t need an audio host for your audio and then an online store, a separate online store service for the online store. And then a simple membership or a different membership service for the membership part of your podcast. And again, this is not the case across your whole business. Uh, you probably don’t have your accounting software.

In your podcast website? I don’t have my accounting software in WordPress at all. I use fresh books. My project management is not in my podcast website or in WordPress at all. That’s air table. My task management is not inside my podcast website or inside WordPress at all. That’s an Omni focus, but for the task of building out your podcast and your podcast website, you don’t need a bunch of services.

And that’s the main point of this talk. That’s what we are going to explore in this talk. But first I want to talk about setting up your podcast. Usually I dedicate an entire talk. To just this topic. And to be honest, I could talk about podcasting forever and ever, and ever, but in case you’re coming to this talk and you’re wondering, yes, I want to set up a podcast with WordPress, but I haven’t even set up a podcast yet.

What do I need? This section will kind of give you the rundown of everything you need to do to launch a podcast. And I want to hear from you about this. What’s your podcasting situation. If you go to josee.live/wordpress, there is a simple one question survey there that asks this very question. And if you could answer it, that would be fantastic.

I will tweet the results over at J Casabona at the end of this talk. Okay, so steps you need to take to start a podcast. First, you need to choose a topic and a name. The topic should be something that you happily can talk about week after week on a regular basis. It shouldn’t be something that you think people want to hear about, but you’re not that interested in.

You’ll get pretty fatigued pretty fast. You also want to pick a good name and I’ll touch on this more later, but it shouldn’t just be like. The Joe Casabona podcast, especially if your name’s not Joe Casabona , uh, it should be a name that , uh, relays or communicates what your show is about. Once you do that, figure out a few episodes to record.

You’re going to want to record a few episodes before you release anything. The episodes that you record here might not even get released, but they allow you to practice to get a little comfortable in front of the mic and to figure out exactly what the format of your show should be. I’ve been podcasting for eight years and I’ve been mixing up the format.

So you’re not necessarily set in stone, but you’ll be a little bit more confident going into those first few episodes. Knowing exactly how you want to approach it. Then you want to buy a domain and hosting you’ll want to get separate audio hosting. We’ll talk about that. To install WordPress, get a podcast plugin to integrate with your audio hosts and then publish and submit to it all the great places like Apple podcasts and Spotify.

Those are the simple steps to starting and publishing a podcast. Now as far as gear goes again, gear is something I could talk about forever and ever, and ever, but you want a decent microphone. You don’t need a $500 microphone, a $50 microphone will suffice. That’s going to sound better than the built in microphone, for sure.

Uh, and then you’ll want a decent pop filter that will prevent these hard gusts of air called plosives to go into the microphone and create an unpleasant listening experience. Uh, you’ll want to get a boom arm. And now I say this is optional, but it’s hugely helpful. Uh, especially, so you don’t accidentally knock the microphone on your desk or anything like that.

You’ll want headphones so that your audio is not coming out of your mouth, into the microphone, through the speakers and back into the microphone and creating a weird echo effect. Uh, and you’ll want a few more things, but those are the four that I think you need. And there are links to all of that and more.

Uh, including these slides actually over at casabona.org/award Fest. Okay. So now that the lightning round is over, let’s talk about WordPress first. A lot of people overlook the fact that a podcast needs a home. It needs a website, lots of people will just set up their audio host and that serves as the feed and quote unquote website.

For their podcast. Uh, but I think that a dedicated website for the podcast is super important because it allows for a central place. For content that isn’t just the podcast. It’s a great place to keep your RSS feed RSS. If you don’t know, stands for really simple syndication and it’s needed to get your podcasts on to Apple podcasts, Spotify, and more, and the benefit of having a separate podcast website is that your RSS feed never needs to change even if you change hosts.

Right? So if you submit, let’s say the Libsyn. RSS feed to Apple podcast. And then you decide you want to move to cast dos something I did recently. Uh, you would have to go to all of the podcast directories like Apple podcasts and Spotify and change the feed there. Uh, when I made the switch, because my feed was how I built dot slash feed, the podcast directory didn’t know what host I was using and I didn’t need to change anything.

So that’s a benefit of RSS feeds. And then the website also serves as a place for canonical links. The one true source for your content too many times. I see people just sharing the Apple podcasts link for their podcast, listen to my podcast. And then they link to Apple podcasts. Well, a recent stat showed that Apple podcasts now accounts for less than half of all podcasts listening apps.

It used to be 60% and then Spotify started eating Apple’s lunch. But even if we say it’s 50%, you’re excluding half of your potential audience because sure. An Apple podcast link will open up on an iPhone or an iPad or a Mac, but it won’t open up on an Android phone. It won’t open up on a windows machine.

So now your , uh, your potential listener stuck, the same thing goes for Spotify, right? If somebody doesn’t use Spotify, a Spotify specific link is useless to them, but if you link to your website, which works everywhere , uh, then they have a place to listen to that episode and you can include subscribe links.

So it’s a win-win right. And genuinely website URLs are easier to speak anyway. So you say like how I built it slash 200. As opposed to whatever the crazy long link , uh, that like Libsyn provides. So that was a really long explanation about links, but I think it’s important. Uh, and then setting up a good website for your podcast can help it grow.

I can’t stress this enough. I believe that my website. Is part of the reason my podcast became so popular for all of the reasons I listed and for the fact that , uh, I have good transcripts that generate good SEO content, that I have a dedicated subscribe link that I can just send people to, and then they can subscribe wherever they want.

That I have a contact form and an information page about sponsors and. A way for guests to get in touch. These are all things that you won’t have if you don’t have a dedicated podcast website. So again, I can’t stress this enough. I really feel like your podcast needs a website. So the four things that you absolutely need for a podcast website are a good domain.

Good hosting. Spoiler alert. I am not going to recommend hosting in this talk. I feel like everybody here at word fast probably has their own opinions on hosting a WordPress, any podcast plugin for areas you might also want to explore. Or five areas you might also want to explore managing sponsors, managing transcripts, adding merchandise, adding memberships, and creating community.

These are all things that we can do inside WordPress. So we don’t need separate services for them. So first let’s talk about a good domain. You’re going to want to pick a name before you buy the domain. Of course. Uh, and you’re gonna want to pick a dome, a name that communicates the show’s message. Like I said earlier, don’t just call it the, your name podcast, right?

Unless you’re Joe Rogan or you have millions of followers , um, that’s not going to do your show justice. So if you have, if you have a podcast on , uh, baking cookies, right. Maybe call it the cookie Baker’s corner podcast or something like that. Uh, now that’s the first idea I came up with off the top of my head.

W if you like that name, you’re going to want to do a search on Apple podcasts to make sure it’s unique enough. Uh, my podcast is called how I built it a few months after I launched my podcast, NPR launched a show called how I built this. If that name had shown up in the search, I did, I would not have named my podcast that , um, because you want it to stand out and you want it to be unique and you want it to , uh, shine on its own merits.

So once you pick a good name, one that’s unique one that is not insanely common in Apple podcasts. Cause another reason is if you tell somebody to listen to your podcast and you say, Oh, it’s called how I built it. And there’s 14 shows called how I built it. They might not pick up your show. Right. Um, for that reason, you also want to have your name as the author, right?

Cause then they can just search your name. That’s a whole other talk though. Uh, once you have the name you want to grab the domain and the social media now choosing the right domain. I always recommend a.com. 80% of people will try a.com first, but. As the number of domains grow as the number of top level domains , uh, which is like the dot, whatever grow , uh, you know, you maybe explore a.fm or a.live or something like that.

Um, for your podcast, make it short. You want to make it short , uh, because you want it to be memorable and speakable, right? So the next two points there make it speakable. Make it memorable. Try to match the name of the show. Uh, you want to make it speakable because most of the time you’re going to be saying it on your podcast.

Find the show notes at how I built it. Very speakable. Um, if you, if you call your podcast, the one show or whatever , uh, dot com, then it’s. There’s some confusion there, cause there’s one the digit or is it one spelled out? Uh , you, you add that to the beginning of it. Somebody might drop the, the cause it’s cooler, which is a super recent movie reference , um, 2009.

Uh , uh, so maybe people are now trying one podcast.com. Uh, so make it speakable and make it memorable, right? Try to avoid hyphens too, because I mean, that’s just like go to the hyphen one hyphen podcast, show.com or whatever that’s crazy. Um, and have alternatives available, right. If you can get one spelled out and one, the digit get both and point them to the same place, that’ll make things a lot easier for you.

You’re going to want. Good hosting again. I’m not sure this is something I really need to dive deep on here for this audience, but good WordPress hosting. You want easy WordPress setup. You want helpful support. You want let’s encrypt for SSL or just a free an SSL certificate if you want to pay for it.

Great. But most of the time now hosts should come with free SSL. Automatic backups and it should be different from your media or audio host. So why should you have a separate audio host? Well, a, an audio host specializes in, in faster downloads, right? So sure you can upload your audio to , uh, WordPress, but that’s going to be a burden on your server, especially if you’re using shared hosting.

Uh, if your site goes down your podcast, won’t remember that your podcast is syndicated to a bunch of different directories, like Apple podcasts , uh, that won’t go down or probably won’t go down. So if your site goes down, people can still listen to your podcast. Perfect. Example of this really quick is my old.

Website host for my podcast would crash every morning. As soon as my podcast published and I was not using, I was using a separate audio host, right. I wasn’t even using like them to serve up the audio. It’s just that I was using pretty crummy hosting and it was shared hosting. And so it took down a bunch of different sites on that, on, in my account.

And. Uh, so the site would go down around 3:00 AM on Tuesdays. That’s when my podcast published. Uh, so for hours, I wouldn’t even know. Right. I was most likely asleep at 3:00 AM. Uh, but luckily, because I was using a separate audio host, the RSS feeds still updated. In most cases, that’s probably what caused the crash, but people could still listen to the podcast.

It’s only if people tried to visit the website within those first few hours that , um, That there was a problem. Right. And going back to the good support part of that, I contacted support and they didn’t offer me any explanation, except you need to upgrade to our higher plan, which was like four times the amount I was paying.

And I was like, you gotta tell me why first, not just, Oh , well, whatever, a lot of traffic. Cause it wasn’t that anyway, neither here nor there, but I do, I. I have firsthand experience about why good audio hosting, separate audio hosting is important. You also have advanced analytics, so you’ll know what podcast players people are using.

You’ll know what country downloads are coming from. You’ll have a number of downloads and things like that. And then you’ll have a custom or customizable audio player, right. Again, if you’re just uploading to WordPress, you’ll have the standard HTML five player, but. With a cast dose, for example, they have a nice looking audio player that you can customize a little bit and you can add buttons to , uh, there are also services like fuse box , um, that allow you to customize it even further, but a good tool that comes with your audio host is great and has just recently made , uh, improvements to their audio player.

So the audio host I recommend is cast dose. I think they’re great. They have really good WordPress, like really tight WordPress integration, I think tighter than any other , uh, service I’ve seen where like you can upload the audio directly from your WordPress dashboard and it’ll go to cast dos, but also any of the content you add will go to cast dos and kind of sync there.

Uh, and there are deeply embedded in the WordPress community. So, uh , I’m, I’m a really big fan of cast dose. Okay, so now let’s talk WordPress, we talked all about the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about getting a plugin and getting a bunch of other tools that will help you launch your podcast with WordPress.

Okay. Another slide I probably don’t need for this particular audience, but just in case a why WordPress it’s streams. It streamlines the entire website setup process, especially. If you’re using a good host with easy WordPress setup , um, it’s used by almost 40% of the web at this point, which means there’s a strong community of people and developers that can help you.

It already has great tools for podcasting and you can easily add a blog, a shop or a community. Again, I, what I said at the beginning is true. If you’re just using, you know, Libsyn or whatever, or even like simple casts, right. Which is a really nice, they make a nice podcast website, but it’s just for your podcast.

Right? So if you want to add a blog, you need something else. If you want to add a shop, you need something else. If you want to add memberships, you need something else. With WordPress, you don’t need something else. It can all work within WordPress. So first let’s talk about a podcast plugin, your podcast, plugin , uh, should be , uh, integrated with your host Mo more often than not.

I think , uh, it just makes kind of the sinking, your audio easier. You don’t need to find a URL to paste into some box. Uh, so you should consider if your podcast host has a WordPress plugin Casto is, does it’s very good. It’s spoiler alert. The one I’m going to recommend , uh, you should make sure that the podcast plugin has Apple podcast compliant, RSS feeds , um, for podcasting, a lot of information gets added to the RSS feeds to add more information about the audio or the episodes.

This includes stuff at like the top of the RSS feed, but then add on a per episode basis, you can have things like the season number or the episode number or whether this is a trailer or a main episode or a bonus episode. So there’s a lot of information in your RSS feed that will make it Apple podcast compliant.

All of the major podcast plugins. Our Apple podcast compliance. So like Casto dosas plugin. Uh, blueberry has a plugin called power press. That’s really good. Um, there’s like a high learning curve and they’re like maybe a little heavy handed on the upsells, but , uh, it’s very feature rich. And speaking of, you’re gonna wanna look at the features too.

How customizable is this? Can you add stuff to it? Can you, it, can you , uh, determine where the audio player is going to show up at the top or the bottom of the content, things like that? And does it play nicely with other themes and plugins? This is just something that you should always check for every plugin or theme you ever use in WordPress.

So my recommendation is seriously simple podcasting. This is the plugin that is developed by Casto. It’s very easy to use. It integrates really nicely with the service. And like I said earlier, it’s got a really nice audio player. Uh, there are customization options and it is continuously improving. So. Big fan of the work that the fellows, the guys and gals over at dos are doing.

Okay. So with your podcast player determined, or your podcast plugin determined, you’re ready to launch your podcast, but there are perhaps other things you might want to think about managing inside of WordPress. So from here on out, we’re going to look at. A few features that will be good for your podcast that can be managed inside of WordPress.

And first we’re looking at sponsors and transcripts. So first of all, transcripts, I’m going to T I’m going to say that they are a must for podcasts. I didn’t always feel this way, and I know that they are , um, perhaps outside of hosting, the biggest cost incurred. By podcasters, but they help with both accessibility so that , uh, people who are unable to listen to your podcast can read the transcript and for SEO, because now all of your audio is converted into Google searchable text, or site-wide searchable text.

Seriously, simple podcasting has a great transcripts extension where you can add a transcript right to the episode page, and you can even upload a PDF so that people can download the transfer. If you don’t want a separate plugin , uh, in WordPress, you can also use an accordion block top show or hide the transcript right on the post or page, right?

So you might not even need a separate. Plugin for this , uh, for me a little peek behind the curtain of what I do. I actually have my own. Podcasting plugin. It’s called WP podcatcher right now is just for me, cause it’s pretty coupled to my website. Um, but I have a separate custom post type for transcripts and sponsors as we’ll see later that I then associate with an episode.

And I like that because then each transcript gets its own page, which its own with its own URL inside of WordPress. Uh, and then I can associate that text with an episode. Uh, using search WP. So it’s a little bit more complicated than it needs to be, but it also provides me a little bit more flexibility.

So that is transcripts sponsors. There are lots of ways to manage sponsors. First of all, you should have a page with information. About sponsorships mindset, how I built it slash sponsor, it’s going to, it should lay out everything for you there, and then people can get in touch. There’s also the simple sponsorships, WordPress plugin.

Uh, this is really nice. It’s really robust. Uh, it allows you to easily manage sponsors. In fact, you can have all of the sponsorship packages on the site. Sponsors can fill out a form and pay right through the plugin. And then it gets added to your WordPress site and you can again, associate them with an episode.

Uh, you can also sell sponsorship packages through just gravity forms or Ninja forms. If, if you want to integrate the payment option there, or if you’re looking for something to actually manage your sponsorship contacts, this is something I need a little need to do a little bit better. Um, you can use something like Groundhog or WP CRM , uh, and then.

You have that information in your WordPress site and you can add them to whatever episodes they’re sponsoring. So, erm is different. It doesn’t directly integrate as a sponsor with an episode, but it is a way for you to make, manage contacts and keep all of that information in one place so that you can more easily update your sponsorships.

Okay. So transcripts and sponsorships are probably the two , uh, Features , uh, you know, in the forefront of people’s minds, when they think about podcasts, transcripts are something that are growing every day. Sponsors is maybe the most highly visible way to make money with your podcast because people who listen to podcast often hear sponsors, but there are other ways to make money , uh, and a great way to make money and just create more fans of, of your podcast is by adding merchandise.

Right? So, I mean, I’ve got some, some of my own merchandise on right now. Uh, and this year in particular has sold pretty well. This hat is not for sale, but I love it. Um, and it’s just a great way for people to show support for your show. So. Uh, it’s, like I said, it’s a great way for , uh, to help us in their show support.

Uh, you’ll make some money maybe, right? It’s not like, it’s not like a cash cow though. Um, but people love swag. So , uh, if you sell shirts, maybe you can do some giveaways. Maybe you can offer a discount to members, things like that. Um , and, and believe it or not, this is a pretty low barrier for entry now. Uh, so you can sell merchandise.

With woo commerce and e-commerce plugin that bolts right onto WordPress and has super tight integration there. So you can create products to sell them. Uh, people can pay for them. You can manage all of the shipping WooCommerce , uh, originally was built as a sell physical products model. Um, but then you can use a service like Printful to get print on demand merchandise.

Integrated directly into your WooCommerce shop. So I, this is what I was doing for awhile. I added some t-shirt designs to Printful. They also make mugs and a whole bunch of other things. And then you get the principal plugin for WordPress and you tell Printful that you have a WooCommerce shop, you connect the two, and whenever you add a product in principle, It automatically becomes a product in WooCommerce.

And when somebody makes a purchase from your WooCommerce store, Printful handles the printing and the fulfillment. So you it’s, it’s a super hands-off process for selling merchandise, right within your , uh, your podcast website with woo commerce. Really, really great solution. I think I would strongly recommend that.

Um, especially if you just want to test the waters, right? Cause print on demand, usually a little bit more expensive, but , uh, it’s a no risk situation for you. So again, your margins will be lower, but you don’t have to maintain stock. You don’t have to fulfill anything. And then if you realize, Hey, lots and lots of people want t-shirts.

Then you could switch to maybe your own option to increase your profit margins a little bit, but if you’re just creating swag for the show, principal is a really good option for that. So adding memberships, as I alluded to just before , um, memberships are a great way to make money , um, for your podcast and, and offering a merchandise discount is a nice way as a nice membership perk.

So. Why memberships , well, you’re not fully reliant on sponsors, right? So if all of your sponsors disappear magically, which I know a lot of people were worried about in 2020 , um, you’ll, you’re not, your podcast is no longer not making any money. If that makes sense. Um, you have diverse income streams. Uh, you can offer your listeners more content or other perks, right?

So , uh, this is for the people who really love what you’re doing, right. And they want even more. So if your show is a half hour, but you do a pre-show and a post show that stretch it to 45 minutes, that’s a really good perk for members. Uh, or if you want to have ad-free episodes for your members, that’s a really good perk for them.

Um, and memberships allow you to create a stronger fan base. And community. So by creating memberships, you’re creating super fans, people that have bought into what your doing and who are ready to tell even more people about all the great stuff that you’re doing for your podcast. So how do we do this?

There are lots of options in the WordPress membership space. What I would recommend you do is try to find something that supports private podcasts or RSS feeds. Casto is actually does this natively through Zapier. So , uh, if somebody let’s say , um, becomes a member on your WordPress site through Zapier, you can tell Casto is to email them a private podcast feed.

Uh, but there are lots of membership plugins as well. There’s restrict content pro there’s paid memberships, pro there’s wishlist member, which I believe offers private RSS feeds , uh, or there’s WooCommerce memberships and subscriptions. So. Uh, again, if you’re using WooCommerce already for your merchandise, maybe WooCommerce memberships is a good method for adding a memberships portion.

And the nice thing about WooCommerce memberships actually is that it can automatically apply discounts to other products for members. So. A little, a little more integration there. All right. And finally, let’s talk about adding community. So even if you don’t offer a membership , uh, you can still build a free community among your listeners.

So, like I just said, even if you don’t have a membership, you can still create a community of listeners. This will allow for further discussions of episodes. And even generate content. I know some podcasts who do this really well, Mac power users has forums. They’re actually using forums , uh, which is something I wish I could do, but I can’t , um, not today.

Anyway, they’d been around for a long time. And so they’ve got really good buy in with their forum. I’ve tried it. I haven’t gotten good buy in there, but , uh, you know, you can have a Slack community or a discord community discords are very popular. Um, But it allows for further discussion of episodes and even great content ideas.

Now, how do you do this? Within WordPress? BB press is a good option. That’s a forum buddy press is a social network, essentially , uh, or discourse, which is another forum that integrates. Uh, directly with WordPress and even offers single sign on integration. Um, which is fantastic. So you’ve got that there. Uh, if you don’t need single sign-on, maybe there’s peer board , uh, which is a w uh, a forum that offers a WordPress plugin, but again, no single sign on there.

So , um, those are what I would recommend for possibly creating a community. The idea here is that you don’t need to rely on something like Facebook , uh, to. Build your community. Cause if Facebook ever decides to shut down your community , uh, or deprioritize your community , uh, then you’re out of luck, but with BB press or any of these options with WordPress, you don’t have to worry about that.

There are a few other helpful tools. I want to mention here before wrapping up , uh, with plugins , uh, fuse box, if you’re not using Casto. So you want just a little bit more. Customization fuse box is a good plugin for that. Uh, if you want to have like a list of subscribe buttons from various different services, there’s a really great plugin called podcast, subscribed buttons, super focused, really nice works really well.

Search WP is one that I strongly recommend, especially if you have transcripts , uh, because it offers. Really a better options for searching lots of content, even in custom post types and things like that. And then thirsty affiliates is a great plugin. Uh, affiliate links are a another great way to make money with podcasting.

And thirsty affiliates is a great way to manage those affiliate links so that you can like auto link again, if you have transcripts and you mentioned a product, instead of having to like, like scour the transcripts to add the link, thirsty affiliates will auto link that text for you. Really great. And then for themes.

Astra is one that I will, I will often recommend a one that’s not on this slide, but I just started playing with this cadence. Looks like a really nice theme and it’s, it’s pretty fast. Uh, second line themes is a company that specializes in podcasting themes. A quick caveat here is it’s pretty heavily reliant on Elementor.

But , uh, they do a nice job of laying out all the information and , uh, they’re recommended by Casos as well. Uh, and then studio press, of course always makes fantastic themes. Uh, I’m using a studio press theme for my podcast website. So , um, monochrome pro to be exact, so big fan of them, but those are some things that I recommend.

Okay. So wrapping up, you don’t need to go to a million places to, to. Launch or generate income for your podcast? You can use a podcast plugin with WordPress, and then you can use a membership plugin. You can use WooCommerce to sell merchandise. You can use BB press to build a community, and there are plugins to manage sponsors and transcripts.

So WordPress is your one-stop shop for all things podcasting. Uh, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter. Uh, I am at J Casabona. All of the slides and resources that I mentioned here will be available over at casabona.org/wordfest. Thanks so much for attending this talk. I really hope it helped.

And until next time, get out there and build something.

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