There are those that are going to be surprised by today’s content. Why? Because I’m going to admit to making one of the biggest mistakes (if not THE biggest mistake) you can make in podcasting. This deals with your podcast feed. Think of this a bit like a gun. What is the first thing you do when you buy a gun? You take a safety lesson. Wow, how American do I sound right now? When you learn to shave, you have to learn how to hold the razor properly.

The Radio Analogy

Let’s start with some analogies. Radio is broadcasted on a frequency. That frequency is then deciphered by a radio receiver, which turns it into music.

Podcasting is syndicated via your feed and is deciphered via an app. So you had DJ to Frequency to Radio. Now you have podcasters to feed to app. In radio, you had to make sure your radio tower was always operational. If the tower had an issue, you were no longer broadcasting, and your station went dead. With podcasting everything, I mean EVERYTHING is tied to your feed. Guard it with your life.

Change of Address Forms

The other analogy I want to bring here is the change of address form. I’m going to be moving later this year, and when I am finished set up,at my apartment, I’m going to fill out a change of address form with the US Post office that says,”Any mail going to Dave Jackson at his apartment should now be delivered to his house.”

Here is the problem you want to avoid. 

What if your favorite pizza place was at 123 Main Street, and they moved. They had no website, and when you dialed their phone number it said it was disconnected. You LOVED their food, but you had no idea where to get it.

If a radio station moved from 98.7 to 100.2 and didn’t let their audience know, you would have to scan the dial searching for your favorite station.

When you move from one feed to another without doing a 301 redirect you strand your audience who is still looking at your old (dead) feed.

Changing Your Podcast Feed

You can change your feed without losing your audience. The “Change of address” is called a 301 redirect. When someone fires up their app, and goes to your old feed, they are greeted with the redirect that says, “We moved to this new location.” The app goes over to the new feed, and if its setup correctly, there is a “NEWFEED” tag, which updates the app to check the new feed the next time you fire it up. The audience (when done correctly) doesn’t even know anything changed in the backend.

Common Ways To Mess Up Your Feed

1.  Copying and pasting your show notes from one program ( Microsoft word for example) into whatever platform you are using. This can bring over extra code (behind the scenes) that can make your feed invalid and stop new episodes from appearing.

2.  If you are using something like PowerPress to create your feed on WordPress, your feed is based on your website address. If you rebrand your podcast and end up with a new website address you need to keep BOTH websites up so you can redirect your old feed to your new feed.

3.  If you are using the Libsyn podcast page as your main website and use a custom domain to point to Libsyn, and you use your feed based on that custom domain, and later point that domain at a newer podcast page on (for example) Squarespace or PodPage, you need redirect your feed to the Libsyn hosted feed first.

What Happens If?

I was approached by someone who was trying to move their feed and put in a redirect with a typo. Hence the feed didn’t exist. It was a URL that didn’t exist. Keep in mind when an App sees the redirect it update ONCE. You get ONCE SHOT at this. Their only option was to buy the domain with the typo and try to redirect it or, in some cases – you just lose your audience.

What Mistake Did I Make?

I have multiple shows listed at Libsyn. While I strongly recommend that people DO NOT mess with their feeds, I am testing new systems and tools on a regular basis. I had decided I was going to move my Logical Weight Loss podcast to a new service to check.

I logged into my Libsyn account and redirected the feed to point at the new service. There was one problem. As I have multiple shows under Libsyn, I forgot to choose what show I was redirecting. Instead of redirecting the Logical Weight Loss podcast. I had accidentally redirect the School of Podcasting.

Because my audience is so awesome, I was notified somewhere between 5-10 minutes that “Hey Dave the School of Podcasting just rebranded to the Logical Weight Loss podcast.” I knew immediately what had happened.

The first thing I did was disable the redirect. Somewhere around 100 people who were subscribed to the School of Podcasting were now subscribed to the Logical Weight Loss podcast.

The second thing I did was swallow my pride and record a special episode of the Logical Weight loss podcast. In this episode I asked, “If you're looking for the School of Podcasting you need to re-subscribe.”

I then checked my feed in Apple, Google, and other platforms. Luckily, for the most part, none of them had updated. But past,-midnight, Pocketcasts had.  This meant if you searched for the School of Podcasting it was not there. I discovered this the next day when my audience tried to follow my directions of “unsubscribe and resubscribe.” So I reached out to Pocketcasts tech support and explained what happened and they updated the School of Podcasting within 24 hours.

How Did This Happen?

So how did the guy who warns everyone to be careful when dealing with feeds shoot himself in the foot?

I did this late at night (post-midnight right before I was heading to bed). Looking back we always have 20/20 vision, but I’m pretty sure this not when I’m at my sharpest.

You might say I got, “Too comfortable with the knife.” What I mean by this is if you do something dangerous over and over, after a while, you get comfortable, confident, and potentially end up cutting yourself. If this had been a client’s account I was working on, I would’ve shut off all distractions, double and tripled checked my steps, and things would’ve been fine. In my case, I knew the procedure, logged in, copied, and pasted and was getting ready to head to bed. I was too comfortable with the knife.

In looking at my stats, it appears I came away with a bruise instead of needing stitches.

I Appeared on the Krisk and Kristine Show

You can check out my appearance on episode 48 of the Kris and Kristine show. Link to episode 48.

Update on Conferences

Podfest is doing and online conference while trying to set a Guinness World Record. I will speak at that event.

Podcast Movement will be in person in 2021 in Nashville, and in 2020 they have moved to an online event.

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.

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