TPS 069 – WordPress for Podcasting with Dustin Hartzler from Your Website Engineer

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Your website is your podcast’s central hub, its home on the web. It’s where you have an entire archive of all your episodes, links you mentioned in any given show, buttons to follow, share and continue the conversation on social media, profiles of your hosts and easy ways to allow your community to get in touch with you.

There are so many more things that your podcast’s website does for your show so how do you know where to start? What platform is best for building your podcast’s home on the web?Your Website Engineer

On this episode I talk with Dustin Hartzler from Your Website Engineer podcast and website about using WordPress for podcasting.

WordPress can be used to build your website and host your RSS feed, two critical steps in having a well made podcast. In fact there’s just about no limit to what you can do with WordPress, all without having to know HTML, CSS or any other type of code.

Yes, there are other platforms you can use to build your site such as Blogger and Squarespace but in my professional opinion the advantages that a self-hosted WordPress site give you for podcasting far exceed those of any other content management system (CMS). That said, while I don’t consider WordPress to be difficult, someone who doesn’t want to deal with any of the setup might want to look at alternatives or inquire about having me setup a site for you.

When you start a podcast, one of your goals should be to own every bit of your content. This includes your RSS feed, your website and any other assets surrounding your podcast. In the beginning, usually due to ease, necessity or misinformation, most podcasters start off by giving up some form of control over their content.

FeedBurner is the usual culprit. In many cases, FeedBurner is indeed the right option. If you’re starting off on a third-party platform like Blog Talk Radio, PodOmatic or any number of other “podcasting” services, you want to make sure you can easily migrate your feed away from those services when the inevitable time arrives. FeedBurner allows you to easily do this.

However, for those using their own installation of WordPress, using FeedBurner is not necessary and at this point discouraged. Your WordPress site, in conjunction with the fantasic PowerPress plugin, allows you to build in all the functionality you need to create an iTunes ready podcast feed. This is just one of the many reasons why WordPress is so powerful for podcasting.

Dustin and I explore other plugins, capabilities, and resources as we discuss why a podcaster might choose to build their show’s home on the web using WordPress.

If you need help with your WordPress site, go on over to Dustin’s podcast and website all about WordPress. If you inquire about hiring him, make sure you tell him you heard about him on The Podcasters’ Studio and he’ll take care of you.



Links mentioned in this episode:

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About Ray Ortega

Full-time podcast producer and host of The Podcasters' Studio and Podcasters' Roundtable, I enjoy sharing my ten years of experience making podcasts to help others improve or start their own show.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great discussion!

    Another interesting and new wordpress plugin for podcasting is the "Podlove Podcast Publisher": http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/podlove-podca
    It's a completely new designed plugin for all podcasting needs and also in very active development!

    Also good in combination with the "Podlove Web Player", an HTML5 based audio/video player, focused on podcasts and similar media blogs. It supports chapters, deeplinks, captions. show notes etc: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/podlove-web-p
    some screenshots: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/podlove-web-p

    And of course everything is open source and the developers are very open for improvements and feature requests 😉

  2. Thanks again Ray for having me on. This was a blast to record and I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being too pushy when I say WordPress is awesome 🙂

    • My pleasure and I'm on team WordPress as well. In fact it probably should be pushed, at least when it comes to podcasters. There's not a better platform for podcasting than WordPress. You simply can control every single element of your show and that's important for podcasters to know and understand.

  3. Fantastic episode, Ray.

    I do have to disagree with Dustin on one point, however. Thesis 2.0 is not just for professional developers. I'm far from one and found the new version of Thesis to be easy to figure out and far more powerful and flexible than its predecessor. I daresay that Thesis 2.0 lowers the barrier of entry into the ranks of professional developers; or, at least, it allows an amateur like me to pass as one. 🙂 I've been able to do things with 2.0 that I wouldn't have dreamt of doing with 1.85.

    I think it helps to have a basic understanding of html structure and css, but you don't have to know much, if anything, of coding in these languages in order to create a nice-looking skin in Thesis 2.0. You can create templates visually, rather than by coding, rearrange html elements in core and custom templates via drag-and-drop, change basic css elements with the GUI, etc. Now, with documentation coming out as well as third-party skins and boxes, creating a good-looking site with Thesis 2.0 is becoming even easier.

    I recently upgraded my webzine from 1.85 to 2.0.

    You can compare the home page of the old version and the new:

    Internet Archive of old version. (IntenseDebate does not like Archive.org urls apparently.)

    http://prometheus-unbound.org/

    Although some of the magic is on pages for which I've created custom templates. The podcast Page and posts have custom templates, for example, that change the banner image, add subscription icons and links to the sidebar, and, for the posts, add a bunch of links, images, and text to the show notes that I don't want to type up or copy-and-paste each time.

    Oh, and check out this custom 404 page: http://prometheus-unbound.org/lost-in-quadrant-40…. Thesis 2.0 enables you to edit your 404 page just like any other WordPress page.

    • Great feedback Geoffrey. I love hearing different opinions. I would say however that I moved away from Thesis when it went to 2.0 because it is decidingly (IMO) much more for the html/css coder.

      I like to tweak code but with Thesis 2.0 you are basically starting from scratch unless you go out and buy a skin. I still really like what it does but it's now much more for developers (in a good way).

      I've heard many having to move away for the same reason. But again these are people without coding knowledge. So the barrier to entry is much higher than before. If you were used to the old Thesis, when you log into 2.0 you are lost. I know;)

      You've done a good job with your site. Keep up the great work, thanks for being an active member of this community and I look forward to hearing more!

      Ray

      • I was used to the old Thesis too. I used it for a couple of years. I did have to recreate the Prometheus Unbound design from scratch when upgrading to 2.0 and I was able to make major improvements to it because of 2.0. But I had to create the old Prometheus Unbound design from scratch when I started using Thesis 1.x a couple of years ago too. The classic out-of-the-box design for both Thesis 1.x and 2.0 is kind of boring and spare. I guess there were some "child themes" on sale here and there for 1.x, but I wasn't aware of them when I started. Now there will be a proliferation of skins to help people who lack the skills to design their own site, and it is easier to install and maintain them.

        Thesis 1.x was more for developers in my opinion than 2.0 is; it required far more PHP and CSS coding by hand. The html for Thesis 2.0 is mostly visual drag-and-drop. To create your own skin/theme in Thesis 1.x you had to mess with CSS a lot too; now more of it can be done with the GUI, but you still have to code for fancier things like opacity, rounded corners, and box shadows. You don't need to mess with PHP coding as much with 2.0 as well, because much of that is taken care of with the drag-and-drop html GUI. Want to move the navmenu? No need to write a custom function to put in the custom_functions.php file; just drag the navmenu to where you want it to display on the page.

        I think there are several reasons why many people were put off by 2.0 when it launched and may be moving away from it:

        1) It's very very different from the Thesis they were used to and not everyone is as ready to embrace change as I am.

        2) There is no easy upgrade path from 1.x to 2.0. You have to recreate your site design from scratch, although some CSS and PHP coding can be copied over.

        3) Chris, the developer, made the mistake of launching 2.0 without any documentation and without the promised bonus skins and boxes ready to go. Chris is always missing his announced deadlines and people were getting antsy for him to release 2.0, so he pulled the trigger. In my opinion he should have set a later launch date that would ensure all that stuff was ready to go with Thesis 2.0. I was able to figure things out pretty quickly, but I can see how others might not be able to and would need the documentation (of which there is some now). The promised social share boxes and email signup boxes have been delivered. Some Thesis Classic skin mods have been released. We're still waiting on the promised bonus skins. But third-party developers are already producing their own skins and boxes. Hey, I might sell my own soon myself. 🙂

        4) They are probably not aware at this point that there have been a number of updates to Thesis 2.0 to improve the install process and usability; it's up to 2.0.3.1 now and I think 2.0.4 is soon to drop with more usability improvements. Speaking of updates; you don't need to install them via ftp anymore.

        • I think you hit the nail on the head…no documentation was a killer. Almost anyone who opened up 2.0 for the first time would certainly be lost even more so if coming from 1.x. So while it ultimately might be easier to work with than 1.x, if you can't get started, people bail. I have no doubt it's better. It just needed a lot more instruction. And that's coming from someone who never reads the instructions;) But even I was lost. I still support it on my site cause I know it's great, however I've moved on and I'm quite happy with Genesis. I look forward to seeing what more skilled coders do with 2.0. Thanks again, Geoffrey.

  4. Great podcast episode – with very nice tipps! Thanks Ray and Dustin!

    I just wanted to comment on the topic of WordPress performance. When talking about the performance issues with plugins or too many of them, one would have to differentiate a bit. Especially: Does a plugin hurt the backend performance (e.g. badly coded PHP, many poorly constructed SQL queries,…) or frontend performance (efficient HTML, CSS and Javascript; number of external resources such as CSS-, Javascript files, images and their size).

    If we needed a good reminder of how we do not want to depend on some 3rd party Javascript: Just last month, a glitch at Facebook took down major websites such as CNN or the NY Times, see http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-connect-g… . And this was only a real glitch – many Javascripts try to load assets from another side – for each call you may have a DNS look up, the initiation of a HTTP connection, the download of the 3rd party asset and the execution/rendering in the browser. Having several such things on your side may severely impact the performance. And studies have shown the close link between web site performance and the number of pages visited by users. Slow sites loose users…

    A general start into optimizing your website performance would be https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/best-pra… or http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/ .

    Many modern browsers have analytical tools built-in, or you can install Google's pagespeed plugin to understand the performance of your pages. Or use http://www.webpagetest.org/ to see how your page performs.

    Special tipps on how to optimize WordPress (front- and backend) could be found here: http://www.yottaa.com/blog/bid/276500/The-5-Hidde… or http://blog.newrelic.com/2013/03/06/how-to-speed-

    While this all sounds very complicated: Most of the best practices are easy to implement! And – as everything else – they follow the 80:20 rule: 80% of the performance gain comes from just 20% of improvements. So go ahead and try to make your pages, your WP installation a little faster.

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