Because I don’t want to complicate things for the new podcast listener, I debated whether to mention how you can subscribe to any podcast using an RSS reader. So, if you have absorbed all that you can for now, don’t sweat it. You’ve already been empowered with a few different ways to find and listen to podcasts:
- Using Google to find podcast websites. You can listen to podcasts directly from the sites.
- Using a podcast application to find, listen to and subscribe to podcasts.
- A combination of finding podcasts with Google and then subscribing to shows with a podcast application.
So, you can skip this part if you just want to focus on practicing what you’ve just learned. You could come back to this later if you’re curious. Otherwise, read on!
What is an RSS Feed and how can you use it to subscribe to podcasts & blogs in general?
An RSS feed is a file on the Internet that transmits information about a podcast. For example, it contains the name of a show, a link to a media file and a summary of individual episodes. If it is a podcast, it has an RSS feed. A link to an RSS feed is commonly offered as one of the subscription options you’ll see on podcast websites. An RSS URL (i.e., web address) will look something like this:
You can take that RSS URL and put it in an RSS reader (also called “newsreader” or “RSS aggregator”). This is a type of software that can read RSS feeds. The beauty of an RSS reader is that it will automatically check for new podcast episodes and download them for you.
Note: Blog posts are also delivered via RSS feeds. So if I use an RSS reader to subscribe to podcasts, I can include my blog subscriptions too. By contrast, if I use a podcast application such as Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts to subscribe to podcasts, I cannot include my “plain ‘ol blog” subscriptions. For an example of non-podcast RSS feeds, see the Star Tribune’s website.
RSS Reader Tutorial
Feedly is a free web-based RSS reader, which makes it ideal for experimenting with RSS feeds. Here is a YouTube video that will help you get started. It is a bit out of date, but the essential ideas remain true. Also, the tutorial talks about subscribing to blogs/websites. But the information applies to podcasts too.
Subscribing to Podcasts Using an RSS Feed
Visit our sample websites and see if you can find a link to the RSS feed URL. It will look like a website address like this RSS feed for my podcast QuOTeD:
Copy the RSS URL’s that you find and paste them into an RSS reader. Feedly is a web-based RSS reader that you can use for this exercise. Or if you already have an RSS reader that you like, use that.