The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 7
In this episode I'm looking at the all-important subscribe links. These are aimed at converting passing visitors into long term subscribers, and are often forgotten about in the blind rush to concentrate on iTunes traffic. Well, I can tell you it's just as important to look after your search traffic – let's have a look at how.
Resources Mentioned on This Episode
The main resource mentioned in this episode is the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin by Daniel J. Lewis. This plugin allows you to set up really nice looking, easy to use subscribe icons on any WordPress website. On the episode I discuss ways in which it's possible to do this yourself, but Daniel's plugin takes a lot of the hassle away, and comes with a great design to boot.
If you decide to try to create a subscribe section yourself, then the site I normally use for icons is called Find Icons. It allows you to search through its pretty vast database and filter by royalty free and link-free icons. You should be able to find something that'll do the trick and add a nice touch of colour to your sidebar, drawing the eye and a few extra subscribers.
This plugin adds a new Visual Editor widget type that allows you to insert rich text and media objects in your sidebars with no hassle.
Check out the LearnDen Website Course for videos on how to work with widgets and with WordPress in general.
1. Install the Black Studio TinyMCE plugin or install Daniel’s plugin
2. Create your sidebar with the subscription icons using either of the plugin you installed.
3. Leave me a comment below. Tell me which plugin you went for and which services you think are valuable enough to list.
Let Me Know What You Think
If you already run your own Podcasting site, I'd love to hear how you handle subscriptions. How have you been persuading people, so far, to subscribe?
If you're following along with the series and building out your WordPress site, then have a go at either of the approaches discussed, and let me know how you got on in the comments. Did you try to do it yourself, using Find Icons, or just in plain text?
Finally, if you're enjoying the series, I'd really appreciate it if you'd give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.
Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.
Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, a series on building a peerless podcasting website. So this is actually looking at how you create the best home for your podcast to give people a great impression and really draw people in so they become long term listeners. Yesterday we were looking at Pretty Link, a great wee plugin for creating really short, memorable links. Today, we’re moving on to another plugin which should help us create a great podcasting website and that is called, well, the plugin itself isn’t called it but we’re looking at is podcast subscribe links. Now, what I’m talking about when I say podcast subscribe links are icons essentially in the header or in the widgets part of the sidebar which allow people to subscribe really quickly, really easily to your podcast using whatever software they use. Whether that’s iTunes, whether it’s Stitcher, whether it’s a general Android phone with a podcatcher installed, whatever they use to listen to podcast. What we want to do is to offer these links which allow them to subscribe quickly and easy. So, why do we want to do this? You can imagine that whoever visit in your podcasting site that may already be subscribed, that may have come there because they listen to your podcast and they are looking for the show notes. But actually, there’s a lot of people find our podcasts via search. If you’re doing your podcast in an effective way, if you’re creating your show notes effectively then you should be attracting a lot of search traffic esp. once you’ve got a fair few episodes out there. Once you’ve got twenty thirty episodes, that’s a fair bit of content on your website. And that content should be attracting quite a lot of search, could be, should be attracting quite a lot of traffic just to people finding you. Just through general search terms, especially if you do a bit of work on your SEO as well. So these people that find you like this, they want to subscribe, they want to know what the subscribe options are, how they can subscribe to your podcast. And you want to make that subscription process as easy as possible and to make sure there are no barriers in their way. So, that means adding tools, adding links, adding icons, which mean that they’ll quickly and easily see the service that they use, they’ll click it and they they’ll find out how to subscribe.
So, what ones would I recommend putting on? Obviously, you’ve got iTunes, that is the big one, it’s the one that most people use. The vast majority people are subscribing to podcasts on iTunes so you want to have that first and foremost. So, get the iTunes link on there, get an icon from iTunes. Next of all, we got Stitcher. Stitcher is a pretty up and coming service. A lot of people listen via Stitcher these days especially on Android phones and other non-Apple-based platforms. Next to that, then we’ve got standard RSS. So if people are not using either iTunes or Stitcher then quite often they’ll know if they do listen to podcasts, they’ll recognise that RSS icon. You know the orange square with a three curved white, what they called quarter circles, that’s what it is. They’ll recognise that RSS icon and they’ll know that that’s how they subscribe. If not, then I actually tend to include a little Android icon as well. So, I’ll say “Subscribe on Android”, make sure people know how to subscribe with an Android phone. Because a lot of people using Android phones maybe don’t know how to subscribe to a posdcast, maybe don’t even really know what a podcast is. And in that case, I would quite often make that Android icon link not to an RSS feed, which is essentially what you need if you’re on Android, but to a page explaining how to subscribe to a podcast via Android. So talk to them about a couple of different podcatcher, so like BeyondPod or another app that lets you subscribe to a podcast on Android. Talk to them about a couple of them. And then talk about how you can pull the RSS address from your website and put it into that app.
Now, we talk last week, I mentioned in the navigation episode about the different types of pages you can include and one of them was a “How to Subscribe” page. So possibly this could just link to the Android section of your “How to Subscribe” page. I really do recommend having a “How to Subscribe” page on any podcasting website. Just a page that basically talks to people through how to subscribe on iTunes, how to subscribe on Stitcher, Android, all of the different platforms. And actually a lot of these links could link to that page but to the particular section. So, there’s your 4 basic ones, you’ve got iTunes, Stitcher, RSS and Android. And you can add more than that, by all means if you want to. You’ve got Windows phones, you’ve got few different services, you’ve got Blackberry, all that kind of things. So, it’s up to you how comprehensive you want to go but I think if you’ve got those top four then you’re doing pretty well.
So next stop, how do we actually add these? How do we add these links or icons or whoever you’re representing them to our website? Couple of ways I’m going to go through, first one of all is a free method. So, the first one is going to use an extra plugin and some icons you’ll find elsewhere. What I would do is I would go away and find some icons for the services you want to include at a site called FindIcons.com. That’s where I find all my free icons. I tend to go on there, search for royalty-free icons and just download the ones I need. So you’ll find the standard ones, you’ll get ones like RSS, you’ll get the iTunes, Stitcher, etc. So you can find the ones that you’re looking for, download them from FindIcons site at a relevant size and then upload them to your WordPress website so they’re in your Media Library, they’re all set to go.
Next, we want to create an HTML widget in your sidebar. So we want to just create a widget in your sidebar that lets put in custom texts, custom images, custom code so that all you’re going to do is add the icons and then you’re going to add links to those icons so that people can find, well, it takes them to a page or it takes them to the link page, it takes them to a subscribe page, whatever is that you’re guiding them to a facility of that subscription. Now, there is an HTML widget within WordPress, you could do it within that but you have to know HTML so you need to be able to code it from scratch to be able to use that widget which isn’t ideal for many people. So, the best thing to do in that case is to download a plugin called Black Studio TinyMCE widget. And you can get at podcraft.net/tinymce and this basically adds an extra widget tool to your widgets area. You’ll see it as, it’s named Visual Editor so once you’ve installed that plugin and activated it, there is this new widget called the Visual Editor. So, you go into your widgets area and again you can get videos on how to work with widgets, how to work with WordPress in general at my courses which you’ll find at podcraft.net/websitecourse but once you’re in there into the widgets, drag across the Visual Editor box to the relevant sidebar so you might want to add more sidebars but put it into the sidebar that will make it appear on your standard pages and then you can start to edit it. It just looks like a post edit page so it just gives you the standard options where you can just put on some texts, you can format, you can make titles, you can make links using the standard links icon and you can add images as well. And all you’re going to do is put on your icons that you downloaded from FindIcons. Add those images to your widget, click the images and turn those images into links and put the links as the links out to whatever it is you’re guiding the people. So, for the iTunes one for example, I would tend to guide people to the page on the iTunes website for your podcast. Because on that page there is a big subscribe button which opens up people’s iTunes app. For Stitcher, you can guide people straight to your page on the Stitcher website as well, so that’s fine too. For the RSS one, you’ll be linking to the actual RSS feed on your website. But essentially you create that within the widget so that all of them are relevant, all of them are present and then not then appears in your sidebar and that’s it done.
You can take an even easier option obviously and just have a text list, just a bullet point list which says Subscribe on iTunes, Subscribe on Stitcher, so on and then link out to that. You can make it as complicated or as easy as you like and you can look at podcraft.net for an example of this. In the top right of my sidebar you’ll see a few links to Subscribe to iTunes, Subscribe to Stitcher, etc. They’re just icons that I created myself and then link to within the standard WordPress HTML widget. So, that’s how it will look once you finish. Now, I want to mention another method as well. This is a paid method so this is something you have to pay for but it does make things so much easier, so much quicker and it looks great as well. It’s a really nicely designed plugin. Now, the plugin is called Social Subscribe and Follow Icons, it’s created by Daniel J. Lewis from Audacity to Podcast, great wee tool. Essentially it’s just a plugin that you install on WordPress just the same as any other plugin and it lets you add a short code to subscribe buttons in your posts or it lets you add a set of icons to your sidebar via a widget or into your header as well if you’ve got space in there for widgets. And it even offers a PHP code as well which means that you can put this anywhere so you could code them directly into the header, directly into the footer, directly into parts of your website. So it lets you set up these subscription buttons, offers you really great nice looking, nicely designed subscription buttons. And basically it puts all together for you. You can see how it looks actually by going straight to Daniel’s site, have a look at theaudacitytopodcast.com. He uses at the top of his site, you can see all the icons that appear there. It’s pretty little price, only twenty-five dollars to setup the thing, then twelve dollars a year so it doesn’t exactly costs much and I think it does save a whole lot of effort. So, it could be worth it if you don’t fancy trying to create them yourself in the method that I mentioned at the start. So, again, that is a plugin and the previous one as well that we worked with, the TinyMCE is a plugin.
So, if you want to look how to install those plugins, full guide to all on the courses that I have listed at podcraft.net/websitecourse. Just register there if you haven’t already or if you have you can get straight to the courses from the links there and just login.
So, let’s finish up today with your task. So what I want you to do today is choose one of the options so either go for the free method and install the TinyMCE plugin and create your sidebar with the subscription icons or go ahead and head over to Daniel’s site and download his plugin and install that and get it working as well. Either way just go ahead and get it done. Then, go over to procraft.net/307 that’s the show notes for this episode, you can get all the links to everything from that page as well. Put a comment on that page, tell me which one you went for and what services you’re listing. I’d love to know which ones you’re going for whether you’re putting on just iTunes, Stitcher whether you’re just putting Stitcher on RSS that kind of thing. Put a comment in and let me know which services you think are valuable enough to list.
And that’s it for today. It’s enough for one episode. Tomorrow and the next episode, I’m going to look at plugins which lets us measure our analytics and optimise the site a little bit for SEO. So if you’re interested in that, in helping yourself get a little bit up higher in the search and to measure how well you’re doing then do tune in again. But thanks for listening to this one and yeah I’ll see you then.