Evo Terra
Curator of The End
March 23, 2024

RedCircle is arguably one of the better free podcast hosting choices for a fiction podcaster. A quick scan of our database on The End shows that about 4% of the shows we’ve listed use RedCircle as their hosting provider. There are, as you might imagine, some limits on what you can do with their free tier.

But does RedCircle make a good place for fiction podcasters to call home? It can be, but due to the quirks of fiction podcasting vs “normal” podcasts, some tweaks need to be made to optimize RedCircle for fiction podcasters. And some of those tweaks will require a more advanced tier to activate.

In the subsequent sections of this article, I’ll break down how to optimize your RedCircle account on a page-by-page, field-by-field level. I'll use the exact name of the fields and even include a cropped screenshot of each to help make things as clear as possible. But please note that I’ll only offer advice/opinions/directions for the fields that need optimization. If I don’t have anything to say about a field, that doesn’t mean the field isn’t important. It probably is! It’s just not something that needs to be optimized. With that, let’s get started!

All Podcasts > [Your Podcast Title]

Start this process by logging into your RedCircle account. Once you are in, you’ll see a good overview of your podcast on this page, with several grey boxes of options. But the place we want to start is hidden in the ellipsis on the upper right-hand corner of your page:


Click that, and then choose Podcast Settings from the drop down menu:

Podcast settings




This is the title of your fiction podcast, obviously. Some creators like to add “Audio drama” and stuff like that, but I say do that only if you need it. And remember, you don’t need to add “podcast” (probably) to the name of your show.



The words entered here are used both for the description that appears on your RedCircle-generated website as well as the description that is distributed to various podcast listening platforms and directories. Note: podcast listening apps and directories search through the show description text when returning search results. Is it important? Yes. Very. And it’s probably something you should revisit on a regular basis as your show grows. 

You have up to 4,000 characters to work with when you write your description. I included some tips on crafting a great fiction podcast description in this article. It’s item #3.


Primary Category

My strong recommendation: Unless you have a very good reason not to, the entry in this field should be Fiction or Fiction > [Comedy, Drama, or Science Fiction]. Don’t get me started on how dumb it is to limit fiction podcasts to just those three subcategories. It aggravates me too, but as Sigourney Weaver’s character told us in Cabin In The Woods, we work with what we have. 


Secondary Categories

You can choose up to two more categories/subcategories for your fiction podcast. Choose whatever makes sense based on the contents of your fiction podcast. I’ve seen fiction podcasters also categorize their shows as Arts > Performing Arts, Arts > Books, Comedy > [subcategories], History, Leisure, Kids & Family, and many others. Whatever makes sense for the story(ies) you’re telling in your fiction podcast.


Contact Email

Make sure the email address here is one you don’t mind giving out and is one you check. Regularly. My advice: create a show-specific email address, something like “,” and forward that inbox so that all mail to it routes to your personal email address. Now you won’t miss any important updates, and no one has your personal email address. Sweet! 


Author Name

The contents of this field are displayed prominently along with your show’s title and artwork in most directories and apps, so make sure it says what you want it to say! Repeating the name of your show here is rather pointless and, at the risk of repeating myself, repetitive. Using only the name of a production company won’t give you or other creators any branding. But you can enter something like Creator Name | Other Creator Name | Network/Studio in that field if you want to give more than one person/entity some credit.

There’s more to do in this section, but our next group of tags is hidden behind the Advanced Settings link. Click it.

Advanced Settings

Hey! Look! More fields to tweak.


Subtitle and Apple: Summary

Let’s deal with both of these together. Whatever you have in here—delete it. These tags have both been deprecated, so they serve no purpose. Delete them. You’re welcome.


Episodic vs Serial

This is the big one. The one that is all too often missed by fiction podcasters. Chances are, you want Serial as your feed type, not Episodic. Episodic describes podcasts with formats like interviews, current events or news, or weekly gab-fests. With those shows—they make up the largest share of podcasts—it’s fine for a brand-new person to listen to the most recent episode. 

But most fiction podcasts—yes, there are exceptions—presenting the most recent episode to a new listener makes for a bad listener experience. When you read a fictional story or start a new fictional series on TV, you start at the beginning, not the end. And certainly not at whatever the current episode is, right?

Changing your feed type to Serial gives fiction podcasters like you some control over how your episodes are presented to your listeners. Serial. That’s the right answer for fiction podcasts that publish episodes that really should be listened to in a particular order.


External Link

This field is poorly named and doesn’t quite function the way it should out of the box. But we can get it there. 

In most hosting platforms, this is where you enter the URL of your show’s website so it’s included in (and distributed with) the RSS feed. Many of today’s listening apps and podcast directories will place a clickable link with “show website” or something like that, encouraging listeners to click and get to your site. 

If you have your own website—i.e.—enter the full address in this field, starting with https:// (or, less ideally, http://) to make a fully formed URL. 

But there’s an extra step to get this working in RedCircle! In order to get the external link to actually update in your RSS feed, you have to email and ask them to pretty please, with sugar on top, update your RSS feed to include this new external link in your RSS feed. If you don’t do that, then the link in your RSS feed won’t be to your custom website, but to the generated webpage RedCircle makes for all of their customers. Which you don’t want if you have your own custom website. It won’t take them long to make the change, I’ve been assured.

If you do not have a dedicated and separate website/page for your show, then I recommend letting RedCircle generate a website for you. In which case, you’ll leave this as it currently is. (Though, really, you need your own domain name, at least. That’s my very strong opinion.)

OK! That’s it for this section. Hit the red Save button, and let’s move on.


The rest of the work we’re going to do to get your RedCircle account up to snuff is all in the Episode section. Click that big grey box, and let’s dive in.


You should now see a list of your previously published episodes in reverse chronological order. Before making any changes to any specific episode, take a moment to look at the list of episodes you see on this page. Specifically, I want you to focus just on the Titles of your episodes, and ask yourself some questions:

  • Do the story episodes look like they are all part of the same story?
  • If you see episode drops or promos, do they look different from your “normal” episodes?
  • Does the trailer episode(s) clearly look like a trailer?
  • Are any bonus episodes clearly tagged and named so they look like bonus episodes?
  • Do your season finales clearly look like season finales?

The text used for the title of your episodes are important, but it’s also important that every episode looks like it belongs, is in the right place/order, and is properly tagged. If an episode looks odd to you in this view, I can promise you it looks odd to potential listeners when it hits their listening app. And you don’t want that.

We’ll make changes to your Titles (and more) one by one, so start by clicking the ellipsis to the right of any episode and then choosing the Edit Episode option

Edit Episode




There are many schools of thought on how episode titles should be written, but I belong to the “most important things first” clan. That’s probably not the episode number. That’s probably not the title of your podcast. What’s important is what the content if that episode actually is. That could be as simple as Chapter 1. Or it might be The Plot To Steal Xmas or whatever nifty title you’d write if the episode were a blog post or article. 

If you have extra things you want to add to your title, like Season 2 finale or Part 3 of 4, add those to the end of the title, as they are (probably) not the most important things.



Each episode can—and should—have its own description. These are often called show notes in podcasting parlance, though I hate the term and prefer episode details, as that’s more representative of what this text should be. But I’ve been lobbying for that change since 2004, and I’ve gotten nowhere. Regardless, see item #8 in my previously mentioned article on some good ideas of what information you should put in this field for each of your episodes.


Episode Artwork

If you make custom artwork for each of your episodes, this is where you upload them for each episode. By default, your show-level artwork displays. It’s up to you to decide if you want to do it or not. Some of the most podcast apps are showing them, however. I like it.

If you decide to create them, follow the sizing guidelines on the page, and try to keep the “weight” to under 500 KB.

Huh. That was easy. No, wait! There are more things we need to look at, and they’re once again hidden behind a More Options link:

More options

That’s more like it!


Episode Subtitle

Remember how I suggested you wipe out the SUBTITLE field in the prior section? Surprise! I’m suggesting you wipe this one out as well. It’s just not used anywhere.


Another poorly named field. I’d be a lot happier if this were EPISODE WEBPAGE. But hey, choosing beggars and all.

If you have a custom website and you make episode-specific pages with things like your extended episode details, transcript, cast and crew credits, fan art, or other nifty things specific to each episode, this is the spot where you connect the URL of that page on your website to your RSS feed, so that listeners are taken to your website and not RedCircle’s when they click on “more information about this episode,” or whatever they app calls the link. 

This also gives you a nifty SEO boost, as you’ll have a bunch of links from RedCircle pointing to your website. Nice, huh?


Episode Apple Summary

Deprecated and worthless. Delete anything you have in here. Or keep it in. Whatever. It’s not doing anything.


Episode Number

While I wish they listed SEASON first, but see my prior referenced Sigourney Weaver quote. 

EPISODE NUMBERs work in conjunction with Season numbers. This field also only takes non-negative, non-zero integers, and they are used to determine the order in which episodes of a particular season should be displayed. 

It is very possible that some of your episodes will not have an Episode number. You’ll see why soon enough. Also, it’s best practice (though not a requirement) to restart your episode numbering with each new Season. For example, your first Season may have Episode numbers 1–10, and your second Season might also have Episode numbers 1–10. That’s fine, because the Episode number combines with the Season number (e.g.S2E1, so there won’t be any duplicates.


Season number

If you changed a setting earlier from Episodic to Serial, then you’ll most likely want to use season numbers. Modern listening apps like Apple Podcasts and others use the Season tag to group episodes of a season together. So… use it. Only use non-negative, non-zero integers (e.g. 1, 2, 3…).

And now you see why I wanted to see SEASON listed before EPISODE NUMBER. But I’ll live.


Episode Type

Most of your episodes will be tagged as Full and get a sequential number in the EPISODE NUMBER field. In fact, that’s a good rule—if an episode of your show is NOT to be missed, mark it as Full and give the correct Episode number so it displays in the proper order.

Got an episode drop or a special announcement episode in your feed that isn’t part of the story? Then it is most likely a Bonus episode. Bonus episodes are just that—extra content that a new listener doesn’t have to listen to enjoy the continuing arc of your story. Some apps, like Apple Podcasts, will segregate most (but not all) Bonus episodes to the bottom of a season or series. Keep in mind that caught-up listeners—those who eagerly download and listen to your latest episode as soon as it comes out—will hear your Bonus episodes as you add them. The segregation I spoke of is really for people who are “behind” listening, if you will. Or bingers (like me). So you don’t need to worry that your Bonus episode won’t be heard by your most rabid fans. It will be! But for people who come in a month (or years) later, those Bonus episodes won’t be speedbumps in their (our) listening. 

Bonus episodes can be numbered, but only if the Bonus episode is a Bonus episode for a specific Full episode. For example, let’s say that you had a guest actor on an episode, and you decided to do an interview with them. If you think it’s important for your listeners—current and future—to hear that conversation, give that Bonus episode the same Season and Episode number as the Full episode the actor appeared in. That will cause your Bonus episode to show up after the Full episode, at least in the modern apps that respect those tags.

Trailer is the other type, and it’s most often used like trailers are used in the movies, but can also be used to denote “sample” content. When you tag an episode as a Trailer, modern apps will elevate that episode to be the first thing a brand-new listener hears—sometimes even before they decide to follow or subscribe. And, if you use multiple seasons and you make a new trailer for each season, you’ll want to add the Season number to your Trailer episodes as well. 

One key point about Trailers: None of them should be required listening. Once a person is following your show in a podcast app, the trailer episodes will not (or at least should not) play during binge-listening sessions. 

Like Bonus episodes, Trailer episodes can be numbered, but that’s unusual. I’ve seen some audio fiction creators put out Trailer episodes for a delayed-but-soon-to-be-released episode as a sort of teaser. The same rule applies: use the same Episode number as the Full episode that Trailer is about. (Pro tip: Episodes like that are only meaningful for people who are waiting on the next episode. Once it publishes, I think you should delete the numbered Trailer episode.)

When you have all of that done, hit the big red Update button if you made any changes, and then do this all over again. Yes, for every single episode. Sorry.


Next, we’ll check to see how far and wide your fiction podcast has been distributed.


Click the big grey box with the same name:

Your goal here is to see DISTRIBUTION CONFIRMED on all of these choices. If you don’t, you’re missing potential listeners. These are the apps that will be displayed on your generated podcast website… but only if you fill them out. Which ones should you fill out? All of them, of course. Why not? People listen on lots of different platforms. Why not be everywhere?

And, while you're at it, here are a bunch more locations you should also submit your show to. Full coverage everywhere and anywhere someone listens to podcasts is what you want. This is how you do it.

That’s it! You have now fully optimized your fiction podcast's RedCircle account. Nicely done! It'll take a few hours (or days, sometimes) for your changes to be fully distributed. You should see changes to your website immediately, obviously. And, depending on how drastic your changes were, you may hear from some users about repeat downloads, which means you'll see a temporary spike in downloads. That will soon settle down. You did good work!

Special thanks to W. Keith Tims, creator of The Book of Constellations, for granting me access to his RedCircle account, letting me poke around, and being the first one to implement optimization techniques!

If you’re a fiction podcast creator and you found value in this post, don’t keep it to yourself! I wrote it so that all fiction podcasters who use RedCircle as their hosting platform can present their show and episodes in the best way possible. Share it with your fellow creators.

I’m working on other guides for other popular hosting platforms, so stay tuned, and I’ll probably get to your hosting provider very soon. You can always email me and lobby me to get to yours quicker. If you sign up to become an Individual Supporter or Supporting Creative Shop, I’ll bump you to the head of the line!

If you work for a hosting company, I’d love to chat with you about making it easier for fiction podcasters to use your platform. They have some pretty specific needs that, as you can see, can get a little obfuscated. I’m happy to consult with you on better serving those needs.

And if this is your first time experiencing me and The End; welcome! My focus is on helping listeners find more fiction podcasts they can enjoy on their schedule. Please subscribe to the weekly newsletter so you always know what fiction podcasts have reached the end of a season, have a new season coming soon, or have reached the conclusion of the entire series. It’s what we do around here!

- Evo

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