You've refined the concept for your podcast and found the right equipment to create an amazing setup. Maybe you've even recorded some quality audio for your first show. So, what's next? How do you deliver your podcast to the ears of listeners?
To get your podcast to the people, you'll need a podcast hosting platform to store your audio and video files online for distribution and download. Not all podcast hosting platforms are created equal, and you should consider many factors when selecting the best podcast host for your program.
Before you pick a podcast host, find out what podcast hosting is and how it affects distribution. We'll discuss some of the features and capabilities you should keep an eye out for when deciding between podcast hosting sites. You’ll know how to find the best podcast hosting platform for the specific needs of your program.
Table of Contents
1. What is a Podcast Hosting Platform?
2. Why Do You Need Podcast Hosting?
3. What’s the Difference Between Podcast Hosting and Podcast Distribution?
4. Do I Need a Website for Hosting a Podcast?
5. Considerations When Choosing a Podcast Hosting Platform
What is a Podcast Hosting Platform?
Just like you need a website host to store content, like pictures, written content, forms, etc., you need a podcast hosting platform to host and store the media files for your show. Podcast hosting sites use servers for storage, designed specifically to store large media files for download and distribution.
Most podcast hosting platforms come with additional features to grow your following. If you know what to look for in a podcast host, you can easily select a platform that will meet all of your needs and simplify your podcasting experience, instead of complicating it.
Why Do You Need Podcast Hosting?
When recording a podcast, you create a large number of media files that you'll need to share online with your audience. If you know what you're doing, you could create a website to host and share those media files. But, most website hosts don't have the storage or bandwidth capabilities needed for large audio and video files. Using your own website could result in a bad user experience with issues like slow load times or even page crashes.
For the best results, get your podcast online through a podcast hosting platform. A podcast hosting site provides ample space to store files for as long as you want. Many platforms will even assist you with distribution so people can find your show and tune in.
What’s the Difference Between Podcast Hosting and Podcast Distribution?
A podcast hosting platform stores your media files online, but you'll still need a way to get those files to your audience. That’s where podcast distribution comes in, to distribute your podcast and help listeners find your show.
You're probably familiar with the top three podcast distributors: Spotify, Google, and Apple. Some other distributors that you should consider include Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Radio.com. and TuneIn Radio.
How Are Podcasts Distributed?
These days, almost all podcast hosting platforms will help you get listed on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts by providing you with an RSS feed. This makes it easier than ever for listeners to find and connect with your content.
Your podcast host will give you an RSS feed link (more on what that means below), which you then submit to any and all the distributors. Each time you upload new episodes on your podcast hosting platform, your followers automatically receive the podcast via the RSS feed.
What is an RSS Feed?
RSS feed stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication". Back in the early days of the internet, RSS feeds were mainly associated with blogging. Bloggers would use the feeds to share new content they had published online. That way, their readers and potential readers could access their newest entries or browse their blog archives.
In the early 2000s, internet users began attaching audio files to an RSS file as an "enclosure". They were then distributed in the same way that news and blog posts. This marks the beginning of using RSS for podcast distribution.
Do I Need a Website for Hosting a Podcast?
We don’t recommend hosting your podcast files from your own personal website due to storage issues and slow website load times. That said, creating a website in tandem with your podcast hosting platform can be beneficial for a number of reasons:
- To provide listeners with more information about your show: You can tell your story, the story of your podcast, provide more info about your guests, and give listeners the scoop on upcoming episodes.
- To build a better relationship with your audience and create a sense of community: A website provides a place for your audience to communicate with you and other listeners through forums. You can provide links to additional information on topics you discuss during your broadcasts, too.
- To increase the chances of people finding your show online, via search engines and SEO.
- To monetize your podcast through additional advertising on your site: For example, by selling merchandise through an online store or offering premium subscription features like unreleased content.
- To provide analytics for your show: You can better understand your listeners and the content that they want. Use website analytics to see who visits your site.
- To provide a place for your podcast that you own and control: A personal website creates a home base that you have total control over where you can reach your audience if you ever have issues with your hosted files.
Considerations When Choosing a Podcast Hosting Platform
Most podcast hosts, free and paid, will provide you with basic features like an RSS feed and analytics. As your podcast grows and evolves, you'll probably need more than just the bare bones. Understanding what a podcast hosting platform has to offer from the jump will make things easier for you when further along in your podcast journey.
The best podcasting hosting for your show depends on your needs and how you plan to use the platform. Pay close attention to these seven things when shopping around for different podcast hosting platforms:
1. Storage and Bandwidth Limits
Put this at the top of your list when reviewing podcast hosting platforms. The amount of storage and bandwidth that a podcast host offers will impact many aspects of your program, from how many episodes you can release a week to how much access your audience has to old content. It can also affect how many people can download or listen to your show at a given time.
The amount of storage provided by a podcast hosting site determines the number of files and file size that you can host. When looking at storage capabilities, consider the future of your show. As you continue producing content, you will need enough storage space for both your old and new podcast episodes.
Bandwidth will affect how much content you can upload or download from your host. This directly influences how many people can access your podcast at one time. As your audience grows, so will your bandwidth needs, so you have to make sure that your host can deliver your content as needed.
Keep in mind that restricted bandwidth can create a poor experience for your listeners. Many podcast hosting platforms have paid and unpaid options with restricted and unrestricted bandwidth and storage limits. We recommend not cutting corners when it comes to paying for your podcast hosting. A little bit of extra investment in this area can go a long way.
You can probably start with the free plan and restricted storage space at first. Just make sure the hosting site you choose can meet all of your storage and bandwidth needs when ready to upgrade and pay for hosting.
2. Analytics Reporting
Analytics provide a powerful tool to better understand your audience—essential to the success of your podcast. (Advertisers and major media networks have been using these insights for decades to make decisions about their programs and advertising budgets.)
Even if you aren't a numbers person, having a basic grasp on how your podcast is performing can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to creating engaging content. The right analytics will also show you which platforms people use to listen to your show.
Make sure that the analytics provided by the podcasting hosting site are IAB Certified, or at least IAB Compliant. The IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) has set standards that a majority of podcast hosts use when looking at analytics. If your analytics aren’t certified or compliant, they may not provide accurate information, which could lead you to make poor decisions regarding your show's content and advertising.
If you plan to use analytics often, check with your podcast hosting platform features. See if they offer the ability to download and export your numbers so you can work with them more extensively.
Although a website isn’t essential for your podcast, it's a really great way to promote your show and engage followers. We suggest a podcast hosting site that can integrate easily with your website. This can save you headaches as you progress with your podcast. Some podcast hosts actually offer the option to create a personalized site for you, too.
If a podcast hosting platform does have a feature to create a personalized site, make sure your podcast hosting platform has the capability to integrate with your domain and RSS feed. Many podcasters go for WordPress. This popular website builder has a plugin that is compatible with most podcast hosting sites. You can easily manage your show within the WordPress dashboard, saving you loads of time when sharing new episodes with your audience.
4. Ease of Use & Support
Podcast hosting features are useless to you if you don't understand how to use them. So, take time to research the features offered by a podcast hosting site. Also, learn how to use the dashboard so you can better manage your podcast and media files.
We suggest searching for screenshots and YouTube videos that go through a hosting company's dashboard. You’ll see how everything is laid out and the technical knowledge needed to use the podcast host features effectively. You can also sign up for a free trial (if available to learn the ropes before committing to a subscription.
Once you've gotten a feel for the podcast hosting site's software, look into the type of support they offer. If you're not extremely tech-savvy, go with a podcast host that has a bit of additional tech support. That way, you'll always have a backup if you run into any major issues.
5. Media Player Capabilities
All podcast hosts provide a media player to let listeners stream your show online. You’ll receive an embeddable code that you can paste into the backend of your podcast's website. Then it will appear online for listeners to stream your podcast.
Pay attention to how the media player your potential host provides looks and functions. Some players will be more aesthetically pleasing than others. Also, make sure users can easily share your podcast on social media or subscribe to your podcast using your podcast host media player. This will increase the chances of growing your audience.
6. Possibility for Monetization
Sure, you’re probably in the podcast game because you feel passionate about it. But it doesn't hurt to think about the future and making some money from it. Podcast monetization is something that's relatively new, and many hosting and software companies are still trying to figure out how to best make monetization work for their users.
When shopping around, look at the premium subscription capabilities and educational resources offered by the podcast hosting platform. Cutting-edge companies will allow you to manage premium subscriptions for your podcast. Features may help discover new ways to make money from your program through informative research and articles on topics like gaining sponsors and cross-promoting other businesses.
7. Transcription Services
Check to see if your podcast host offers word-for-word transcriptions for each of your podcast episodes. Transcripts of your podcast episodes are great to have on hand. If you can find a podcast host that will create them for you, you don't have to spend the time doing it yourself. You may never have considered it, but a written transcript of your podcast episode can have a number of benefits:
- Having a transcript of your podcast can make your program accessible to individuals with hearing impairments - if they have a written version of your show to follow along with, they can enjoy your podcast when they couldn’t have before.
- A show transcript can act as SEO content when published on your website for listeners, which can improve your search ranking. This will make it easier for new listeners to learn about and engage with your program.
- If you have a transcript of your podcast, you have additional content that you can repurpose for other things. For instance, podcasters use excerpts from their transcriptions for online content like blog posts, which means more potential SEO content and traffic to your website.
When it comes to a podcast hosting platform, we suggest investing some money in a paid subscription. Many podcast hosts have tiered pricing, which can give you an idea of how much you should budget for hosting in the future as your podcast gains popularity and you need more resources.
The cost for a podcast host will usually center on storage and bandwidth, so have a clear idea of how much of each you'll need before committing to a podcast hosting site subscription. You don't want to pay for any storage space or features you won't be using for your program.
Choosing the podcast hosting platform for your program can make or break the success of your show. When budgeting for your podcast, set aside plenty of funds to get the best podcast hosting platform. You can find many podcast hosting sites out there, but not all of them offer the same features and functionality. Do plenty of research to understand which will be the best podcast hosting platform for you. It’ll pay off in the long run.