So, you finally have a rocking idea for your podcast. You've mapped out your episodes, made a rough script, and hit the record button. But what next? Where does one go from here? You want people to tune into your podcast, but how will that happen? Well, this is where your podcast hosting platform comes to your rescue, wearing a superhero cape.
To many, podcast hosting is a mystery. What really is podcast hosting, and why do I need it? Can I podcast without a hosting provider? Will the hosting services cost me a fortune? What if I end up choosing and paying for the wrong hosting platform?
All these question marks will float around your mind. Don't worry because we've got you covered. In this article, we'll uncover what's a podcast hosting platform, why you need one, and everything in between. Let's dive in!
What is a podcast hosting platform?
Just like you use a website host to store your blogs, videos, and other content online, you'll require a podcast hosting platform to host and store your podcast's media files. Hosting providers are most apt for your podcast as they use servers specifically designed to store sizeable media files that can be further downloaded and distributed.
Besides providing storage, hosting platforms also handle your podcast distribution, ensuring that your show reaches as many listeners as possible. This is done through an RSS feed created by the platform that acts as a single power link containing all your podcast details like the podcast title, coverarts, and information about your show and episodes.
Many hosting platforms provide additional features to help you promote and monetize your show. While picking a hosting provider, you must look out for these features and ensure they help you with your podcast goals.
Why do you need a podcast hosting platform?
While podcast hosting through a website has its pros, it doesn't provide you with all the services you'll need to grow your show. Here are two major reasons why you need a hosting platform for your podcast:
When you create a podcast, you create large media files that require proper space and storage so that they can function well.
Many websites don't have enough bandwidth or storage required to safe keep heavy audio and video files. It might lead to slow loading or page crashes, resulting in a bad user experience.
However, a hosting platform is built specifically to meet all your podcasting needs, whether it's storage, analytics, or promotional features.
In order to reach your audience, your podcast should be available on all major directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify & Google Podcasts. To distribute your podcast to all these streaming platforms, you'll have to submit your podcast RSS feed to them.
When you host your podcast on a hosting platform, the provider creates an RSS feed for you automatically without any manual effort from your end. It not only allows you to upload new episodes, audio files & cover arts to that RSS feed but also further submit it to all major directories with a single click.
How to pick a good hosting platform for your podcast?
When picking a hosting platform, it all comes down to your podcast goals and needs. If you are a hobbyist, you can opt for a hosting platform that offers basic features like an RSS feed and analytics.
If you are looking to podcast at a professional level, then there are platforms that offer more advanced features like monetization, promotional features, and private podcasting.
Here are some additional things to consider when choosing a podcast hosting platform:
Your storage requirements depend on how long you are going to run your podcast. If your podcast is a one-time small project and you are looking at uploading only a couple of episodes, then you can work around limited space.
BUT, if you are starting a podcast with multiple seasons in mind, something you'll continue for a long time, you'll have to look for a hosting platform with good storage capabilities. The bandwidth of a platform will determine how many episodes you'd be able to upload and how many people would be able to listen and download them.
Even if your episodes are short or you don't expect many listeners, you should still consider a scenario where your listener base grows or your episodes run longer & more frequently.
You can find different hosting platforms, paid and unpaid, with different storage options. This is when you should invest wisely in a provider, taking in your requirements and future podcast plans so that you can upgrade easily when the time comes.
Many podcast hosts offer you with advanced podcast analytics to better understand your audience and listener trends. Comprehensive details like top locations, top hours, and total downloads can help you make better creative decisions.
Podcast analytics not only help you track your performance but also bring you many growth opportunities. Major media networks, brands & advertisers use these insights to make decisions about their advertising budgets.
With certified numbers backing you up, you can easily grab these opportunities and further strengthen your podcast and community.
Ease-of-use & support
No matter how many exciting features a platform is offering you, if you can't find your way around it, then it's not the right fit for you. So, before committing to a hosting provider, make sure you take a tour. You can find a ton of videos on YouTube with honest reviews of popular platforms.
Besides the ease of use, you should also check for good support capabilities. Especially if you are not tech-savvy, pick a platform that's got your back when it comes to dealing with the tech side of podcasting. Go through their help center and see if they have good help articles. This way, if you run into any major issues, it will not affect your podcast.
Media player capabilities
To allow listeners to stream your show online, every podcast host provides a media player. Often provided as an embeddable code, the media player can be inserted into the backend of your podcast website.
Though a media payer doesn't have a lot of features, it can still be customized to enhance the listening experience. Make sure your podcast host provides an embed player that looks good and functions well.
Also, make sure that the media player comes with social media icons so that listeners can easily share your podcast or subscribe to your show using your podcast host media player. This will give easy access to your audience, motivating them to engage further with your podcast.
A lot of time & resources go into creating a podcast show. If you are in it for the long run, then monetizing your show must have crossed your mind. Even if you podcast for a hobby, getting paid for your hard work motivates you to do better.
However, podcast monetization is fairly new. Many hosting platforms are still figuring out how they can help their creators earn a steady income from their shows.
Some platforms will come with premium subscription capabilities, and some will only support monetization through listeners, for instance, affiliate marketing, donations, etc. There are platforms that provide a good ad marketplace but might lack in other spectrums. Make sure you consider all the pros and cons of the platform before committing to one.
Creation & promotion tools
Creation and promotion tools are equally important. Recording and editing your podcast should be easy, and it should be even easier to spread the word about it. Look for features like audiogram, podcast website, and player embed, as these will help you promote your show on social media.
Some podcast hosts come with in-built tools, while some direct you to third-party platforms. In any case, you need to find your tuning between creating and promoting your show with your hosting provider.
This is a no-brainer. Some of you might be looking at podcasting as a hobby and some as a professional career. Depending on your needs, it's only fair to consider how much you are willing to invest.
As a hobbyist, we'd recommend you to go for a free platform that provides you with basic features. If you want to create a professional podcast, then a paid platform might be a good choice. These platforms often come with cutting-edge technology to meet the specific requirements of the creators.
Even when you are cruising through paid hosts, make sure to review each of their plans carefully so that you don't get the short end of the stick. The platforms usually charge more for storage and bandwidth, so decide how much of each you'll need before buying any plan. You wouldn't want to pay for storage or features you won't be using.
A podcast hosting platform can make or break your show. Research well to find the best fit for you, as it'll definitely pay off in the long run. Keep in mind all you need to get your podcast on the road and then only commit to a hosting provider.