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PodSchool Podcast | Do you need a podcast host?

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Do you need a podcast host?

Can you host a show by yourself or do you need a little help?

The quick answer to the question “Do I need a podcast host?” is YES!

Unless you know how to whittle your own RSS feed, which most of us don’t, you’re going to need a podcast host to make sure every episode gets from your computer into people’s ears.

Apple Google Spotify

What is a podcast host?

A podcast host is the middle man between you and your listeners.

It’s the place where you’ll store all of your podcast episodes and when you upload your first MP3 it’ll generate your ‘RSS feed’ which is the link that tells podcast directories when you’ve released a new ep.

What happens when you change podcast hosts?

Read

How does your podcast get into podcast directories?

There are three things you need for a podcast to make its way to your audience…

  1. An MP3 file – this is the format you’ll save each episode in so you can upload it to…
  2. A podcast host – where you upload all your episodes as well as your show description, artwork and any other information that’s displayed in podcast apps.
  3. RSS Feed – this is what you submit to directories (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify) so each new episode of your podcast is delivered straight to your subscriber’s podcast app as soon as it’s released. The term “RSS Feed” sounds like a very technical line of code but it’s really just a URL that looks something like this…

https://showname.podcasthostname.com/rss

Each podcast host will have their own structure for the URL but one thing they all have in common is they include the letters “rss.”

The steps to release a podcast episode

Read

Recommended Podcast Directories

These are some of the places you’ll want your podcast to be so listeners can find it (ideally you want your show to be in all the places listeners might be looking for it)…

iTunes

Google Podcasts

Spotify

Stitcher

Pocketcasts

TuneIn

There are plenty more out than this and you can find them all in this very comprehensive list.

How to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify

Read

Podcast hosts I recommend

When you’re looking for the right podcast host make sure you think about where you want your podcast to be six months or a year from now.

You might not need all the features a podcast host offers immediately but ideally, you want to choose a host you can grow with rather than chopping and changing.

Here are some of the podcast hosts I’ve used…

Whooshkaa

Logo for podcast host, WhooshkaaThis is the platform I use to house my personal podcasts.

Their podcast player has a great design that plays natively in Twitter and Facebook.  They also have a number of other great features including private podcasts, transcription and an ad management tool so you can manage your own ads.

Omny

Omny Studio LogoThe platform my team and I have used for both the networks where I’ve been Head of Podcasts.

They have a really easy-to-navigate interface and a nice player design.  They’ve also added private podcasts, transcription, and a number of other great features.

LibSyn

Where to host your podcastThis is one of the most established and well-known podcast hosts and is used by a lot of the major podcasts in America.

They’re really podcaster-focused and are big on privacy.  They also allow you to commercialise your show if you’re getting over 5k downloads per episode.

A quick Google search will turn up plenty of others but the main thing is to choose a podcast host that has the features you want and that gives you total control over your content.

How to record a podcast

Read

A note on free podcast hosts

When you’re starting out and you don’t want to spend a lot of money I understand why a free podcast host might sound appealing.

While your choice of host is ultimately up to you, one of the things I’d say about free podcast hosts is to make sure you read the Ts & Cs thoroughly because if you’re not paying with cash you want to make sure you’re not paying with something else i.e. your content.

There have been problems with free podcast hosts in the past refusing to let users move old episodes of their show to another host, or making changes to show notes without their approval.

Wherever you house your podcast you need to have complete control over the content because it’s your intellectual property and no one should be able to mess with that.

So make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start uploading audio.

What is Anchor?

Read

Choose the host that’s right for you

It’s impossible to go it alone without a podcast host if you’re starting out, so do your research and pick the one you prefer.  If you go with any of the above recommendations you’ll be using platforms tested by thousands of podcasters so you’ll be in safe hands.

Whichever one you choose they should have support pages and tutorials that will take you through everything you need to get set up.

The dashboard of your podcast host is also where you’ll find your analytics so you’ll be able to see how many people are listening to your show and where they’re coming from.

This information is essential, not only because it’s nice to know how many people are tuning in to your show, but also because you’ll need this data if you eventually want to bring advertisers into your podcast.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Welcome to the show. Today's episode is all about podcast hosting and it's inspired by the delightful Dylan who sent me an email asking "Is it worth getting a podcast host when you're starting out, or is it best to go solo.

The answer to this question is always - get yourself a podcast host! Unless you know how to whittle up your own RSS feed, which most of us don't, you're going to need a podcast host because they are going to make your life so much easier when you're just starting out.

When you've never done any podcasting before, it can seem like the process of speaking into a microphone and actually getting that into people’s ears happens via some kind of weird audio voodoo. I've got the image of Mike TV from the original Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in bits above the head of Willy Wonka as he goes from the little platform to the television. It feels like that's how it gets into people's ears. But when you've got a podcast host all of that Mike TV magic happens without you having to do a damn thing.

So just to break it down the three things involved in podcasting is an MP 3 (the episode you've recorded and exported in your audio editing software to MP 3), a podcasting host (a place to upload those MP3s) and what's called an RSS feed. That's created by your podcast host and is what directories and podcasting apps like Stitcher and iTunes use to find your new episodes so they can show people who have subscribed to your show that there is a new one available.

The podcasting host is the guy right in the middle who takes all of your lovely MP 3s and hides them away in a nice little storage facility. Then when somebody wants to download your episode they're the person that shows them where to find it and you don't have to do a single thing because all of the magic happens behind the scenes. So it's very very important to get a host because that's the only way directories like iTunes and Stitcher are going to be able to find your show. And if you want to be found by listeners you have to be where the listeners are going to find shows. That is predominantly iTunes but obviously a whole bunch of other places too if your listeners use Android phones or Google phones etc.

The easiest way to think about your RSS feed is like the menu section of Netflix. It doesn't really look that snazzy it just looks like a whole bunch of numbers and letters but when iTunes gets a hold of it it turns all of those numbers and letters into information that ends up being your episode list and your show name and title and your show artwork so that it looks snazzy when it gets to iTunes.

If you have a podcast host all you need to do is create an account with them and then once you've created your podcast you just upload each episode and you put all of the information into the very simple interface that they have there and they do the rest of the work. The very first time you publish your very first episode you copy and paste that RSS feed into the directories that you want your show to appear in e.g. iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. So every time you release a new episode those directories know exactly where to get it from and can download it and send it to the people who want to listen to your episode.

Having a podcast host means you're not housing your MP3s in the media section of your website. That is a big no no because obviously the point of having a podcast is to get an audience but if you have your MP3s housed on your website and you've got a large audience your website is going to be running at a pace that everybody will be describing as glacial. It will slow your website down whereas podcasts hosts like LibSyn, Whooshkaa and Blubrry have a whole bunch of bandwidth your listeners can use right up without slowing down your website.

There are a range of different plans you can get and I will detail everything that I'm referring to on the show notes page of this episode so head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and type "host" into the search bar and this will pop right up. I'll have all of the links to the different directories and also all of the different hosts that you can use so you know exactly where to find them.

It's absolutely impossible to go it alone without a podcast host if you are just starting out. Podcast hosts also have tutorials and analytics so that you know exactly how many people are downloading your show, where they're coming from and all the stuff you want to have at your disposal if you want to get advertisers on board in the future. Or if you just want to brag about your sweet numbers.

So the answer to today's question "Do you need a podcast host?" is a big resounding yes. Thank you so much Dylan for the question. If you have a question that you would like answered please head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and click on the contact page. Shoot me a question and I would love to answer it for you on the show. Of course if you need any extra training or anything a little bit more in-depth you can head to PodSchool.com.au to find out more about my online podcasting course which takes you step by step through every part of the process because it can be darn daunting when you're doing it by yourself.

Thanks so much for listening and I'll see you next week for another episode of the PodSchool Podcast.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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