a rack full of servers

Why do you need a podcast host?

While researching podcasting you may have read about the concept of a podcast host. At first, it is not easy to understand what exactly this is, or why it is needed in the first place. The whole concept may be confusing.

What’s its purpose? Don’t people listen to podcasts on apps? Why do you need a middle person? You can use any app, on your phone (Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Castro, Pocket Casts, etc) and a dozen others on the web.

You may think podcasts are created directly on these apps. But then, how can you upload your podcast and every episode in all these apps separately? That would be a lot of work. And new apps, or lesser-known ones, are created every now and then. You want your podcast to be available in each one. What if you forget to upload an episode to a specific app, and then a portion of your listeners never finds it?

The other problem is, that if you uploaded every one of your episodes to every app separately, the apps would charge you because of this, or they would put advertisements in order to monetize and make a profit. Hosting and bandwidth costs money, and they could not provide such a service for free. Having thousands of podcasts would keep them in debt. In order to adapt, they would try to find ways to make a profit. That could be by, sooner or later starting to charge you, putting ads on your episodes, selling your or your listeners’ data, and more.

Eventually, you would have to consider how to handle uploading your podcast to each one of these apps, and perhaps you would choose only some of them, limiting the potential audience of your podcast.

That’s where a podcast hosting company, and a thing called an RSS Feed come into the picture.

Instead of uploading your podcast to every app separately, you only upload it to a podcast hosting company. Then that company will distribute it to every single app there is, making your life easier.

You create your podcast and episodes on the dashboard of that platform, you upload your cover artwork, you make some one-time actions to make it available to some popular platforms and that’s it. Now these apps, and all other, less known apps, will discover your new episodes automatically, without you doing anything. You will only add new episodes on your podcast host’s dashboard.

The bandwidth (transmission of your files to the internet) costs, but you only have to pay a standard monthly fee, and the company takes care of everything else. It is common to see prices ranging from $18 to $150 monthly, or more. Hopefully, when starting out, sometimes a company can have a free trial plan, for you to get started until you find a rhythm and be able to release on a steady schedule.

You don’t have to understand exactly how the podcast hosting company transmits your episodes to an app, but basically, it is generating an RSS feed, which is a computer-readable information format that the podcasting industry has agreed on and supports.

When a listener requests to listen to an episode, that episode won’t exist on the app or the app’s servers, but on the servers of the podcast hosting company. This is the reason that your podcast hosting company will be able to show you detailed, aggregated analytics about where all your listeners are coming from. You won’t have to check every app separately to see information about where your listeners are coming from. That’s a convenience feature that wouldn’t exist if podcasting worked any other way.

There are many other convenience features a podcast hosting company can offer you, for example, many such companies provide you with an easy, no-code way, to build a website for your podcast. This way you will save money and trouble by not having to deal with finding another company to create a website for you and the burden of maintaining it. Developers’ time can cost a lot!

Finally, the podcast hosting company’s support team will be there to help you, with whatever you need. They will be able to assist you with any problem you stumble upon in the whole process. Imagining having to interact with 4-5 separate companies (or more) large companies. Have you tried to contact Google, Apple, or Spotify for a problem you have? I know I have. They can take weeks to respond. A smaller company can offer much more personalized support, and you can even hop on an online call with them, to help you in real time.

Alright, that’s it. We talked about why you need a podcast hosting company for creating and distributing a podcast to the whole world wide web.

To sum up, you can’t distribute your podcast directly to apps, you will need a podcast hosting company. That will make it much easier for you, help you avoid headaches, and get your podcast out there quickly!

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