Close to the beginning of the 3rd Millennium (circa early 2000s), what would become modern podcasting began to bloom. Folks from all over the world started sharing their thoughts, opinions, and voice recordings across the World Wide Web. Many of these proto-podcasters “self-hosted” their blogging shows. Soon, RSS 2.0 took flight and various platforms popped up to help everyone start their very own shows.
The biggest question for podcasters today is “What platform should I use to host my show?” With dozens of options to choose from, we’ve created this guide to help you understand what to look for when considering a podcast hosting platform that best suits your individual needs.
What is a “Podcast Host” Anyways?
Put simply, a Podcast Hosting website is a place where you can create and upload your show without having to do all the technical work yourself. You don’t need to worry about configuring your RSS Feed, figuring out how to store the files online, or any other technical know-how. You just upload your audio files and the host does the rest!
What to look for in a Podcast Hosting Platform
There are tons of interesting features being offered by many different hosting platforms. Some features are essential while others are more of a “nice-to-have”. To find the best fit, you’ll want to consider what features are most important to you and at what price point. While most hosting platforms share similar features, the plans in which these features are unlocked can differ wildly.
Let’s take a look at what we consider to be the most important features for podcasting!
Podcasting is a truly excellent way to earn some additional income, or even make it your primary one! A key feature to keep in mind when selecting a podcasting host is the ability to monetize your show.
Some platforms offer the ability to create listener subscriptions, others only provide ad revenue, while others, like RedCircle, offer multiple ways to monetize your podcast. In addition, some hosting platforms bar entry to their monetization tools unless you’re a paid member. Folks on RedCircle can opt in to our monetization services at any plan level.
We recommend diversifying your revenue streams, so look for a hosting platform that provides plenty of options to monetize your show. For example, our platform allows you to create Exclusive Content for subscribers, accept donations from listeners, opt in to both Programmatic and Host-Read Ads, and utilize Dynamic Insertion to run off-platform campaigns. The more ways to earn revenue, the more you’ll make!
Growth goes hand-in-hand with monetization tools, so it’s important to watch for hosting platforms that offer growth tools as well. Features like comprehensive analytics and the ability to promote your show on another partner podcast are excellent ways to grow your show.
Analytics that provide a surprising number of ways to understand your show and help it grow are what you want. You can utilize these analytics to figure out where your audience is listening from, what sort of content resonates with them, what devices and apps they prefer to use, and so much more. Take advantage of the data to decipher what’s working and what isn’t.
It’s also important to make sure that the analytics follow the IAB guidelines. These guidelines were created to unify how data is measured across the podcasting industry. If your host of choice doesn’t follow these guidelines, then your data may differ significantly from other hosting platforms (and even some advertisers!) Don’t fret if they’re not specifically certified as certification often costs a large amount of money. As long as they state that they compile with IAB guidelines, then you’re good to go!
Another way to grow your podcast is to partner with another to promote one another’s shows. Some hosting platforms offer a feature where you can match with podcasts on the same platform to promote each other. You can also do this organically through social media! Networking is an absolute must if you want to effectively grow your podcast!
Look for platforms that provide you with multiple ways and various insights to grow your podcast.
Ease of Distribution
Another feature that is necessary for the previously mentioned ones! You can’t grow or monetize your podcast without first populating it on the various listening platforms. Most, if not all, podcast hosting platforms offer the ability to share your RSS Feed with listening platforms. The important question is to ask how easy is it to achieve distribution?
Some platforms (like ours) automatically distribute your show to a variety of listening platforms. And if they don’t automatically distribute, then they typically provide clear guides on how to easily set up distribution. If you’re importing your show and moving to a new podcast hosting platform, then most make it relatively simple to ensure the various listening platforms update accordingly. This is usually automatic through the use of redirection. (Though be sure that your host doesn’t charge for the ability to import podcasts, which some do!)
Luckily, almost every podcast hosting platform makes this feature pretty straightforward!
Storage & Other Hosting Capabilities
The main job of a podcast hosting platform is to, well, host your podcast. You want to find one that gives you a generous deal when it comes to storage. This includes the number of total episodes, the number of podcasts on one account, amount of downloads, and more. Some podcast hosting platforms only give you a few hours or so of upload time per month (even on their paid plans!) Other hosting platforms, like RedCircle, allow you to upload as many episodes as you wish with as many downloads as you can imagine – all on the free plan!
To get the most out of your podcast hosting platform, be sure to select one that allows you an ample amount of storage. Otherwise, you may not be able to grow your podcast in the way you want!
Unique & Powerful Features
While this category can be seen as more of a “nice-to-have”, having access to powerful podcast tools like Customizable Dynamic Insertion, Multi-Account Logins, a thriving Ad Marketplace, and a litany of other notable features gives you the best edge to help your podcast soar to new heights.
Our advice is to pause for a moment and think about the features that are the most important to you. Be sure to also weigh the cost of those features and how that measures against your budget. While some podcast hosting platforms have some great features, the price tag that comes with it sometimes isn’t so great.
Pricing Within Your Budget
Like we mentioned above, some podcast hosting platforms boast an abundance of neat tools, but then lock them behind expensive paywalls that don’t quite create the best value for you. If you can, see if you’re able to sign up for a Free Trial (much like you can on RedCircle) so you’re able to test out all of the features before you fully commit.
Support & Resources
And finally, we believe it’s incredibly important to select a podcast hosting platform with a stellar support team! Check out their Help Centers to see what sort of helpful content they provide and how easy it is to contact them if you ever need help. Maybe they even have a blog (*wink wink*) that posts frequently all about podcasting and how to best utilize their platform.
You want a support team that responds the same day!
It can be overwhelming to figure out what podcast hosting platform is the right fit for you. They all offer cool features and great benefits. But a podcast host with plenty of flexibility and a proven track record is hard to beat.