Do I really need podcast hosting sites to start a podcast? Here are 5 reasons why it would be a good idea to find the best podcast hosting platform.
What are podcasts?
Before we get into the reasons, we must first understand what podcasts are and how they work. A podcast is the audio version of series shows. Similar to them, podcasts have seasons and episodes. Some people call it “modern-day radioing,” because you can listen to people talk about a wide variety of topics ranging from comedy, health and fitness, language, drama, news and politics, crime, and so much more! Mainstream platforms people use to listen to podcasts are Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, etc.
What are podcast hosting sites?
Now, we have to understand what hosting platforms are and how exactly they “host” podcasts. When you record an audio file for your show, how would you put it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all of these “shelves” for people to listen to? The easiest way to do that is through a podcast hosting platform. This process of “spreading” your podcast is called Distribution, and platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts are called Directories (or simply Platforms).
Is it POSSIBLE to create and distribute a podcast without a hosting platform? Based on podcast logic, yes; but it would be incredibly troublesome to do so for your average Joe. Take for example factory equipment: These companies can do well creating their products without all these conveyor belts and equipment; so why do they still use them? Moreover, podcast hosting sites do WAY MORE than just distribute shows these days. Technology advancement and evolution of the creator economy have enabled podcast hosting sites to provide more value beyond simple dissemination. In this article, we go through some of them:
Why do I need a podcast hosting site?
1. Space, Efficiency, and Time (SET)
The convenience that a podcast hosting can provide users in itself is already an obvious factor as to why you need to take the time to consider your best podcast hosting options. Hosting platforms can help you easily start your own podcast; all you need to do is input your show’s name, creator name, cover photo, and other relevant information you wish to include.
It can also help you simultaneously get on multiple directories. Some hosting platforms like Firstory provide automatic distribution to select partners wherein one click is all you need to get on the shelves. The regular distribution process to other non-automatic sites is also streamlined through hosting platforms, designed to make it easier for users to get their show out to the world.
As you create more episodes in the long run, you’d need a place to eventually store and backup your files. When distributing episodes through hosting sites, audio files and episode information are also stored within the platform. Firstory provides unlimited storage and bandwidth, which allows users to upload as many episodes as they want and drive as much traffic as they can! Consequently, be careful as a lot of other hostings do not provide unlimited space and bandwidth, which can greatly limit your podcast growth.
2. Review, Monitoring and Management
One of the basic things podcast hosting platforms should be able to provide include data analysis tools. Not only do you get insights on your show’s performance, you also get to see audience data such as their countries, devices, platforms, and listening hours.
Note, however, that knowing how to read and interpret data is just the tip of the iceberg. After interpreting the information, podcasters should also be able to identify factors that may have contributed to such high and low performances. Taking action for future episodes based on data analysis is also critical for creators to provide the best content tailored for their audience.
3. Creation Tools
The succeeding factors from here on are less commonly found across all hosting sites. Creation tools not only pertain to the audio content itself, but also the form of publication. Take for example Firstory’s built-in music library. Oftentimes, creators struggle to find suitable, unique royalty-free music for their shows; this is why Firstory’s built-in music library can become a convenient tool for podcasters’ creative process.
Some hosting sites like Firstory also provide drafting and scheduling functions. This means that you can automatically release episodes even in your sleep or while you’re at work. Chapters or timestamps can also be conveniently put in through hosting platforms to enhance your listeners’ experiences and improve episode performance (hitting 2 birds with one stone!). Apart from the mentioned services, things like description templates can also be made through podcast hostings.
4. Growth and Connection Tools
Many times, podcast hosting sites settle at JUST providing creation tools; and very rarely do we see ones who take a step further to provide users with tools they can use to grow their show and connect with audiences. Firstory’s FLink is just one of these many tools specifically designed for podcasters to share and promote their show, especially on social media. It helps direct listeners to the episode or show on any platform they prefer through just one link.
This emphasis on growth and discoverability is further highlighted through the auto-generated websites and tags function that allows better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). One of the most common struggles of every creator is the acquisition of initial and succeeding supporters. It can be tricky to run a show when no one’s listening; this is why growth tools can be a game-changing benefit from using hosting sites.
As a STRONG connection between creators and fans is the secret to creator success, Firstory sees to it that we provide tools that enable that. The cross-platform comment tool and voicemail are both great ways to gather feedback and engage with listeners. Voice messages can even be used as episode content and double as a creation tool! Just like any other tool, however, the benefits they can bring will only be experienced once used by creators themselves. Remember, you can’t experience a screwdriver’s potential if you insist on using a hammer to secure screws.
5. Ongoing Support
When choosing the best podcast hosting site, you’ll have to consider whether they provide ongoing support (and how often they provide them) through bug fixes, changelogs, newsletters, etc. It would also be a massive plus if the company gets back to user concerns (and how long it takes for them to respond). It is the assurance that if anything goes wrong with your podcast, you have experts to go to who can help troubleshoot your problem.
What do I need to get on a hosting platform?
If you’re a beginner without a podcast, you can simply create a new show through the hosting platform of your choice, and the process would be similar to the video shown above. You don’t really need to prepare anything beforehand, except maybe think of what your show’s going to be about (it would help to have an audio file at hand too!).
Experienced podcasters would simply have to transfer their RSS feed to their chosen hosting platform. Those looking to switch hosting sites can also do that through importation and redirection. In essence, all you really need is to find your existing podcast’s RSS.
Are podcast hosting sites ABSOLUTELY necessary to make a podcast? No, but it would be BEST PRACTICE to have one. Hosting platforms can save space, efficiency, and time; pave the way to easy monitoring and management; provide creation and growth tools; as well as supply ongoing support to assist podcasters when issues arise.
Different hosting platforms provide different values to their users, and Firstory is able to provide ALL 5 reasons and more. Do remember, however, that the ultimate success of a podcast comes down to a podcaster’s consistency, creativity, and efforts to manage and grow their shows as well as connect with listeners. A hosting platform can only do so much with halfhearted podcasting.
Haven’t decided on a hosting platform? Take a look at this introduction of Firstory: