Podcast Hosting Doesn't Need to Be Hard - Here's How to Do It
You're reading a post from Backyard Media's Podcasting 101, a series of guides meant to explain podcasting and podcast advertising to new and current podcast creators. To see our other guides, click here.
What is podcast hosting, and why is it so important? Finding the right host for your podcast is one of the first technological hurdles most creators come up against. As listeners, we don’t hear much about podcast hosting, but creators can’t have a podcast without a podcast host. In this guide, we’ll explain what podcast hosting is for, what your options are, and how to get started with one.
A Podcast Host isn’t your Podcast Website, It’s Where Your Podcast Audio Lives
For most podcasts, the host and the website are two very different things. The podcast website functions like most websites for creative projects - it explains what the project is about, who’s involved with it, and provides extra content as well as links to social media channels. The podcast’s host is a separate place, usually managed by a large media hosting company, and it serves as the repository of your podcast’s media files. Podcasts use a lot of storage space, especially when episodes are longer than an hour or when the podcast has a large audience. A number of companies have sprung up to meet this need to host large amounts of media files. So whenever a new listener subscribes to your podcast, the RSS feed they subscribe to will look at your podcast host and request to download the latest episode files. Listeners don’t see this process, but a functioning podcast host is essential to having a podcast that works smoothly.
What should you look for when looking for podcast hosting, then? You need a reliable provider with a straightforward user interface for uploading and managing your content. Most creators will want media storage in the 200 to 400 MB range, as well as metrics so they can track their podcast downloads and see where listeners are located.
What are the Main Options for Podcast Hosts?
LibSyn. By far the largest podcast host by number of podcasts served. LibSyn has about a half dozen different plans, but the most popular one is the Classic 250 at $15 per month. This provides 250 MB of monthly storage, sufficient for podcasts that post an hour of audio content every week. They have Basic Statistics for tracking downloads with this plan, and you get Advanced Statistics that show the geography of downloads as well as platforms used with the 400MB plan. Check out LibSyn’s plans and pricing here. Click here to see how to set up a LibSyn account.
BluBrry. Yes, it’s actually spelled that way. Blubrry is another of the largest hosting providers and LibSyn’s main competitor. Their plans start at $12 for 100MB, with their “Medium” plan of 250MB costing $20 per month. Blubrry touts a “No Fault Storage” feature, meaning that if you post more content than usual and go over your monthly storage allocation, they will temporarily increase your storage by 25% to cover it, at no extra charge. One of the big benefits of choosing Blubrry is that if you make your podcast website with WordPress, you can use Blubrry’s Powerpress plugin to easily integrate your hosting account with your website (this makes publishing podcast episodes as simple as creating a blog post on your WordPress site). Check out Blubrry’s plans and pricing here. Click here to see how to set up a Blubrry account.
Simplecast. A newer entrant to the podcast space that’s gaining popularity because, like its name implies, it aims to simplify podcast hosting and publishing. It has only one plan, at $12 per month, with no storage caps. Its metrics include download numbers, listener locations (with a beta function down to the city level), and an embeddable player. Check out Simplecast’s explanation of its single plan and pricing here. Click here to see how to set up a Simplecast account.
Squarespace. Squarespace is a platform for building websites, but it also has a feature that makes it possible to host a podcast. If you’re already building your podcast website on Squarespace, you might want to consider using its Blog section to host your podcast. However, Squarespace does not have any analytics for podcast downloads, so if you’re going to use it for your podcast, check out our guide on tracking downloads to pick a download tracker and integrate it with Squarespace - most people choose to go with Podtrac when using Squarespace. Check out Squarespace’s website plans and pricing here. Click here to see how to set up a podcast on your existing Squarespace account.
There are dozens more podcast hosts out there to choose from - Pippa, Podbean, Audioboom, Spreaker, even SoundCloud - that vary in their pricing and features. The four options above should serve the needs of 90% of podcast creators. If you’re looking for a particular podcast hosting feature or want to see all available options on the market today, check out this crowd-sourced Google spreadsheet.
Setting Up Your Podcast Host
How to get started on LibSyn:
Sign up at this link for a LibSyn account: https://www.blubrry.com/createaccount.php
Add your podcast from the Dashboard using the “Create New Show” tab.
Add in your podcast’s details, including a name for your LibSyn domain (this allows you to send listeners to a basic homepage for your podcast, unless you send them to a podcast website you’ve created).
Back on the Dashboard, go to “Destinations” and Edit your Libsyn Classic Feed. Ensure you correctly input your RSS feed and other information for the Apple Podcasts store.
Then go to “Settings” and click on Edit Show Settings. Here you should add your podcast artwork, show title, show description, and category information, all of which show up on your Apple Podcasts page.
Finally, validate your RSS Feed from the Libsyn Classic Feed page using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This ensures Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files on Libsyn.
How to get started on Blubrry:
Sign up at this link for a Blubrry account: https://www.blubrry.com/createaccount.php
From the Dashboard, you can begin adding media files using the “Upload Media File” link on the left hand side.
To add your podcast to Blubrry’s Podcast Directory. If not prompted, go to this link while signed into Blubrry: https://www.blubrry.com/addpodcast.php
Add your RSS Feed (from your podcast website, the same URL you input on your Apple Podcasts account), create a Blubrry domain name and select the content category of your podcast.
Validate your RSS Feed using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This ensures Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files from Blubrry.
You’re all set up! If you want to combine Blubrry with a WordPress website (and the free Blubrry-created Powerpress plugin), go here to download PowerPress.
How to get started on Simplecast:
Sign up at this link for a Simplecast account: https://simplecast.com/signup
Once you’ve signed up, go to your Dashboard and select “Create” when prompted with “Create” and “Import”. (If you already have a podcast up on another host, use “Import” instead).
Input your podcast’s title, a short description, and other details like keywords for people to find your podcast and cover art for your show (which is very important).
Validate your RSS Feed using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This ensures Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files.
Click “Create Podcast” once you’re done, and you’re ready to add MP3 files as new podcast episodes.
How to get started on Squarespace:
Sign in to your existing Squarespace account: https://account.squarespace.com/
When you’re signed in, go to Pages and create a new Blog page. This is where your podcast will be, with new blog posts serving as episodes.
Hit the gear icon to open the Blog’s settings, and click “Syndication.” Select Enable iTunes RSS Tags, and fill in the fields with your show’s title, subtitle and description, author name and contact info, and categories. Add your Apple Podcasts cover art (make sure it’s a square JPEG image between 1400 and 3000 pixels).
To create a new podcast episode, create a blog post and add one (and only one) Audio Block. Any text in this post will become show notes in the episode. Upload an audio file to this Block and when you’re done, publish the post to make the podcast episode live.
Find your RSS Feed: Squarespace doesn’t list your podcast’s RSS feed in a particular field, but it takes one of two formats:
http://sitename.squarespace.com/test-blog?format=rss This is is you don’t have a custom domain name. To figure out your actual RSS URL, you’ll need to replace two items. First, replace “sitename” with your Squarespace website domain, and “test-blog” with the keyword slug that your podcast’s Blog is under (click the gear icon, then scroll down to the “URL slug” field - you can also change this field to something more memorable like “podcast”).
http://www.yourdomain.com/test-blog?format=rss This is is you have a custom domain name that does not have “squarespace” in it. To figure out your actual RSS URL, you’ll need to replace two items. First, replace “yourdomain” with your actual domain name, and “test-blog” with the keyword slug that your podcast’s Blog is under (click the gear icon, then scroll down to the “URL slug” field - you can also change this field to something more memorable like “podcast”).
Once you’ve found your RSS Feed, validate it using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This ensures Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files.
Go to Apple Podcasts and submit your podcast using your RSS URL. Now, new blog posts on Squarespace will show up as podcast episodes.
Want to read more guides for podcast creators? Click here to see our other guides.