In Search of: Finding the Right Hosting Platform

“Start a podcast,” they said. “It will be easy,” they said. Photo by Vilmos Vagyoczki

Running with an idea, developing a solid concept, fleshing out episodes, and figuring out how to set your show apart is just half the battle for podcasters. What happens after you hit ‘publish’ can impact your ability to turn your hard work into a thriving business.

If your goal is to a) get your podcast heard and b) get sponsors, choosing a reliable hosting platform makes a huge difference for keeping your podcast business growing and running smoothly. The options for hosting, from simple free services to full-stack platforms, can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Or maybe your current platform is creating more work for you, and it’s finally time to make a change. While they will all help get your podcast heard where it needs to be heard, they can vary in price, services, and skill level.

First of all, what is a host and what should a basic hosting platform help you with? A hosting platform is home to your audio files, generating the RSS feed to distribute across the web to Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. At the very least a decent platform should…

Allow room for growth

You’re serious about taking things to the next level – whether you’re focusing on growing your audience or thinking about starting a second show – where do you see your podcast in 1, 3, 5 years? Audio files are big, so the more episodes you publish and the more downloads you get, the more space those files take up. That’s why hosting on your website may not be the greatest idea. You need a platform that will grow with you, allowing you the necessary bandwidth and storage as you expand. 

The size of your show or your budget may limit you to a free service for now. Make sure you and your feed have the flexibility to leave at any time when you’re ready to move on and up.

Be user-friendly and offer technical support

You’ve done all the heavy lifting – booking guest interviews, editing, and adding music – uploading your content should be the easy part. And what if you need help? If you do run into issues, will someone pick up the phone or personally respond to your email? When you need support, your hosting platform should be an extension of your squad and treat you like the human you are.

A good podcast host should be flexible, easy to use, and get you where you need to be. Now, let’s get to the bells and whistles. What features are the cherry on top? 

Marketing and monetization capabilities

Most likely you’re here because you want to make money from your show. You’re in luck, as capabilities can range from providing ad insertion tools to connecting you to advertisers through ad marketplaces and integrating donations and premium content.

If you need to manage multiple ad campaigns or anticipate incoming sponsors, look for platforms that have dynamic ad insertion (DI) technology. Set your breaks (pre, mid, and/or post rolls), schedule campaigns, and swap out copy as needed to keep your ads sounding fresh. And if you have a back catalog, ads can be placed into every episode so you can better monetize all of your audience.

Need to supplement your income or just want to take a hands-off approach? Ad exchanges match your show with advertisers to help fill your inventory. Some focus on advanced audience targeting and podcast-first ads if you’re concerned about quality.

Access to comprehensive and reliable reporting

Podcast download measurement can vary widely – not all download stats are created equal – but that’s changing thanks to IABv2. While not a total dealbreaker, using a podcast host that is IAB certified or compliant means you can confidently shout your wildly accurate download numbers from the rooftop. It’s a good look that will get you street cred with the ad community.

Additionally, look for more granular reporting on listening by device, by location, and by individual episodes. This information is vital for helping you get to know your audience and better understand what’s working (or what’s not). From data geeks to the mathematically challenged, all podcasters need transparent and reliable numbers to make educated decisions. 

Embeddable players and sharing tools

Everyone listens to podcasts differently, but your content should be as easy to find as possible. You could use another service, but access to native embeddable players make posting to your website and social channels a breeze. These players will help you get the word out, increase discovery, and maybe even go viral without the need for a third party.

This is a personal decision that should take your experience, budget, and goals into account. But if your host checks all or most of these boxes you’re off to a good start. 

We can help too. Our podcast partners get access to free enterprise-level hosting. Get heard on all the apps, get all the reporting, and monetize all the episodes. Get in touch for more info.

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