In our series of blogs on podcasting we have covered the process of making a recording, and then finessing that through post-production work like mixing and tagging.
Now you need to share it with the world!
The process of sharing your podcast is as tough or as simple as you want to make it, but success for a podcast, in terms of lots of listeners, only comes with effort. Effort means creating visibility and awareness through good, structured and persistent outreach, and also getting your podcast listed on as many of the main directories as you can. So here we will deal with the process of hosting the podcast and sharing it through directories.
A host is an organisation that provides you with a home on the internet for your podcast. They offer you the ability to upload your podcast and the technical and practical architecture to make it available for anyone in the world to “stream it” or download it to listen to. Think of a podcast host as being a bit like the audio version of YouTube or Vimeo.
Technically it is probably possible for you to “host” and stream your podcast from your own website with a bit of technical jiggery-pokery but, frankly, don’t bother.
Find a place for your podcast to be made available online using one of the specialist podcast hosting providers and then share it from there.
In the world of podcast hosting, there is a lot of choice.
As you might expect that choice means that not only are there lots of them but that you have a variety of offers available to you. If you expect your podcast to be used regularly, and the podcasts last for more than say 30 minutes you should expect the host to charge a fee for the service they offer, and usually, that is on a rising scale depending on the range of features you might want. That might be the amount of bandwidth your listeners use, the number of podcasts you want to host, how long you want to make them available for, the amount of branding you want to use, the uniqueness of your address, the sophistication of the player they offer. You get the picture, lots of choice.
But basic entry-level stuff as you begin to make your way in this is pretty straightforward and not expensive. Most should offer the ability to host your podcasts as a collection, to describe them, to allow people to stream them or download them, some kind of embeddable “player” option so that you can share your podcast by embedding a player on a webpage on your website, and some sort of “syndication.” By syndication I mean they will make some other podcast directories or other podcast distribution services aware of your podcast for you (see below Podcast Directories and Distributors). A host should also give you some metrics and insight into how, when, and how many times your podcast is accessed - giving valuable information about your listeners.
Your podcast host is the repository of all your podcasts and generally, a user can go to the host to see them all and listen to them if they choose to. At the same time, you can share your podcasts on your own website by placing a player in, for example, a blog post so that it streams from the host to your audience via your website. This “embedding” function is quite common now and it is essentially the same idea as embedding a YouTube video on your website. The video sits on YouTube but users can play it from a window on your site. If you are even a casual web user you are likely to have encountered this type of feature on a website you have visited.
By way of example, the XpoNorth podcasts are hosted by BuzzSprout. You can see below a picture of the BuzzSprout player as it appears on the XpoNorth website sharing each individual podcast as part of a blog and another picture showing how they appear collectively on the BuzzSprout site.
Figure 1 - The embedded player
Figure 2 - The list of podcasts on the hosting site
Here is a list of a few other hosting sites. It is not an exhaustive list and we make no specific recommendations, but it offers a starting point and a sense of the sort of variety out there.
They say, “Starting a podcast has never been easier. Podbean is an easy and powerful way to start a podcast. Everything you need for a successful podcast. No difficult technology to learn.” I say - sound offer with some free options to begin. Has its own recording app to make creating a podcast easy.
They say, “Podcast hosting and a whole lot more. Buzzsprout has helped over 100,000 people start their own podcast. It is the easiest way to host, promote, and track your podcast.” I say - a pretty sound starting point - with some free startup options and good integration with directories like Spotify and Stitcher.
They say, “Powerful Podcast Hosting, Distribution, And Monetization”. I say paid for but well connected.
They say, “What's next in music is first on SoundCloud Upload your first track and begin your journey. SoundCloud gives you space to create, find your fans, and connect with other artists.” I say - robust and widely used and something of a community. I find the inability to download without an account a real turn off as a podcast listener.
They say, “Podcasters Host, distribute and monetize your audio.” I say, slick and corporate, used by a lot of publishing names you might know and well-integrated with directories and distributors.
They say, “iTunes is a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster, mobile device management utility, and the client app for iTunes Store, developed by Apple Inc.” I say - the habitual Apple pickiness and snobbery to get over in order to list but certainly worth the effort.
Here are some “Key Questions” to ask yourself when considering your hosting options.
- ● How much does it cost?
- ● Is it limited?
- ● Do they syndicate?
- ● What metrics can I get?
- ● Do I get an RSS feed?
- ● Is there an embeddable “player”?
- ● Can I brand and personalise my podcast hosting site?
Is it free or do I have to pay to get started and do I pay monthly annually and can I cancel?
If it is free or low cost in what ways does it limit me? Length of the podcast, number of users, size of files?
Does the hosting service offer integration with podcast directories or does it make that process simple?
Do I get useful insight into the use and performance of my podcasts? How comprehensive is that insight and does it tell me what I want to know?
RSS feeds are a bit old school but powerful ways for people to subscribe to your podcasts so they automatically receive it. Not every provider supports this.
Can I embed a player on my website to make the use and sharing of my podcast as wide as possible? Is it an easy process to embed it or do I need to be a techie to do it, and what features does the player have?
You may see your podcast hosting page as a key branded resource so worth checking if you can brand it how you want to, including using “vanity” domain names.
Podcast Directories and Distributors
Okay, so you have hosted your podcast somewhere and now you need to work on its discoverability. Now a good deal of that will be down to basic outreach and marketing. Most players and hosts emphasise the use of social media so that listeners can share the content, but you can do that too - either directly or by embedding the podcasts in other shareable material like blogs.
But the other important way of making sure you maximise awareness and access to your podcast is to make use of aggregators, directories, and streaming services that categorise and share streamed content. There are many and, as you will have found with hosting companies, they are all slightly different.
But for some folks, this is how they find podcasts.
Many hosting platforms offer some level of integration with these sorts of directories. So it is not uncommon that if you host on one of the specialist hosting platforms your podcast will either be automatically listed on some of the key directories like Stitcher and GooglePlay etc or you will be just one click away from achieving that.
My advice is to try to get your podcast on as many as you can using key tags and descriptors so that you are standing out and being as discoverable as possible by your target audience.
I list a few of the many directories below.
That brings us to the end of our introduction to podcasting.
Podcasting is a popular and flexible way of getting your message out there, and it is something that is not going away in the short term. As a result of the popularity of podcasting, there is a myriad of services and tools to make it easy for you to produce and share them. These days there is little need for specialised skills to create a useful and professional podcast. In this series of three posts, you have learned how to record, mix, and share your podcast. The only remaining question is…
What are you waiting for?