Podcast hosting – do you need it?

Besides a microphone, and audio editing software, what do you need to make a podcast?

Every podcast needs:

  • A web server to host MP3 files,
  • A way to create new episodes, and add show notes,
  • A way to publish new episodes, and update the podcast's RSS feed,
  • And a way to generate a valid RSS feed.

This is where a podcast hosting company comes in. Their software allows you to create episodes, upload your recorded audio, add show notes, and publish your episode to an RSS feed. Once you have a valid RSS feed, you can submit it to podcast directories and players like iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Stitcher.

(Just like you need "website hosting" for your website, you need "podcast hosting" for your podcast.)

Here's how it works on Transistor.fm:

What's an RSS feed, and why do I need it to make a podcast?

RSS originally stood for "Rich Site Summary," however, it's now more popularly known as "Really Simple Syndication."

A podcast RSS feed is a collection of episodes for a single podcast, formatted using a language called XML. When a listener views your podcast in their podcast player, the RSS feed is what provides information on your:

  • Podcast title
  • Podcast cover art
  • Episode titles
  • Episode summaries
  • Episode MP3 location
  • Episode cover art
  • Episode show notes
  • Episode publish date

You submit your podcast's RSS feed URL to Apple Podcasts and Spotify in order to appear in their directory.

Here's an example RSS feed URL for my podcast:

https://feeds.transistor.fm/build-your-saas

We submitted that URL to Apple Podcast Connect and to Spotify. Listeners can also manually add that feed URL to their podcast player if they wish.

To ensure your podcast's RSS feed is valid, you can use a validator like Podbase.

Why can't I just upload my podcast to Apple Podcasts?

Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts don't host audio files for podcasters.

You'll need to use a podcast hosting company to host your MP3 files and generate your RSS feed. Then, you'll submit your RSS feed to all the different directories and players.

Which podcast hosting company should I choose?

If you want to create a podcast, there are many podcast hosting companies to choose from. 

For hobby podcasters: Anchor and Soundcloud both provide a free hosting solution. They're both limited in terms of functionality (and both use ads to earn revenue).

For professional podcasters, we built Transistor. Thousands of creatives, brands, and professionals use our software to upload their audio, write their show notes, and publish new episodes. They also get stats on how many people are listening to each episode, what countries they're from, and what podcast apps they use.

Some podcast hosts also provide an embeddable player you can use on your website. Here's what Transistor's looks like:

The speed of downloading and streaming your podcast is determined by how fast your podcast hosting company is. Daniel J. Lewis wrote a good guide on this here:

"About half of the providers offer extremely-fast hosting for North America, but slow down in other parts of the world. Transistor had consistently fast downloads to every test region (including Sydney and Singapore)."

In his guide, Daniel also discourages people from using Soundcloud for their RSS feed, citing that they "were consistently the slowest."

Need more help starting your podcast?

Try podcasting on Transistor for free

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Published on December 26th, 2019
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