Getting Started With Podcast Hosting

Server Room Media Hosting

Getting started with podcasting can seem overwhelming, but it’s pretty simple once it is broken down into doable steps. Like any task or goal, breaking it down into small chunks is the best way to tackle the project. Broadly, podcasting can be broken down into the four stages of planning, producing, publishing and promoting. This article will focus on publishing and explain the crucial role of podcast hosting and why it is important.

First Steps

After recording a podcast, it will be an MP3 file, this file needs to be stored or hosted someplace where the files can easily be accessed when listeners want to hear the show. A website may seem like the logical place to do this, but if the show has actual listeners, bandwidth usage will become an issue. Podcast episodes should be accessible from the podcast’s website, along with show notes, but the actual audio files need to be hosted on a media host that doesn’t have bandwidth and usage limitations.

Just to clear up any misconceptions, the website uses a plugin or media player to access the podcast files that reside on the media host, and iTunes is a directory that accesses the podcast files from the media host using the podcast RSS feed. The main podcast media hosts are LibSyn, Blubrry and Soundcloud. It’s also possible to cobble something together using Amazon S3, and there are other options like PodOmatic, Spreaker and PodBean.

Podcast Media Hosts

LibSyn and Blubrry are probably the best options when it comes to ease of use, affordability, and flexibility. LibSyn short for Liberated Syndication pioneered hosting and publishing podcasts in 2004. They are a great option for new podcasters and established podcasters. They provide publishing tools, media hosting, RSS feeds for iTunes, stats, and their premium service offers advertising.

As of the writing of this article, LibSyn has plans starting at $5 a month. They are fine for beginners who want to take their podcast to the next level, and they host many big name shows like Marc Maron, Grammar Girl, Joe Rogan, The Nerdist, and The NFL podcasts. Getting started is fairly easy too.

Getting Started With LibSyn

  • Set up an account
  • Go to Show Settings
  • Enter Show Title
  • Enter a Show Slug - this will be the title in your feed URL and show URL
  • Enter Show Description - This will be used in the LibSyn Directory
  • Tags/Keywords - optional, these are no longer featured in iTunes
  • Website Address - The URL of your website, defaults to your LibSyn page  if left blank
  • Public Contact Email - optional
  • Copyright Notice - if you have one
  • Comment check box - check whether you want comments allowed on your LibSyn page
  • Show Artwork - This will be published to iTunes through your feed, be sure to meet iTunes artwork specifications

Once you have the basic information set up, it is time to configure your feed. LibSyn has an easy to use dashboard. The feed information will be under the destinations tab. Click on Edit under Libsyn Classic Feed, then choose your three iTunes categories, add an iTunes show summary which will appear as the description in the iTunes store. Then enter your name or show name under Author Name, if your language is something other than English, change the language code, and enter a show rating such as Clean or Explicit. Enter your owner name and email these won’t be published, but they may be used by iTunes to contact you.

Now that all of the information is filled in, hit save and it will be time to generate the first episode.

  • Go to the Content Tab
  • Click on Add New Episode
  • Click on Upload
  • Browse to your podcast MP3 media file
  • Select the file and it will Upload
  • Fill out the meta data for this show (Important) Title, Subtitle and Description
  • Select rating for each episode Explicit or Clean
  • Hit the Publish Button

Now the show is set up in LibSyn, the show and RSS feed are configured, and the first episode is published. Before the RSS feed is submitted to iTunes it is a good idea to make sure it is validated. Go to Destinations > Edit Existing > View Feed and the URL will be in the browser bar. Copy that URL and run it through a feed validator. Once you know the feed is valid, it can be submitted to iTunes.

Submitting to iTunes

To submit to iTunes, go to the iTunes store > Podcasts > Submit a Podcast > enter your feed URL > click on Continue, you may have to re-login, all of your podcast information should show up at this point. Choose a subcategory, if you want one, and click Submit.

You can use your podcast feed to place your podcast in other directories and on your website and social media. Every Time you have a new episode, you will upload it to your media host, in this case, LibSyn, and the feed will automatically update with the new show. You upload each episode to the media host, but the feed only needs to be published once. Having a dependable media host for your podcast will prevent bandwidth issues and make syndication easy.