Podcast Hosting. Even just the phrase sends a chill down my spine.
After you record your podcast you need to upload it to a server where folks can access it over the internet. But where? There are so many choices.
If you have a hosting package with a place like Squarespace or Bluehost you could simply upload the file to your hosting package and make it public. Doing this is—and I really want to stress this—NOT a good idea.
If your podcast catches on right away (say it's plugged on a couple of popular blogs), or if you have one especially popular episode, your website will be hammered and—if your luck is anything like mine—it will crash. If that happens, at minimum, you've given a lot of people, a bad experience. On top of that, depending on your hosting package, you might have to pay extra for the excess traffic.
I don't podcast, but I've read quite a few articles and watched more YouTube videos on the subject than I care to admit. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that it will involve you in the least headache in the long run if, from the beginning, you host your website and your podcast separately. And, as podcasts soar in popularity there are more and more hosting choices.
So, let's look at a couple of hosting solutions you might want to consider:
1. Libsyn (Liberated Syndication)
Libsyn is the original podcasting solution and is widely trusted.
"In October 2004, detailed how-to podcast articles had begun to appear online, and a month later, Liberated Syndication (Libsyn) launched the first Podcast Service Provider, offering storage, bandwidth, and RSS creation tools. "Podcasting" was first defined in Wikipedia. In November 2004, podcasting networks started to appear on the scene with podcasters affiliating with one another," (History of Podcasting)
An introductory package starts at $5 a month. To see all Libsyn's hosting packages, click here.
Many podcasters use Libsyn. I'll talk about the pros and cons of using Libsyn in a moment. First let's look at ...
2. Amazon Web Services: S3
With Amazon S3, you pay for only what you use. But what does this mean? Let's look at some figures:
Let's say that an average podcast is about 50 megabytes. Let's say (we've got to be optimistic, right?) you have 50 podcast episodes stored on Amazon S3 and that you publish four podcasts a month. How many downloads could you expect? Here's what the folks over at School of Podcasting have to say:
"According to Rob Walch VP of Podcaster Relations at libsyn.com (the largest podcast media hosting company) in September of 2013 a podcast episode that has been live approximately 30 days averages 141 downloads. If you have over 3400 downloads you are in the top 10%. If you have over 9000 downloads you are in the top 5%. Lastly, if you have over 50,000 downloads per episode (again after having it live for 30 days) you are in the top 1% (this would be the Marc Maron, Adam Corrola, Jay Mohr, etc)," How Many Podcasts Do Podcasters Average?
So let's say that you have 150 downloads a month. Now let's calculate the cost:
First, let's use the Amazon Web Services Calculator to figure out how much Amazon would charge you for simply storing your podcasts through S3.
Storage: 50 mb per file * 50 podcasts = 2,500 mbs = 2.5 gigabytes = about 5 cents.
So ... that's not an issue! Now let's look at how much Amazon would charge us for bandwidth:
150 downloads per month * 50 megabytes per file = 7,500 megabytes = 7.5 gigabytes -> Costs about 60 cents.
That's for one file, but (in our example) you have 50. Now, I would imagine that new files would get the most downloads, but let's just say that ALL 50 files on your account get 150 downloads per month. So that makes it 7.5 gigs * 50 which comes to 375 gigs which would kick up your bill to $32.40! But, for giggles, let's say that all your podcast episodes got 3400 downloads in a month (in this case your podcast would be in the top 10% of podcasts). In this case your bill would soar to $1,808!
Which is one reason why folks with popular podcasts seek out hosting solutions like Libsyn. Libsyn charges you according to how much you upload, not according to how much bandwidth your podcast uses. If all you want to do is upload four 50 mb podcasts a month then you'd be fine with their $15 a month plan. $15 versus $1,808! That's quite the difference.
My Opinion: The Best Choice For A Beginner
I think that if you are already hosting your website through Amazon Web Services it makes sense to start off using S3. Unless you already have a large following, in the beginning you are NOT going to come anywhere near to getting 150 downloads a month. And, even if you do, that's going to cost you all of 60 cents! As you start to upload more podcasts and things begin to get pricier, you would probably want to switch to another solution.
If, however, you don't host your blog on Amazon and you don't mind paying $5 a month, signing up with a host such as Libsyn is a no-brainer. Libsyn is trusted and, while many folks with popular podcasts use other hosting solutions, I think it's probably the best choice for the beginner podcaster (by the way, I don't have any sort of affiliate relationship with Libsyn).
Steer Clear of Free Hosting Solutions
One thing folks should be wary of are free hosting solutions. If you upload your podcasts to one of these and the service goes out of business, your files will disappear. Also, they may insert their advertising into your podcast. I think it's important to have total control over your intellectual property.
(You may think it's odd me saying this about free hosting because I have my blog on Blogger. That's fair. A couple of things. First, I'm in the process of transferring my blog onto my own blogging platform. Second, the process has been so incredibly painful that I feel I must try and warn readers not to make the same mistakes I have!)
Here are some links I've found to tutorials about podcasting in general, but they do also talk about hosting and the pros and cons of various hosting solutions:
How to Start a Podcast - A Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial (YouTube series. Excellent.)
The Definitive Guide to Setting Up and Marketing a Podcast to Help Grow Your Blog
Learn How To Podcast
How to Start a Podcast: Pat’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial