No matter how you podcast, it needs to be hosted somewhere. Good podcast hosting includes web hosting and media hosting that can grow with your podcast. I’ll suggest your best options to consider.
Web hosting for your website
The most important hosting you need is for your website. This is typically called “web hosting.” You need to have your own website for your podcast and own the domain so that no matter what service you use, your audience can always get your content from the same place.
Bad: WordPress.com, Blogger, etc.
Third-party services often provide a free or nearly free “turn-key” solution. This allows you to quickly create an account and have a website within minutes. But you lose a lot of power, features, and control with these services. These aren’t ideal podcast hosting options.
- Easy setup
- Limited flexibility
- Domain options available (small annual fee)
- Lack of total control
- Can’t install your own plugins
- Difficult for podcasting
- Difficult to leave
- Requires FeedBurner to add podcasting
- No premium podcast options
Better: LibSyn website
Not all third-party hosts are bad. LibSyn not only offers great media hosting with stats, but they also provide a very capable and easy to use website service at no extra charge.
- Easy setup
- Limited flexibility
- A lot of control
- Low cost
- Domain options available
- Podcasting setup built-in (wouldn’t require Feedburner)
- Easy to leave
- Includes media hosting with unlimited downloads
- Includes media stats on $7/month plans or higher
- Includes mobile apps on $20/month plans or higher
- Premium podcast options avaiable
- No plugin system
- Requires more HTML knowledge to change the website
Best: BlueHost or HostGator
The best solution for any website is to be “self-hosted.” This means that you are getting the hosting yourself and have full control within your account. I highly recommend BlueHost or HostGator for this inexpensive level of hosting called shared hosting.
- Full flexibility
- Total control
- Low cost
- Built to have your own domain
- Easy to add podcasting to WordPress (with the PowerPress plugin)
- Easy to leave
- More complicated to setup
- Separate media hosting recommended (see below)
- Separate stats recommended
Sometimes, you can use this kind of account for complete podcast hosting, but I don’t recommend it because every download can slow down your website. Shared hosts have the right to shut down your site if you’re abusing the “unlimited” storage and bandwidth.
When to upgrade to VPS or dedicated
You may start thinking about upgrading your web hosting from shared (what you typically get for under $10 per month). With standard web hosting companies, you’ll have two options:
- Virtual private server (VPS)—this is like running your own server with a dedicated allotment of resources. There will be only a few other accounts on the same server (as opposed to thousands of other accounts with shared hosting), but a crash on one account doesn’t affect the others.
- Dedicated hosting—this is running your own server. You’ll have full access to every bit of resources it has, and you can use it almost however you want.
A VPS or dedicated server can work well for complete podcast hosting, because you know your exact limits and can monitor performance. Though it’s still not ideal to put very popular podcasts on your website server.
Before you upgrade, make sure you’ve done everything you can to minimize the demand your own site is making on the web server’s resources (with whatever account you have).
- Update everything.
- Remove unused or unnecessary plugins, themes, databases, and programs.
- Simplify your website.
- Use a caching plugin (like W3 Total Cache).
- Use a cloud distribution network (CDN).
- Use CloudFlare.
- Remove websites.
If none of those work, then you may have a website setup that’s more complicated than your current account can handle. Such as a complicated WordPress Multisite.
Another way to measure when you need to upgrade is how many visitors and pageviews you serve every day, and how many people visit your website simultaneously. You’ll need to look at website statistics (such as Google Analytics) for this information.
Consider upgrading from shared hosting to VPS if you have any (or all) of the following.
- 500 or more unique daily visitors
- 2,000 or more daily page views
- 20 or more simultaneous visitors
- Your web host says you’re using too much memory (RAM) or CPU
Consider upgrading from VPS hosting to a dedicated server if you have any (or all) of the following.
- A very complex website
- 1,000 or more unique daily visitors
- 10,000 or more daily page views
- 100 or more simultaenous visitors
- Your web host says you’re using too much CPU, or you can’t upgrade your VPS memory any more
Podcast hosting for your audio and video files
Websites are usually under 1 MB, and the images on the site are easily cached by browsers. So the bandwidth demands on a web server are very low, and this is what most web hosting companies have in mind when they advertise “unlimited storage” and “unlimited bandwidth.”
They’re not thinking about podcasts. And you should think about dedicated podcast hosting for your media files.
When you publish a podcast episode, let’s say a 25 MB MP3, that “large” file (in website terms) will have high demand in the first three days. Each time the file is downloaded, it creates some extra strain on your website server. Most web hosts aren’t setup to handle this kind of traffic. Many hosts will even outright forbid it, or will suspend your account for abusing their resources.
A media host moves this demand away from your website and to its own servers by hosting just your media files (such as MP3s, M4Vs, or MP4s). They can handle the sudden burst of traffic that your new episodes will generate, and it won’t affect your website.
Potentially bad: your web host
Web hosts will advertise “unlimited” storage and hosting but they don’t really mean it because they don’t expect customers to actually use it (even BlueHost and HostGator). You may be able to sneak by unnoticed, but you need a plan for when you get popular or your hosting provider tells you to stop.
You can host almost anything on archive.org for free, but the service is slow and you can’t replace your media once it’s out there.
Better: Amazon S3
Amazon S3 will be very attractive to web-savvy podcasters because Amazon can host files for extremely low costs. But Amazon’s costs will increase exponentially as you get more subscribers and host more episodes.
If you’re suddenly featured somewhere popular, then you could easily receive a bill from Amazon for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Best: LibSyn or Blubrry
Podcasters have specific needs and LibSyn and Blubrry media hosting both know those needs. Both companies now provide a monthly storage reset. So you’re give an amount of space each month and you can use it or lose it. Blubrry media hosting takes this a step further and offers a 25% “cushion” for if you need to go over to fit in one last episode before your reset.
A 50 MB plan may sound tiny, but if you only publish an episode twice a month and each episode is 20 MB, then you’ll never run out of your monthly storage.
Along with podcast hosting, LibSyn and Blubrry both provide podcast stats on your downloads, and they provide truly unlimited bandwidth. It won’t matter if your podcast has 50 downloads or 5,000 downloads, you’ll still pay the same monthly amount based on how much you want to upload in a month.
Use promo code “noodle” to get your first month of podcast hosting FREE with LibSyn or Blubrry.
Did my voice sound different?
Electro Voice is loaning me the RE20 and the RE320 (Amazon.com | B&H) to review. So subscribe to my YouTube channel or get my video podcats from iTunes for the upcoming video review and comparison of these Electro Voice mics and the Heil PR40, Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB (Amazon.com | B&H) , and Nady SP-1 for podcasting.
See me speak at in Louisville, KY on August 2–3
I will be presenting two sessions at this fast-growing The Business of Writing International Summit for writers in Louisville, KY, August 2–3. I’ll present two sessions:
- Why You Should Podcast and How to Do It RIGHT
- How to Get Feedback from Your Readers
Need personalized podcasting help?
Ask your questions or share your feedback
- Comment on the shownotes
- Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
- Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.