How do you get your podcast out of your bedroom and to the top of Spotify’s charts? You couldn’t do it without a podcast host!
We don’t mean the voice your listeners know and love (though they are pretty important), but the company which takes your episodes and gets them on streaming services and websites.
In this article...
What is a podcast hosting site?
Every podcast needs a hosting website, as this is how your show ends up on directories such as Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple etc. Which podcasting hosting site your choose depends on what you need. For example, all hosts distribute your show and episodes to directories, but each host offers different additional features like creating a website for your podcast or showing you analytics for how your podcast is doing.
Captivate’s difference is that it targets the serious independent podcaster – packaging features such as ad-insertion, guest booking, dynamic show notes and more with the key goal of saving the podcaster time (through automation features) or money, by eliminating the need for other, external services. We’re more than a host – we regularly have Instagram takeovers from experts on everything from voice coaching to email marketing, and offer free webinars on topics just as diffuse and far ranging, all for free for all Captivate podcasters in our Growth Labs.
You can try us free for 7 days here!
What does a podcast host do?
Podcasters upload all the raw data about their show to a podcast host: your show title, logo, show description, episodes, show notes and everything. A podcast host then essentially gives that data, and your podcast, a home.
That home is called an RSS feed, and it’s the place where all streaming services (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple etc) find your episodes. Without that, directories wouldn’t have any way to find your podcast – that’s the core feature at the heart of all podcast hosting services, and then many offer extras such as website creation, analytics and more.
How does podcast hosting work?
Using the information and episodes you have uploaded, a podcast host generates an RSS feed, which is essentially a big list of data that can be read by streaming and other podcast services. When you upload an episode, you’re adding it to that RSS feed.
With your say so, podcast hosts submit your RSS feed to directories, who read it and format your podcast in a way that’s accessible to listeners. When you upload a new episode, it immediately gets published to your RSS feed ready for streaming services to read. The episode will be live on streaming services as soon as they refresh their feed to register your new episode.
Why do I need a podcast host?
Of course, you could create your own RSS feed, upload your episodes directly to it, and disseminate this to podcast directories yourself. Podcast hosting services just make the process a lot easier, and present analytics data to you in a useful format.
Note: Captivate analytics are IAB certified, meaning you know you’re getting accurate data!
Honestly, with how the podcast industry has progressed, the actual podcast hosting side of things is pretty trivial now – loads of companies will do that for you, some of them for free. What you’re really paying a podcast host for is workflow optimization and help with growth and promotion.
What Captivate offers is a suite of features built around exactly this – you can run and replace ad campaigns across past and future episodes with a single click, seamlessly book guests for your episodes and pull their information into your show notes dynamically as well as have exclusive access to experts on everything from SEO to voice coaching in our Growth Labs.
What’s the difference between podcast hosting and distribution?
Podcast hosting is the act of creating an RSS-shaped home for your podcast. Distribution is sending that feed out to directory apps like Apple and Spotify.
You can host a podcast without distributing it to directories – whether that show is private for paying members or an internal show that shouldn’t be accessible publicly, all you need to do is tell your podcast host that it needs to be private. It’s super easy to do in the Captivate dashboard1
How much does podcast hosting cost?
That varies wildly – with some companies, it doesn’t cost anything. That’s perfect for a lot of people, but as the old saying goes: you get what you pay for!
If you’re a serious podcaster and creator, take a look at Captivate: all our features are geared around podcast growth, simplifying workflows and monetization.
For $19 per month ($17 if billed annually), you’ll get access to our full suite of features, with more added all the time and no limit whatsoever on the amount of separate podcasts, podcast episodes and amount of audio you can upload!
Is it important to choose a host that supports Podcasting 2.0?
Podcasting 2.0 encompasses a range of features which enhance the driving force behind podcasting: the RSS feed. Through initiatives such as the Podcast Index, Podcast Namespace and Value-for-Value, Podcasting 2.0 pushes podcasting forward for everyone, while also making it more open and inclusive, putting power back in the hands of podcasters.
Captivate is proud to be one of the leading hosts for Podcasting 2.0 – we’ve set the industry standard for feature support, and are making sure every implementation is beneficial to independent podcasters like you.
You can read more about Podcasting 2.0 and how we’re supporting it here.
What’s the best podcast host?
That entirely depends on what you’re after – work out what you want out of podcasting, whether that’s a bit of fun or serious growth and monetization and research the competition out there!
A lot of hosts restrict how much audio you can upload or how many podcasts you can have – at Captivate, we don’t believe in that. It’s totally unlimited, the only reason you’d move up a plan is because your show is growing to a level where you can easily cover your costs with sponsorships.
In fact, in November 2022, we massively upped our download thresholds to make our plans even better value!
What do podcasters say about Captivate?
“Don’t Hesitate – Captivate is Great!
I couldn’t be more happy with my experience with Captivate. Previously, I was using Simplecast, but there was a lot I wasn’t able to do easily with that platform. A colleague told me about Captivate and I have to say, I am blown away.
This software was clearly designed by podcasters, for podcasters. My favorite feature is the AMIE assistant, which allows me to insert pre and post roll content.
I use this to add the intro and outro, meaning if I ever want to change them, I can bulk update with a few clicks, rather than having to actually go in and edit every single audio file. That alone will save me countless hours and frustration. Don’t hesitate – Captivate is great!”Sarah M
“The absolute best podcast hosting…
The absolute best podcast hosting service because it’s so much more than just hosting. High quality people with drive, deep knowledge and passion about the podcast industry. Highly suggest!”Seth Creekmore
“Incredible levels of customer service
I recently launched my first podcast and chose to host it with Captivate after it was recommended to me by several people. I have been incredibly impressed by how responsive the support team at Captivate are. I asked them some questions about displaying their player on my website and the level of support and advice they gave me went far above and beyond what I was expecting. I also like how easy to use their platform is – it is all very intuitive and really handy to be able to see my stats quickly and easily.”Fay Wallis
What is a podcast RSS feed?
If you’re using a podcast hosting website, you don’t need to get too hung up about what RSS feeds are and how they work. Your host will look after this for you. However, it is helpful to have a basic understanding, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) simply refers to XML files that are easy for a computer to read and which show the most recent addition at the top. It’s just a format of data which is great for disseminating audio files!
Podcast hosting is how to get your podcast out of your bedroom and onto Spotify and Apple – loads of companies offer it, creating you an RSS feed to get your podcast out there in the world.
Where hosts differ is in what else they offer, and Captivate focuses on growth by saving you time and money with our impressive feature set and free courses on everything from marketing to voice coaching. We offer unparalleled Podcasting 2.0 support and consistent and reliable support for any podcaster, any time.
What should I do now?
Do you have a podcast? Do you want to start one? Find out what’s holding you back and how you can overcome it with our free, 45-second quiz!
Do the 45-second ‘Podcast Launch Diagnosis Quiz’ now!
Once again, it’s free – you don’t even need to be a Captivate member!