Below I'll explain both how and why you should host your own podcast, as well as potential drawbacks of doing so.
Table of contents:
- How to host your own podcast
- Why you should host your own podcast
- Drawbacks of hosting your own podcast
- Ending thoughts
How to host your own podcast
In order to host your own podcast, you need to do three things:
i. Add a valid RSS feed to your website
ii. Add the media (e.g. mp3) file to your website
iii. Add the RSS feed to various podcast platforms
Add a valid RSS feed to your website
If your website isn't built using something like WordPress (i.e. you coded it yourself), or you simply want to build an RSS feed for your podcast manually, then you need to create of a valid RSS feed. Apple provides a sample RSS feed as well as documentation on different required RSS feed fields to help you create your own feed.
After you've created your own feed, you can validate it using the Podbase podcast validator. Remember that as you add new episodes to your podcast, you will have to update your feed (or write code that updates your feed for you automatically).
Add the media (e.g. mp3) file to your website
The RSS feed you add to your website must contain URLs that link podcast episodes to their associated media (e.g. mp3) files. As such, you need to upload media files to a publicly accessible location.
You have many choices for where you host your media files. For DEVpreneur, we host the files on charliereese.ca (the same server that hosts our RSS feed) under the /podcasts route (e.g. https://charliereese.ca/podcasts/ep_01.mp3). You could, however, use one of the many cloud storage providers - as long as the file has a publicly accessible route.
Add the RSS feed to various podcast platforms
After you finish creating a podcast RSS feed and have hosted your media file(s) in a publicly accessible place, it's time to add your podcast's RSS feed to various platforms so that it can be found by future listeners!
Which platforms you add your podcast to is a matter of preference, but you may want to check out the following to get started!
Why you should host your own podcast
At this point you might be thinking, why go through the above trouble to host my podcast when I can pay a nominal fee to have a hosting provider (like Buzzsprout) do it for me? That's a fair question, and there are several reasons why you may wish to do so.
First of all, you retain full control / customization of your RSS feed; it's easy to add specific XML tags to your RSS feed if you host it yourself - it may not be possible if you use a hosting provider.
Second of all, by hosting your own podcast, you retain full ownership of your intellectual property. Although this isn't necessarily important today, if your podcast grows, it may be important in the future.
Third of all, your podcast's SEO and traffic are in your control; you can control how podcast traffic flows back to your website / where your RSS feed points to.
Drawbacks of hosting your own podcast
Hosting your podcast isn't without drawbacks, however.
Every time someone downloads your podcast, a large media file has to be sent from your server. This could cause problems if you're expecting a very large audience to build over a short period of time, or if you have little bandwidth on the server hosting it.
Further, hosting your own RSS feed and media files will almost certainly take more time to set up initially than using a podcast hosting provider, and your feed may also be more brittle / error prone as a result.
While hosting your own podcast is both relatively simple and beneficial, it may not be worth it if you're concerned about setup time, stability, or bandwidth.
Do you host your own podcast RSS feed, or are you planning to? Why or why not?