What’s the Difference Between a Podcast Host, Directory, and Website?

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Podcast Hosts and Podcast Directories and Podcast Websites, Oh My!

Podcasting has grown and is still growing rapidly with over 1 million podcasts in 2020. There are new podcasts popping up every day onto various podcasting hosts, directories, and websites. But what exactly is a podcast host, directory, and website? How are they different and do you need all three for your podcast?

Here’s an infographic of a standard process that podcasters go through to get a podcast episode out into the world for people to listen to:

Podcast Host Directory Website Differences

As you can see, all three platforms work together to manage and distribute your podcast. If you want a successful podcast, you’ll need all three.

The host, directory, and website are three of the tools that are needed for podcast distribution. These are separate from the recording and editing tools you use to create the MP3s though. These three tools are used after you’ve recorded, edited, and exported an MP3 file. They’ll help you manage the storage and distribution end in getting your show out to audiences.

Let’s get into more detailed information and differences, as well as platform providers for each – Podcast Hosting Site, Podcast Directory, and a Podcast Website.

What Is a Podcast Hosting Site?

Podcast Hosting Sites are where podcasters upload their MP3 files to after they finish editing. Hosts are the online storage platforms for the audio files. Whether a listener uses a Directory (Spotify) or your Website to listen to a podcast episode, the episode will be streaming from the hosting site.

If you’ve been around podcasting a little, you’ve probably heard of popular hosts like Buzzsprout and Podbean. I’ll list 5 hosting sites below, but I also have a more comprehensive list of 15 Free and Paid hosts at this post.

Seasoned podcasters may already know this, but good Podcast Hosting Sites also provide a feature to push content to several directories – saving you lots of time.

One of the key benefits of a good host is multiple-platform publishing. They help publish your podcast episode straight to a number of directories. You can publish to directories yourself by going to each directory’s submission form, but that’s one account you need for each directory. The larger hosting sites have partnered with directories, so they’ve already integrated the synchronization of your podcast episodes for each directory.

Another key benefit is the ability to monetize your content. The bigger hosting sites have partnered with brands that are looking for good podcast shows to advertise on. Once you have a large enough following and interest from audiences, brands will take notice and you’ll be able to start generating income for your podcast.

Podcast Hosting Site Examples

Here are some Podcast Hosting Sites for your reference. Do check out the larger breakdown of the 15 best podcasting hosts.

Buzzsprout

Buzzsprout is a great platform because it is simple to use and feature-rich. It’s perfect for beginners. For those wanting to test the waters of podcasting, the platform provides the flexibility to start with a FREE plan. And if you choose to take it more seriously, you can then upgrade for a fair price. With the site, you can upload your podcast episodes and submit them to multiple podcast directories through their partnerships. They also provide the best tutorials and guides in using their hosting site than any other hosting site.

PodBean

PodBean’s been around since 2006 and over the years, it’s earned the loyalty of podcasters wanting to pursue a serious profession in the field. PodBean provides unlimited storage and bandwidth, while also distributing to popular podcast directories. Similarly, PodBean has different subscription plans that are suited for your level. They’ve also added analytics to its platform, enabling you to track different stats for your podcast. Another plus is that PodBean allows you to integrate with YouTube should you wish to add video in your audio content.

Transistor

Transistor.fm is known to provide advanced tools for podcasters. They have high-quality, professional services that you can use to scale. They provide you with tools like the ability to host an unlimited number of shows, manage multiple accounts, create domain websites, manage podcast distribution, and provide advanced analytics. With Transistor, you can scale better since it gives you relevant data regarding your audience.

Simplecast

Simplecast has been around for six years and established a good foothold in the industry. They’re tied to many large brands such as Nike, Facebook, Kickstarter, and HBO. With their powerful podcasting tools, you’re able to schedule, share, and publish your content in a few clicks. They also offer a free trial if you want to explore how their features work.

Captivate

Captivate.fm is a new podcast hosting site that lets you focus more on your audience. With its simple interface, you can interpret their analytics and utilize them immediately. All of their subscription plans come with unlimited podcasts, team member collaboration, a podcast player, advanced analytics, and some marketing tools. Even though they are new entrants to the market, they are aggressive in generating insightful statistics to give you a better view.

What Is A Podcast Directory?

Maybe you’ve heard of Spotify, Apple Podcasts (aka iTunes), Google Podcasts, and other apps or websites used to listen to Podcasts. Well, these are Podcast Directories and that’s where the majority of people go to find new podcasts and to listen to podcasts.

Directories are the most well-known because they’re the platforms that listeners use to consume podcast episodes. These are the apps that we install in our smartphones, on laptops, and use voice command with our smart home technologies (like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home).

Think of podcast directories like YouTube or Netflix for audio. But there’s a big technical difference between Apple Podcasts and YouTube, the audio files are not stored on Apple’s servers, while videos are stored on YouTube’s servers.Here’s an article I wrote on the 7 most popular podcast directories.

Podcast it is ideal that your content is pushed is these platforms so that it can reach your audience.

Podcast Directory Examples

Here are a few of the top Podcast Directories:

Apple Podcasts

Apple Podcasts are formerly known as iTunes Podcasts. They are one of the largest podcast directories out there and very well respected. Since it is already consumed by many, it only makes sense that your podcasts are listed here for your audience to discover.

Spotify

Spotify offers a vast library of audio content from music, playlists, and podcasts. They’ve managed to make itself available on multiple platforms. This includes Apple, Google, and Microsoft among others. As Spotify becomes the new replacement for CD players to hear an artist’s music, it has the potential to dominate the market as a podcast directory as well.

Google Podcasts

Another giant player is Google Podcasts. Thanks to its reputation, it didn’t take long before they started to take market share from other directories. Google Podcasts has managed to establish a large audio library that’s easily accessible. They are also able to incorporate online streaming in their other products such as the Google Home and Google Play Apps.

Stitcher

Stitcher presents as an alternative to the mainstream podcast directories. Aside from streaming services, the brand also employs a practical set of analytical tools to help you manage your channel. Armed with powerful analytics, the app recommends relevant content for listeners. A drawback though with the app is that the analytics are only tied to the statistics that can be collected there. So naturally, the recommendations for your listeners are tailored based on their listening history on Stitcher only.

TuneIn

TuneIn is another podcast directory that is the closest to a radio with multiple radio stations. There’s local news being streamed online along with podcasts on sports, music, and other topics. Since this resembles more like a radio station, you can easily switch the station and tune in to another that you find more interesting.

What Is A Podcast Website

Websites are a must-have if you’re trying to build a brand and a name for yourself. They act as the central location for your audience to learn more about you, while also listening to your podcast episodes.

Websites will incur some costs with buying a domain, web hosting (different from podcast hosting), web design, traffic, etc. Monthly costs can range from $5 to $20+ per month depending on your web hosting and how much traffic you’ll have of people going to your website.

The good thing about these websites is that it provides more freedom to control and manage. If you want to sell merchandise through an online shop along with promoting your podcast channel, that’s a good way to monetize your podcast.

Websites utilize a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress to create websites that you own and customize. Some people with some web development skills can build a site on their own, but for those who don’t have the skills, there are also platforms available to help. Even the most non-tech-savvy person can build and design their website with companies like Wix and Squarespace.

Website Creation Options

Here are a few options that’ll help get your website up and going.

WordPress – For More Tech-Savvy

WordPress has been around since 2003, providing a free CMS platform for anyone to create a podcast website. A WordPress website will need a bit more backend setup with buying a domain and web hosting. If you go through a web host like Bluehost, you can get a free domain as part of a web hosting plan that you sign up for.

Most people know that WordPress is used for bloggers or businesses who want to create their own websites. As bloggers use their website to create new blog posts any time they want, podcasters can also use their website to promote their podcast episodes.

For your podcast, you can create new posts for each show episode and each post can include:

  • Embedded Podcast Episode from Buzzsprout or another podcast hosting site
  • Podcast episode cover artwork
  • Podcast episode show description and show notes
  • Podcast episode transcription
  • Podcast episode sponsors, ads, affiliate, other monetization opportunities
  • Comment section to communicate with your listeners directly
  • Email list signup for your audiences to stay connected

There’s more customization available for those who like to dig in yourselves into designing the website. There are also many Free and Paid WordPress themes out there that give you a great jumping-off point. There are many WordPress plugins too to add more functionality and customizations. If you’re worried about having to learn how to do everything yourself, there are also many web developers on Fiverr you can hire to get things setup for you quickly and at a low cost.

All that and an easy-to-use, powerful post editor. The backend dashboard is easy to use and add new posts, or podcast episodes in this case. It has all the standard features that you would need to share your podcast with the world. With something like Buzzsprout’s WordPress Plugin, you can easily integrate your podcast with your website.

You can also create a more personal About Me type of page that allows your audiences to learn more about you. A podcast allows your listeners to continue connecting with you after they’ve listened to your podcast episodes.

Wix – For Beginners

Wix is a rather well-known company from its big-budget commercials. I’m sure you’ve seen them around. What that tells me though is that they have a lot of users because they’re able to create these big commercials. With over 160 million websites on their platform, that confirms their popularity with personal users and small businesses. Medium to large companies usually create their own proprietary websites or use a CMS that’s customized.

Wix is a drag-and-drop website builder, meaning that you literally are able to click, drag, and drop different website elements around in your web browser. To get you started, they have hundreds of free templates and many features, basically anything that you want in a website. They’re all about making it as easy as possible for less tech-savvy users. You can select from several templates which can further be customized and designed as needed.

You can integrate your podcasts through the Wix Podcast Player app in the Wix app market. It’s an app player that also integrates with the Wix platform and pulls your podcast’s RSS feed from SoundCloud, Libsyn, and other directories. But the reviews aren’t that great, so do your homework first.

Squarespace – For Beginner to Intermediate

Squarespace has one of the more intuitive user interfaces that provide easy creation and customization of websites. Many beautiful websites have come out of Squarespace’s platform, so they’re still very popular.

They’re another drag-and-drop website builder like Wix that lets you organize content neatly and sensibly. Their backend offers the ability to do more customizations than Wix, but that also leads to more of a learning curve for absolute beginners.

Podcasts can be hosted and managed on Squarespace’s platform, which gives the advantage of a combined website and podcast host on one platform. I haven’t hosted a podcast on Squarespace before, so don’t know whether their servers are fast and reliable, but that is an option. I believe it’s a new feature as their podcast support section was just updated in January 2020.

Squarespace says you’re also able to submit your podcasts directly to Apple Podcasts and other directories like SoundCloud, so publishing to directories shouldn’t be too much of an issue. With decent pricing plans, Squarespace can be a good value for those who’re somewhere in between a WordPress and Wix.

Conclusion

There you have it! I hope you’ve been able to learn about what a podcast host is, what a podcast directory is, and what a podcast website is. Along with the differences between all three.

I know that when you’re starting out with something new, there are a lot of terms/words that’re thrown out there and it can get confusing, because words can blend together. I hope that I’ve been able to make it easy for you to understand. If you have any more questions, do feel free to contact me anytime.

Here are some of the common questions being asked around podcast hosting sites, directories, and websites.

  1. Do I Need a Podcast Hosting Site, Directory, and Website?

    Yes, it's definitely a good idea to have all three, if not a must-have. The podcast hosting site is where your podcast's MP3 files site (eg. Buzzsprout). The podcast directory is how the majority of your audience will be able to listen to your podcast (eg. Apple Podcasts). Your own podcast website is where your listeners will be able to learn more about you and connect with you regularly.

  2. How Can I Make a Podcast Website?

    The more DIY route for those with some tech-know-how is to go with setting up your own domain, web hosting, and installing WordPress. The less tech-savvy can go with Wix or Squarespace.

  3. How Do I Set Up and Publish a Podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Spotify, and Other Directories?

    Go with a large podcast hosting site like Buzzsprout or PodBean. They have partnerships with most of the large podcast directories and you'll be able to set up and publish your podcast feed to those directories seamlessly. It'll save you lots of time because you don't need to go to each of the individual directories to set up and publish every time you have a new episode for your show.

  4. How Does a Podcast Hosting Site, Directory, and Website Work Together?

    The life cycle of a podcast show episode goes through all three and generally like this:
    1. You record your podcast episode
    2. You upload the episode's MP3 file to your podcast host (eg., Buzzsprout)
    3. You submit it to a podcast directory (eg., Apple Podcasts) from the podcast host
    4. Audiences listen to your latest podcast episode on a podcast directory or your podcast website
    5. You continue connecting with your listeners through your website and look for monetization opportunities

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