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Changing Podcast Host: Is It Worth It?

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Is your podcast not quite hitting the giddy heights you’d once envisioned? Feel compelled to take action? There’s no shortage of things you can do to grow a podcast, from tweaking your topic and nailing down your USP to advertising and promotion. But what about changing podcast host?

What is a Podcast Host?

Before you panic, I’m not talking about changing you, so let’s clear up the ambiguity 🙂

Your podcast host (also known as a podcast hosting provider or media host) is like your show’s home online. That’s the place you enter all its key details (like the podcast name and description), as well as upload all your episodes. Your podcast host is the central place that pushes your show out to all the other listening platforms, including Apple/iTunes and Spotify.

So, we know that your podcast host is hugely important. The good news too is that there’s a lot of excellent podcast hosts out there these days. To be honest, there isn’t much to separate the top ones. A dollar a month here or there, a different looking player, or a slightly different monthly download cap, that you’ll probably never hit anyway.

But, creators changing podcast hosts is a common occurrence. There’s a great Podcast Host Changes tool, built by Podnews and updated daily, which shows the migrations of shows from one platform to another. It reminds me of seagulls flying from one lamp post to another, trying to find the one that’s tallest.

For some, it seems like changing podcast host is one of the first ports of call for many podcasters who’re underwhelmed by their show’s performance. There are definitely reasons why moving your podcast to another provider makes sense, but they are few and far between. If you’re weighing this up yourself, then we need to talk about what your podcast hosting provider can and can’t do for you.

podcast spider crawling the web - is it worth changing podcast host?

What Your Podcast Host *Can* Do for You

Your hosting provider can give you all the tools you need to run and grow a great podcast. But they won’t do it for you – that’s your job. We’ll get to that soon enough though. Let’s start with what a good media host can or should be doing for you.

They Always Deliver Your Files – Everywhere

When you use a hosting service, you trust them to do a few things. Most importantly, they always make your episodes available for download in every directory your show is listed in. If you’re constantly hearing from listeners about how your episodes won’t download, then this is obviously an issue. Fortunately, these instances are rare. But if they’re frequently happening to you, then it might be time to consider moving.

With that said, reach out to your host first to make sure you’ve not accidentally broken your own feed. This might happen if you’ve uploaded a gigantic art or audio file, or copied some formatted text into your shownotes. Your hosting provider will be more than happy to troubleshoot this for you.

They Give You Stats

Stats are key for any podcaster, as they’re a good metric of performance and growth. Each of our top recommended podcast hosts offers robust and well laid out stats. Some, like Captivate, will give you access to all stats (location, device, etc) no matter what payment tier you’re on. Others, like Libsyn, will give you download numbers on their low-cost tier, and you can pay more if you want a deeper dive. In any case, most podcasters simply need to see the numbers, and have confidence that they’ll be reported accurately.

They Are Affordable for Your Own Budget

Because most of us aren’t Montgomery Brewster, money matters too. Most podcast hosting costs fall into the same region of between $10 and $20 a month. If an extra $5 a month in your pocket could ease financial worries, that’s a genuine reason to consider changing podcast host. You can even get free hosting on platforms like RedCircle or Anchor. Keep in mind that no service is truly free. Maybe you’d do this at the expense of any future revenue. Or, you may accept that you are the platform’s product, rather than their customer. But for some podcasters, this is the best option for where they are right now, and that’s totally fine.

They Offer Good Customer Service

Whether you think something might be broken, or you’re just completely confused about a certain process, it’s nice to be able to chat with someone on the inside when the need arises. I’m not an expert on customer service by any means, but you’ll usually know it when you see it. I think we as customers need to have reasonable expectations here too though. You might not get a reply within 30 seconds of reporting a problem. But, I’d rather a company had good systems, processes, and ways of communicating over being “ultra-responsive”. I’ve only ever had good experiences with podcast hosting providers on the customer service front. It’s something they all clearly take seriously.

They Offer Some Other Bells, Whistles, Tools, & Features

Few podcast hosting platforms have entirely unique tools and features. This isn’t because they lack innovation. It’s just that, when one of them comes up with a good idea, the rest will usually follow. This isn’t the place to run through the offerings of each hosting platform though (see our full roundup for that). A game-changing tool or feature might seem like a reason for changing podcast host. But, before pulling the trigger on that, try reaching out to your own provider. A quick “hey, I see X has released this new feature, any plans for something similar at Y?” could save you a lot of time and hassle. If something is worth doing, your host will probably do it.

gardening growing and podcasting

What Your Podcast Host *Can’t* Do for You

I already mentioned that your hosting provider isn’t in any way responsible for the growth of your show (providing they’re getting the basics right and serving up your files to people who want them).

Low download numbers (or perceived low download numbers) are absolutely not a valid reason for changing podcast host. Again, they’ll give you the tools to grow your show, but it’s up to you to use them.

I’ve heard from folks working for hosting providers that some customers think monthly download limits (say, 10,000 a month) is actually a promise or assurance of how many downloads they’ll get. I’ve also been asked before whether moving from one host to another will bring in more listens. If your podcast isn’t performing well, then these are the wrong questions to be asking. Podcast hosting services are like cars – they all look slightly different, but they all operate on the same principles. And ultimately, you’ve just got to get in one and drive the thing to wherever you’d like to go.

If your podcast feels like it could do with a boost, here are some resources that can help genuinely move the needle:

Changing Podcast Host: How to Do It

Heart still set on changing podcast host? Or just curious about how much effort it would take? Let’s take a look at the process.

I talked about how your hosting provider sends your show out to places like Apple/iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere else podcasts are found. We want our podcast to remain untouched and unchanged on these platforms, otherwise, you risk losing all your subscribers, ratings, and reviews. A podcast hosting change should take place stealthily in the background. If done properly, your listeners won’t even know (or care) that it has happened.

Firstly, you’d sign up for an account with the hosting platform you wanted to move to. Remember, you can compare them and choose the one you like in our Best Podcast Hosting roundup. Some services have “Import” tools that help smooth out the moving process, but the principles are always the same. You need to tell both your existing (old) host, and your new host that you’d like to move your show from one to the other.

When you tell your existing host that you’d like to move, they will likely ask for some feedback on what you feel they could do better. But they won’t dig their heels in. At the same time they’re talking to you, they’ll be helping someone migrate over from the provider you’re leaving for. As I say, it’s like seagulls and lamp posts.

Moving Day: The 301 Redirect

Your old provider will set up something called a “301 redirect”. This means all the directories where your show is listed, will know your show has moved. Think of Apple/iTunes, Spotify, etc as the shops where your podcast is available, and your media host as the warehouse that distributes it. Then, the shops just need to know not to go to the old warehouse for new stock.

Your new hosting provider might send you a few pointers. You’ll be asked to check over all your shows key details. Then, everything will be pulled over to its new home. Check your podcast in as many listening directories as possible following a move, to make sure everything works as it should. Background changes don’t update immediately in most directories, so give it about 24 hours first.

What about My Website?

One other wee thing to look out for is if you run a separate website for your show. If you embed your podcast player into posts on the site, you’ll want to start editing these posts, with player embeds from your new provider. This is the one thing a 301 redirect won’t fix automatically, unfortunately.

building a podcast

Summary: Is Changing Podcast Host Worth It?

Changing podcast host isn’t difficult, but it’s still a hassle that most podcasters put themselves through unnecessarily. The chances are that your existing podcast host has and does everything you need. With that said, there are some instances why moving is the reasonable thing to do.

  • Your episodes are frequently unavailable for download.
  • Money is tight and every dollar matters.
  • You’d like to move from a free to a paid service because it’s a more secure business model.
  • Another hosting provider has released a feature that’s going to make your workflow a lot easier.

If you’re weighing up a hosting change, check out our Best Podcast Hosts roundup. This runs you through each of their features, pricing models, and other offerings.

Remember, lack of growth is not a podcast hosting issue, and definitely not a reason to switch providers. If your podcast feels like it could do with a boost, here are some resources that can genuinely move the needle:

Finally, inside Podcraft Academy we have a course on audience growth, as well as a host of others. On top of that, you’ll find loads of tools, templates, downloadable checklists, and we run weekly live Q&A sessions in there too!

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