Podcast websites didn’t exist 70 million years ago, and there were a lot of dinosaurs running around eating stuff. These days, podcast websites are abundant, and you can nip down the shop for some milk and a paper without being chewed in half by a T-Rex.
Of course, we don’t know for sure that you’ll be contributing to this dinosaur-free future by setting up your own podcast website. But you might be. And, at the very least, you’ll make your podcast more shareable, discoverable and easier to grow.
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Do You Need a Podcast Website?
No podcast needs a website, but the benefits of having one are almost too good to ignore.
One of the big strengths of podcasts is that they exist in so many different places. You create one by signing up to a podcast hosting provider, and that’s the place where all your episodes are uploaded, distributed and stored.
Once your podcast exists, it can be found in a plethora of directories and apps dedicated to listening and curation. Apple/iTunes and Spotify are the big two. But other popular platforms include Podchaser, Overcast, and Podcast Addict.
So your podcast has no shortage of couches to sleep on. But you might want to give it a home of its own. That way, listeners can come visit, and you can decide on the food, the drinks, and the wall art.
Think about it, when someone visits your show on a directory they’ll see the basics – your title, artwork, description, and a list of episodes. But when someone visits a podcast website that you actually run, you can curate their experience. This is useful in all sorts of ways, from monetisation (like selling products or services), to presenting your best episodes front and centre on a ‘Start Here’ page.
Your podcast website is that one single place to send people FOR EVERYTHING. No more “find us on iTunes, hit us up on twitter, support us on Patreon… blah blah”. You can add all those links to your website, and then, just send everyone there.
How to Make Your Own Podcast Website
So you’re now sold on why you want a podcast website. But how do you actually get one? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options, and most of them are super easy.
Here are three of your best options:
1. The Site That Comes With Your Podcast Hosting
It’s worth mentioning up top that, in almost all cases, you’ll be gifted a basic podcast website the minute you create your show in your hosting account.
The vast majority of hosting providers offer the ability to create a podcast website for free. The quality and customisation options vary pretty dramatically, though.
As of right now, in my opinion, Captivate is a standout on this front, offering the best design and growth options of it’s type.
The downsides of a podcast host website generally include things like:
- Limited design customisation, compared to a site you own
- Limited add-on tools, compared to a plugin marketplace like WordPress’
- You don’t own it, and it’s not your domain (although often you can buy your own domain and add it into the site to get around this issue).
But, these downsides are often worth it, since the sites require basically no setup, are entirely free and are run and maintained by the hosting company. Couldn’t be simpler!
2. Podcast Website Maker Tools
There are an increasing number of services that’ll automatically build a podcast website for you, so long as your podcast already exists.
My favourite option here is Podpage. This service has been around a while and has a tonne of tools and features built-in. You can start using Podpage for free and enjoy many of those features. But their premium tiers take things to the next level with options to receive listener voicemails, build a mailing list, track analytics, write a blog, collect comments, offer memberships, and loads more on top of that!
These tools tend to have more extensive design and customisation options, so you can make the site your own. But they still tend to be quite limited in terms of the layout changes you can make, and the functionality you can add to them.
But, then there’s a huge advantage in not having to maintain the site yourself. Instead, it’s run and maintained by the tool maker.
3. Building a Podcast Website Using WordPress
Building your own WordPress website can give you the ultimate freedom, with unlimited design and customisation options. You can add tools for just about anything, and it’s a site that’s entirely your own, inside your control.
A popular route here is to sign up for web hosting with a company like Bluehost, and then build your website directly in their WordPress platform.
Of course, with ultimate freedom and customisation options comes the risk of accidentally breaking stuff and constantly tinkering with things that you’re never quite happy with. This option isn’t difficult, but equally, it’s not exactly for the faint-hearted.
There are tools to help, though. Check out Second Line Themes for a collection of excellent templates that are plug-and-play on any WordPress website. They add players, subscribe buttons, share buttons and more, which help to turn a basic site into a podcast promotion machine.
If you want to go this route, read our full guide:
You can also build your website on Wix, which many consider to be easier for non-techy and beginner folks. But again, the price is that you reduce your options around plugins, layouts and branding.
If you’re a company or a network, then building on something like WordPress makes a lot of sense. Equally, if you’re looking to take your podcast seriously in future, even earn a crust from it, then you’ll really benefit from the extra growth tools, monetisation options and branding flexibility.
But for most beginners, or anyone just podcasting as a creative outlet, then a third-party platform like Podpage will easily be good enough to build a great podcast website, and save you a whole lot of time and stress.
How to Add your Podcast to an Existing WordPress Website
If you already have a website, then don’t worry, you can use it as your podcast’s “home”. No need to create yet another thing to look after!
This is obviously based on the caveat that your website and podcast topics are the same. It would be a bit odd to send listeners to your garden gnome appreciation website to check out your podcast about high-intensity interval training.
Let’s say you run a business, and your new podcast is going to be a marketing tool for that business. You already have your own WordPress site, so you can use that as your podcast website, too – you’d just need to create a “podcast” category or section.
When you release a new episode, create a corresponding post on your site for that episode. The title would be the same, or, at least, very similar. You’d then add in your shownotes, and any images, and embed the episode player from your hosting account, too.
Now you have a post on your very own website that you can share each time you release new episodes. This means the bulk of the traffic comes to you, which means you can also tailor and optimise your listener’s experience on your site. On top of that, you’ll reap the SEO benefits of more traffic, more searchable content, and your website (and business) becomes more discoverable, going forward.
As a final note here, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a difference between a self-hosted WordPress site (wordpress.org) and a WordPress.com site. The latter is really a ‘lite’, hosted version, and you might be unable to do even basic player embeds on the platform. If you’re using WordPress as your podcast website, then you’d want to sign up for web hosting via a company like Bluehost and set it up that way.
Can I Host My Podcast on My Website?
Why upload your episodes to one place (your hosting account) only to embed and share them in another (your website)? You can upload media to your website, after all. So why can’t you just host your podcast there?
This is a topic we cover in detail in our post Why you should never host podcasts on your own website. The key reason, though, is delivery and demand. Audio files are big, and hundreds or even thousands of listeners could be trying to access them all at once. This can easily lead to a website crash, or a furious web hosting service reaching out to you saying “I know we said unlimited bandwidth, but we didn’t mean that unlimited!”
Dedicated hosting providers are built to robustly handle the distribution of audio files all around the web. They can dish up as much as people want at any one time. They’re also completely unaffected any time your podcast website goes down (which does happen), and that alone is a big weight off your shoulders.
Do I Need a Domain Name?
Just like websites, you don’t need a domain name, but buying one makes total sense. It’s the final cherry on the cake of your “one place for everything” approach. Buying one is all part of the set-up and signup process with hosting companies like Bluehost and Wix.
“For shownotes, subscribe links, and the various ways you can support the show, head on over to mygardengnomefitnesstraining dot com”
You can buy domain names for a few dollars per year, though they can get very expensive based on how saught-after they are. Dot coms are the most memorable, and tend to be more expensive because so many of them are already taken. You can save money on something like a dot net, or a dot pretty-much-anything-else these days.
There are a few best practices to consider when buying a domain name for your podcast website. It’s best to avoid things like hyphens, for starters. Your domain should be memorable and easy to read out, and should be free from ambiguity, too.
For example, if you had a situation where you wanted a number in your domain name, you might need to buy two versions of the domain – one with the number, and one with the number spelt out – and point them both to your website.
Like literally everything else in podcasting, make it easy for your audience, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Okay, so it probably wasn’t a lack of podcast websites that killed the dinosaurs. But without one, your show might end up like a metaphorical prehistoric skeleton. Instead of ancient rock, though, it’ll be buried under layers of other podcasts with decent sites built around them.
It’s never been easier to set up a quality website for your show – especially with services like Podpage on the go. If you’re still keen on the self-hosted route, though, then check out our guide to setting up a WordPress site.