Why You Should Never Host Podcasts on Your Own Website: At-a-Glance
- You want your podcast to be downloaded as much as possible
- But podcast files can be very large
- If they're living on your own website that can cause serious bandwidth issues
- This could lead to your site getting shut down. Or you might get served with a chunky bill to pay
- Media hosts have IP filtering, to provide accurate and useful download statistics
- Slow download speeds are another issue that can cost you listeners
- Use a dedicated podcast hosting provider (AKA a podcast host) as a much more reliable and robust home for your show
- Read on to find out more…
Finally, you’ve got your business off the ground and have decided to add a podcast to your plan for world domination.
As you begin to explore podcasting, you soon realize it’s going to cost you something. There are a multitude of businesses out there offering to host your podcast. For a price, of course.
So now you think: “Why should I pay someone to host my podcast when I could host it on my own website? I’ve already paid my web host for storage, wouldn’t that work as free podcast hosting?”
The answer to this question is three fold:
- Your site could be shut down for violation of your web host’s Terms of Service.
- You could incur some pretty hefty fees from your provider.
- You won’t be able to deliver your content with the same efficiency and speed.
A Podcast Makes For a Very Big File
How often do you think you have plenty of storage on your devices, only to take a picture one day and realise that you no longer have any storage left to save it with. “Ok, what can I delete?”
Your web host offers storage as the main part of your plan. Many web hosts even offer you unlimited storage and bandwidth. Sadly this doesn’t mean that storing a podcast on your website is a good option.
Podcasts are always made up of audio (or even video) files and, depending on length and how your media is encoded, you can end up with a whole lot of data.
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You web host is prepared to host lots of text files, pictures and a small amount of audio and video clips. They have no desire to be a large depository. It is indeed a key violation of HostGator’s terms and conditions, to use your account as an offsite back-up, uploading your music, video and picture files just because you can.
Hosting a Podcast On Your Own Website Can Get You Banned
Part of podcasting is that you deliver or serve up your media files via RSS feed. What this means is that when someone subscribes to your podcast, as they would subscribe to your blog, they receive your podcast (your audio or video files) automatically into their media consumption device of choice. This is just like getting your latest blog post via any RSS reader.
When you’re hosting your media files yourself, then every time someone downloads your podcast, file data is being transferred to them from your web host.
The amount of data transferred is often referred to as bandwidth.
Podcasting has the potential to grow exponentially. There is a possibility that your media files could be downloaded thousands of times a day.
All that data transfer, if delivered from your account alone, would make your website host very unhappy. So unhappy, in fact, that they might just shut down your account.
Transferring That Much Data Can Be Very Expensive
Even if you don’t get shut down, it’s possible that an even less desirable situation awaits.
It’s possible you could be hit with a huge bill, charging you for the data transfer.
Some web hosts market with unlimited bandwidth, but there are a lot of them that don’t offer that option. If your web host doesn’t offer unlimited bandwidth and your podcast downloads start rocketing (fingers crossed), you could face some hefty charges.
Speed Is The Key
Let’s say you don’t get kicked out and your web host does stand by their offer of unlimited bandwidth.
First of all, if this is the case, then well done for getting this far without a podcast hosting provider. But, I’m sorry to say, your hopes of getting off “podcast host free” are about to be shattered. No matter what web hosting plan you have and how lenient your web host is, your web host cannot deliver your podcast file at the speed that a podcast host can. And slow delivery of your media will kill your podcast.
What you save in money, you will lose in subscribers.
More likely than not you’ll have your data transfer throttled.
“When a server using bandwidth throttling reaches the specified limit, it will offload new requests and not respond to them. Sometimes they may be added to a queue to be processed once the bandwidth use reaches an acceptable level, but at peak times the request rate can even exceed the capacities of such queues and requests have to be disregarded.” – Wikipedia
When you are trying to stream a video on YouTube and it just won’t buffer, how long do you really wait before you go onto the next video? In my own experience, I tend to wait no longer than 1 minute before I notice it’s not getting anywhere and ditch it. If your data is throttled you might find your subscribers doing just that.
Slow download speeds, for some users, are enough to put them off entirely and it’s so easy to avoid.
Sponsorship and Accurate Download Statistics
Every time someone downloads your podcast, their network attaches an Internet Protocol, or IP address, to it. An IP address is attached to a location, not a user. Additionally, malicious users block or change their IP address to cover their tracks, when they're trying to commit ad fraud. So, if:
- one person could use four different IP addresses in a day,
- two or more people could use the same IP address at once,
- a fake IP address could connect to a zillion bots
then, how do you know how many people are paying attention to your podcast?
A media host can sort the wheat from the chaff for you. They have IP filtering, to provide a more realistic sense of your audience base. They also have to comply with advertising standards, and have the resources to provide your download statistics in a meaningful way. If you seek sponsorship, you need to know, accurately, what these numbers are and what they mean. Which would you rather do:
- take a screenshot of a chart of your podcast's growth, and add it to your media kit
- spend hours poring over the data side of your website, to find numbers a potential sponsor can understand?
This is another way that a media host can save you time and effort.
The Moral Of The Story Is: YOU NEED A PODCAST HOST!
So if you shouldn't host a podcast on your own website, where should you host it? The answer is… funnily enough… a podcast host.
They will provide everything you need, and avoid all sorts of unexpected issues that could cost money and valuable time.
They are well prepared to offer you all the storage you need, as well as allow your subscribers to receive your content in a quick and reliable fashion.
Many of the leaders in podcast hosting provide great analytical tools. You can use these tools to track how many downloads you are getting, what countries they are from, and even the devices and listening apps being used!
There are a huge range of podcast hosting companies out there. We've put together a list of our favourites in this best podcast hosting providers roundup. You'll find a detailed breakdown of each, along with prices (and free offers!) right there.
Should I Use Free Podcast Hosting?
I’m sure you’ve already discovered there’s a multitude of free podcast host services to be found on the internet. But we would advise you to bite the bullet, spend a little extra cash and invest in your plan to dominate the podcasting world. After all, being invested in your company shows you are committed to making it work. Put some skin in the game and show people that you mean business. Trust in the fact that investing a little money will allow you to really achieve what you desire, instead of going down the “I guess this’ll do” route. Do it right the first time.
Generally the products and prices that podcasting hosts offer are very reasonable. The majority of them are cheap enough, allowing you to get into podcasting without the fear of your investment not paying off.
The free podcasting hosts might appear to offer a ‘no cost’ service, but know that even they have to make their money. Free is never really free; you might not pay a monthly price, but you will pay the price somehow. Most often, this takes the form of advertising plastered all over your site. As the old saying goes “with free services, you are not the customer – you are the product”.
Working within the limitations of a free podcast hosting service will stunt your growth, meaning your podcast will never achieve its full potential. For the price of a monthly coffee or two, you can rest assured that you'll have instant access to customer service should anything ever go wrong. On top of that, it's reassuring to know that your podcast host will actually stay in business.
If you are really serious about making a podcast part of your business, you’re not going to want to work with limited resources. After all, you wouldn’t write a book with WordPad. You would buy Microsoft Office, giving you access to all the features you might need and allowing your book to achieve its potential.
So you're hopefully a lot clearer now on why you should never host podcasts on your own website. This gives you a huge advantage towards building your show on solid foundations, and setting yourself up for success. So what next?
For more on the benefits of media hosting, and how it can link up to your own website, check out our article Where Does a Podcast Live? And if you're trying to decide which media host to use, here's the comprehensive roundup of our favourite podcast hosting providers.
If you're looking to create your own website to work alongside your hosting provider, then I've linked to our free course that'll help you set it all up.
And if you'd like to work together with us on your podcast, check out The Podcast Host Academy. There, we have courses, tools, downloadable resources, and run weekly live Q&A sessions. We'll help you make your voice heard.