How to Build, Stream and Host your Podcast on a Server
With the popularity of podcasts growing at exponential rates, everyone seems to want to start a podcast. With their unique names and topics, along with a low cost of entry, more and more people and companies have decided to launch a podcast. The global podcasting market size was valued at USD$11.46 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.1% from 2021 to 2028.
In this article, we will outline for you everything that you require in deploying a server to host and manage your podcast content, as well as touching upon some of the general basics required to get your podcast started.
Why Should I Start a Podcast?
With the cost of entry to this ingenious marketing vehicle being so low, all sorts of individuals and companies seem to be hosting a podcast these days. Businesses both small and large are turning to this medium to get their message across, while individuals from celebrities, to social media influencers to Joe Public are also getting in on the podcasting trend.
Podcasts have become so popular that traditional broadcast corporations such as radio stations now must edit and upload most of their programming just to compete with the podcasting industry. In 2008 iHeartMedia, one of the world’s largest radio conglomerates was “created to combine America’s favorite radio stations, podcasts and music together in one mobile app”, setting the trend early on.
Since then, companies from Apple, to Sirius XM, to McDonald’s have all gotten in on the podcast game.
While you have likely heard of the biggest deals in podcast, like Joe Rogan moving to Spotify for $90 million or Will Arnett and Jason Bateman moving to Amazon for $60 million after only one year, there are also the successes of small business owners and average citizens who have also been getting in on the podcast scene. People like John Lee Dumas, Tim Ferris, and Pat Flynn have gone from nobodies to podcast legends.
On average, approximately 37% of the US population listens to a podcast at least every month.
How to Host a Podcast on a Server
Podcasts are generally started by just about anyone. You may be thinking, why do I need a podcast server when I can use a podcast hosting service? A podcast hosting platform like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or any number of free podcast hosting companies are available, but you are limited with what you can do and how you can grow.
Larger Media Files
Many podcast platforms or free podcast hosting services only offer limited storage options and will charge you once you reach your limit. With a custom dedicated server, you will have access to premium Intel servers and name-brand storage for as little as only a couple of hundred dollars per month. Not only can you host your podcast, but any associated graphics, audio files, web hosting and video if you plan to share via YouTube.
Most podcasts are strictly audio, however, more and more are using video which will increase your server and hard drive demand, while also increasing your processor load.
Faster Load Times Mean a Better Experience
Many people start out by hosting their podcast on their website and learn very quickly how it can slow down their site, especially as your podcast becomes popular and traffic to the site increases. If this happens, your audience can expect to have buffering and latency issues after someone downloads your podcast episodes. If you choose to go with a company that can host your podcast for free, you will be restricted in many ways.
By using the right server configuration from a media hosting supplier that includes unlimited bandwidth, your listeners can expect a problem-free experience and no website issues.
When you set up your podcast, you will want to ensure that you have a capacity for nearly unlimited storage and bandwidth. This will go a long way in preventing viewing issues with your audience (and fewer complaints in the comments).
The definition of bandwidth is the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet or network connection in a given amount of time. Typically, bandwidth is represented in the number of megabits or gigabits that can be transmitted in 1 second and not be mistaken for internet speed when it’s actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time (Mbps).
Having a high bandwidth will not hinder any of your data transfer, allowing your audience to listen wherever is most convenient, whether it be on their favorite podcast platform or on your website. You will want your podcast to be as easily accessible to everyone, which is why you want your podcast distributed to as many platforms as possible (more on content delivery later).
Because you want to grow your audience, you will need to find out who is downloading your podcast, and look for trends. Many podcast players will download the file in sections instead of all at once. This could result in multiple web server logs for a single episode, skewing your metrics.
This is why you want to use podcast tracking software like Podtrac, Blubrry statistics or Chartable to track your analytics. In many cases, you simply point your MP3 files (your podcast files) to the software, which then logs a request, does a 303 redirect to where the mp3 files reside, problem solved. Of the three, Podtrac is free and IAB certified (Interactive Advertising Bureau).
How to Create a Podcast
By getting all of your technical requirements for a podcast hosting provider squared away early, you are now able to focus on the programming of your content.
I will not delve too deep into all of the details required to launch a podcast but instead will provide a comprehensive overview of what is required. There is a lot of great content on each of these topics that you can find online.
Now that you have decided to host a podcast, you need to start flushing out the programming details, like will you host your own podcast or find a podcast host? And where to host your podcast? You will also require:
Topic or theme
A show format, frequency, and the average episode length
Audio/Video recording equipment
Audio/Video editing software
Cover art creation
Intro & outro music
A podcast website
Now that you know how to make a podcast, let’s talk about how you can successfully launch and host your own podcast.
How to Launch a Podcast
Creating the RSS Feed
You should already have your podcast hosting provider in place, and your first podcast episode in the can, so now what do you do? You will want to upload your first episode to your server and then link the podcast rss feed to your website.
The purpose of the feed is to point the listener to the podcast content, audio files, cover art, podcast description, and summary. If you have difficulties, Apple provides a comprehensive industry-standard sample RSS feed as well as documentation on different required RSS feed fields to help you create your podcast rss feed.
Distribution and Marketing
Once this is done and the content has been made public, you need to submit the XML file to podcast directories. You can submit your podcast to Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, Stitcher, Tune-In, and thousands of others. All of this will show up in Podtrac analytics.
As your audience grows, you will want to use social media to grow your base by providing additional, related content to your pages. This could be in the form of blogs, supporting articles or even splicing the show and including smaller bite-sized pieces to lure in new listeners.
Due to the decreasing cost of network access and improvements in network bandwidth, we are now able to store video and audio content on servers while streaming in real-time. We are able to do this by transcoding, which has become more common than ever before. Transcoding allows your user to begin immediately playing the media file without having to download the entire file to their local device. If your audience is global, you will want to find a hosting provider with multiple international data centers.
There are open-source streaming software apps that can help individuals and businesses configure their own audio streaming services for personal and business use. Two of these popular Linux media server software apps include Shoutcast and Icecast for audio streaming. Learn more about the differences between Icecast vs Shoutcast.
What Are My Hosting Options?
When choosing server options for hosting your podcast, you want to go with the hosting plan that makes the most sense for you. Hybrid Servers use similar virtualization technology as a traditional VPS, but they include guaranteed CPU, RAM, storage, and bandwidth allocations. Many people like to go with a Hybrid server as it generally costs less than a dedicated server but provides many of the benefits of a dedicated server.
Because a hybrid server shares resources with the rest of the tenants on the same server, it is generally not recommended that you use a hybrid server for your podcast if you have any intention of growing your audience.
Hosting your Podcast on a dedicated server
For as little as a couple of hundred dollars per month, you can have your own dedicated server with all of the features necessary to scale your podcast. With a dedicated server, you will not have to worry about using up resources or concerning yourself with common problems like buffering and latency.
Because Dedicated Servers are physical servers, they can scale further than virtualized platforms. There is no host operating system or virtualization layer standing between the client’s applications and the bare metal.
By buying or renting a server, you can easily and cost-effectively create a custom solution to host your own podcast. You will need somewhere to store all of your media files, along with any other files such as your website and artwork. You will want at least one or two hard drives, totaling 1 TB, however, if you plan on going with a weekly podcast, you will likely require more storage from your hosting provider.
Perhaps you are a corporation that already has a large following and you expect a high amount of traffic upon your launch, and if you have other things going on like selling merch online, having thousands of media files downloaded at once, you will also want to ensure that you have chosen the right processor for your rig.
Take a look at our different Media hosting solutions for your podcast.
Congratulations, you are now ready to become a podcast host and creator. By hosting your podcast and marketing it to the right audience, you will reap great rewards knowing that you have planned out all of your system requirements and are ready to build your audience.