If you are recording audio files, you need a place to store them and to allow listeners to find them, download them and listen to them.
There are a couple of options that can help you to distribute your files and make the available to the world. A few may seem good but when you actually look at the true situation, actually are not good at all.
Option number one is to use social media. It is quick. It is easily available. It is readily accessible to many people. That sounds like the perfect place, right?
Social media sites are great for sharing content. But if that is the only place you are going to have them, you may be in for a rude awakening one morning. Many people have had their social media platforms shut down, even temporarily, for posting something that "someone somewhere" reported as offensive. Or you may have violated some terms of service for the social media platform with a link, etc.
If you are shut down temporarily (or worse, booted off the platform entirely), your listeners cannot find you. And if you were relying on the social media platform to store your files, they could all be lost. Do not rely only on social media platforms to store your files. Use them to share the files, but not as the primary delivery method for your programs.
In addition, any "friends" or "connections" gained on social media are not yours to keep. They do not belong on any list that you can download and get their personal emails, etc. (at least in most cases).
If you lost access to the social media platform, you would immediately lose access to all of your friends and connections you gained while on that platform. That is not a good thing, right?
Next would be on one of the many website design platforms. Should you store your podcast files on websites you create on Wix.com or Weebly.com or any such platform?
The reason is right inside the "Terms of Service" you probably did not read when you initially signed up for the platform. Somewhere, buried in all of the legalize, will be a small section that says something to the effect of, "If your website starts drawing too much bandwidth, you will be forced to upgrade to higher capacity plan or we have the option of slowing your bandwidth speed or canceling your website access altogether."
That may not be the exact wording (because they all use various lawyers to create these terms of service), but it is about the same meaning.
The reason why is simple. They are leasing space for their servers from a major server provider. But if you were to start getting thousands of download per episode, for example, they will need to pay higher fees to their provider. So you either pay more, or they have to throttle you back or limit access to your files. Either way, it means your website runs slower or not at all. That means you will lose listeners.
Another option is self-hosted websites, like Word Press. You can create your own website. You can load your own files to your own platform. You can drive traffic straight to your website. People can download the files directly from your website. That sounds perfect right?
Again, whoever you have as your website host (GoDaddy.com, Hostgator.com, etc.) will have those same style terms of service we just talked about. And most people, just starting their website, will not likely be signing up for the "Enterprise" level of hosting (hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per month).
That means, once again, that public access to your website and your files will be throttled back and your website will run slow.
Do you remember any website you went to access and it seemed like it took forever to load? And then you get an error message that says, "Your request timed out." This is an example of a website that either has been cancelled or access has been throttled back (not in all cases, but this is just an example of what I am talking about).
The best option is to use a company that has been created solely to host podcast files and help you to make them available to the world. These companies have been designed to support massive traffic and download through their servers. They actually want you to succeed and have massive traffic!
Now, I need to point out, they are more expensive than traditional website hosting platforms (not too expensive, but a bit more than the cheaper options). But the services they provide are designed exclusively for podcasters.
The services and benefits of the various podcast hosting platforms vary from provider to provider. Some offer free services for beginning podcasters to host their programs (but limit the amount of downloads or storage space). Some offer free websites, some do not. Some offer marketing assistance, some do not. Some market to unique and specialized audiences, some just mass market to anyone.
You need to do your own research and decide what services and benefits would best serve your needs and those of your target listeners. That should be the driving factor (and budget considerations, of course).
For example, we have a podcast hosting platform that serves the needs of Christian podcasters. The services and benefits we offer are designed exclusively for that market. Those benefits would not work for most other markets. (Information about FaithCasters.net is contained in the resource box below).
The bottom line is YES, you should have a host platform for your podcast. The amount of money you spend, the features you desire and the benefits provided will vary from platform to platform. Do your research and choose the platform that best fits your needs.
Do not worry about being "locked into" any particular platform. Most will help you to switch from a competitor to their platform (usually, free of charge)!
Robert Thibodeau has been in online media since 2010. Between his online radio programs and his podcasts, he has accumulated about 4,000 episodes and conducted 600+ interviews in that time. He has helped many people to launch their own podcasts (many of which have earned numerous podcasting awards). He has a complete podcast training program, taking you from "Concept to Launch and Into Monetization." You can read more information on his training program at http://www.podcast-training.com You can also download his "Podcast Creation Checklist" for FREE under the "Services" tab on his website. He has also created a Christian podcast hosting and marketing platform at https://www.faithcasters.net
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