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How to choose the right platform for your podcast website

Guest post by Keith Devon – Host of the Pricing WordPress podcast, and co-founder of Highrise Digital, a WordPress agency.

There are a lot of things to consider when starting a podcast. What length will the episodes be? What format will you go for? What audio hardware and software will you use? How will you promote and grow your show? And what about a website?

In this article, we’re going to explore the best podcast website options and make that decision easier for you.


A quick bit of terminology

Platform: In this article we’ll refer to anything that you can use to build your website as a website ‘platform’.


Does your podcast need a website?

There is no rule stating that all podcasts need a website and maybe you’ll get on just fine without one.

Some advantages to having a podcast website include:

  • Somewhere to send people to subscribe
  • Improved discoverability (through search engines)
  • A place for listeners, guests and potential sponsors to find out more about you
  • Community building through comments, forums and newsletters
  • Monetization opportunities (e.g. advertising, merchandise, downloads, etc) 
  • Understand your audience through analytics

For the rest of this article, we’re going to assume that you have decided that a podcast website is right for you. The next question: what platform should I use?

Podcast website platforms

Nearly any web platform can be used for a podcast website and there are some that cater to podcasting – so the choice is huge!

We could slice up the website platform market in many different ways, but I’m going to separate it into the following three categories:

  1. Podcast host websites – Quick and easy
  2. Website builders – Custom design without coding
  3. Custom websites – Limitless possibilites

Podcast host websites

By ‘podcast host websites’ I’m referring to the ‘free’ websites that come with some podcast hosting providers. For example, Transistor offers a free website for podcasts hosted on their platform.

A sample of podcast hosts that offer websites:

As the cheapest and easiest option, podcast host websites can be perfect for podcasters who are just starting out and looking for a simple solution. Most of these hosts will also allow you to use your own domain name (if you have one).

Customization

The speed and price advantages of this option come at the cost of decreased functionality and customization.

It’s usually possible to make some simple customizations (for example, adding a logo and choosing a couple of brand colors) but not much more than that.

In terms of functionality, you will get an embedded player, subscribe buttons, the ability to create extra pages of basic text, possibly Google Analytics integration, but that’s probably about it.

Perfect for…
New podcasters who want to get up and running quickly and inexpensively.

Pros

  • Easy and quick to set up
  • Free
  • Already integrated with your host

Cons

  • Limited functionality
  • Difficult to brand effectively

Price
Free (with your podcast hosting plan)

Examples


Do I need to buy a domain name?

Not necessarily. Most podcast host websites allow you to create a ‘subdomain’ of their own domain.
For example, http://mypodcast.podcasthost.com.

Some benefits of owning your own domain are:

  • Shorter and easier to type and remember
  • More professional
  • Better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Where to buy a domain name?

You can find and buy a domain using a domain registrar. There are loads of these and many offer the same domain names, so shop around. Here are some of the more popular registrars:


Website builders

By ‘website builders’ we’re talking about any website platform where you can choose a pre-built design and customize it to your needs without writing any code.

There are many platforms that use this kind of template system (sometimes referred to as ‘themes’). Some of the most popular website builders include:


A word on WordPress

Confusingly, WordPress comes in two ‘flavours’ – WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

WordPress.com offers a “Website Builder” experience, you simply register for an account and start configuring your site.

WordPress.org falls into the “Custom Website” category, you’ll need to download and install the code onto your own hosting service, and typically requires code and configuration to get up and running.

They both share a similar interface and both have the concept of themes and plugins for customizing style and functionality.


Most website platforms will have both free and premium themes to choose from. Often the premium themes come with more advanced functionality and design features.

Note: There is nearly always a fine balance to be struck between customization options and ease of use – you can rarely have both.

Some platforms allow themes/templates from third-party sources, for example, ThemeForest for WordPress themes.

There are also themes specifically for podcasts. For example, this article lists 19 podcast themes for WordPress.

There is an upfront investment needed when going down this route. That investment will mostly be time – researching the best platform for your needs, finding and customizing your theme, adding your podcast player, adding content, etc.

This option will also be slightly more expensive. You’ll have to pay for a domain name, platform fees, and premium themes (if needed).

Customization

On the plus side, the templates offered by website builders give you much more flexibility with regards to the look and feel of your website and also the functionality.

The level of customization available will depend on the platform that you use and the theme/template that you go for.

Perfect for…

Podcasters who want a more branded and feature-rich website than available from a podcast host website.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • More branding/styling options
  • More functionality

Cons

  • Time-consuming to set up
  • Needs to integrate with your RSS feed

Price

From $5 / month

Examples


Custom websites

If your podcast is more than just a hobby or a side-project you might want to invest in a custom made podcast website.

A custom website will be designed and built exactly to your needs. This option allows for any combination of styling and functionality and the only limitations are your imagination and budget.

When to build a custom podcast website

It might be possible to shoe-horn your designs and functional requirements into a website builder, but sometimes the results can be visually lacking, difficult to use and unstable.

If you find that you (or your designer) are working too hard to bend a website builder site to your needs, it might be time to consider a custom build.

A custom website will allow you to:

  • Achieve the exact ‘look and feel’ that you want
  • Integrate any systems and tools to help with your marketing, analytics and distribution
  • Control the onsite SEO of your website, including, URL structure, meta tags, etc.
  • Categorize content in as many ways as you need to
  • Cross-promote other products and services

Customization

There’s really no limit to how far you can customize the site when you go for a custom website build. It’s just a matter of how much time or money you want to invest in building your presence.

Custom websites are by far the most expensive option and the price will depend on your requirements, the platform that you develop on, and the developer that you decide to work with.

Perfect for…

Professional podcasters or brand podcasts who put a high value on branding and audience building.

Pros

  • Unique look and feel
  • Matched exactly to your brand
  • Any functionality you need

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Long lead time 

Examples

Price

$2k and up


Working with a professional

If you like the idea of having someone helping you, you’re not constrained to a custom website. Many professional designers can be hired to create beautiful websites using one of the website builders listed above.


Summary

There are podcast website options out there to suit nearly any budget. You’ll have to weigh up the importance of things like customization vs cost.

With all of the advantages of having a podcast website, and free and very cheap options available, it makes sense to create an online home for your podcast.

Where you go from there is up to you!

Keith Devon
Keith Devon

Host of the Pricing WordPress podcast, and co-founder of Highrise Digital, a WordPress agency.

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