A website for your podcast? What for?
Previously on the CogitActive saga:
You host your audio files and your RSS file in your media host, prior to linking to them from your website, where your show notes reside.
Let’s accept that you need1 a website. Now, the question arises what type of website do you need.
The all-in-one option
Most media host will offer you the opportunity to host your entire podcast website. As previously stated2, you could post your show notes there, but apparently, it is better to deliver your podcast through your own website. Okay, but why? This podcast website is part of the service you are paying for3, it is quick and easy, and if quality is there, why not using this free homepage for your podcast? To be honest, it was not that easy to find a perfectly convincing explanation.
Granted, the webpage is very basic with limited options, despite some claiming it to be a professional looking, attractive website. Now, the offers differ from one hosting service to another, some providing a better webpage than others do. However, for extra money – that you will spend otherwise on your own website – you can have advance features.
The biggest limitation I could find was the issue with the URL (the web address) of your website that will be something like http://www.yourpodcastname.mediahostname.com. Again, most of the time, you have the possibility to pay a little extra to have their name or their branding removed from the URL or your webpage, respectively.
Yet, I didn’t compare the cost of adding these extra features, or paying for better plans, compared to having your own website (with the same features). Anyway, what drives me away from this option was the very limited control that you can have on this podcast website.
Free blog services
Actually, you don’t really need a full-blown website for posting your show notes; a blog would be perfectly adequate. What about those free blogging platforms? They
are great services in that they take care of the hosting for you, along with all the infrastructure4.
One big reason: if you are not paying, you are the product! Moreover, you don’t really own your blog; the provider does. You will have their branding, as well as their ads, on your blog; it is the primary way free blog hosts generate revenue. Again, the web address of your blog will look like http://www.yourpodcastname.bloghostname.com; definitively not the best way to promote your own brand or establish a credible identity.
Granted, there are paid upgrades available; but then it is not free anymore!
The self-hosted website
If you want total freedom with your podcast website, the recommended solution is a self-hosted website. Indeed,
you have more flexibility if you choose to install and configure things yourself4. You will have your own domain – your web address will be http://www.yourpodcastname.com – and greater option for customizing your website. If you want to run ads on your site – notice that I do not – you will be the one who keeps the income generated.
Obviously, this solution is not free. Nevertheless, having your own website remains relatively cheap, or should I say, affordable; as long as you build and maintain it yourself. Last, but not least, this definitively involves a new set of skills (steeper learning curve than the other options).
Of course, I have opted for a self-hosted website. In the next post, I will describe what it entails to create a website that way, but for now, I would like to conclude on this quotation from Todd Cochrane4:
It is important that you take as much care in getting your website ready as you have taken in creating your podcast.
1 In fact, your podcast could stand on its own and exist only as an RSS 2.0 file – that is without show notes and consequently without website. However, having a website is strongly encouraged. ^
2 See Where to start? ^
3 I will not address the free, or cheap, media hosting services that will have ads inserted on your podcast page or even into your podcast episodes. ^
4 Todd Cochrane (2005) Podcasting – The Do-It-Yourself Guide. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing. ^