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The One Most Important Feature To Look For In A Podcast Host

May 17th, 2013 by Andrew Smales

The headline to this article might seem like I’m going to say something that is amazingly biased towards Castmate, but have no fear, that’s not it. Choosing a podcast host whose name rhymes with “Rastmate” isn’t the most important thing – that only just breaks the top 10 :)

In all seriousness, there is one feature that is vitally important to running a podcast: Unlimited bandwidth. You shouldn’t even consider running a podcast if whatever hosting solution you choose doesn’t provide this, and let me explain why:

First of all, let me just explain bandwidth for those who might not be familiar: Bandwidth is a way of measuring internet traffic. Every time someone downloads an episode of your podcast, it uses bandwidth. The bigger your podcast files, the more bandwidth they use. The more people who listen to your podcast, the more bandwidth it uses. If 1000 people listen to your podcast, it will use double the bandwidth than if 500  people listen.

Okay, so why is this vital? It’s simple: Everyone who creates a podcast wants it to be heard. If there’s a limit on your podcasts bandwidth, less people will be able to listen to it OR, even worse, you will run into unexpected charges. This essentially amounts to you being penalized for success.

Here’s a concrete example: A few months ago, a nice person wrote to me, asking a few questions about signing up. I helped them out, and they signed up for the Small plan, and I noticed a few weeks later that they have uploaded an episode. At the time, if I recall, the episode had about 20 downloads. A few weeks later, they asked me another question about encoding their episodes, and I gave them some advice on that, and I looked, and noticed that they were getting in the area of 100 downloads an episode, a nice improvement. Last week I checked, and I am not actually sure what happened, but they’re now getting in the area of 5000 downloads per episode! Obviously that’s amazing news for them, but I did some quick math, and given their average episode size, and how often they put out new ones, they’re moving about 3000 GB of bandwidth a month. YIKES.

(by the way, I’m not mentioning their name because I didn’t ask, and I believe strongly in confidentiality – I think giving this info is fine, but anyone let me know if you disagree. We have a number of podcasts doing ~5000 downloads/episode, so you can’t really identify them from this post.)

Now imagine that this was you, pretty cool situation right, your podcast taking off like that? But can you imagine uploading an episode, seeing a bunch of people tell their friends about it (and tweet, talk about it on Facebook, etc.), and instead of being excited about the popularity, being scared that you would suddenly get a huge bill for going over your bandwidth? Not good, not good! You want to enjoy the moment when your podcast gets big, not be worried.

Anyhow, the good news is that unlimited bandwidth isn’t some incredibly rare thing – I am certainly not claiming that Castmate is the only place to offer it, by any means. But there are still a number of places that have some (or all) plans with limited bandwidth – avoid those plans!

(By the way, some web hosting companies also advertise unlimited bandwidth, but have something in the fine print explaining that they can kick you off if you actually use a ton. I would love to know if this has affected anyone reading this. Most people don’t run their podcasts from a traditional web hosting company, so I haven’t really seen much info either way on this, feel free, as always, to get in touch with me and let me know!)


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