If you're a Twitch streamer do you need a website? No. If you're a YouTuber do you need a website? No. But that's because that's the only place you can consume that content. A podcast is consumed on dozens of apps, and isn't in any central location. So having a website becomes the main hub of your show, and this has powerful results.
10%-40% of podcast listeners, play the show right on the show's website. My dad has listened to every one of my episodes and even though I've installed the app and subscribed on his phone, he always goes to the website and plays it directly there. Why because it's "easier" for him. You want to make your podcast dead simple for people to play the show and get pulled into it. A big fat play button in the top half of your front page is the best thing to have on your site.
When I Google your [podcast name] with the word "podcast", the first result better be your podcast website. This you can control by doing SEO right. If the first result is iTunes or some other podcast host, you can't control what that looks like or what message you want to say there. Or take it a step further and just Google the [podcast name] and try to get the first results of that. Take for instance "Criminal". The podcast for Criminal is the first result in Google. Wow, now that's some great SEO to have your podcast top of the search for the word Criminal.
If I search for your podcast name and it comes with iTunes or your Twitter as the first result, neither of those help me. I want to listen to your show and I don't have iTunes and I know Twitter isn't where I play podcasts. So I'm going to skip that stuff. And if the 3rd result is something like Podbean or Buzzsprout will I know that's your official podcast page? I don't know, maybe not.
But not only is search incredibly important for finding your show, but you can focus on other search terms related to your show. If your shows about the Chicago Bears, you could focus your SEO efforts to rank high when people search for that term. And now when people just want to know news or info about the Bears, they'll stumble upon your podcast. Perfect! This is impossible with no website, and improbably with a stock website a podcast host can provide. You can't really tweak the site to be SEO friendly by changing meta keywords, title, headings etc.
- Episode SEO
I've listened to 30 episodes of the podcast "The Audacity To Podcast". Why? Because when I Google questions about podcasting, I frequently end up on that podcast's website to answer my questions. Such as "How do I remove background noise in Audacity?" and "How do I submit podcast to Google Play?" Danield has received a ton of new listeners from taking advantage of people searching on Google for answers to things he's talked about on his show.
This is smart marketing! Write a ton of detailed show notes for each episode on the website. This gets picked up by Google and they'll send you traffic. Make something once, make it highly accessible so people can find it easily, and then let it collect new listeners over time. This works, and it's passive, making it a no brainer to do.
- Control of your brand
Word of mouth is king for marketing a podcast. But let's say your listener gives their Facebook friends a link to your show. First, how does that link display in Facebook? Does it display the cover art of your show? Does it display a little card with the title of your website? These are things you can control if you run your own website. Your listener has done the hard part for you and getting your show in front of their friends. Now it's on YOU to seal that deal. The link needs to pop, and draw people in.
Then once people land on the page does the tone get set? If your show is dark and creepy, your theme better be dark and creepy so people understand what their about to get into. It's a story in itself and it's part of the marketing and selling to a new potential listener to hopefully get them to say "whoa this site looks really cool, I think I'll check this show out!"
If you use some stock podcast host website, you probably don't even get to choose the color of the page much less where images are found, links to your top episodes to start with or special fonts. Which just looks plain and boring. Which will turn off potential listeners.
- Control of your content
Not only is how the website looks important to sealing the deal and creating a new listener, but you should also provide a bunch of valuable content to your visitors. Such as:
- Bio of the hosts
- Press page
- Ad kit
- Reviews section
- Community engagement
- Images of the show in various formats for journalists to use in stories.
- Contests and giveaways
- Additional shows to try
- Where to listen
- Top episodes
These have been very helpful on my website and handy. Frequently I need to submit a headshot or bio when I guest on another podcast, or I get asked about what other podcasts I recommend, or I people want to know more about the show. Having all these pages readily available makes me more effective, more helpful, and makes me look better prepared.
- Bonus materials
I love providing my listeners with extras. I don't do it nearly enough though. Things like cheatsheets and work sheets and downloadable pdfs to learn more about an episode or to teach something. "Want to try this at home, go to the website and download this free checklist." This has been extremely valuable so far to provide extra materials to people.
If downloadables aren't helpful then extra blog posts may be. By adding more articles on your podcast website about random things has opportunities to draw new listeners in.
- Looks pro
Podcasts that don't have websites just seem like low effort and not even interested enough in their own show to make a website to showcase it. It's dead simple to create a Wordpress site or Wix or Squarespace one and be done and it looks great. But so many podcasters skip this and wonder why they have a hard time finding listeners.
- Newsletter signups
Capturing your audiences emails is great for marketing and when you're ready to launch your next thing. You're the creative type, you have made a podcast. But chances are this isn't the last thing you make. So when you go to launch your next thing, wouldn't it be great to have 1,000 people to tell on day one? Hell yes it would. So create a newsletter and start capturing emails.
Fans who love your show will visit your website to find out how they can help. They're looking for a shop or donate button or something. Give them this opportunity! Show them all the options to donate or help the show out on the website.
Adding Google Analytics to your podcast website can give you powerful insights into where your audience is coming from. You can set alerts for when your website visitors goes above a certain threshold. So many times my alert has gone off and I've found out someone has blogged about me, posted on a forum, or even once I found myself trending in an app. I wouldn't have known about any of these if it wasn't for the analytics telling me where my visitors are coming from. Knowing this helps you understand how and why people come to your site which can help you give more value to your visitors.
So as you can see there are a lot of reasons a podcaster should have their own website to showcase the show. But is it required? No, it's just great practice and helps with marketing a ton. If you're new to pocasting and creating online stuff, put it off for 3 months and get to it when you get the podcast going. And when you're ready to take your marketing seriously, build your website.