Switching podcast hosts usually happens because you’re looking for one or more of these benefits:
- You want to gain more control over your feed.
- You need better stats on how your podcast is doing.
- You require built-in features that your current host is not providing, e.g., live-streaming, WordPress integration, standalone apps, or a managed website when you don’t want your own platform.
- You want to cut down on expenses. Note that moving just to save a few dollars might not be worth it.
- You need the stability of the platform to be more reliable.
You might worry that moving your podcast to a new hosting platform could cause you to lose subscribers. Thankfully, today’s best podcast hosting platforms include features that can minimize your risk:
Migration of Your Media
If you overlook migrating your old episodes, you risk losing them forever (if you have no backups). You don’t want to deprive your new subscribers of your former content. Your new host should be able to ingest your entire back catalog easily.
Copying Your RSS Feed Data
An RSS feed is a document containing all the essential information about your podcast. It’s an open standard, and non-technical producers just know it as the “secret sauce” that makes podcasts work. Your RSS feed enables someone to subscribe to your show, or stream or download your episodes, either through your website or their podcast app. A good hosting platform will automatically migrate all of your podcast information from the old feed to the new one.
Your current hosting platform might not allow you to forward subscribers from the old feed to the new one seamlessly. However, Apple’s role as owner of both the biggest player app and the largest podcast directory can help you here. Updating your new feed URL on Apple’s Podcast Connect (and in other public directories) can help auto-correct your old feed to your new location in many player applications.
Testing Your New Feed
Before throwing the final switch, subscribe to your own new feed to make sure everything looks and works the way it should. You don’t want to point your subscribers to a new feed and only then find out that it’s broken! You can also test the feed with Cast Feed Validator or Podbase Podcast Validator.
It is also best practice to wait 1 – 2 weeks before you delete your old hosting account. And expect it to take a couple of days for Apple to reflect the updates to your feed.
Placing a 301 Permanent Redirect on Your Old Feed
The final step to ensure that all of your subscribers start using your new feed is to redirect the old feed to the new one using a 301 permanent redirect. Unfortunately, not every podcast app makes a lasting change when loading a 301 permanent redirect. You should, therefore, aim to have the old feed URL always redirect to the new one.
- Most podcast hosting companies have the ability to place a 301 redirect on their servers. The question is whether they’re willing to do that for departing customers. High quality hosts offer departing shows this courtesy, often at no charge.
- A handful of providers may not be inclined to offer an easy embed a 301 permanent redirect, but they may allow you to place custom RSS tags in your feed. (This can help you embed a redirect command into your existing audience’s subscription.)
Publishing a Please Resubscribe Episode in Your Old Feed
If you can’t get a 301 redirect on your old feed, or you’re not able to retain it forever, publish an episode asking your audience to please resubscribe. Explain why they need to resubscribe, how to do it, and point them to a website with the new subscription links or instructions. Although it’s not ideal to ask your followers to resubscribe, it is one way to keep your loyal fans.