Podcasts Platform Development Guide

podcastsGiven the growth of podcasting platforms and applications, it is clear that more developers are making this kind of content accessible for listeners. This in turn means there needs to be a guide for those looking to participate in this growing industry. To help jump-start podcast development, this guide will introduce the necessary tools and services.



Rise in Podcast Listeners Throughout the Years

The number of listeners is growing as their devices advance. According to a 2014 report by Edison, the average American listens to about six hours of audio every day. The large majority of that content being streamed through smartphones or tablets. So how do they access this content? Podcasts are one answer to this question.

This growth in podcast listeners can be seen in the daily active users (DAU) of podcasting apps. According to App Annie’s data, Pocket Casts peaked at about 3,000 DAU while Overcast showed over 6,500 DAU. With those numbers and time spent listening on the rise, it is a good time to get into this market if you are interested.



Understanding Podcast Apps

Podcast apps can be split into two categories: media players and aggregators. Media players are dedicated podcast applications that allow listeners to access everything they need in just one app. Aggregator apps on the other hand collect content from syndicated sources, such as local radio programs or certain podcasts, and organize them for easy access.

The first group is made up of established podcast applications: Pocket Casts, Overcast, and Downcast are the biggest players in the game. These platforms are great for highly involved listeners. They give users a good experience whether they want to search through new content or browse what’s popular at any given moment.

As opposed to these players, aggregator apps are a good way for aspiring developers to jump in the game. These platforms are very simple and do not need much maintenance since most functionality comes from podcast syndication technologies such as RSS and Atom feeds which are updated automatically by content creators. Libsyn is one example of this kind of app that has been around since 2005.

The good news is that releasing a podcast app does not require much time or money. Libsyn, for example, requires $5 per month for the service and offers free accounts. It also supports the Apple Podcasts directory which has helped it grow to over 1 million active users . The only thing you need in order to run a podcast platform is a domain name, a hosting service, and some basic knowledge of HTML and PHP.



Developing a Podcast Platform: Steps Involved

The process of creating a podcast platform is a straight-forward one and involves all the steps you need to take if you want to get into this field. Let’s go over each one individually:


Step 1: Choosing the Technology and Services

A podcast platform can be built using a variety of technologies. There are open source options like WordPress and Drupal, both popular for creating blogs, as well as many others. If you want to invest time or money in your project, you could also go with a fully-fledged framework such as Laravel. This full-stack PHP framework is capable of supporting the development of large-scale applications (if you are interested in it, be sure to check out some other Laravel tutorials on SitePoint). Additionally, if you are looking for a hosting service that can support your needs, consider using services such as MediaTemple which will get you up and running with a LAMP stack in no time.

Additionally, you can also leverage existing podcast applications and their RSS feeds to pull content into your own platform. For example, Pocket Casts and Overcast have public feeds that include all of the podcast episodes for users who want to access them outside of the app itself.

As for services, you can use a podcast service platform to manage your content, such as SpeakPipe and IVONA. They give you the option of recording audio that is then transcribed into text. From there, you can push out an episode automatically and post it on your website or even social media channels.


Step 2: Designing Your Podcast Platform

Once you have the basics covered, you can get to work on creating your podcast website. Since you are not building anything from scratch, all of your content will come from different sources which means that you need to structure it in a way that makes it easy for listeners to navigate. You can use frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation to do this quickly and easily. In this regard, you will need to know how to use HTML and CSS as these are the languages that give your website its layout and style.

As for the structure of your podcast platform, you can follow others that have done this before you or create something new. To help with organizing content, we recommend using tags and categories that are either manually created by you or generated automatically depending on the keywords present in podcast episode descriptions.

As for SEO, you need to make sure that your podcast website appears in an online directory where users looking for this content can find it easily. We recommend submitting your site to Apple Podcasts which is free and will bring you plenty of listeners .


Step 3: Advertising and Monetizing Your Podcast Platform

Once your podcast platform has been created, it is time to attract users. Getting them to subscribe can be as easy as sharing your episodes on social media or through another podcast player. After all, the more subscribers you have, the more exposure you will get which means that more people are likely to want to listen. However, in order to monetize your listenership, you will need podcast sponsors that can promote their product or service in exchange for a fee. In this regard, we recommend Podcast Websites which offers a directory of podcasts and the ability to create an ad-free version of your website for $10 per month.

Sponsorships can come from a variety of sources such as hosting providers, companies that create podcast plugins, and even other podcast hosts.


Step 4: Keeping Your Podcast Platform Updated

Once your podcast platform is online, you need to make sure that it stays updated. This involves recording new episodes and publishing them on your website. It also means keeping your RSS feed up-to-date (which is the way most podcast applications access their content). To keep things simple, we recommend using a service such as FeedBurner which gives you the option of updating and publishing your podcast episodes automatically.

We also recommend using a service like Buzzsprout to grow your audience since it has the ability to do things like share your podcast on social media for you. In this regard, make sure that you have plenty of audio files ready before publishing as well as a title that will catch listeners’ attention.



Unmissable Features of a Podcast Platform

  • You need to be able to create an account which allows you to subscribe, rate and review shows easily.
  • Which means that your podcast platform should allow users to stream episodes from the website itself as well as subscribe via RSS feed.
  • Your platform should also have a rating and review system so that podcast creators can improve their show based on user feedback.
  • There should be the option to sort shows by popularity, newness or alphabetically. This will make it easier for users to find content that interests them.
  • Your podcast platform needs a directory of podcasts and blog entries which includes direct links to show notes (most podcast applications automatically display these).  Another important feature is an option for users to contact podcast creators directly.
  • If the platform is able to identify a user’s location, then it should be possible for users to access content from their local area such as interviews with people in a certain neighborhood or city.
  • Another feature that would be useful for this purpose is moderators who can approve or reject new content before it goes live.
  • If your podcast platform allows users to create their own show, then it needs the ability for other people to subscribe to these shows through RSS feeds.
  • It would also be useful if users could make their podcast private or public depending on their preferences.
  • A big plus is an option which allows users to share content easily on social media so that they can attract more listeners.  For example, if a podcast has an episode about pizza, then the platform should be able to alert users who like this food on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Because podcast creators need to know what kind of content their audience would like them to create in the future, the easiest way to do this would be for podcast platform to ask users what type of topics they are interested in so that they can filter shows based on these preferences.


By taking into consideration the points mentioned above, you will be able to make a platform for podcasts that is popular among users. The biggest reason behind this is because your podcasts platform has been designed with them in mind, which means they will feel more welcome and enjoy using it.


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