Most of your listeners consume your content through players like Apple Podcasts, so why have your own website? Why not let listeners just find you on their favorite player and listen there? Does a website matter? Won’t it be a pain to maintain?
After years of helping creative professionals think about the role their homepage plays in their overall strategy, my belief is an emphatic YES, you need a website, but NO you shouldn’t have to think about it very often.
You should own your relationship with your listeners
This is the #1 reason. This is so important.
Years ago, musicians made an enormous mistake: they build their audience through MySpace. When MySpace went away, they had to start from scratch with their fanbase. I worked in the music industry at that point. It was a nightmare.
Podcasters are doing this all over again with podcast players. Listeners don’t have relationship with the podcast, they have a relationship with Apple Podcasts or wherever they’re listening. This is GREAT for Apple, not as great for you.
You should have a direct connect with your audience. Ideally, by getting them to sign up for an email newsletter, but to start, by giving them a website to visit.
Websites are universally accessible
It doesn’t matter what country someone is in, what device someone uses, or what language someone speaks, your website will be accessible to everyone. People search the web for stuff, and if you have a website, they can access it.
Many new listeners start with Google
When someone hears about your show, there is a very good chance they will first search Google to find you, not inside a podcast player. This is almost a guarantee if they aren’t currently a podcast listener.
Then, these potential subscribers will click on whatever link Google suggests first.
You should own the top spot on Google
When people search for your show on Google, the top result should be owned and operated by YOU, not Apple or another podcast player.
Owning your search engine optimization (here are some podcast specific SEO tricks) means you are always in control of how people are introduced to your show. Instead of being directed to a podcast player where they will see information about your show and also be recommended to other shows, a new listener will be directed to a website geared entirely about onboarding them to learn about your specific podcast.
If you own the top spot in Google, you’ll get more listeners through organic searches
It might seem obviously, but to be clear. If new listeners start with Google, and you own the top spot, having a website will get you more organic listeners through Google. This is why podcast website SEO is so important, and why having your website should give your audience numbers a boost.
You should control how you introduce your show
If someone finds you on a podcast player, they’ll see the most recent episode. That might not be the best way for a new listener to get introduced to your show. With a website, you can highlight the best episodes to start with, organize your content by topic, and much more, drastically increasing the chances that a first-time listener becomes a subscriber.
A website makes things simpler for your listeners
Instead of directing them all over the place (“go here to subscribe, go here to leave a review, go here for show notes”), with a website you can always send them to the same place.
You can even set up convenience links to take simplicity one step further (“rate my podcast at mywebsite.com/rate, subscribe at mywebsite.com/listen, etc…”).
A website gives you a place to post transcripts
Transcripts are a great way to make your episodes more accessible. By adding them to the episode page on your website, not only are you giving Google better metadata to index your show with, but you’re also making it possible for people who might not be able to access audio a way to consume the content.
A website allows you to give listeners other ways to interact
You can draw in listeners to visit your website for the podcast episode content (show notes, transcripts, etc..) but when they’re there, you have the opportunity to build other relationships with them. Here are a few things you can do once they’re on your site:
- Ask them to sign up for your email newsletter / mailing list. This gives you a direct connection with these listeners, even if they decide to change podcast players.
- You can ask them to donate. Including a donate page on your website is a great way to explain how supporting your podcast financially will make it possible for you to keep providing incredible content.
- Write a blog. It can be easier to write a blog post than produce an episode, so why not do both. By maintaining a blog on your site, you are giving them more content to consume and more ways to interact with you.
- Promote other services. Maybe you wrote an e-book, or provide coaching? It’s easy to inform listeners of this when they’re on your website.
Okay, so how should I make my website?
There are three paths to go down when creating your website (listed in order of complexity).
- Check with your podcast host. There’s a good chance they’ve automatically created a website for your show. It’s probably not that customizable, but adding a domain name to it will help get it on top of Google. And if you’re a casual podcaster, this might be the best path.
- Use a podcast website builder. There are a number of easy website builders out there. Some are not podcast focused, like Squarespace and Wix. But there are some that focus primarily on podcast websites, automatically staying up to date from your feed, creating episode pages, etc… This is what Podpage is for.
- Build a Wordpress site. This is the most complicated, but customizable way to go. The School of Podcasting has a course. The Audacity to Podcast has a good starter guide. The Podcast Host has a good guide. Podcast Insights has a Podcast Website Course. And there are a lot more out there.