How To Move Your Podcast Without Losing Subscribers
Episode 154: The Migration Show
This episode breaks down the process of how to move your show (podcast) from one podcast hosting company to another without losing any subscribers.
Topics covered in this episode:
- What is a podcast host?
- What is a podcast directory?
- What is an RSS Feed?
- What is a 301 Redirect?
- How do you move your show without losing subscribers
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Mike Murphy Unplugged
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What is a podcast host?
When you start a podcast, one of the major decisions you will make is where to host your show. There are many podcast hosts available but some of the more popular ones include:
- Simplecast (my employer). I work full-time on the product support and content team.
Others hosting companies include:
What do podcast hosting platforms do?
Overview of Podcast Hosts: 1. Audio File Storage & Delivery 2. Generate your RSS Feed 3. Publishing & Syndication to directories.
1. Audio File Storage & Delivery
- To store your audio files and serve them to listener devices when someone clicks play or download from a podcast app or an embed player or anywhere your podcast episodes can be accessed.
2. Generate your RSS Feed
- The RSS Feed is the link between your show and subscribers and to all of the podcast apps and directories.
- Every podcast has one unique RSS Feed and that usually only changes when you change podcast hosts.
- Note: Your RSS Feed is not always generated at the location where you store your audio files. When moving a show, you will do so wherever your RSS Feed is located and not necessarily where your audio files are stored.
- My original set up was using the Powerpress plugin by Blubrry on my Wordpress website and I hosted my audio files for download only on the podcast host, Libsyn.
- If your RSS Feed was generated by Powerpress, then that is the location where you would redirect your feed.
- Ask if you need help.
3. Publishing and Syndication To Directories
- Podcast hosts make it possible for you to create and publish new episodes much like creating a blog post on a website.
- When you publish new episodes or make edits to already published episodes, your podcast hosting platform connects your RSS feed to the podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora so your show will always be updated automatically.
- This process of publishing and then updating everywhere automagically is possible because of the RSS Feed and this process is called syndication.
4. Additional Services by Podcast Media Hosts:
- Promotion and Sharing tools
- Embed players
- The best have world-class support!
What is a Podcast Directory?
A podcast directory is simply a library or catalog of podcasts where one can browse, listen, and subscribe to new shows.
- When you start a new show, you submit your RSS feed to as many of these directories as possible to get your show listed.
- You only have to submit your show one time and when you publish new episodes they all get updated as we learned earlier because of your RSS Feed and the power of syndication.
Tip: Create an Apple Note or Text document and copy the URL for each directory listing for your own show. For example, my Apple Podcast directory URL is: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mike-murphy-unplugged/id1042504120?mt=2
What is an RSS Feed?:
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. (Wikipedia)
- When you set up a new podcast you will get a unique RSS Feeds for your show. This is usually done by the podcast host.
- If you set up your show on your Wordpress website and use the Powerpress plugin or maybe you are podcasting through a Squarespace website, your RSS Feed will be generated and managed at your website.
- Wherever you publish new episodes and manage the details about your show such as titles, descriptions, show art etc, is typically where your RSS feed is located.
- An RSS Feed looks like any other hyperlink or URL, but it is actually a text document filled with code.
- If you click on it, it will not take you to your podcast, but will only show you a bunch of code. The code is full of all the information about your podcast along with special metadata tags that can be read by podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts or Overcast.
- This is my RSS Feed (click it): https://feeds.simplecast.com/8arsv7Yn
- The RSS Feed is what you submit to the podcast directories, but it is not the link you share to post on websites or social media channels. Once you submit your show to the directories, it generally works behind the scenes.
- Podcast directories mirror everything that is in the RSS Feed. When you make a change at your podcast host or wherever your RSS Feed originated, your RSS Feed updates as soon as you press Save or publish. When your RSS Feed changes, the podcast directories will see the changes the next time they refresh and the changes get updated wherever your podcast has been submitted.
- Every podcast has one RSS Feed and it will not typically change unless you move your show to another hosting company.
Tip: Copy your RSS Feed URL to an Apple Note or text document so you always have it handy if you discover a new directory to submit to or for reference when you are ready to move your show to a new hosting platform.
What is a 301 Redirect?
- A redirect is a way to send both users and devices to a different URL from the one they originally requested.
- A 301 Redirect is one of the most common types of redirects and a 301 is permanent.
- When you create a 301 Redirect for your podcast RSS feed when a listener device or app looks for your old RSS Feed, they get forwarded or redirected to your new RSS Feed and because it is permanent, they will never look for the old RSS feed again (in theory).
- The 301 Redirect is how you can move your show without losing subscribers.
- The 301 Redirect should also update many of the apps and directories, but you should check each directory and manually update the directories if they are still referencing your old RSS Feed.
Warning: The 301 Redirect is also how you will lose all of your hard-earned subscribers if you do not take your time and do it right. Ask if you need help or not sure how to do it. Creating a 301 Redirect is easy, but if you do not do it correctly, it is possible you could lose all of your subscribers and they would have no idea.
How To Move Your Show (Step-by-Step)
Tip: Always subscribe to your own show on Apple Podcasts and other mobile apps as you want to know exactly what your subscribers are experiencing and new episodes and changes to your show always happen much faster for subscribers, so it is the best way to monitor your show
Tip: Export your analytics data and copy any information you want for your records from your old podcast host. You will not be able to import your old analytics data to your new hosting company.
Every podcast host is a little different, but here is a typical scenario. I will use Simplecast as a guide since I know the process best for importing a new show:
1. Import RSS Feed to Podcast Host:
- Set up a trial account on your new hosting platform.
- Paste your original RSS Feed to import your show. (This will only make a copy of your show and will not affect your podcast in the directories and it is not linked to your original host).
- Nothing to worry about when importing your show to test out a podcast hosting company (just do not do the 301 Redirect until you are ready to make the official switch).
- When importing your RSS Feed for a trial, your show will not be affected in the directories and it is not linked to your original host.
2. Enter Billing Information (credit card)
- Select the subscription plan you want to be on at the end of the trial period.
3. Get Your New RSS Feed.
- Once your show has been imported and billing setup, you will have access to a new RSS Feed.
4. 301 Redirect
- When you have tested your new podcast host and are ready to ‘officially migrate’ your show from your old host to your new host, it is time to set up the 301 Redirect.
- This is the final step as once you do the 301 Redirect, you will no longer be publishing on your old host and will start publishing new episodes on your new host.
Where do you do the 301 Redirect?
- The 301 Redirect will always take place at the source of your original RSS Feed (the host you are leaving).
- You will paste in your new RSS Feed in the 301 Redirect field of your old host.
- The 301 Redirect will permanently forward your old RSS Feed to your new RSS Feed and this process takes effect immediately.
- Keep your old account open for up to 4 weeks just to be sure the Redirect has had enough time, but you will notice the redirect happening right away.
- Your old RSS Feed is no longer active once you create the 301 Redirect.
Moving your podcast from Powerpress on your Wordpress website? If your RSS Feed was generated by the Powerpress plugin and your show information and new episodes are published on your Wordpress website, then this is where you will set up the 301 Redirect to forward your old RSS Feed to your new RSS Feed:
You can use a plugin such as Redirection, you can change the htaccess file (Blubrry instructions) which may be a little intimidating for many, but in many cases, you can easily create the 301 Redirect at your webhosting provider . I use Siteground and it is very easy to create a 301 Redirect for your podcast in the CPanel of Siteground and many webhosts. Ask for help if you have questions or you run the risk of losing your subscribers!
How do you know if the 301 Redirect is working?
- Open a web browser.
- Paste your old RSS Feed into the address bar.
- If the redirect is working properly, your new RSS Feed will open even though you pasted in your old RSS Feed (it redirected to your new RSS Feed).
5. Update The Directories
- Apple Podcasts and the other major directories and apps should update automatically once they look for your old RSS Feed, but to expedite the process and to make sure all of the directories are looking at your new feed, it is a good idea to manually update as many directories as possible.
- Some directories may require you to fill out an RSS Update form, but many directories such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher have portals where you can update your RSS Feed manually.
- Apple Podcasts is your priority as so many little directories pull the RSS Feed from Apple Podcasts.
- One thing you can do if you are hesitant or not sure if you want to manually enter your new RSS Feed is to log into Apple Podcasts Connect and click ’Refresh Feed’ and it should change to your new RSS feed in about 20–30 minutes.
- Log back into Apple Podcasts Connect and make sure you see your new RSS Feed in the URL field. If you do not, paste in your new RSS Feed and save.
6. Publish New Episodes!
- Once you set the 301 Redirect and have updated the directories, it’s time to start publishing new episodes on your new host. You have officially moved your show and did not lose any subscribers.
- For the first few episodes, just keep an eye on all of the directories and make sure new episodes are showing up.
Tip: Always subscribe to your own show in your mobile podcast apps. Directories can take a few hours to update when you publish new episodes or make changes, but subscribers will often get the updates in near real-time.
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My name is Mike Murphy, I’m a one man band and podcaster.
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