DEV Community

Michelle 🐍
Michelle 🐍

Posted on

How to host a podcast for 25 cents a month

I host the podcast From The Source. It is an interview show about working professionals in tech, about the good, the bad and the boring. The focus is on featuring underrepresented voices in tech while getting to speak to amazing people for an hour. This is a series of articles on how I use my engineering skills to make it easier to create and distribute the podcast.

Why to Host a Podcast

No one can stop you

There’s a freedom to knowing you can say whatever you want and be in the same catalog as Serial. You can create fictional plays or talk about your day. There is no producer to tell you no. The only caveat to that is most podcast players use the Apple Podcast catalog and they do have an approval process. As long as you have not mislabeled explicit content, you should be approved in a few weeks.

Learn new skills

It’s fun to learn new skills. It’s also aggravating, but eventually worth it. Audio editing, marketing and conducting an interesting interview were all skills I didn’t have before I started my podcast. I’m still trying to figure them out. But seeing myself slowly get better is exhilarating. It also helps in other areas. Being able to ask insightful questions and draw people out makes me a better networker and friend. Learning to put myself out there for the podcast helps me socially and in pursuing professional opportunities.

Imagine these two interactions.

“You’re so interesting! Will you talk to me for an hour while I ask personal >> questions about your career?”

“No thank you….backs away slowly


“You’re so interesting! Would you like to be a featured guest on my podcast?”

“Sign me up!”

People think you are cool 😎

When I tell people I host a podcast they are often delighted and impressed. I didn’t expect it, but it’s a fun perk. It enhances your brand and it’s a great ice breaker.

New community

I’m in the tech community, so mostly I talk to other people in tech. While I love all of you, it’s good to meet people with different experiences. They might live 2,000 miles away and work in insurance, but you can commiserate on how bad you are at social media marketing.

Make Money

This was a trick. You will almost definitely lose money. You need a large audience as well as polished and consistent content to make any money in podcasts. If you are doing this as a side project, you probably won’t have the time to make that happen. But this is an investment and I’m here to minimize your costs. So let’s get started!


There are two ways to get your podcast on your friends’ phones. You can use one of the many managed services. I’m not going to link or offer opinions on those, because I don’t use them. They are similar to any SaaS. Either they cost a monthly fee, or you pay with ads and/or data. Since I knew that the more money it cost me, the less chance I would stick with it, I wanted to see if I could do this myself.

I am going to assume at this point you already have your beautiful mp3 file. I record using Zencastr and edit with Garageband because they are both free, but there are lots of other options out there.

You also need your podcast image file. It should be a 1400 x 1400 jpg. This is the Apple Podcast standard, which most players use.

There are 2 steps to self-hosting.

  • Making the audio and artwork available to the internet.
  • Creating a document for aggregators to know about your podcast.

File Hosting

To host all the public files, I used Amazon S3. If you want to learn more about cloud computing I recommend AWS Newbies. But for this tutorial, I will walk you through all the steps.

What is Amazon S3?

S3 is a storage service for files hosted by Amazon. It is similar to Google Drive, iCloud or Dropbox. You upload files and then decide who can view them. The difference between those services and S3 is that S3 is focused on engineers and large-scale projects. It’s used to host all the videos for Amazon Prime, so the costs for your tiny mp3 are much smaller. It also connects to many other services. In the next article in this series, I'll go over how to use another service to get data on your audience.

AWS Account Setup

Create an account for AWS. You’ll need to provide a credit card, but if you’re careful you shouldn’t have a big bill. To prevent that you want to set up a budget. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the free tier and how to set up budgets (see step 4).

Create Buckets

The first thing you want to do is create two buckets. These are directories to hold your files. One will be public, for the audio, podcast art, and RSS feed. The other one is to store logs to track downloads.

Create Bucket Button on the Top Left

Log Bucket

Creating a Bucket to store Logs

Give the bucket the same name as the podcast + "-logs" and use the default region (generally us-east-1). This bucket should not be public.

Public Bucket

Create a Public Bucket to Store Podcast

Give the bucket the name of the podcast and use the same region. Make this bucket public. In order to track downloads, everything that happens in this bucket should be logged. When selecting a location to send the logs, put in the name of the previously created log bucket.

Next, create 3 folders in the public bucket.

  • RSS
  • audio
  • images

Create 3 folders

Upload the audio into the audio directory and the podcast image to the images folder. They should also be public.

Upload Audio

Create RSS Feed

In order for podcast aggregators and apps to find the podcast, there needs to be an RSS feed. It is a table of contents for the podcast with a list of the episodes. It is in a format called XML. XML has two parts, field (<title>) and value (I’m A Show Title!). It is formatted like this:

<title>I’m A Show Title!</title>

This is just a title, but you need a title for the show and a title for the episode. An episode is called an item. So it would look like this:

<item><title>I’m An Episode Title!</title></item>

The Apple Podcast RSS Guide has a longer explanation. It links to a sample template or you can download the one I use for this demo.

In place of the jpg and mp3 files in the template, use the URLs of the uploaded files. Click on each file and the URL is at the bottom.

S3 URL & File Size

This is also where you can find the size of the file. It's given in KB, but the RSS feed wants it in bytes so multiply that number by 1,024. That number goes in the "length" in the "enclosure" tag.

The itunes:duration tag is the length of the podcast in seconds.

Once the template is done, upload it to the RSS folder. Then grab the new link because it is time to test.


There are two ways to test. First is through the Apple recommended validators, such us Podbase. Once that is working, test on your phone. Open whichever app you use and select add a podcast via RSS feed. This is where you can add that same link. Your podcast should now appear!

Podcast Aggregators

The podcast is now ready to go. In order to have it to the big aggregators like Apple and Spotify, it needs to be submitted through their sites. It can take seconds to weeks for them to show up. But once they do, congratulations, you are a podcaster!

Stay tuned for the next entry in the podcast series, how to analyze your listener data.

Top comments (0)