The Podcast Owner's Manual 16th January, 2023

Top 9 things to consider when moving your podcast to a new host

Moving media hosts can feel like a scary and complex endeavour that it’s easy to get wrong. Let’s see if we can make that process a little less scary.

1. Make sure both hosts support 301 redirects

Also make sure the host supports redirects on your plan, as some hosts restrict this feature to paid, or higher-tier accounts.

2. Download your stats

Or at the very least, take a screenshot. There isn’t a way to import stats, but you’ll want to have a record.

3. Check the metadata matches up

Import content from your old feed into your new host. (You can do this without setting up a redirect.) Then, check titles, show notes, and other metadata has come across

4. Check the files

Do some random spot checks, and make sure the MP3 file matches the metadata. For example, make sure the audio for episode 1 is the correct audio.

5. Check links

If your old service managed your website and you move to a new one, some URLs will change, so you might need to update them.

6. Update the players on your website

This is tedious but important work if your podcast website is separate from your media host. You’ll need to update all the code for embedded players from the old host to the new host, so that visitors who find you through SEO or social media can hear the episodes coming from the new host.

7. Back everything up

Seriously, back that shit up! You don’t want all your hard work lost due to a technical ball being dropped by either the outgoing or the incoming host.

8. Pick a low-traffic time, in-between episodes

In-between the publication of your last episode and the new one, import your old content to the new host, upload the new episode to the new host only, and schedule it for release on your given day. Then when you’re ready, setup the redirect. When the publication date for the episode rolls around, you’ll know the migration has worked because the episode will appear in apps.

9. Double- and triple-check everything

In Russia they say “measure seven times, cut once”. Make sure you’re happy with everything, and that the new feed URL you’re supplying to the old media host is the correct one.

Bonus: call me

I know this, partly through experience, but also because I recently built a migration tool that can automate a bunch of this process. Sure automation saves us time, but the more important thing it does is enforce consistency and reduce the human error factor, which is especially useful if you have lots of episodes.

Links

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Transcript

00:00:00Mark
Moving media hosts can feel like a scary and complex endeavor that it's easy to get wrong. Let's see if we can make that process a little less scary.
00:00:19
Hello and welcome to the podcast Owners Manual, the first for January. This is the show where we help. Feel better about your podcast and yourself. My name is Mark Steadman and I am your podcast consultant and I'm recording this slightly differently. So I was at the first of our monthly meetups. Um, in, uh, well, just a few days ago now.
00:00:42
Uh, the first in, uh, in January. This is a new meetup called Vocal Brew, and this is just an opportunity for all of us to get together and set an intention for our podcast in the year ahead, and then meet up every month and find out how well we're sticking to those intentions. That's kind of the. , and one of the things that's really important for me is that I create consistently useful.
00:01:11
I, I was gonna say content. I'm just gonna have to say content. Content. Um, but that has to be done sustainably. That has to be done in a way that I'm not gonna burn out. Uh, you know, I've got, I, I'm juggling a few projects. Um, my friend Anya, uh, sorry, Anna, I have two friends, Anna and Anya, my friend Anna.
00:01:30
Bought me, uh, she had made a mug, uh, and shipped it over from, from the states that says, uh, I'm very busy doing things, uh, which is, uh, which is true. So part of what we discussed at Vocal Brew was, Finding realistic ways that we can show up, uh, essentially, um, on that sort of iterative basis. Um, and so part of my commitment to that is making sure I get an episode out every week.
00:01:58
And the easiest way for me to do that is do a little bit of prep beforehand and then sort of come at you, uh, on the mic with as little post production as possible. So all the little sound effects and things are now being played in live because I'm lucky enough or fortunate enough, but I already have.
00:02:14
We're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about migrating to another media host. So quick summary, A media host is where your MP3 files for your podcast live. So you probably already know this by now, but just in case, um, podcast content is not uploaded to Apple or Spotify or, uh, Google Podcasts or.
00:02:37
The way it actually works is we pick a media host that is the place where our audio files live, and then that media host tells those other providers where the media can be found each week. Um, so it's really important to pick a good media host and. When it comes to thinking about migrating from moving, which you might do for, for several reasons, you wanna make sure that you get that right.
00:03:02
Um, so this has come from an activity that, uh, that I've been involved in, uh, towards the end of last year. Uh, in fact, actually it was, uh, early, early this month. Um, To, to migrate a show from one host to another. So why would you wanna do that? Um, one of the, the principle reasons is because the place that you're gonna move to has got better features.
00:03:23
Um, so I, I've talked a lot about Anchor and, and you know, not being a fan of it, just because it's free doesn't mean it's valuable. Um, which doesn't make sense as a sentence, but you know what I mean. Right. It's, it's free. So people think, yeah, that's a great place to start and. Increasingly, and this may end up being next week's episode, I'm increasingly wanting to have a discussion about making an investment in your podcast.
00:03:46
You know, I've got two guitars behind me. Anyone who's sat with me on a, on a Zoom call has seen, uh, two guitars popping outta my head, um, behind me, and I have no interest in monetizing. It's more than, it's more than a hobby. You know what I mean? It's, it's, it's a passion project. I write songs I have done for, for years, for decades.
00:04:08
Um, and I like performing them every now and again. But that's not a monetizable endeavor for me. I'm not really worried about, uh, how I can. Upload my, my audio and, and, um, and then, you know, make mon make money from it, uh, or, or, or get a new career. You know, I, it's, it's an enjoyable and enlightening process for me.
00:04:30
And so I put money into that thing that I enjoy. You know, I've got an amp here, I've got an acoustic, and I've got electric. Um, and. I invest in courses and things like that to, to help me learn because I wanna get better. And so I think there's, there's a thing there, um, that it's worth sort of engaging with around how we actually, uh, invest, uh, in our podcast.
00:04:55
And so one of those ways that we invest is by picking a good media host. Um, now, if. , that's, you know, if that wasn't something that felt manageable at the time when starting the project, which is completely understandable, then you might wanna think about migrating. So, uh, like I said, better, uh, better or more features, better or more customer support, that kind of thing can be, can be really useful.
00:05:20
Um, better support for standards, analytics, that kind of, that kind of stuff. So there's, there's plenty of. Plenty of reasons that you might, uh, want to migrate. So let's actually take a look at how you would do it.
00:05:38
So number one is make sure that both, uh, that make sure that the host you are migrating from supports 3 0 1 redirect. What that is, it's uh, an old school web thing. So when, uh, anything on the internet or when anything on the web, which is slightly different, when anything on the web changes address the original website or the original URL is supposed to issue a redirect.
00:06:08
So the 3 0 1 comes from, you'll have seen this, like if you hit a, hit a webpage and you get a not found, you see 4 0 4, right? That's a, that's an error code. I dunno. We on the web, we show that number. It doesn't feel like it's really relevant to people because then you sort of have to explain, well, what is 4 0 4?
00:06:26
4 0 4 is an error code and it means this content was not found. Um, 200 by the way, is, is means everything is okay. So most of the time you will never see that, but your browser is receiving, uh, the number 200 and then a bunch of html. That 200 means. Everything's a call. Here's the content that you asked for 4 0 4, and then a bunch of H T M L is this content couldn't be found.
00:06:50
Here's a webpage explaining that this content couldn't be found, and then that's shown to the browser. A 3 0 1, uh, status code means this content has moved. Uh, and moved permanently. There is a 3 0 1 and 3 0 2. So 3 0 2 is colloquial, colloquially Sure. Known as a temporary redirect. So that's saying for, for now, you can find this over here, and that's used for things like logins.
00:07:18
So if you go to, uh, facebook.com, you. Be redirected to, for example, facebook.com/login. Uh, so you log in and then you get, you get back home. A 3 0 1 redirect is a permanent redirect that's saying for now and for always this URL that, that you've, you know, a.com is now actually@b.com. That is vitally important when we have our podcast, uh, feed because the, uh, podcast is powered by something called an RSS feed, which is just a file that sits somewhere on the.
00:07:51
And so what we wanna make sure is that when you migrate from one media host to another, that media host that you are migrating from is going to issue a a 3 0 1 redirect to the new RSS feed because you are most likely in 9.9 times out of 10, your RSS feed is going to change. The address where it lives is going to change because we've moved server.
00:08:16
So it'll be, for example, you know these are not exact, but it'll be like feeds dot anchor fm slash one might be a, a url. And then you might move, uh, you know, I love Transistor, that's who I use for my host. So that would then become feeds dot transistor fm slash one. It's the same fee, but it's now change to dress.
00:08:35
And so we need to tell Anchor this is the new address and we need to make sure that Anchor honors that. That's really important because then. All our podcast apps, um, all your listeners podcast apps will automatically get episodes from that new address. They'll automatically pick up anything that's been uploaded to anchor since or after that redirect was put in place.
00:08:56
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, they'll all get those new episodes. Um, what you should always do is, is go manually update the, the feed in Apple in Spotify and Google, in Amazon or all those places. , but the redirect will make sure that, that those episodes actually do get, uh, picked up. Uh, so it's really important and not every single host supports it.
00:09:19
That is, that's changed now. And of course, it doesn't help you if you've already picked one, but for the most part, . If you've picked a media host in the last, you know, couple of years, you'll be fine. You'll, you'll be golden and you can Google how to do it. Um, there's usually a process where you are either canceling your show within that original host, or you can ke still keep the show active, but issue this 3 0 1 redirect.
00:09:43
So you can always get in touch with the support people from, from your original host if you need to. Um, but it's, it's you. Different places will make it differently difficult. Right. Buzz Sprout make it quite, um, well there's quite a few boxes to tick, but it's actually all in service of making sure, hey, I, do you know what you are doing?
00:10:03
You know, you can't go back. , you know, uh, if, if you do this, have you backed up your content? All this kind of stuff. And so Buzz Sprout, for example, are pretty good at making that, you know, making that, and it, it's sort of a point of pride for them actually, that they say in their, in their, uh, in the literature on the website, that we, we wanna make this sort of offboarding process just as, uh, Uh, as, as well considered, uh, as, as the onboarding process.
00:10:29
And so that's the thing to, to make sure, uh, that you are, uh, the host, you are supporting, uh, the host, you are migrating from supports 3 0 1 redirects. So the next thing you wanna consider before ac the, you know, uh, performing them on migration is downloading your stats. Now again, uh, different hosts will provide different data.
00:10:48
There is no standard, uh, for how data is shared between podcast. That's something I tried to work on a couple of years ago and nearly got there, but didn't quite. Um, so for example, again, bus sprout, you can download a, a pretty comprehensive, uh, bunch of files with transistor, you can download some CSV files, and that's usually all you need.
00:11:10
Um, you can't import that information into your, your incoming media. , but that if you need that information, if you've gotta provide that to anyone, then obviously you wanna keep that historical data. Um, a quick caveat, uh, that that's worth mentioning is in almost every single case, you will get slightly differing numbers of downloads, maybe up, maybe down when you migrate.
00:11:33
Um, that's because each hosting service has a different definition of, of, or a different way of counting a download and. , the numbers are never gonna be, even though there are standards, again, there are actually standards for how we count downloads. The implementation details are very slightly different.
00:11:50
So it's, it's useful and, and I would say important to download your, your stats. Um, but yes, don't necessarily expect that you can import them and, and that they would be, uh, exactly the same kinds of numbers. So number three then is checking that your metadata matches. So a way that you would do this is when you start the process of moving, when you are picking the media host that you're gonna move to, the first thing you'll, you'll probably do is import the content from your old feed.
00:12:26
So let's say we're going from anchor to transistor. I would log into transistor and I have two options. I can create a new podcast or I can import an existing one. So I'd say import an existing one, give it the URL of the. Within Anchor and it'll go and churn, churn away, and download all of the audio and put in all the show notes and all that stuff as well.
00:12:47
So one of the, the, the key things to make sure here is that the show notes look how you want them, because again, each media host has a slightly different way of doing of handing show notes. Um, some are a bit more restrictive than others. Some just let you put in sort of any old, any old stuff. Whereas others are quite restrictive because they know that podcast apps themselves are quite restrictive in what they.
00:13:12
Uh, in, in how they actually show, show notes. So they might clean up the text or, or move, you know, um, remove certain things like, uh, embedded YouTube videos. If you've got those in your show notes, they may be removed. And so if those things are really important to you, have a look. Make sure everything kind of looks as it should.
00:13:30
One of the most common things that you will see, and it's a bit of a pain to go undo, but you know, it's, it's worth doing. One of the most common things you'll see is a bunch. White space, like a bunch of extra lines put into your show notes, you know, where, where you've, you've got a couple of paragraphs, it might look like things are double spaced or there's just an extra sort of new line after each bit of text.
00:13:53
And again, it's just, it's just a quirk of the way that we're moving. H T M L code around the internet basically. And so it's useful to, to check out. There can be some quirks with, with some places, some, some hosts don't produce very well formatted content, and so when it comes over from your feed, it can look a bit skew.
00:14:10
If so. start by just taking a look at a few episodes and, and if you are sort of generally happy, then you, you're probably gonna be okay. Um, but yes, absolutely, you know, make sure links still work. If there are images in there, make sure they still work and they're not pointing to your old host because they might start to go away.
00:14:28
So that's something you, you kind of just have to eyeball really. Uh, unless you wanna work with me, uh, on, on doing that, which is, which is a thing, uh, that, that can. Okay, so number four is to check the files. So again, I think doing this on a random spot check basis is, is good. You know, if you, if you've got hundreds of episodes, certainly.
00:14:50
Uh, and what I mean here is going into each episode, and this sounds silly, but you've, you've gotta make sure that it, it, that it's sorted, is making sure that each. Episodes audio. Is the audio from the episode that it should be? I bring that up because I've seen cases where for some reason that hasn't been the case.
00:15:07
I've seen episodes imported where the metadata from episode one is fine, but it's got the audio from episode two. Dunno why, dunno how that happens. But it did. And so you absolutely wanna make sure that, that, that doesn't happen again. There are ways to automate this process. Uh, I actually ended up building a tool that does all of this, so it checks that the files are the same and if, if they're different, it actually goes in and checks other information.
00:15:32
Uh, tech checks that the duration is the same, even if the file has subtly changed, which might happen as well. So, yeah, the, you know, it, it's really important because what you don't wanna happen, of course, is that you, you've migrated, um, from, from your, from anchor to transistor, for example, and then you've shut anchor down.
00:15:49
and you then find that you've got two episodes where the audio is the wrong way round, or it's two episodes where they've got the same audio because they've been imported incorrectly. You know? And, and then, and then what do you do ? So make sure that, that you do all of this stuff before you issue that 3 0 1 redirect.
00:16:09
So number five then is, is the check links. So these are links in individual episode descriptions, but also links, uh, in your main Descript. Make sure they go to the place they're supposed to. If you are migrating from a mo, uh, podcast host that has its own website that you might wanna make sure then if you're linking to episodes, are you linking to the episodes on the new website?
00:16:32
For example, you know, if you're moving websites, cuz most people or lots of people who use anchor. Consider the anchor fm slash whatever to be the home of their show on, on the web. And so that's like the homepage of their podcast. And so if they wanted to link, link back to previous episodes, they might link to anchor fm slash mice show slash 1 2 3 4 5.
00:16:55
What we wanna make sure is if you, once you've migrated, you'll have a new website for your podcast. And so you wanna make sure that the links to previous episodes are updated. Again, it's tedious, but uh, it's the kind of thing that I think is worth doing. Number six. Speaking of tedious, this is quite the job.
00:17:13
Number six is updating your players on your website. So if you have a website that is agnostic from your media host, for example, if you have a WordPress website for your podcast and you go in and you create a new post every time there's an episode and you embed the player and you copy in the show notes, that kind of stuff, if that's, if that's what you do, then you wanna make sure that when you migrate.
00:17:36
That those players are updated because again, the players may stop working once you've migrated, once you've issued that 3 0 1 redirect the players, uh, for, you know, the player on anchor, which is, when I say the player, I mean, when you visit your website, you visit your webpage in, uh, WordPress, hopefully you've got the episode player with that play button and the artwork and stuff sort of fairly, uh, towards the top of the page.
00:18:02
And then the, the episode Descript and. Beneath. So that player code will need to change because at the moment it's, it's, it's all the anchor players. Then when you move to transistor, you have to do that. And so that's the kind of thing, if you've got a va, uh, they can chunk through that, you know, in an afternoon.
00:18:18
It's not necessarily the thing you wanna spend your time doing, but, uh, it is absolutely the, the kind of, um, automatable job that you might wanna, uh, send out to someone who, who can do that, because it's really important to. But it's, yeah, it's, it's not something that you wouldn't necessarily do yourself, but absolutely it should be done.
00:18:35
And again, that can be not exactly automated, but there are ways that we can get the code for your original episodes so that at least you know what to look for and then give you the code for each new episode and, you know, do that in like a CSV file, uh, and then send that to your va va, you know, that that kind of stuff is, is, uh, definitely a thing that, that is do.
00:18:57
So number seven then is to back that stuff up, uh, make sure everything is backed up. I do this, uh, again as part of my migration process. I download everything, so I'll download the original r s s feed. I'll download each, uh, each episode and the artwork for the episode. If the transcripts are available, I'll download those.
00:19:18
And again, this is all automated because that's the nice thing about an RSS feed. The podcast feed itself, we can read that, A computer can read that cuz that's what it's meant for. And we can guzzle up all of that information and make sure that it is downloaded, uh, and, and kept somewhere safe, just zipped away and, and, and, and put somewhere.
00:19:37
In case of emergency, we've always got access to it. So, um, yeah, absolutely back everything up and then double check and back it up again. number eight is to pick a low traffic time in between episodes to do that migration. So if you put out an episode every Monday, consider doing the migration on a. Get the episode uploaded to the new host beforehand, so that on Monday morning when, when the, the time rolls around, that audio is just naturally, if you like, picked up from transistor.
00:20:16
Uh, so you know, don't load, don't upload the episode to Anchor just up, start uploading your new stuff, schedule it in transistor or whoever you're moving to set the, the date and the time, and then when that date and time comes, , you'll be able to, you'll see straight away, oh, the migration has worked because new audio is coming from this new feed.
00:20:40
Um, so you wanna make sure, obviously, that if there's any kind of disruption. So the way this typically works is there's no actual disruption to the podcast itself. It, it doesn't like stop working or anything. Um, but I'm thinking about your website and other stuff that might sit on top. That's why sort of doing, doing it on a a fairly sort of low traffic day, uh, is, is gonna be the, the time to do it.
00:21:04
So always doing it in between episodes. The, the, the way I like to do it is import my old episodes, upload the new one, schedule it for the next day when it's supposed to go out, whenever that is, and then set the migration in, in process, put in that 3 0 1 redirect and then. What will happen is, well, basically a lot of stuff behind the scenes, but nothing that anyone will notice, right?
00:21:30
So, so each podcast app will go, Ooh, the feed Your Well has changed. But all of those old episodes are still there, so that's cool. I don't need to do anything. I just know the address has changed. And then when the, the day of the episode, the new episode comes around, it's already picking it up from, from the new feed.
00:21:43
So pick a nice, uh, a nice time, um, when it's, it's not gonna be too disruptive to you or the rest of your team. Uh, and go and. Uh, so that is number eight. And then number nine finally is double and triple check everything. Uh, apparently in Russia, you know, it it, we, we have the, the measure twice cut once thing.
00:22:08
Apparently in Russia they say, um, measure seven times, cut once, once. So I think there's, uh, there's, there's some wisdom there. One of the things that you wanna make sure to do is when you are issuing that 3 0 1 redirect, that is the final piece. That is the thing that says the podcast lives here now, right?
00:22:27
That is your forwarding address. So just before you put that in place, take the url that is the, the correct new feed. You are also, you know, feeds transistor fm slash one, whatever. That's gonna be the new feed for your podcast. Before you hit okay in your old host and say, yes, I'm transferring it, go to a website like cast feed validator.com and put that new RSS feed address in there and just double check that A, it's, uh, uh, an RSS feed and not just like a website address or something else, uh, or there's just something weird sitting in your clipboard.
00:23:08
Make sure that it is the correct address. and the everything sort of, it'll come back with like a bunch of technical checks to say, yes, the feed is delivered. The, the artwork looks good. I can see the latest episode as long as it's coming back, sort of green. Um, you know, with, with, with green tick marks.
00:23:24
Then you are, you, you are good. Um, and, and you should be able to, uh, to set up the, the redirect, but double, triple check. You wanna make sure that, that you get this right because, you know, I'm, I'm not trying to, uh, create any horror stories here. I, I really, I, I haven't really encountered any, any major horror stories, but that's because we tend to treat this, this stuff.
00:23:46
You know, I, I, anyway, intend to try and treat this stuff with care and I've, this is the kind of thing I've done a lot. I've migrated a lot of feeds. Um, and actually I say horror stories I was involved in, in one. Um, I, I used to have a media hosting business, which is one of the reasons I know, you know, a fair bit about this kind of stuff.
00:24:04
And when we, when that business was sold and, um, someone else bought it, um, the migration that happened wasn't, Entirely ideal, uh, that was done on mass and it wasn't handled very well. Um, now what we're talking about is on an individual basis and you'll have a lot more control over that, but, This is your show, this is your podcast.
00:24:32
You wanna make sure that you get it right. So a a a sort of a bonus caveat to this, uh, if you like, is uh, is get in touch. Have a have a chat with me. If you are in the process of migrating or thinking about migrating, and you know, again, like my intention here is not to scare you. It's not to make you think, oh God, you know, what have I, what have I done?
00:24:53
Or what have I got to consider? You know, here, here, here, be spider. There are, but I think I've hopefully shown you the ones to, to look out for. But if you, uh, feel like you could use a hand with this kind of stuff, then you know where to find me. Which, which brings us very neatly to the end of the show. So that is it.
00:25:13
Um, yes, you know where to find me. mark@origin.fm is my email address. If you wanna have a chat about anything like this, uh, moving, hosting, uh, companies and get in touch. Uh, you'll find links to, uh, some of the, uh, things I've talked about. At podcast owners manual.com. Thank you very much for listening, and I look forward to having a chat with you again next week.
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The Podcast Owner's Manual

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