A podcast host, like PodServe.fm, is the homebase for your podcast. You will create and record your podcast and then upload that podcast to your podcast host. Once you have your podcast uploaded you will tell all the different directories, like Apple Podcasts/iTunes, "Hey my podcast is located at my podcast host, anyone who wants to listen to my podcast can find it there!" You will tell the directories where to find your podcast by giving them the URL to the RSS feed your podcast host provides.
Podcast directories, like Apple Podcasts/iTunes, don't actually host your podcast, they just play podcasts that are hosted elsewhere on podcast hosting websites. You can think of Apple Podcasts/iTunes like Google and your podcast host like a website. Google doesn't actually host websites they just point people to the websites they are looking for. That is the same way Apple Podcasts/iTunes works. People search for your podcast on their app and then click play and it will play the podcast located on your podcast host.
The same way that you would have to pay for website hosting if you wanted to have a website, you will need to pay for podcast hosting in order to have a podcast.
What Does A Podcast Host Do?
A podcast host will first and foremost host your podcast MP3s as the name implies. The host will take your MP3s and store them securely in the cloud and when someone wants to listen it will deliver them quickly to the listener. They will also provide an RSS feed that lists all of your podcasts details and where to download each episode.
A good podcast host will also provide download analytics so that you can see how well your podcast is performing. Every download or stream of your podcast will have to go through your host so they will know when and where every download or stream is coming from. A good podcast host will give you lots of data about listens so you can tell how well your podcast is performing.
A great podcast host though will not only provide the technical aspects of hosting but will also provide great customer service. Starting a podcast is complicated and your podcast host should be your guide. You should be able to ask them questions and get a timely helpful response.
If you have any questions about podcast hosting that I didn't cover here just chat with me using the orange button to the bottom right.