A podcast is a good way to get your ideas across and build an audience. Whether you want to host one to help increase the brand awareness for your business or for yourself, a podcast is one of the best ways to share your expertise with the world.
Irrespective of the reason for starting a podcast, creating a podcast needs a fair amount of thought and planning. One of the most important decisions that will surely have a bearing on the success of your podcast is choosing a podcast hosting provider.
But it’s important to understand that podcast hosting is different from traditional web hosting. This is because a podcast host puts at your disposal all the resources that you would need to store and deliver a successful and engaging podcast.
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What are the best podcast hosting services?
A podcast hosting service performs two essential functions. Firstly, it provides you a means to upload your podcasts such that they are all available in the same central location. More importantly, the podcast hosting service automates the generation of RSS feeds, and then automatically submits these to podcast directories, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and others so that you can reach a wider audience.
What helps differentiate the different podcast hosting services are the number of tools, add-ons, and conveniences that they offer on top of these essential functions.
Choosing a reliable podcasting hosting platform is paramount to your podcasting experience as the right platform will not just help you manage the podcast files, but also help you grow your audience.
Cost is another differentiating factor. While there are some free providers, a good podcast hosting service will charge you a subscription fee for hosting the podcast. Virtually all the good providers offer monthly subscriptions and a discount for long-term committers.
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BuzzSprout has been around since 2019 but has quickly made its name as one of the easiest to use podcast hosting providers. It prides itself on simplicity and speed and is especially suited for new content creators just beginning their podcasting journey.
BuzzSprout boasts of automatic optimization tools. Just upload your podcast and the platform will sort out the rest. The service also automatically submits your uploaded podcasts to the top directories depending on the publishing schedule you’ve defined.
The platform also offers the option to add chapter markers, which is a wonderful option for organizing your podcast, irrespective of the length of the episode. Chapter markers give listeners the option to quickly jump between particular segments of the episode depending on their interest.
One of the most interesting options of BuzzSprout is the ability to add pre- and post-roll segments. This means that you can easily add updated and relevant content or adverts to the beginning and end of not just the new, but also previously published podcasts.
BuzzSprout also offers the paid “Magic Mastering” add-on, which is described as “an Instagram filter for your audio.” This tool grants users the ability to polish and enhance the audio of their episode for a more professional final product.
The service offers a free plan that allows for two hours of upload a month, and three paid plans that offer increased storage ranging from three to 12 hours a month. The most expensive of the paid plans costs $24/month.
Podbean is one of the cheapest podcast hosting providers, which despite the low cost, still manages to support all the useful features that a podcaster might need.
One of the first highlights of the service is that it supports unlimited podcast hosting plans, all of which bundle an unlimited bandwidth. This means you can use all their paid plans to upload and store an unlimited number of shows of any length, and also not worry if the episodes catch the attention of the world.
Besides the usual podcasting features to upload, list, and stream your podcast, the platform also offers the ability to host video podcasts.
Podbean’s monetization features include the option to list your podcast in its advertising marketplace, allowing you to get matched with potential advertisers. There’s also the option to host paid shows, and even join Podbean’s patron program to solicit donations from listeners.
The plans vary in terms of the monetization options they offer along with some other features. The cheapest plan costs $9/mo and should suit most new podcasters. Then there’s the $29/mo plan which is aimed at video podcasters, followed by the $99/mo plan which should appeal to users who want to host podcast networks with multiple channels and their own custom branding.
You can test the Podbean through its free plan, which offers storage for five hours of audio as well as a generous 100GB of monthly bandwidth.
The Libsyn platform is one of the oldest podcast hosting services, having been around since 2004, long before podcasting broke into the mainstream.
Over the years Libsyn has raked up quite a strong community of podcasters, which makes the platform a wonderful option for those who are just breaking into podcasting.
One of the best features of Libsyn is that it offers unlimited bandwidth. This ensures you’ll not be caught out even when your podcast rises to the top of the charts in the podcast directories.
Libsyn offers an easy to use dashboard, which gives you all the usual options you would expect from a podcast hosting service such as uploading, publishing, listing, and scheduling options that you’d expect from a podcast hosting service.
However, unlike some of the other services, Libsyn only offers the essential podcasting features as part of its plans. You must purchase all other features as separate add-ons. For instance, if you need to use its monetization features, you’ll have to pay for those features on top of your Libsyn subscription. Even basic stats cost extra in the lowest Libsyn subscription plan.
Libsyn plans start with the $5/mo plan, which offers 50MB of uploads per month. Next up, is the $15/mo plan, which includes 250MB of uploads, followed by the 400MB plan for $20/month and 800MB for $40/month.
Captivate pitches itself for those looking to grow and monetize their podcasts. It’s intuitive interface, which allows quick access to the commonly used functions without cluttering the screen, should appeal to new and experienced podcaster alike.
One of the best things about Captivate is that it enables you to host an unlimited number of shows. There are no limits on uploads and the storage space as well. Instead, Captivate limits accounts by the number of downloads.
The platform also offers comprehensive analytics to help you track the reach of your shows. In fact, one of the best known features of Captivate is the ‘One-click sponsor pitch' creation tool that collates the analytics data into a nicely formatted PDF media kit. This includes all the key metrics and analytics about your podcast. Essentially, all the information needed to help you monetize your podcast.
Captivate also offers several other growth and monetization tools. There’s the ‘Calls to Action’ feature that you can use to insert two custom links in the podcast player, for instance, to your Pateron page.
You can also use Captivate to host private or members-only shows, which is another avenue for monetizing your content.
Captivate offers three pricing options, all of which offer all the features of the platform. They differ only in terms of the number of downloads. If paid monthly, the $19/mo plan allows12,000 downloads/month, while the $49/mo plan allows up to 60,000 downloads/month, and the $99/mo plan, geared towards established creators allows 150,000 monthly downloads.
Transistor is one of the newest entrants in the podcast hosting business, and pitches itself to both beginners and professionals alike. The platform has all the usual podcasting tools to upload and publish your shows. The service also offers podcast analytics to help you track the performance of your episodes.
Transistor’s offering closely resembles that of Captivate, in that they both allow users to host an unlimited number of podcasts, restricting accounts by the number of monthly allowable downloads. Another similarity is that both platforms allow you to host private podcasts as well. The two however differ in terms of the number of private podcasts they can host along with the number of team members that you can share your podcasting duties with.
The two platforms are also similar in terms of pricing. Just like Captivate, the three Transistor plans cost $19/mo, $49/mo, and $99/mo. However, Transistor offers a greater number of downloads per month with each plan, allowing 5,000, 75,000, and 200,000 monthly downloads respectively.
Can’t I host podcasts with my regular web host?
You might be wondering, why can't you just upload the podcast to your existing website? Well, although there’s no one stopping you from doing that, you wouldn’t be able to replicate the same user experience for your listeners as you can with a specialized podcast host.
Then there’s the matter of feasibility. Podcasts are large files, and depending on the length of your show, and how you’ve encoded the files, it wouldn’t take too many episodes to balloon to humongous sizes.
Your regular web host isn’t designed for hosting large files. They are optimized for delivering lots of text files and pictures along with a reasonable amount of multimedia content.
In fact, some web hosts explicitly prohibit using the hosting space as a repository for large files and consider it a violation of their usage terms if you decide to use them for hosting large multimedia files such as podcasts.
There’s also the question of bandwidth. Streaming podcasts eats bandwidth and, depending again on the size and popularity of your show, you’ll quickly exhaust your quota if you host it on a typical web hosting plan.
Exhausting the bandwidth would not just make your website slower or unavailable, it might even attract the wrath of the web host who might kick you out for hogging up all the bandwidth, especially if you are using a shared hosting service.
This is why you need a dedicated podcast hosting platform that’s tuned to the needs and sensibilities of a podcaster.
These podcast hosting providers specialize in storing and delivering large media files. They are made specifically for podcasters and are optimized for storing and delivering large multimedia files in various formats.
Using a dedicated podcast hosting provider will help you avoid all sorts of unexpected issues that could cost money and valuable time. Furthermore, specialist podcast hosting services offer a host of useful features to enhance your podcasting experience, including the ability to monetize your podcasts.
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Benefits of podcast hosting
There are several advantages of using a dedicated podcast hosting service.
1. Storage costs
Podcasts can weigh quite a lot depending on the length of the show and the choice of the audio encoder. Podcast hosting services price their plans to make sure you have ample storage for your podcast, with a range of appropriate bandwidth plans. In fact, you’ll soon discover that a podcast hosting provider is a lot more cost efficient, especially if you factor in the cost of the bandwidth as well.
2. Faster streaming
Podcast hosting services go to great lengths to make sure your listeners can stream your shows without any buffering delays. Many such services also offer ample (if not unlimited) bandwidth to ensure you don’t have to turn away listeners because you’ve exhausted all of the available bandwidth.
3. Built-in analytics
Just like with a website, the right analytics will give you the feedback you need to help identify the weak and the blind spots in your content coverage. All the good podcast hosting services give you analytics that are tuned to help you extract the most useful information about your podcasts to enable you to make the right decisions based on the preferences of your listeners.
Just as with anything hosted on the web these days, security is paramount. Different kinds of files require different kinds of protections and self hosting a podcast adds an additional level of complexity and an unnecessary overhead to the podcasting experience. A podcast hosting service has people working behind the scenes to ensure that your podcast remains immune to online security threats, allowing you to concentrate on your podcast.
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