How To Choose A Podcast Hosting Platform
Choosing the right podcast hosting platform can make a huge difference in the overall success of your podcast. And, in reality, it’s one of the first big decisions you’ll make when starting a podcast. So, it’s better to get it right the first time.
It’s easy to confuse website hosting with podcast hosting. But, they’re different! Podcasts are LARGE files that need a lot of server resources. Using your website hosting platform to store your podcast files can slow your site down and even cause it to crash during high loads. Uh-oh, no thanks!
Podcast hosting platforms specialize in storing and delivering huge media files for distribution and download. They have tools curated just for podcasters that can handle large audio and video files, and deliver them to your listeners ears.
But, as with many things in the podcasting industry, not all podcast hosting services are created equal. So, to assist you in your search for the perfect podcast hosting service, we’ve created a guide that will explain what to consider when choosing a platform. As well as a round up of the best podcast hosting platforms to suit your unique needs.
Let’s jump right in!
How To Choose A Podcast Hosting Platform
Storage and Bandwidth Limits
Your first consideration when choosing a podcast hosting platform should be storage and bandwidth. Too little storage space can limit your room for growth, or limit the amount of content available to your listeners. On the other hand, too little bandwidth can limit the amount of people who can listen to your show at one time and can result in a poor listening experience.
Ensure that your podcast hosting site offers enough storage for your future podcasting goals. As a quick reference, 2,000 GB of bandwidth per month would allow around 60,000 downloads. Compare this example to your own downloads to see how much storage/bandwidth you’ll require.
Quick tip: you can always start with a plan with less storage and bandwidth, and upgrade as needed. However, if you plan to consistently release 1-2 episodes each week (and you want ALL your episodes to be available to your listeners), we recommend investing in a platform that offers plenty of storage and bandwidth.
Your budget will be a big deciding factor when it comes to choosing a podcast hosting service. If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider a free option. Just keep in mind that most free options offer limited room for growth and minimal features. Alternatively, if you’re looking to upgrade to a hosting platform with more features and monetization options, you can expect to pay between $10-$100/month (depending on your needs and wants).
Ease of Use
Unless you’re super tech savvy, you’ll want to consider the ease of use for each podcast hosting platform. Things like website building, uploading your podcast, adding music to your episodes, and creating and embedding podcast players can get complicated. Especially if your hosting site has a poorly designed user interface.
Luckily, you don’t have to make any purchases to research the ease of use for each platform. In most cases, you can easily locate a Youtube tutorial, or visit the hosting service’s website for diagrams, photos, and how-to articles. Plus, tons of hosting services offer free trials, where you can test their features and even get started uploading episodes. Don’t be afraid to sign up for a few different free trials to see which hosting service is the best for you.
Even if you’re a professional podcaster, we can pretty much guarantee that at some point, you’ll need a little support. Whether it’s a quick uploading question, some help designing your website, or some advice about upgrading to the next hosting plan, you want a customer support team in your corner.
While most podcast hosting sites offer some sort of customer service, not all customer service teams are created equal. Some are 24/7, some are only certain hours of the day. (Which might not be ideal for you night-owls out there.) Some offer one-on-one assistance, and some will leave you on hold forever. Be sure to read customer service reviews for each platform and ensure you’ll be able to get the help you need on your schedule.
Compatibility will be a key factor for any podcaster that has or wants a podcast website. While a website isn’t required to have a podcast, it can greatly increase your podcast visibility and searchability. Plus, a website is the perfect place to share extra resources, monetize your podcast, and better connect with your audience.
If you already have a website, ensure that your podcast hosting service can easily integrate with your website. This will save you so much time uploading and sharing your episodes. If you want to create a site yourself, we highly recommend WordPress. WordPress is a web hosting site that integrates well with many popular podcast hosting sites and makes releasing content easy peasy.
If you don’t have a website, we recommend utilizing a podcast hosting service that offers website creation. Some podcast hosting services like Transistor.fm, Castos, and SimpleCast offer podcast website creation with custom designs and templates, and all the support you need to create an awesome site. And if you have the budget, some podcast hosting sites will even create your website for you.
Each podcast hosting service offers certain features that can be super beneficial to podcasters like you. Depending on your needs, you may want to choose a certain hosting service because of their unique features. For example, some podcast hosting sites integrate with WordPress better than others. If you have a website on WordPress, this will be an important feature for you.
Another feature that could be particularly beneficial is the automatic Youtube distribution feature. This feature will auto upload all your episodes to Youtube, so you don’t have to. This not only saves you time, but increases your searchability. And lastly, if you plan on making podcasting your full-time job, you’ll need to monetize your podcast. In this case, you may want to choose a podcast hosting platform that has several built-in monetization options (like ad insertions, CTA’s, brand collaboration opportunities, etc.).
Other unique features to look for are transcription services, unlimited bandwidth and storage, website building, video capabilities, access to free music/sound effects, and free training materials.
Measuring podcast performance is critical to the success of your podcast. It’s how you decide what works and what doesn’t; it’s how you determine what your listeners like and what they don’t. One of the best ways to gauge the success of your podcast is to take a look at your analytics.
Podcast analytics might include how many people listen to your episodes, which platforms they listened on, how many people downloaded your episodes, how many messages/comments you received, how many people visited your website, and so on. This data will help you create better content in the future and gain a better understanding of the success of your podcast.
Media Player Capabilities
Finally, you’ll want to consider the media player capabilities of each platform before making your final decision. The media player, or podcast player, is what shows up on your website for your listeners to click on. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle, meaning you want it to have the most capabilities possible.
Look for a hosting service with podcast player’s that are aesthetically pleasing and that make it easy for listeners to share your podcast on their social media and subscribe (right from the media player). This will increase your chances of gaining new listeners and growing your podcast.
Best Podcast Hosting Platforms
Captivate boasts unlimited storage, comprehensive analytics, and plenty of marketing tools. You can check out their full list of features, here. They offer three plans, depending on your needs: personal ($17/month), professional ($44/month), and business ($90/month). And if you’re not ready to commit, they offer a 7-day free trial, which includes unlimited access to Captivate Growth Labs, where you can enhance your marketing, podcasting, and SEO skills.
Buzzsprout is trusted by over 100,000 podcasters and offers everything you need to take your podcast to the next level. Think advanced analytics, aesthetically pleasing media players, access to all the top podcast directories, easy upload, automatic podcast optimization, and so much more. The best part? They offer a 90-day free trial AND free training materials, so you can make sure Buzzsprout is the right hosting platform for you. Prices range from free (minimal features) to $24/month (maximum features).
Transistor.fm offers three plans for podcast hosting, each with slightly different features. All plans offer unlimited podcasts, live customer support, advanced analytics, and a built-in podcast website. Their more comprehensive plans offer features like dynamic ad insertion and show notes, as well as an increased amount of monthly downloads allowed. Plans start at $19/month and go all the way up $99/month. But, if you know Transistor.fm is the right hosting platform for you, you can get two months for free by opting for a yearly rate.
Anchor is a well-known FREE podcast hosting service, created by Spotify. They boast a ton of features, including but not limited to, unlimited hosting, insightful analytics, several monetization options, access to Spotify music for your podcasts, and video capabilities (for all you video podcasters out there). They even offer a custom cover art creator and the option to collaborate with co-hosts, guests, and listeners. If you’re balling on a budget, Anchor is a great place to start.
bCast plans start at $15/month and range up to $75/month. While they do offer a free plan, it comes with basic features that are not ideal for a podcaster with growth in mind. Paid plans offer unlimited downloads, storage, and episodes. As well as, advanced analytics, transcription services, an auto upload Youtube feature, audio inserts, and standard customer service.
With over 600,000 users, Podbean is a great option for any podcaster. They boast unlimited downloads, an easy-to-use recording app, advanced analytics, dynamic ad insertion, domain integration, a cover art creator, and unlimited audio and video hosting. We also can’t forget to mention their library of music and special sound effects, easy email integration, and social media scheduling features. Podbean offers four plans that range from free to $99/month.
Resonate is an all-in-one podcasting platform. Meaning they not only offer hosting services, but they also offer professional grade production, recording, editing, AND marketing services as well. They offer two hosting plans, basic ($25/month) and premium ($49/month). Both plans offer unlimited bandwidth and storage, detailed analytics, an embed player, and live chat support. Where the premium plan differs is that it offers dynamic ad insertion and a podcast microsite, in addition to the features listed above.
RedCircle is a relatively new podcast hosting platform that takes a slightly different approach than the other platforms on this list. Instead of charging for hosting (although they do offer paid options for larger podcasts), RedCircle helps podcasters like you monetize their podcasts and they share in the revenue. Features include unlimited hosting and distribution, built-in monetization methods, and standard analytics. RedCircle’s most unique feature, though, is that it allows you to reach out to other podcasters and cross-promote your podcast within the app.
Like many options on this list, Castos offers a 14-day free trial AND a discount when you pay on a yearly basis (as opposed to a monthly basis). What really sets Castos apart, though, is their compatibility with WordPress. Their WordPress plugin makes managing your feed and uploading new podcasts to your website an absolute breeze. Other features include Youtube publishing, advanced analytics, multiple show management, and transcription. Prices range from $19-$90/month.
Simplecast offers three comprehensive plans for podcast hosting, starting at $15/month and going all the way up to $85/month. And, each plan comes with a 14-day free trial. Each plan offers unlimited storage and upload, distribution to everywhere your audience listens, basic analytics, a customizable show website with a custom domain, a secure (HTTPS) site and RSS feed, 20K downloads per month, AND email support. As you upgrade your plan, you’ll gain access to even more features.
RSS.com was created in 2005 and is a fantastic option for the podcaster on a budget. They boast unlimited storage, distribution to all major podcast directories, sponsorship/monetization opportunities, cross-platform analytics, a free podcast website, episode scheduling, and more. Not to mention the 24-7, award winning customer support and plenty of bandwidth. And all this for only $4.99/month (for students, educators, non-governmental organizations, etc.) or $8.49/month (for new podcasters, independent podcasters, businesses, and more).
AudioBoom offers a couple different options, depending on the number of downloads your podcast receives. If your podcast garners less than 50,000 downloads per month and you’re looking for a hosting service with awesome growth tools, AudioBoom might be right up your alley. With plans starting at $9.99/month, plenty of monetization options, unlimited episodes per month, distribution to all major podcasting platforms, and more, AudioBoom is both a good and economic option for the individual podcaster.
Created in 2010, Spreaker stands the test of time because of its many unique capabilities. Spreaker includes most basic podcast hosting features (including monetization options), as well as a unique Live Podcasting option that makes podcasting with guests, co-hosts, and even listeners super simple. Spreaker is also unique in that it is compatible with both Windows and Mac and that it offers customizable RSS feeds. This hosting platform offers five plans, ranging from $0 to $120/month.
Fireside is an excellent podcast hosting platform that offers three plans. Their starter plan ($9/month) is designed specifically for new podcasters and is a great place to start for all you up-and-coming podcasters out there. All plans include a customizable website, instant Spotify integration, basic stats, and built-in website security. The more expensive plans ($19-$49/month), include features like social media integration, exclusive website themes, and increased MP3 file size.
This podcast hosting service is run by the same people that run Captivate (mentioned above), meaning they know what it takes to make it in the world of podcasting. They boast aesthetically pleasing mobile-friendly websites and podcast players, easy drag-and-drop design features, professional grade analytics, built-in CTA’s, and built-in RSS feed creation. Most important, their WordPress integration is unmatched. Monthly hosting costs $97/month, or $77/month when paid yearly.
Blubrry is a super popular hosting platform, used by many big names in podcasting. This is mostly due to their super simple WordPress integration, industry-leading stats and analytics, and easy-to-use monetization options. Other features include unlimited downloads, domain mapping, a custom embed player, and even a podcast media kit. Blubrry is also super budget friendly, with plans ranging from $12/month to $17/month.
Podcast.co is a slightly smaller hosting service that offers three plans, starting at $19/month. As well as a 14-day free trial for those of you who like to try out your services before purchasing. Unique features include an audiogram creator, transcription, customizable web players, and seamless collaboration options among your team. Plus, you can upload your podcast with ease with Podcast.co’s one-click distribution feature.
Acast is a podcast hosting platform that allows you to create and distribute your podcast with ease, with distribution to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Samsung, and more. They offer analytics, monetization options, and room for growth. And, they make starting a podcast and/or switching to Acast a super simple process. Oh, and all of this for FREE.
PodServe.fm will let you host unlimited podcasts with 2,000GB bandwidth. For most up-and-coming podcasters, this is plenty. Plans start at $19/month, with the option to try it for free for 14-days, no credit card required. They offer features like unlimited podcasts, FREE podcast promotion, detailed listener stats, and transcript support. Plus, you can cancel anytime for no extra charge.
PodcastGIANT boasts fast and simple website designs for your podcast. They offer both podcast and website hosting, which makes your job super easy. If you’re looking for super fast loading speeds, website security, unlimited bandwidth, and professional SEO optimization, this is the one for you. PodcastGIANT packages start at $49/month.
Podcasts.com is both easy-to-use and affordable. With plans starting at $0/month and ranging up to $28/month, there’s an option for everyone. Unique features include easy podcast sharing, comprehensive stats, an automatic mobile optimization. And if you don’t have a website, no problem! Podcasts.com plans come with a customizable website.
Libsyn is one of the original podcast hosting platforms, created all the way back in 2004. All in all, Libsyn is a great choice for any podcaster on a budget. Prices range $5/month to $20/month and all plans include an ad-free podcast website, a custom podcast player, built in branding via Canva, and IAB verified stats. However, recent reviews by podcasters like you state that the Libsyn dashboard and website are in need of an upgrade and that other platforms seem to have surpassed this OG podcast hosting website.
Even though Squarespace is mostly known as a website and e-commerce platform, you can host your podcast there. In fact, this is a great option for users of Squarespace, as adding a podcast is free when you already have a website. While they don’t offer as many capabilities as actual podcast hosting platforms, they do offer an RSS feed and an audio player.
Megaphone (by Spotify) is designed specifically for professional, enterprise-level podcasters and advertisers. All plans include distribution, analytics, support, monetization options, and more. They even have special targeting tools that will help you better capture your audience. Contact Megaphone directly for a quote.
Are you the owner of a larger sized media company or brand? Backtracks might be the solution for you. Their advanced professional-grade analytics are unmatched and invaluable to business owners like you. They have tons of publishing tools, plenty of advertising opportunities, and too many unique features to list (streamlined sharing, customizable designs, transcription, etc.). As far as pricing goes, plans range from $99/month – $299/month.
Hosting your podcast doesn’t have to be stressful!
Here at Dear Media, we want to take the stress out of choosing a podcast hosting platform. With these tips, and our roundup of the best podcast hosting services, we know you’ll find the right service for you AND your future goals.
For more on all things podcasting, click on over to the Dear Media Blog. There, you will find no shortage of podcasting tips and inspiration. And finally, if you have any questions or comments, or additional tips for choosing a good hosting service, drop them below!