The origins of podcasts date back to the 1980s, but several events in recent years made it the phenomenon that it is today.
In 2001, Apple released the first iPod, which took the accessibility of audio content to new heights. In 2005, they added over 3,000 free audio programs to the iTunes Store, which was a giant leap in taking podcasts to the mainstream.
But it was in 2014 that an award-winning podcast called Serial introduced a new style of storytelling that broke through the familiar formats of podcasting. This narrative approach caught on, and many creators followed suit.
Podcasts grew in popularity because of its accessibility. It gave way for audiences to subscribe to their favourite shows and listen on any device whenever they wanted. They could tune in while driving to work, exercising, or doing housework.
It has revolutionised how people take in information, and for producers of podcasts, they have the freedom to target niche markets based on their interests. Podcasting has become more creative in recent years, and you can trust that there’s a podcast for everyone.
From business advice to politics and current events, podcasts have become an avenue for sharing educational knowledge and specialised advice. They go in-depth with the discussions and complex ideas can be broken down and explained in a casual conversation.
But there are shows that are made purely for entertainment. Music, food, sports, crime stories are all popular podcast categories that engage audiences of all ages.
The diversity of topics and formats that it can present is what makes each experience unique and exciting. There are branded podcasts, narrative storytelling, interviews and panel discussions – giving everyone a voice and an outlet to spread their message.
Now that there’s more content, the number of listeners continues to rise, and this has led businesses to search for podcast services because of its marketing opportunities.
The more personal approach in podcasts is effective for increasing brand awareness and shaping a positive brand image.
But to succeed at it, you need to find a podcast hosting platform. It’s one of the most unclear elements in the process of creating a successful podcast, but it plays a vital role in the distribution of your content to your target audience.
In this blog, we’ll explain how podcast hosting works and provide seven awesome platform options for your business to get started.
What is a podcast host?
You can find podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Play. These platforms are called podcast directories.
But many people don’t know that the individual episodes are not directly uploaded into these channels. This is the role of a podcast host.
A podcast host generates an RSS feed, which is a web page that has all the information about your podcast. It’s a library that stores the audio files, cover images, even the title and description of each episode.
Once published on the podcast host, it automatically sends the RSS feeds to the podcast directories.
7 awesome podcast hosting platforms
At first glance, it may seem that all podcast hosting platforms are the same – and there are many of them available. They all manage your RSS feed and distribute it so they go live and people can listen.
But you need to examine which platform will help you grow your podcast and maintain it long-term.
Take a look at its ease of use, storage capabilities, download limits, website integrations, and audience analytics – features that will play a part in your success as a podcast creator.
Your chosen podcast host should help you reach your desired listeners and help you assess the relevance of your content.
Here are seven podcast hosting platforms we recommend:
Podbean’s basic account is completely free, and it comes with 500 MB of storage (around five hours of audio files). Premium plans start at $14 USD per month, while business plans are $129 USD per month.
When you create an account with Podbean, you’re entitled to a free podcast website which you can customise to fit your business and brand. You’ll have access to the Podbean player, which has seamless social media sharing capabilities. If you have a website or blog, the player is embeddable with customisable sizes, shapes, and colours to fit your existing themes. Podbean is also one of the few hosting platforms with a mobile app, letting creators record, edit, and publish from their phones.
It also has a marketplace to connect with potential advertisers to help monetise your content. The platform handles all payment, technical, and support needs and integrates it on its dashboard.
Podbean’s services are more expensive when compared to others, and some users are also wary as it doesn’t backup data, which could lead to problems should there be a technical glitch.
But because it’s easy to use with a straightforward process, Podbean is a top option for podcast beginners.
Buzzsprout has been around since 2008, and it’s recognised for its simplicity. Targeting new podcasters in the market, Buzzsprout ensures its easy to use.
Once you upload your audio files, it will process it into 96k mono, the recommended setting for podcasts. Then, you’ll input the details needed for SEO like a title, description, and tags.
Their podcast player works well on all screen sizes, showing cover art, social sharing buttons, and skip controls. Meanwhile, their recorder uses Magic Mastering, which is a post-production enhancement that improves recordings and optimises them to industry standard quality.
On its free plan, you can upload two hours of content per month, and your files are hosted for 90 days. You should expect, however, that advertisements will play on your website and podcast player if you’re on a free plan.
Paid plans start at only $12 and come with unlimited storage for your files for as long as you want.
A feature that stands out with Castos is its automatic transcription. When you upload your episode, you get a full downloadable PDF transcription of your podcast. This is helpful if you plan to republish your content on YouTube as a video.
It has a 14-day free trial with full features. But paid plans give you access to unlimited sharing, advanced analytics, and video file hosting. At $19 USD per month, the Starter pack gives all the essentials for podcasters.
For advertising and video podcasting features, you’ll need to register for a Growth ($49 USD/month) or Pro ($99 USD/month).
Simplecast is an industry-leading podcast hosting platform used by larger teams. It allows team members to manage shows for better workflow.
One of its distinct marketing features is Recast, which is a social sharing tool for sharing segments of episodes to promote your podcast.
Their pricing is as follows:
- Basic: $15 USD / month ($13.50 USD / month if prepaid annually)
- Essential: $35 USD / month ($31.50 USD / month if prepaid annually)
- Growth: $85 USD / month ($76.50 USD / month if prepaid annually)
The main difference between each plan is how many total monthly downloads they allow:
- Basic: 20,000 / month
- Essential: 50,000 / month
- Growth: 125,000 / month
If you have a large audience, you’ll find these limits restricting and will have to choose another host. But because of its unlimited storage space and customisable website at an affordable starting cost, many new podcasters choose Simplecast.
Libsyn is one of the oldest podcast hosting services in the industry. Their tools, features, and integrations provide more depth than other hosts, which is great for those who are serious about growing their podcasts over the long haul.
Users can expect a more extensive learning curve as they manage every aspect of podcast distribution from connections to social media platforms to producing a video format of the show for YouTube.
It uses OnPublish, a function that lets you cross-post your episodes to channels of your choice. It’s great when you know your audience’s preferred platform, so you can optimise the way you share your podcast.
LibsynPro, which is their business plan, offers advertising campaign management tools, exclusive mobile apps, and multi-user account management. As your podcast grows, Libsyn lets you stay on top of each aspect of managing it with its additional support tools.
Though beginners may find Libsyn too complex, plans start at $5 USD per month, which is a good investment for those who are willing to learn the platform. Plans go up to $15 USD, $20 USD, and $40 USD per month as your storage needs increase.
Blubrry provides three core services: podcast hosting, statistics, and the PowerPress plug-in.
PowerPress is what has established Blubrry. The plug-in allows you to share episodes to any website run on WordPress. It has many features including direct uploads from WordPress, rather than through Blubrry’s interface.
The statistics they provide are state-of-the-art. Blubrry is the first podcast hosting company to receive Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab (IAB) Podcast Measurement Certification. This certification gives podcasters the ability to make better decisions on advertising based on identifying a show’s listenership, among other data.
The pricing for Blubrry plans are based on the number of shows you have and the storage you need:
- Small: $12 USD / month for 100MB
- Medium: $20 USD / month for 250MB
- Large: $40 USD / month for 500MB
- Extra Large: $80 USD / month for 1GB
- Professional: Unlimited Storage
Though pricing is higher compared to others, its specific offerings are what its users go for, especially if they manage a WordPress site. There is no free plan, however, so you need to be willing to pay even if you only want to test it out for a month.
Captivate’s interface and dashboard is one of the reasons why new podcasters choose this hosting platform. Aside from being easy to navigate, it walks users through an 8-step “New Show” process. This guides them to upload their first episode while meeting all the info required by the various podcast directories.
You can have unlimited podcasts on your Captivate account. You can manage your team by adding them to each show. All their plans feature advanced analytics and a podcast player for web and mobile with built-in CTAs.
You can also link your podcast hosting account to your WordPress website through Captivate Sync. This plugin automatically publishes new episodes on your site.
Pricing is based on the number of maximum downloads. Once again, this may not be suitable for you if you have a large audience. They also do not provide a free trial.
Hosting plans start at $19 USD / month for 12,000 downloads. A $49 USD / month plan allows up to 60,000 downloads and a $99 USD / month option gives 150,000 downloads.
When deciding on a podcast hosting platform, dig deep into each one’s features and ask yourself these questions:
- Will it be able to accommodate the monthly content you’ve laid out in your strategy?
- Are the extra features worth the additional cost?
- What kind of tools and integrations do they offer that will improve your workflow?
Because podcasts are now a mainstream marketing tool for business, it’s important to make the correct choice when selecting a host.
It will serve as the middleman between your podcast and the rest of the world, and you want to make sure you’ve chosen the best one that will distribute your content to the right market and support your growth in podcasting.