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You’ve had a great idea for a brand new podcast, your notes are all ready to go, and you might even have an episode or two recorded and ready to release to the world! But what are the best podcast platforms to help reach your audience and give you all the data that you need to make your creation even better?
Here, we’re rounding up the pros and cons of some of the world’s best podcast hosting sites so that you can make the right decision and hit the airwaves with some audio magic.
6 Popular Podcast Hosting Sites
Before we dive into the different platforms out there, let’s quickly talk about what a podcast hosting site is and the types of features that you should be looking for.
As with most creative projects, the tools and features that you’ll need will depend on the type of podcast you’re making, the size of your audience, and what you ultimately hope to do with your podcast.
Especially when you’re first starting out, you’re probably going to have a fairly limited audience, and your budget will be smaller than a well-established show. This means that you don’t necessarily need huge bandwidth upfront. But if you have dreams of growing your podcast, it’s worth going with a flexible platform from the beginning that can accommodate your needs as you gain traction.
Most podcast platforms allow you to have a set amount of storage on a basic plan, meaning that you can host as many podcast episodes as you like up to a certain cumulative file size. There are a few that offer unlimited storage, but they can be more expensive. Look at different plan specifications when you’re deciding on a platform, as a basic level may be fine for now before you need to move on to a more robust (and pricier) option.
You’ll also want to decide whether or not your podcast needs its own website and, if so, if you want that hosted through your podcast host or separately. Some platforms provide subscribers with their own unique domain for free within their plan, while other podcasters prefer to simply promote their show on a standalone website or a site that they already own.
Finally, think about what analytics options a platform gives you. Even if your podcast is purely for fun, knowing how many downloads you’re getting per episode, where listeners are located, and what podcast players they’re listening on can all be useful information for developing and growing your podcast. If you’re working on a show that supports a business or you want to take it from hobby to profession, the more data you have, the better.
Now, onto the platforms!
Captivate is an industry leader when it comes to podcast hosting sites. For $19 per month, users get up to 12,000 downloads per month for an unlimited number of episodes, along with unlimited uploads and storage. For most podcasters, especially beginners, this is plenty to get you rolling and growing before having to think about upgrading to another plan level.
Captivate is also the ideal platform if you have multiple podcasts at once, as the limits are based on total downloads rather than on a per-show basis. You’ll have full access to a whole range of user data about your podcasts, along with unlimited team members or collaborators and even the option for a private podcast of up to 150 subscribers (perfect if you run a private community like Patreon).
For podcasters on the go, Anchor is an excellent choice when all you need is hosting and publishing. You can create podcast audio directly from your phone and distribute it on all of the major podcast players, all for the monthly price of FREE! That’s right, Anchor charges creators nothing to make and host unlimited podcasts on the platform. You’re even able to record ads directly into your episodes so you can start making money from sponsors straight away.
Anchor has a Spotify integration built into the software, allowing you to add full tracks or combine music and conversation directly into your episode, without having to worry about any kind of copyright problems. If you’re still not sure that podcasting is for you, Anchor is the perfect, risk-free way to try out your new show before committing to a paid platform.
Buzzsprout is one of the most popular podcast platforms on the market today, with plenty of features for an incredibly affordable price. It offers easy-to-understand analytics and data, along with publishing tools for all of the major players like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
You won’t have to worry about any technical optimization with Buzzsprout, as the platform takes care of file types, bitrate, and all of those details for you. You can easily fill out text fields for the episode name and description, and then schedule a time and day for your episode to go live. There’s even a new transcript option to help make your audio more accessible.
The free plan offers two hours of uploads each month, with hosting for 90 days, or you can upload three hours each month with indefinite hosting for only $12 per month.
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Like Buzzsprout, Podbean offers a free plan with limited storage (five hours of audio) that’s perfect for new podcasters to test the water before committing to a platform. Once you move up to a paid plan, you’ll receive unlimited audio uploads and storage bandwidth from as low as $9 per month, along with access to pro themes for your podcast website and monetization options.
One of the best features of Podbean is that it offers auto-uploads to YouTube as part of the paid plans, giving you access to a much wider audience across both audio and visual systems. You can easily connect to third-party tools like Patreon to create a seamless experience for your subscribers and supporters, along with an easy-to-use mobile app for podcasting on the move.
For those who prefer to work on an old-school system, Libsyn is the platform for you. Starting from $5 per month for around 50 minutes of upload time, your content will be distributed across the major players and apps, along with giving you RSS feeds and compatible players that can be embedded on any site.
Libsyn may not have all the bells and whistles that more sophisticated podcast hosting sites have, but for beginners, it’s a great choice. You’ll still have all of the detailed analytics that you’d see on other podcast platforms, along with customization options for each of your episodes to help users find you in their podcast players. For an additional cost, you can add monetization features that allow you to run ads within your show and work with collaborators or brand sponsors.
One of the original podcast hosting sites and home to some of the world’s biggest shows, Simplecast has everything you need to launch and grow your podcast from only $15 per month. It offers one of the biggest play limits of any podcast platform entry plan, up to around 20,000 downloads per month, and the 50,000 downloads plan is only $35 per month.
Where Simplecast really stands out, though, is in analytics. If you’re a data-driven creator, you’ll love the detail provided on every plan level. You can even get as granular as knowing where your subscribers are listening from.
While the tools may be extensive, they can seem a little overwhelming for a new podcaster who doesn’t need every feature out there. But if you have some experience and are looking to upgrade, Simplecast is a great choice, and its migration tools can help you seamlessly transition from your original platform to its system.
Ready to Publish Your First Episode?
No matter what kind of podcast you have or how much experience you’ve got under your belt, there are podcast platforms waiting for you. Now, dust off those microphones and get recording!
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