If you’re getting ready to launch a podcast, then looking into podcast hosting is a must.
There are several options to consider when it comes to podcast hosting, including Libsyn, Podbean, and more.
There are pros and cons to every platform, and in this post we’ll share questions you should ask yourself when choosing a podcast hosting service, plus considerations based on your specific situation.
Before we dive in, I want to share our Free Podcast Course with you, which walks through every step of how to create and launch your own podcast!
Now, let’s talk about what podcast hosting is, why you need it, and how to choose the best podcast hosting service for you. Also, links in this post may be affiliate links.
What is Podcast Hosting?
Podcast hosting is the service that will help you share your podcast episodes on multiple platforms without having to submit an individual podcast episode file to each one of them.
Think about going to your Apple Podcast app, searching for your favorite podcast, hitting the subscribe button, and downloading a few episodes to listen to.
That is made possible because the host of that podcast took their RSS Feed from their podcast hosting service, submitted it to Apple Podcasts for approval, and now you can listen to their podcast on Apple Podcasts.
You can think of your podcast host like your podcast’s storage facility. Any time you need to add anything to your podcast feed, it is done at the host level, and from there changes are made across all platforms for your podcast.
Updating Your Podcast Info
So if you were to update your podcast description, change the categories you’re listed under, or upload a new podcast episode for release, you don’t have to do that on every platform (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, etc). You only have to make those updates inside of your podcast hosting account, and the changes will be sent to all places you’ve submitted your podcast to.
Likewise, every time you have a new episode to publish on your podcast, you add it to your podcast feed by uploading and scheduling it inside your podcast hosting service.
Your podcast hosting service also acts as your podcast dashboard, where all of the information you want to share with the different podcast platforms for distribution is entered and updated.
Not all changes you make will be recorded across all platforms immediately. It can sometimes take up to 24 hours for changes you make inside your podcast hosting dashboard to be sent out and updated across all platforms you’re listed on.
What do Podcast Hosting Services do?
Great question, and a simple answer. A podcast hosting service stores your audio files in the cloud and distribute them to the major podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, and more.
This is done through what’s called an RSS feed: a unique link that continuously pulls data from your podcast host and shares it with the different platforms you’ve submitted your RSS feed to.
Your podcast hosting service also tracks your podcast stats. This includes stats like:
- Number of overall podcast downloads
- Specific episode stats, including downloads
- Where your podcast is being listened to
- Number of episodes published
- And more!
As you can tell, your podcast host is a key tool on your podcasting journey.
Choosing the podcast categories you want to be listed under, your podcast description, your podcast artwork, how your episodes are listed… All of this happens at the podcast host level and then is communicated out to each platform you submit your RSS feed to.
Again, it can sometimes take up to 24 hours for changes you submit to be updated across all platforms.
Submitting Your Podcast RSS Feed
As mentioned, your podcast host will provide you with an RSS feed, which is a unique URL that you can submit to the different podcast directories.
Some podcast directories have a separate submission process where you’re essentially applying and have to be accepted in order to show up on that specific platform.
For example, to be listed in Apple Podcasts, you have to submit your podcast RSS feed for approval.
The same goes for platforms like Pandora, Google Play, iHeart Radio, and Stitcher Radio. Here’s our list of the top podcast directories to submit your podcast to (plus the step-by-step of how to do this).
Once your podcast has been approved by an individual platform, you’re all set! Every podcast episode, all your podcast information, and even your stats will all be taken care of inside of your podcast hosting service.
Certain podcast hosts will make submitting your podcast to some directories much easier.
For example, if you use our top podcast hosting recommendation, Libsyn, you’ll have a tab for “Destinations” where you can submit your podcast directly to several directories straight from your Libsyn Dashboard.
For example, you can submit your podcast to Spotify right from inside Libsyn.
We host our podcasts with Libsyn and because we use and love them, we are affiliates. You can use the Libsyn promo code FIRE for the rest of this month and next month free!
How Should You Choose a Podcast Host?
Choosing your podcast host is an important decision, but it’s certainly not something that should hold you back from getting started.
You can always change your podcast host at a later date and time, and many podcast hosts make this quite simple to accomplish.
However, if you can get it right the first time, why not?
Because everyone’s podcast is different, and you might have different podcast hosting preferences, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you choose a podcast host.
- Will I be hosting audio, video, or both?
- Do I want my podcast host to be focused just on podcasting?
- What options do I want to come with my podcast hosting service?
Your answer to these questions might be pretty straight forward (meaning, you just want a podcast host that will do what it’s supposed to do without breaking), or your answers might be a bit more complex.
Will You be Hosting an Audio or Video Podcast?
Whether you’re looking for a podcast host that will just host your audio files or that will also host videos files does matter, because almost every podcast hosting service charges based on the size of your files.
We’ll dive into how much podcast hosting costs in just a minute, but essentially, the bigger your files, the more you will pay to store them.
As you know, video files are much larger than audio files, so if you’re interested in creating a video podcast, then when you’re researching a podcast hosting service, that should certainly be a consideration.
Our top video podcast host is Podbean.
Should your podcast host be focused just on podcasting?
I see it as a big benefit to have a podcast host that is just focused on podcasting.
If your podcast host is also trying to share music artist files and is interested in crowd-sourcing and also wants to dabble in design, then their resources will be split.
Perhaps a much larger company will have the resources and business plan to support this, but because all I care about is my podcast being distributed where I want it, when it’s scheduled, I’d prefer to host my podcast where all resources are dedicated to podcasting.
One example of a platform that spreads its resources across multiple areas is SoundCloud. They offer podcast hosting, but it’s not even close to being their main focus. They are mainly focused on music, and more recently, Twitch.
What Options do You Want With Your Podcast Hosting?
While podcast hosting at its core is very simple, there are a lot of options you might want to consider for the future of your podcast.
For example, Libsyn offers multiple additional options on its podcast hosting platform like:
- Creating your own podcast app
- Connecting with podcast advertisers
- Advanced statistics
- Bonus podcast content (a paywall)
Each of these additional options will cost you more, and in some cases you’re required to be a part of the Pro Plan to even have access. However, these are additional options that could help you grow your podcast in the future, and should be considered.
Another hosting platform that offers a lot of extras is Captivate.
Captivate is a platform focused on helping podcasters grow. They’ve recently added a guest booking system right inside their hosting platform, which is a pretty cool add.
In addition to hosting, they also offer analytics and marketing tools.
And a third mention is the podcast hosting platform Sounder.
Sounder is a hosting platform that emphasizes creator growth as a core part of their mission.
They have a powerful suite of tools powered by AI and machine learning that allows creators to not only host their podcasts, but also promote, monetize, and track their progress.
As you can see there several platforms, and each has its own unique features and benefits. So spend some time checking each of them out to find the one that’s best for you!
How Much Does a Podcast Host Cost?
While there are free podcast hosts, the top recommended podcast hosts are all paid services.
The great news is, podcast hosting doesn’t cost much, and if you’re serious about podcasting, it’s a small investment to make.
Libsyn’s base plan is just $5 per month, which would be sufficient for a weekly podcast publishing 20 minute episodes. This baseline option offers 50 mb’s of space per month, and that resets on the 1st of every month.
We’d recommend adding the basic Libsyn statistics for an additional $2 per month, making your total monthly investment on their base plan $7 per month.
You also have the option with Libsyn to pay a little extra money to auto-archive content. So if you end up going over one month, you can pay an additional $5 to archive your content to free up more space.
The next level up is $15 per month and offers 250 mb’s of space per month. This would be more than sufficient for a weekly or twice-per-week podcast publishing 30 minute episodes.
They also have advanced and pro plans that offer some of the additional options I discussed in the previous section.
Should You Use a Free Podcast Hosting Service?
It is not recommended that you use a free podcast hosting service.
For starters, most free podcast hosts are free because of the access you’re granting them. As an example, if you host on Anchor and generate revenue through their “monetization services” (like sponsorships, or listener support), they will take a cut of that revenue.
Straight from Anchor’s Terms of Service:
If you monetize your content through Anchor, your funds will be subject to certain fees and may be subject to taxes.
Anchor does provide a unique service to podcasters by allowing you to record, edit, and host your podcast in one place, which could be a beneficial ‘testing ground’.
However, if you’re interested in growing an audience and generating revenue from your podcast, we encourage you to go all-in and commit to the journey. Again, at just $5 per month, Libsyn’s service is a no-brainer.
Another consideration when you’re looking at free podcast hosting: don’t count on getting great support.
Also look out for “free” podcast media hosts that are only free to get started. Buzzsprout, for example, offers a 90 day free podcast hosting plan, after which time you have to start paying $12 per month to continue.
Why Using Your Own Website as a Podcast Hosting Platform is a Bad Idea
So if you shouldn’t use a free podcast hosting service, why not save a few dollars by hosting your podcast on your own website?
The answer to this question is: because it’s a bad idea.
The reason top podcast media hosts charge money to be on their platform is:
- The storage space they have to set aside for you
- Every time a podcast episode is downloaded or listened to, your RSS feed is getting pinged to release that information
This requires bandwidth and costs money.
Side note: a podcast hosting service like Libsyn is able to offer plans as low as $5 per month because a majority of podcasts don’t receive tens of thousands of downloads per month.
So if you try to host your podcast on your own website, you’re taking on the storage and bandwidth that a service like Libsyn could be covering for you.
Bottom line: hosting your own podcast will slow the speed of your website because your website bandwidth will be going to pulling podcast episodes instead of giving your visitors the best user experience. This is not a tradeoff we’d recommend.
Podcast Hosting Support
Another reason hosting your own podcast is a bad idea?
You become your own podcast support.
That is, of course, unless you have a dedicated developer or a website support person who will help you if and when something goes wrong with your podcast feed.
Wouldn’t you rather have peace of mind that you can turn to professionals for help with your podcast feed?
Let’s say, for example, you go to Apple Podcasts or to Stitcher Radio the day your new podcast episode is supposed to be live and you don’t see your episode on either platform.
You go to your podcast host dashboard just to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes with the publish date.
Everything looks good, so you have no idea why your episode isn’t showing up.
If you’re hosting with a service like Libsyn, you can simply submit a ticket to their support team for help.
If you’re hosting your podcast yourself, then you are your own support team and could spend hours trying to figure out what the issue is.
Our Top Recommended Podcast Hosting Services
We’ve been hosting Entrepreneurs on Fire via Libsyn since 2012.
The cost for Libsyn is very reasonable (as low as $5 a month), and because we use and love Libsyn they gave us a promo code to share with you! Use promo code FIRE and you’ll get the rest of this month and ALL of next month FREE!
Be sure to sign up on a plan that fits your bandwidth needs; if you try to upgrade during the promo period, you will lose out on the savings.
Libsyn’s dashboard is user friendly and they offer all the podcasting stats you need to track growth, set goals, and monitor your podcasting progress.
They also offer great support and have solid resources to help podcasters stay up to date with industry news, including their own podcast called The Feed.
If you’re interested in starting a video podcast, then Podbean is your best option.
They offer reliable video podcast hosting, unlimited storage and bandwidth, and they have great support!
We don’t have any video podcasts ourselves, but our good friend Pat Flynn trust Podbean, and so we do, too.
Their video podcast plan recommendation costs $29 per month billed annually for unlimited storage and bandwidth.
Your Podcast Host
We’ve mentioned several other podcast hosting options throughout this post, like Buzzsprout, SoundCloud, and Anchor. Yes, there are a lot of podcast hosting options out there – enough that we simply can’t name them all!
As to not add confusion or overwhelm when it comes to choosing the best podcast hosting service for you, we stand by our single recommendation for audio and video podcast hosting listed above.
Again, that’s Libsyn for audio podcasting, and Podbean for video podcasting.
If you’re currently hosting on a platform we haven’t mentioned here and you’re loving it, then awesome! Keep rockin’ it. There is absolutely no reason to change podcast hosting providers if you’re satisfied with your current service.
If you’re looking to start strong – or you aren’t happy with your current podcast hosting setup – then we recommend checking out the podcast media hosts listed above!