So, you’ve found your niche and know there’s an audience ready to hear what you have to say on the other side of the screen. You’ve found a topic you’re truly passionate about, drafted an insightful script, recorded and edited your first episode, and you just can’t wait to share it with the world.
Now all that’s left to do is get it published.
Contrary to popular belief, publishing a podcast is not as easy as mindlessly hitting an “upload” button on Apple and Spotify. In fact, the first step to publishing your very first show is finding the perfect podcast hosting service to upload your work on. Besides being the first stop on your way to public publishing, this is arguably the most crucial step in getting your podcast off the ground and building a loyal following, as podcast hosting sites offer specific tools for podcasters that you won’t find on your regular website hosting platform.
In 2021, there is no shortage of great (and often completely free!) podcast hosting platforms to choose from, but to make the job a little easier, we have scoured the web and listed the best podcast hosting sites available.
Whether you’re just looking to get started or want to transition to better, easy-to-use hosting platforms for the hours of audio you’ve been carefully putting together, this brief guide details all you need to know about results-driven podcast publishing through hosting services.
The Benefits of Using Podcast Hosting Services
Before we dive into our top pick for the best podcast hosting sites around, let’s take a look at why you need a podcast hosting platform to grow your audience and make your new venture run as smoothly as you want it to.
Podcast hosting is a specialized service that stores and delivers podcast media files, not unlike how a website hosting provider can store and deliver all your files, but with the unparalleled benefit of providing faster speeds, more storage, automatic generation of your RSS feed to get you discovered, and a better user experience.
Of course, you could also choose not to use podcast hosting sites at all and opt for uploading your audio files directly to your website instead. Although the more inexperienced may choose this route when getting started on their podcast journey, it is generally not recommended if you want to attract keen listeners and get more downloads. It all comes down to file size: podcast episodes are large files needing a lot of server resources, meaning that a significant number of users downloading your files will result in a lagging website, frustrating crashes, and unnecessarily slow download speeds.
It’s certainly a recipe for user experience disaster but, thanks to the rising popularity of podcast hosting platforms, it can be easily avoided (often at no extra cost!). Using a reliable podcast hosting service will guarantee that you’ll never have to worry about storage, bandwidth, RSS feed, or download crashes — let the podcast host do the tech work so you can focus on what matters most: quality content!
The Top 6 Best Podcast Hosting Platforms
We know that podcasters are a diverse bunch with a variety of different needs, wants, and goals for their venture. Luckily for all the up-and-coming content creators of the world, podcast hosting sites are booming just like the overall podcast industry is, meaning that you’re bound to find a hosting platform that fits your technical requirements and creative vision perfectly.
We have selected some of the most popular options around and highlighted the pros and cons of each to give you the full picture and help you find the perfect fit!
Podbean is a podcast hosting site that covers all the bases: unlimited storage starting at only $9 per month, handy promotion tools, RSS feed, iTunes support, complete analytics, and last but not least, a beginner-friendly free plan offering five hours of audio storage and 100GB bandwidth monthly.
The unlimited paid plan is one of the best offers around for new podcasters looking to make it big, thanks to its free domain name offer and easy-to-use interface, and it stands as the most accessible platform for creative minds on a budget.
Buzzsprout is another podcast host that shines for its simplicity and beginner-friendly experience. Jam-packed with easy tools that can edit your audio on-site, from selecting highlights to chapter-making, this is a great option for the less tech-savvy and inexperienced podcasters looking to boost the production value of their episodes with little to no editing skills.
Speed is also a crucial factor that puts this hosting platform above the rest: uploading, publishing, and importing your audio from other hosts is an incredibly quick process. Buzzsprout’s paid plan is certainly not the cheapest option at around $12 per month for limited hours of audio, but it’s overall a great option for beginners looking for extra production value and comprehensive stats.
Captivate prides itself on being a “growth-oriented” platform, and it definitely has the features to live up to the expectations: automatic calls-to-action, easy one-click-sponsor monetization, and a comprehensive subscribe page linking to all corners of your web presence — all within an incredibly intuitive interface built for ease of use.
The pricing will depend on the total downloads your profile gets per month, making this host one of the most flexible options around. If you’re looking to maximize your following and market your new podcast efficiently (even with little knowledge of the ins and outs of online marketing), look no further than Captivate!
Transistor makes it on our list as one of the best podcast hosting sites thanks to its simplicity, comprehensiveness, and its unique private podcast feed feature.
Private podcasting has become one of the easiest and most effective ways to monetize your podcast once you have created an engaged community of loyal listeners. In a nutshell, this is a premium option offered to your audience on top of regular public episodes, only accessible behind a paywall of your choice. Alternatively, for team leaders, you can publish private episodes as a way for your staff to keep up to date with internal affairs and company news.
At $19 monthly for a starter paid plan, Transistor.fm is a great option for more experienced podcasters looking to grow their show through higher revenue.
Founded in 2004, Libsyn is one of the more well-established podcast hosting sites in the game and still going strong. Featuring a comprehensive directory to get you discovered anywhere podcasts are listened to, Libsyn is the no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point podcast host most beginners are looking for.
The basic paid plan comes at only $5 per month with a limit of 50MB of storage space (which is arguably far from enough for even beginners), so you’ll fare better with the most popular plan of $250 per month for $15.
If you have a growing WordPress blog, Castos is the perfect choice for a podcast host. Offering a foolproof plugin to effortlessly embed your episodes on WordPress, this podcast hosting platform also provides you with private podcasting and membership options for effective monetization.
The basic tier will set you back $19 a month. Castos can get you unlimited hours and downloads with the added benefit of YouTube republishing and automatic transcriptions.
Podcast Publishing Made Easy
After you’ve selected the perfect hosting site, all you have to do is upload your edited content and make the most out of the specific features your hosting platform comes with. When it comes to distribution (the key process of uploading your show to iTunes or Spotify), most podcasting hosting sites will provide that directly, saving you quite a lot of extra work.
However, in case your chosen podcast host doesn’t support direct distribution, the main steps for getting your show out for download are quite similar for both streaming platforms. First, you’ll need to sign up or log in to your podcaster account (iTunes Connect or podcasters.spotify.com), manually enter your RSS feed (title, description, artwork, metatags), then finally submit and wait for approval.
Congratulations, your show is now ready to go live and make an impact on listeners everywhere!
Still, for many new podcasters, publishing their first episode is just the start of the journey — albeit one of the greatest milestones of their venture. For everything else, from results-driven promotion to guesting ROI, we offer all the insights you may need along the way, so you can cut out the guesswork and focus on the real work!