How to Choose a Podcast Platform
Podcasting has boomed enormously over the past decade, and for good reason. According to some sources, there are as many as 2.4 million podcasts worldwide for a listener’s pleasure. The U.S. is reported to have the highest population of podcast listeners, with about one-third of Americans saying that they listen to podcasts regularly.
Therefore, podcasts are another powerful form of content creation, and one effective way to reach your target audience. Whether you’re looking to do a podcast as an entertainer, content creator, or educator, it’s a strategy that can help you. Not to mention, by converting podcasts to text, you can leverage them in many other ways.
But before you can even start audio-to-text conversions, you need a quality podcast platform.
Considering that there are currently over 100 different podcast hosting platforms available, you will need to figure out the exact criteria that you need for a platform to start your podcast.
Choosing a podcast hosting service comes with many considerations, and here, we will provide you with some advice on how to choose the best media player for your podcast.
If you want to host your podcast somewhere specific, you may incur additional costs in the form of fees for the platform to post your podcast episodes. The good news is that there are free options. Here, we have 10 suggestions for the best free podcast hosting platforms available.
Why pay for a platform if you can use a free one? For some creators, paid platforms are a better fit. At their core, podcasting hosting platforms are a place to upload your files and generate RSS feeds for podcasts. But some platforms offer more features than others. For example, podcast platforms may even include marketing tools, social sharing buttons, unlimited bandwidth, 24/7 tech support, analytics reports, and more.
Many of these platforms are described as “easy to use” and have simple interfaces, as well as a good customer service system to support users. However, not all platforms are inherently free. You may have the choice between a free plan that offers basic features or going to a subscription plan to utilize the platform's capabilities. For example, if you want unlimited storage, a service can offer unlimited storage but it is locked behind a paywall.
Podcast hosting services such as Soundcloud, Buzzsprout, Simplecast, and Audioboom are all available for free, but they do have additional features that come with additional costs. If you want to invest in more features then you will need to compare the best premium subscription features that each podcast player provides.
Although each platform will have drawbacks, it is up to you to find the one that you think will best serve your needs. Some options will allow you to post to other platforms, like Spotify even with the free plan.
If you are looking to post your podcast to a specific place, make sure that the platform you select can integrate with other platforms you are looking to post to. Podcast directories (such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, etc.) hold storage for multiple different podcasts and can sort them all by category. Directories also double as a podcast player and podcast search engine. Getting listed in the top podcast directories can help you:
- Attract new listeners
- Get more ratings and reviews
- Make subscribers aware of new episodes
You can also look into having your podcast stream on your own podcast website. You will want to make sure that you are able to perform that function on your website and make sure that it can support the bandwidth of the episode files.
If you are looking to make money from producing your podcast, you want to make sure you go with a web hosting provider that will allow you to take full advantage of monetization options. There are several ways to monetize your podcast, and part of that falls onto you and your podcast production.
To make the best use of your podcast platform, you must be consistent and have a good outreach to your audience. If you only post an episode every so often and on different days, your audience will not be as inclined to listen to your podcast.
There are several ways to monetize your podcast, but Forbes describes 8 of the most effective strategies for your podcast to rake in the bucks:
- Sponsorship Deals
- Affiliate Partnerships
- Offering Premium Content
- Asking for Donations
- Joining a Podcast Advertising Network
- Selling Merchandise
- Selling Access to a Course
- Live Events
Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 may be the easiest for you to achieve starting out. After you have a small base audience, it is more likely that brands or companies will reach out to you to make a business deal. In exchange for a monetary amount, you would promote a product, brand, or service during a segment of a podcast episode.
You can also ask your audience to support you and the show they are listening to by providing donations on services like Patreon. In exchange, they can receive exclusive benefits as a donor (such as early release episodes or personal conversations with you!). However, keep in mind that there are fees associated with these kinds of services as well, so you will need to weigh options as to the best way to receive donations.
Regardless of how you plan to monetize your podcast, you need to make sure your platform allows you to do so.
Storage and Bandwidth
If you want to make sure all of your audio files are saved and that they will not be written over when you upload a new recording file, you will need to make sure that you have a podcast platform that benefits you with either a large amount of storage capacity or unlimited storage capabilities.
Having a supportive bandwidth is essential to making sure your listeners have the best listening experience. You will need more bandwidth if you have a larger or growing audience. You may need to pay more for a hosting plan in order to meet the needs of your listeners to have that more supportive bandwidth.
How Frequently Will You Podcast?
A lot of your needs will revolve around how often you plan on posting your podcast, how long your episodes will be, and the sound format of your podcast (mono or stereo). Improve Podcast has a chart that can give you a realistic depiction of how much storage you will need for your podcast. They also state that “Most podcasters will require between 26 hours and 104 hours of additional storage per year.”
You may not have instant success (and that can be unrealistic to expect), but it is likely that you will have a steadily growing audience over the course of several months. For your first few episodes, if you do not have an established mailing list or ways of growing your audience you can expect less than 500 downloads per episode.
You can use your RSS feeds (which we will discuss in a bit) to determine the potential scale of your growing podcast. Improve Podcast gives great advice on this topic. While some hosts may offer unlimited storage, they may place restrictions on how many downloads they serve each month.
Therefore, it’s essential to assess the size of your initial audience. For example, if you’re a creator who already has a large following on other platforms, then you can predict a fairly large initial audience. On the other hand, if you don’t already have a large following elsewhere, your audience may start out on the smaller end. Additionally, the genre of your podcast and many other factors will influence your audience size.
If you anticipate having a large audience and/or rapid growth, you may be looking at tens of thousands of downloads per episode. In that case, you need a platform with a large (or no) download limit.
You will want to make accurate projections for your audience growth so that you can quickly make adjustments if you are preparing for an increase in listeners. If you fail to make good estimates, then you will be losing valuable storage and bandwidth for your podcast.
Checking analytics is vital for podcasting. Your analytics will give you vital information about your audience, such as the demographics of your listeners, how long they listen to an episode, what sections they tend to skip over, etc. Most podcast hosting services will include an RSS feature in some capacity.
Your RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication) will contain information about your listeners that you otherwise would not have access to. RSS files refer to files easily read by a computer called XML files that automatically update information. The information you receive will be updated regularly and will be up-to-date with the latest information as the system receives it.
There may be additional features you may want to consider when choosing a podcast hosting platform. As mentioned, some platforms offer additional features for sharing, marketing, or analyzing your podcast. Determine which features are most important for you.
While a podcast is a primarily audio-based form of entertainment, similar to how music is consumed, it can be much more accessible by creating a video version. You can also use a platform that will allow listeners to select an option to view a transcript of the recorded audio files.
If you are considering filming physical episodes of your podcast that will feature the hosts and guests speaking, this may be a beneficial tool for you to consider. You can keep your audio files separate from the video files and create your own format to share over multiple platforms.
After You Launch Your Podcast
There’s no doubt about it, choosing a podcast platform can be a challenge. It’s not a decision you should take lightly, as the platform you select will have a major impact on how you run your podcast.
Using the tips above, you can evaluate what you need in a platform. This guide should simplify the process and help you choose the right option for your needs.
But what about after you launch your podcast?
The options for content creation and growing your audience are endless.
You can turn your podcast into several other forms of content to share on other platforms and boost accessibility. When it comes to building any sort of brand, this is critical.
One tool that could be a beneficial asset to your podcast production is an automatic podcast transcript generator. Maestra’s podcast transcript generator allows “users to upload their podcasts and receive the podcast transcripts in minutes. If you have your podcast as video content, you can also upload the video and transcribe your podcast.”
Maestra also offers an audio-to-text converter tool so that you can completely transcribe any audio file, like podcasts. You also have the option to go through the transcription after it has been generated to make corrections. You then can simply download the transcript and export it to your podcast website host.
Want to see how it works and how our tool can benefit your podcast? Try 15 minutes of audio-to-text conversion for FREE or book your free demo.