A podcaster can choose to work with a variety of podcast companies in 2021. Whether you’re an aspiring star or show veteran, however, it’s difficult to decide on the best one. Podcast companies offer different podcasting services. You may need all or just one. This determines which type of podcast company you should go with. Besides service type, some podcast companies have been around for a long time. Be careful when you choose one because new ones without authentic experience are popping up all the time.
Podcasts involve so many minor tasks. You need to manage each of these tasks properly to produce a high-quality podcast. If you want your podcast to be top-notch, it makes sense for you to get help from expert podcast companies. They can probably do part or most of the work better than you can. This way, you can launch a commercial quality podcast.
In this article, we break down podcast companies into the major categories of Hosting and Production – which include guest outreach, editing, etc. This is to help you make the best decision, whether you’re looking to start a podcast or get a higher level of service. If you stay until the end, we also have some bonus content for you on full-service agencies.
Podcast Hosting Companies
A podcast hosting company is like a website hosting company. It basically takes care of storing your podcast files. These would be the audio or video content files for your episodes.
Most podcast hosts can also help you with distributing your episodes. They will usually give you a podcast RSS feed, which is a listing of the episodes you have. You can then submit this listing to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and other podcast networks. Some podcast hosts also bring in ad networks that integrate seamlessly. Most often these days, social sharing features and additional distribution options aside from directories are also available.
More sophisticated podcast hosts will provide you with analytics for your episodes. This will give you information about each of your episodes. For example, you can see how many times visitors played an episode. Hosts will also provide visitors with web players so that they can play episodes right there on the webpage. This helps your episodes get more listens or views because visitors don’t have to download episodes before they can play them.
A podcast hosting company might also let you use some scheduling tools and other features on their website. Usually, these tools and features are there to help you make publishing and sharing podcast episodes easier. This way, you can grow your show’s popularity with less effort.
Choosing a Podcast Host
Some podcast hosting platforms work best for beginners. These hosts have only the more basic features and are more affordable at around $5 to $20 per month. They can also be harder to figure out. Other platforms serve brands and enterprise customers well by providing a lot of extra tools and features. For example, they might have larger storage capacity, in-depth analytics, premium audio playback, and 24/7 customer service. The pricing for these hosting companies is much higher, of course, ranging up to $50 per month or more. This varies, of course, depending on factors like the number of episodes you upload, how large the files are, and how many times visitors download your episodes.
You might think about using a free podcast hosting company. This could work well for you in the beginning. As you grow, however, you will be better off with a paid hosting plan. Free services are usually free because they are selling your data. This is not safe for you or for your guests. Also, a free service could shut down without notice, taking all your content with them. Because the service is free, you would not have any recourse.
You might also think about hosting your episodes on your own website. Again, this could work, but only in the beginning. High-quality audio and video files are very large compared to images and text. Website hosts can’t normally host many of these huge files. In addition, a lot of visitors will stream and download files simultaneously when you release new episodes. At these times, the servers behind your website will most likely struggle to keep up with the demand. As a result, your visitors will have a very poor experience. That’s not good for you at all.
You could actually also host your own podcast on your own server. That is not the best idea for most people, though, since it would cost too much and be a lot of trouble. The most sensible solution for any podcaster is to sign up with a podcast host as soon as possible. This hosting company will store your files and produce your feed for you. Here are some of the most popular podcast hosting companies out there today:
1. Libsyn is one of the oldest podcast companies. Many podcasters recommend this hosting service because it’s stable, and because this is what long-time podcasters have used for many years. If you want to use this oldie but goodie, we have to warn you that their website and dashboard have not been updated for a long time. You may therefore have some trouble getting used to using this service. On the upside, pricing for Libsyn starts at $5 per month on a plan with an upload limit of 50MB. Most people will need at least 250MB per month, though, which is $15 per month. This plan also gives you basic statistics. Libsyn is our primary host at PodKick, and if you use the promo code “podkick” when you sign up, you get one month free.
2. Buzzsprout makes podcasting simple, but you still get excellent features. In fact, they are always adding new features and updating old ones. This company also has a really nicely designed dashboard that saves you time when you upload episodes. Buzzsprout offers built-in transcription, a show notes text editor, and audio mastering to improve episode quality with no need for outside editing work. They also have affiliate marketing integration and a great publishing workflow. The brand new wave embed player is top-notch, and the site is mobile-friendly. We love the quality statistics and the affiliate marketplace that can help a podcast make money. With a paid plan, you can add team members with admin or editor access permissions.
3. Podbean is an affordable option for new podcasters. You can try them out with their free 5-hour limited upload plan to see if their service suits you. This plan gives you basic stats so you can check those out, too. If you want to use your own domain name, you’ll have to upgrade. The Podbean unlimited upload plan costs as low as $9 per month. With this plan, you get advanced stats, a website with a custom domain, and more. One great thing about Podbean is that they have their own app and an Alexa skill so you can use your own voice to listen.
4. Fireside is the podcast company established by Dan Benjamin of the 5by5 network. He is a veteran podcaster, along with his peers. They create a lot of podcasts and are experts in the industry. Fireside has a single plan for $19 per month that offers unlimited everything. It’s an all-in-one platform for podcast hosting, a podcast website, and podcast statistics. That said, this is a pretty good deal, all things considered.
5. Anchor is a very popular free podcast platform. This service works best for mobile podcasting. Users can go to their web interface, though, to manage and make edits to their episodes. Anchor has a built-in ad platform, and they are always adding new features.
Podcast Production Companies
Once you figure out hosting, you will want to sign up with one of the podcast companies that can help you with production. Of course, you might be capable of handling all the production aspects yourself. The real question is whether you should. Producing your own show would take up a lot of time and entail a lot of effort. Just like signing up with a hosting service, you’re better off leaving the details to a capable service provider.
Podcast production involves a lot of different tasks. Just to give you an idea of what podcast production entails, we’ll go over a couple of them below.
Let’s say you want to publish one podcast episode every week. If you are doing an interview-style show, this means that you will have to line up a new guest every week. Ideally, this means that you would need to have guests come over to record episodes at least one month before the scheduled episode launch date. This gives you time to do all the technical stuff from editing the raw footage to promoting the episode. To keep up with this schedule, you would have to land new guests at least two months ahead of the timeline. Better yet, you should have guests and recordings lined up three or four months in advance just in case someone falls through. It can get very complicated and frustrating when things don’t go according to plan.
Instead of spending a lot of time getting guests lined up, you can hire a company to do guest outreach for you. A podcast production company can do this task smoothly. They are used to it because they have done it repeatedly for different shows. They have gotten good at it and can therefore most likely get better results.
You probably don’t really have the time, resources, or know-how to do a good job of editing podcast episodes. To do quality audio production and editing, you need special software. Aside from purchasing it, you need to learn how to use it. For most people, that level of investment does not make the best sense.
As above, a podcast production company can do a better job for less than you would spend trying to do it yourself. Even if you have an internal team, you will have to do a significant amount of management to make the podcast work. Aside from guest outreach and audio/video editing, think about what needs to go into show artwork, episode promotion, content syndication, publishing, and all the other parts.
Most aspiring podcasters do not have the knowledge or experience to handle the many tasks involved in building, launching, and maintaining a podcast. Sometimes, it’s hard enough to just find the time to sit down and record raw audio for an episode! Affordable solutions exist, offering a variety of services so that podcasters can focus on what they do best. Some podcast companies even offer additional services like publishing, content creation, and social media marketing to help you better promote your show.
The Full-Service Agency Option
If you have some available resources, you can choose to do more than a low-cost option that handles the basics. You can work with a full-service podcast production agency. This solution offers you all the bells and whistles that you need to propel your show to greatness.
Full-service podcast companies can take care of all your production needs. You can get everything done in one place, which is so much more convenient for you. It can save you a lot in terms of time and energy. This all-in-one solution also gives you access to multiple areas and levels of expertise. And you get that for what is actually a great price compared to what you would spend to put it all together yourself.
Your usual full-service podcast agency will handle different production tasks like:
- Helping you choose the right recording equipment for your show
- Working with you to develop a strategy for how your show will run and how to market it
- Syndicating the show on directories
- Creating standard intros and outros
- Getting all the needed artwork created and uploaded onto different platforms
- Coordinating show guests and scheduling episode launches
- Managing digital audio production and editing
- Uploading and distributing episodes
- Creating episode scripts, show notes, and episode transcripts
- Repurposing podcast content for clips, audiograms, blog posts, social media content, etc.
- Publishing and promoting the show, including managing paid ads and advertising placements
Basically, if you’re serious about podcasting, you save a lot of time, energy, and even money, when you choose a full-service option. All you need to do is show up ready to focus on conducting great interviews with your guests.
Ultimately, a full-service podcast agency is what you need to help you build, launch, and maintain a high-quality podcast that you can be proud of. These agencies exist to handle all the aspects of podcast production for you. They are experienced experts, so their work results in success.