So, you have a shiny new MP3 file sitting on your computer—a completed podcast—your first episode. What do you do with it? You publish it. Publishing your podcast is the process of making it available via the internet so that listeners can find it and listen to it.
The first thing you need is a podcast host.
If you already have your own podcast or blog, you may be thinking that you can just upload your podcast episode there, and you’ll be good to go. No! Erase that thought from your mind. Even the shortest podcast file is hundreds of times larger than the average website or blog page. Popularly available and low price hosting plans are simply not designed to handle mass downloading of audio files. (And you are aiming for mass downloads, right?)
What you need is a podcast host. These guys have set up their servers specifically for audio file hosting, distribution, streaming, and downloading. They also help you meet the standards set by podcast distribution outlets such as iTunes and Google Play. There are many services you could choose from, but I will review the top three here and list some honorable mentions.
By far, this is the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting service. They are extremely simple to get started with, and I highly recommend them for any first-time podcaster. They charge by the month, with their lowest plan being $12 for six hours of audio content each month. (So, if each of your podcast episodes is about 15 minutes long—and I highly recommend keeping most episodes around that length—you could publish up to 24 episodes per month. If your episodes are about 30 minutes long, you could publish up to 12 episodes each month. If you publish more than your plan allows, you will be billed for the amount of time you go over.)
Buzzsprout provides easy to follow instructions on how to get listed on iTunes and Google Play. They also produce a podcast home page (and a mobile web page) so all of your audio files have a permanent home on the internet. A word of caution: If you suspect that you may leave Buzzsprout in the future, be sure to have a backup of your completed MP3 files on your computer or on a cloud file hosting service such as Google Drive or Apple Cloud so you upload them to another provider if you need to.
LibSyn (Liberated Syndication) is the oldest podcast hosting service. They hold the honor of being the first real podcast hosting service. They are not as easy to use as Buzzsprout, and their interface can be a bit daunting for beginners. But they are super-reliable and have plenty of options for publishing and distributing your podcast. Their lowest plan costs $7; it’s a good starting point. Unlike Buzzsprout, they charge by the amount of space your audio file uses, not the length of the episode. Generally, one minute of audio in an MP3 file equals one megabyte of disk space.
The amount of space LibSyn allots you for file uploading is not the only thing that goes up with their higher-priced plans. Higher levels also include the creation of apps for the Apple App Store and Google Play. (An app for your podcast sounds like a great idea, but it is not a necessary investment. Most people do not download apps for individual podcasts, and unless your podcasts gains a loyal fanbase of millions of people, a dedicated app for a podcast is not a worthy investment.) With LibSyn, it’s a good idea to start small and then work your way up as your needs grow.
You may have heard of Soundcloud as a music sharing service. That is what it started out as, and that is what it is most-known for. Recently, however, they have adjusted their offerings to accommodate podcasters. They have one plan which is $15 per month, but it allows you to upload an unlimited number of podcasts regardless of length or file size. If you plan on doing a bunch of podcasting, they are another great choice. Their uploading process is very simple and their site has a built-in audience giving your podcast a boost when it comes to reaching listeners. They also have a free plan, but you are limited to only six hours of content.
Any of the companies above are excellent hosts. Here are a few honorable mentions.
- BluBrry (blubrry.com): Like LibSyn, this is one of the older companies in the industry and they have a solid reputation. They also have a built-in directory that helps get your podcast in front of listeners.
- Podbean (podbean.com): This is another company which allows you to get started for free. Their lowest plan is $5/month with 100 megabytes of upload space per month. They also have a built in podcast directory.
- Podomatic (podomatic.com): This company focuses on the social reach of your podcast. So, if you have a large following on Facebook that you would like to leverage, this may be a good choice for you. They have a plan allowing you to start free which has 500 megabytes of storage (a surprisingly large capacity for a free plan).
- Spreaker (spreaker.com): Spreaker has a growing reputation in the podcasting industry, and they have a solid, easy-to-use platform. My only complaint is that the hours they provide you per plan are accumulatory, meaning that your capacity is not renewed on a monthly basis. So, if you use up the 100 hours available to you on your monthly plan, you will be forced to upgrade to a higher plan (or delete some of your older content). Still, a good choice if you don’t plan on doing that much that fast.
This post is a part of the PODCASTING FOR MINISTRY blog series.