May 13, 2024

Private podcasts: When do they make sense and how do you create one?

Discover the benefits of private podcasts and learn how to create one for exclusive audiences to give them valuable content.
May 13, 2024

Private podcasts: When do they make sense and how do you create one?

Discover the benefits of private podcasts and learn how to create one for exclusive audiences to give them valuable content.
May 13, 2024
Bani Kaur
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Exclusive content is nothing new. Humans have been producing it for ages—from codified manuscripts for the religious elite to private art collections for the aristocracy. 

But distribution methods have undergone a complete upheaval. Creators and organizations are no longer limited to emails or newsletters; they now have a more dynamic platform: the podcast. Private podcasts can allow you to give your raving fans something more—for a little extra cash. They can also help remote-first companies connect with employees at every level and timezone. 

But what exactly is a private podcast, and how do you create one? 

What is a private podcast?

Private podcasts are digital programs distributed to a select group of listeners instead of the general public. The audience gains access through invitations, memberships, and subscriptions. 

A private podcast can be in video or audio format. Video podcasts can make for a more engaging experience since listeners can see your expressions, gestures, and other non-verbal cues, and you can add visual elements like images and charts. But video podcasts require more equipment—a [good] camera, a backdrop, and production tools. 

On the other hand, audio podcasts are easier to produce and consume. They require only basic equipment, and your audience can listen to them anywhere.

Romina, former Talent and Experience Coordinator at Float, says, “We created audio podcasts so our employees could listen to them on the go—in boarding lines, check-out queues, and even while waiting for their luggage.”

Some argue that audio podcasts are also more intimate, since it's just the host's voice and the listener's imagination.

When picking between an audio and video podcast, consider three things: your content, your audience’s preferences, and the resources at your disposal. 

Types of private podcasts

Private podcasts make sense when you want to share sensitive or exclusive content. There are three types of private podcasts:

Internal company podcasts

Internal podcasts are hosted and distributed within a company exclusively for employees and stakeholders. You can produce these to connect asynchronous teams, share company updates, or record your company culture for future employees. 

Float produced an internal podcast to introduce employees to each other before a company offsite in Japan, and according to Romina, it was a “roaring success.” 

Screenshot of Float

‎Exclusive memberships

Exclusive podcasts are like a members-only club. If you run a niche community, offer private coaching, or conduct entrepreneurial incubators, you can offer exclusive podcasts to connect with your audience without the one-on-one effort. They can also serve as an “add-on” to a more elaborate service or product. 

For example, Boardroom, Ed Gandia’s exclusive coaching community, has a mini-podcast series. He shares daily insights relevant to his private coaching group via Slack.

Screenshot of Ed Gandia

Paid subscriptions

Podcasts that are subscription-only almost always require a fee. This might be the model for you if you create content like in-depth tutorials, educational courses, or exclusive entertainment. It’s especially popular with the e-learning industry and technical consultants.

For example, Sam Harris, a best-selling author and philosopher, offers full-length versions of each episode to his paid subscribers. They also get other subscriber-only benefits like a Q&A and early access to live events. Meanwhile, non-subscribers only get partial episodes as teasers. 

What can you do with a private podcast?

Short answer: a lot. 

Not everything is meant for public consumption. Monetizing exclusive content is a smart move for creators. For companies, private podcasts are a way to reach employees in a format that doesn’t disrupt their daily lives. 

Here’s what companies can do with private podcasts:

  • Internal communication: You can share policy updates, messages from the C-suite, or even morale-building sessions and exercises. 
  • Onboarding: This process takes up a substantial amount of a new employee’s time and contributes to their first impression of the company. Using a podcast gets them up to speed on company policies, team members, and tools, making their first few days more interesting. 
  • Training: You can provide ongoing employee training in a podcast format with modules on new software, skills, or compliance requirements. 

Here’s what individual creators can do with private podcasts:

  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses: For example, a filmmaker might take listeners behind the scenes of their latest film, and share challenges and victories from the set and discussions about the filmmaking process.
  • Recorded Q&As with exclusive audiences: For example, a talk show host might invite a harder-to-reach celebrity list to their private podcast. 
  • Read alouds: Storytellers can use a private podcast to release periodic chapters of their books or articles.
  • Educational content: Course creators can use them to release exclusive courses. For example, a business coach might share his own templates with exclusive subscribers and walk them through different sections. 
  • Progress updates: Content creators can create follow-along series, such as "Watch what happens to my body weekly as I go on a keto diet."

H‎ow to create a private podcast for a limited audience

Once you’ve planned your content and decided on your audience, you can start creating your podcast. Follow these five steps to make sure it’s safe and secure: 

Step 1: Choose a podcast hosting platform 

Select a podcast hosting platform that supports private podcasting and can generate a unique RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed. An RSS feed is essentially a document that includes your podcast details — text, cover art, and other metadata (such as author bio and publishing dates). Your options include (but aren't limited to):

Platform Pricing
Transistor$19/monthAdvanced analytics for private podcast episodes showing listener behavior and engagement
Castos$19/monthOffers integration with WordPress, allowing you to host private podcasts directly on your WordPress website
Podbean$29/monthDedicated private podcasting plans with features like subscriber management
Libsyn$20/monthAllows you to require a password for accessing private podcast episodes
Simplecast$35/monthAdvanced features allow you to restrict access based on the listener's location
You can also host a private podcast on a third-party platform (where your audience might already be present). This allows you to offer private podcasts in tandem with other exclusive content such as bonus blog posts or one-on-one coaching sessions. You can also bundle private podcasts with other offerings.

Platforms such as Storyboards, Patreon, Notion, and Substack are excellent options.

Step 2: Configure your podcast settings

After signing up, configure your podcast settings to ensure it's set as private. To do this, navigate to the distribution or privacy section of your hosting platform, and select the option to make your podcast private.

Step 3: Generate your private RSS feed

Once your podcast is set to private, the platform will generate a unique RSS feed. You can distribute this feed to your audience, and they can add it to their app of choice—Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Overcast, and more.

Step 4: Secure your feed

This additional step ensures that your podcast doesn’t get distributed without your permission. To keep subscription piggybackers at bay, add a password or listener authentication, or encrypt the RSS feed. Your podcasting platform should offer these options within the system. 

Step 5: Distribute your feed

You can share your private RSS feed via email, a “members-only” section on your podcast website, or an exclusive invitation system. Just make sure that instructions for adding the feed to a podcast app are clear so listeners follow through. 

For video podcasts, you can also create a members-only website or space (like Notion or Slack) and embed your podcast video via Descript. 



How and where to listen to a private podcast

The very reason you’re toiling away to create something exclusive is to create a premium experience. So, make sure your private podcast is hosted on and distributed via apps that support this goal. 

Let’s look into the best private podcast listening apps as well as members-only platforms for distributing them. 

Best private podcast listening apps

If you're looking for top podcast-listening apps, here are some highly recommended options:

  1. Apple Podcasts: Available only on iOS and OS X, Apple Podcasts has a separate section on the app to help listeners discover exclusive content. The app also syncs seamlessly across all Apple devices so listeners can pause on one device and play on another. Smart playlists, integration with Siri, and family sharing make Apple Podcasts a go-to for Apple users.
  2. Overcast: Available only on iOS, people like Overcast because of features like Smart Speed (shortens silences without speeding up voice), Voice Boost (adjusts the sound levels for consistent volume), and the ability to create custom playlists. 
  3. Pocket Casts: This podcast app (available on both Android and iOS) includes features like sleep timers and variable playback speed so your listeners can incorporate your podcasts even into their bedtime routines. 


Pocket Casts makes it easy to listen to private podcasts: just enter your private RSS feed right in the search bar.

Best members-only platforms for private podcasts

Tools like Notion, Patreon, and Substack provide secure online spaces where your audience can listen to your RSS-protected content. Let’s look into them in detail:

  1. Notion: Notion is popular for its templates and access control—two essential features for private podcasts. You can start with a paid template with frameworks to manage OKRs, guests, and monetization. 
  2. Patreon: Patreon allows you to take exclusivity up a notch. Not only can you offer membership tiers for recurring revenue, you also monetize the little things—bonus episodes and archived seasons. 
  3. Substack: Substack gives you the option to turn free listeners into paid ones tall in one place. In the same space, you can also include supporting content—writing, images, transcripts, or bonus audio. 

Using Descript, you can also distribute your members-only video podcast on platforms where you already have an audience as long as it accepts HTML embeds or video links (Notion or Slack).

Take the private plunge

The number of podcast listeners is expected to rise from 464.7 million in 2023 to 504.9 million by the end of 2024—a 9% increase in just one year​. And adding a layer of exclusivity to your content only increases its perceived value. 

So, if you’re on the fence about creating a private podcast, this is your sign to give it a try. 

And Descript will help you. Its AI-powered, transcript-based podcast editor makes producing a podcast as easy as editing a doc. Take a free tour today and see how it works. 

FAQ

Which podcast apps don't support private podcasts directly?

Podcast apps that don’t support private podcasts are Spotify, iHeartRadio, Podcast App, PodcastOne, Podcast HD, Podcast Guru, and Double Pod.

What is a private RSS feed?

A private RSS feed is a restricted-access document that includes your podcast details—titles, show notes, cover art, and other metadata—and allows you to distribute your podcast to a wide variety of podcast listening apps. It’s generated by your podcast hosting platform

What can you do with a private podcast?

With a private podcast, you can reach an exclusive audience—whether it’s a membership club or a paid subscription group. You can charge for access to bonus content or add a layer of exclusivity to your community. Companies can use private podcasts to onboard new employees, educate existing staff, and keep remote employees connected.

How do you run a podcast without guests?

To run a podcast without guests, you can plan monologue episodes or use narrative storytelling. You can also get a co-host to have a dialogue and switch things up. A Q&A format where you invite listeners to ask questions is also a great way to engage your audience.

How do you access a private podcast?

To access a private podcast, you'll first need the RSS feed, which is usually provided in a membership portal or welcome email. Then you'll paste that RSS feed into a podcast app that supports private podcasts, like Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, or Overcast.

Bani Kaur
Bani is a B2B SaaS writer for AI, Marketing, Sales, and Fintech brands. She specializes in interview-based writing for brands like Supermetrics, CXL, and Klaviyo. When you don't find her typing away at her laptop (or scribbling in her notebook), she's probably in the ocean, scuba diving with majestic manta rays.
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Private podcasts: When do they make sense and how do you create one?

Exclusive content is nothing new. Humans have been producing it for ages—from codified manuscripts for the religious elite to private art collections for the aristocracy. 

But distribution methods have undergone a complete upheaval. Creators and organizations are no longer limited to emails or newsletters; they now have a more dynamic platform: the podcast. Private podcasts can allow you to give your raving fans something more—for a little extra cash. They can also help remote-first companies connect with employees at every level and timezone. 

But what exactly is a private podcast, and how do you create one? 

What is a private podcast?

Private podcasts are digital programs distributed to a select group of listeners instead of the general public. The audience gains access through invitations, memberships, and subscriptions. 

A private podcast can be in video or audio format. Video podcasts can make for a more engaging experience since listeners can see your expressions, gestures, and other non-verbal cues, and you can add visual elements like images and charts. But video podcasts require more equipment—a [good] camera, a backdrop, and production tools. 

On the other hand, audio podcasts are easier to produce and consume. They require only basic equipment, and your audience can listen to them anywhere.

Romina, former Talent and Experience Coordinator at Float, says, “We created audio podcasts so our employees could listen to them on the go—in boarding lines, check-out queues, and even while waiting for their luggage.”

Some argue that audio podcasts are also more intimate, since it's just the host's voice and the listener's imagination.

When picking between an audio and video podcast, consider three things: your content, your audience’s preferences, and the resources at your disposal. 

Types of private podcasts

Private podcasts make sense when you want to share sensitive or exclusive content. There are three types of private podcasts:

Internal company podcasts

Internal podcasts are hosted and distributed within a company exclusively for employees and stakeholders. You can produce these to connect asynchronous teams, share company updates, or record your company culture for future employees. 

Float produced an internal podcast to introduce employees to each other before a company offsite in Japan, and according to Romina, it was a “roaring success.” 

Screenshot of Float

‎Exclusive memberships

Exclusive podcasts are like a members-only club. If you run a niche community, offer private coaching, or conduct entrepreneurial incubators, you can offer exclusive podcasts to connect with your audience without the one-on-one effort. They can also serve as an “add-on” to a more elaborate service or product. 

For example, Boardroom, Ed Gandia’s exclusive coaching community, has a mini-podcast series. He shares daily insights relevant to his private coaching group via Slack.

Screenshot of Ed Gandia

Paid subscriptions

Podcasts that are subscription-only almost always require a fee. This might be the model for you if you create content like in-depth tutorials, educational courses, or exclusive entertainment. It’s especially popular with the e-learning industry and technical consultants.

For example, Sam Harris, a best-selling author and philosopher, offers full-length versions of each episode to his paid subscribers. They also get other subscriber-only benefits like a Q&A and early access to live events. Meanwhile, non-subscribers only get partial episodes as teasers. 

What can you do with a private podcast?

Short answer: a lot. 

Not everything is meant for public consumption. Monetizing exclusive content is a smart move for creators. For companies, private podcasts are a way to reach employees in a format that doesn’t disrupt their daily lives. 

Here’s what companies can do with private podcasts:

  • Internal communication: You can share policy updates, messages from the C-suite, or even morale-building sessions and exercises. 
  • Onboarding: This process takes up a substantial amount of a new employee’s time and contributes to their first impression of the company. Using a podcast gets them up to speed on company policies, team members, and tools, making their first few days more interesting. 
  • Training: You can provide ongoing employee training in a podcast format with modules on new software, skills, or compliance requirements. 

Here’s what individual creators can do with private podcasts:

  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses: For example, a filmmaker might take listeners behind the scenes of their latest film, and share challenges and victories from the set and discussions about the filmmaking process.
  • Recorded Q&As with exclusive audiences: For example, a talk show host might invite a harder-to-reach celebrity list to their private podcast. 
  • Read alouds: Storytellers can use a private podcast to release periodic chapters of their books or articles.
  • Educational content: Course creators can use them to release exclusive courses. For example, a business coach might share his own templates with exclusive subscribers and walk them through different sections. 
  • Progress updates: Content creators can create follow-along series, such as "Watch what happens to my body weekly as I go on a keto diet."

H‎ow to create a private podcast for a limited audience

Once you’ve planned your content and decided on your audience, you can start creating your podcast. Follow these five steps to make sure it’s safe and secure: 

Step 1: Choose a podcast hosting platform 

Select a podcast hosting platform that supports private podcasting and can generate a unique RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed. An RSS feed is essentially a document that includes your podcast details — text, cover art, and other metadata (such as author bio and publishing dates). Your options include (but aren't limited to):

Platform Pricing
Transistor$19/monthAdvanced analytics for private podcast episodes showing listener behavior and engagement
Castos$19/monthOffers integration with WordPress, allowing you to host private podcasts directly on your WordPress website
Podbean$29/monthDedicated private podcasting plans with features like subscriber management
Libsyn$20/monthAllows you to require a password for accessing private podcast episodes
Simplecast$35/monthAdvanced features allow you to restrict access based on the listener's location
You can also host a private podcast on a third-party platform (where your audience might already be present). This allows you to offer private podcasts in tandem with other exclusive content such as bonus blog posts or one-on-one coaching sessions. You can also bundle private podcasts with other offerings.

Platforms such as Storyboards, Patreon, Notion, and Substack are excellent options.

Step 2: Configure your podcast settings

After signing up, configure your podcast settings to ensure it's set as private. To do this, navigate to the distribution or privacy section of your hosting platform, and select the option to make your podcast private.

Step 3: Generate your private RSS feed

Once your podcast is set to private, the platform will generate a unique RSS feed. You can distribute this feed to your audience, and they can add it to their app of choice—Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Overcast, and more.

Step 4: Secure your feed

This additional step ensures that your podcast doesn’t get distributed without your permission. To keep subscription piggybackers at bay, add a password or listener authentication, or encrypt the RSS feed. Your podcasting platform should offer these options within the system. 

Step 5: Distribute your feed

You can share your private RSS feed via email, a “members-only” section on your podcast website, or an exclusive invitation system. Just make sure that instructions for adding the feed to a podcast app are clear so listeners follow through. 

For video podcasts, you can also create a members-only website or space (like Notion or Slack) and embed your podcast video via Descript. 



How and where to listen to a private podcast

The very reason you’re toiling away to create something exclusive is to create a premium experience. So, make sure your private podcast is hosted on and distributed via apps that support this goal. 

Let’s look into the best private podcast listening apps as well as members-only platforms for distributing them. 

Best private podcast listening apps

If you're looking for top podcast-listening apps, here are some highly recommended options:

  1. Apple Podcasts: Available only on iOS and OS X, Apple Podcasts has a separate section on the app to help listeners discover exclusive content. The app also syncs seamlessly across all Apple devices so listeners can pause on one device and play on another. Smart playlists, integration with Siri, and family sharing make Apple Podcasts a go-to for Apple users.
  2. Overcast: Available only on iOS, people like Overcast because of features like Smart Speed (shortens silences without speeding up voice), Voice Boost (adjusts the sound levels for consistent volume), and the ability to create custom playlists. 
  3. Pocket Casts: This podcast app (available on both Android and iOS) includes features like sleep timers and variable playback speed so your listeners can incorporate your podcasts even into their bedtime routines. 


Pocket Casts makes it easy to listen to private podcasts: just enter your private RSS feed right in the search bar.

Best members-only platforms for private podcasts

Tools like Notion, Patreon, and Substack provide secure online spaces where your audience can listen to your RSS-protected content. Let’s look into them in detail:

  1. Notion: Notion is popular for its templates and access control—two essential features for private podcasts. You can start with a paid template with frameworks to manage OKRs, guests, and monetization. 
  2. Patreon: Patreon allows you to take exclusivity up a notch. Not only can you offer membership tiers for recurring revenue, you also monetize the little things—bonus episodes and archived seasons. 
  3. Substack: Substack gives you the option to turn free listeners into paid ones tall in one place. In the same space, you can also include supporting content—writing, images, transcripts, or bonus audio. 

Using Descript, you can also distribute your members-only video podcast on platforms where you already have an audience as long as it accepts HTML embeds or video links (Notion or Slack).

Take the private plunge

The number of podcast listeners is expected to rise from 464.7 million in 2023 to 504.9 million by the end of 2024—a 9% increase in just one year​. And adding a layer of exclusivity to your content only increases its perceived value. 

So, if you’re on the fence about creating a private podcast, this is your sign to give it a try. 

And Descript will help you. Its AI-powered, transcript-based podcast editor makes producing a podcast as easy as editing a doc. Take a free tour today and see how it works. 

FAQ

Which podcast apps don't support private podcasts directly?

Podcast apps that don’t support private podcasts are Spotify, iHeartRadio, Podcast App, PodcastOne, Podcast HD, Podcast Guru, and Double Pod.

What is a private RSS feed?

A private RSS feed is a restricted-access document that includes your podcast details—titles, show notes, cover art, and other metadata—and allows you to distribute your podcast to a wide variety of podcast listening apps. It’s generated by your podcast hosting platform

What can you do with a private podcast?

With a private podcast, you can reach an exclusive audience—whether it’s a membership club or a paid subscription group. You can charge for access to bonus content or add a layer of exclusivity to your community. Companies can use private podcasts to onboard new employees, educate existing staff, and keep remote employees connected.

How do you run a podcast without guests?

To run a podcast without guests, you can plan monologue episodes or use narrative storytelling. You can also get a co-host to have a dialogue and switch things up. A Q&A format where you invite listeners to ask questions is also a great way to engage your audience.

How do you access a private podcast?

To access a private podcast, you'll first need the RSS feed, which is usually provided in a membership portal or welcome email. Then you'll paste that RSS feed into a podcast app that supports private podcasts, like Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, or Overcast.

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