Think of a podcast hosting service as the place your podcast lives — just like a dollhouse is the place where evil lives. You’ll upload your podcast to a hosting service, which will store and distribute it to all the places where listeners can find it.
Alban Brooke, Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout, advises focusing on the basics. "Starting a podcast can be overwhelming,” he says, “so it's important to use tools that help simplify the process.” Look for podcasting tools that are easy to use, and that offer plenty of guidance and reliable (read: human) support for when questions arise.
Here’s what else to keep in mind when shopping around for a podcast hosting platform.
What is a podcast hosting platform and why do you need one?
A podcast hosting platform, site, or service stores and, in some cases, distributes audio content to listeners. Hosting platforms create an RSS feed for your podcast, which is a public URL that listening platforms use to gather show and episode details. All hosting sites provide RSS feeds, but not all distribute them to listening platforms. If your host or hosting plan doesn’t offer podcast distribution, you can do that manually. You’ll want to submit your podcast to major listening platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Pandora.
What to consider when choosing a podcast hosting platform
If you hope to build a business around your podcast, choosing the right hosting platform is a must. So, how do you find the best fit? Start by weighing your options for free and paid services.
Free vs. paid hosting platforms
Free podcast hosting exists, but you will likely give up a few important things, like unlimited publishing and the ability to monetize your show. Frankly, unless you only intend to publish a few episodes and have no intention of trying to generate revenue, you’ll want to pay for hosting. With paid services, you typically get deep audience insights and data, sufficient audio storage, monetization via advertising, and distribution to major listening platforms.
7 factors in choosing a hosting service
Once you’ve decided on free vs. paid hosting, you’ll want to evaluate options with a consistent set of criteria. If you’re on a budget, prioritize the features you want and be willing to make tradeoffs.
UX and customer service: Learning how to use a hosting site’s tools and dashboard takes time, which can delay bringing your podcast to the world. If speed and ease of use are important, look for a host with simple, intuitive user experience. To that end, you may want to prioritize hosts with live support.
Storage and bandwidth: How much storage you need depends on the length of your show and how often you plan to publish. Storage limits are usually set for file size (measured in megabytes) or time; bandwidth limits are usually set in megabytes. You can pay for storage and bandwidth, so if you plan to publish often, expect to spend more.
Data and analytics: To truly gauge your show’s success, you’ll need data. And if you plan to work with advertisers, they’ll expect a glimpse of your reach. Hosting platforms typically offer data and analytics as part of their service—even at free tiers—but may only offer advanced analytics at paid tiers.
Distribution: Hosting sites like Captivate, Buzzsprout, and Castos distribute shows to major listening platforms such as Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts. If your host doesn’t do this, you’ll need to manually submit your podcast with your RSS feed link.
Visibility: Some hosting sites automatically archive your episodes on customized pages, which can act as the primary homepage for your show if you don’t want to launch a website. If you go the automated landing page route, you’ll want to write detailed show notes — and post your transcripts — for SEO purposes.
Sharing features: Sharing features make it easier tomarket your podcast. You’ll want a hosting service that generates links to episodes and embed codes, and shares content directly to social media.
Monetization: Some hosting sites, like Anchor, let users promote their platform for a share of the revenue. These opportunities often come with earning caps, but they allow you to practice making ads. Others provide blog posts, newsletters, and white papers on how to attract potential sponsors.
The 10 best podcast hosting websites
According to industry research and user feedback, the platforms below are the 10 leading options for podcast hosting, ordered alphabetically. Most have tiered plans available—making it easier to start at a lower investment level and upgrade when you’re ready. This might feel like a high-stakes decision, but fear not—if you aren’t happy with your hosting site, you can always migrate your podcast to a new provider.
Megaphone is a professional hosting site used by media giants such as Conde Nast and iHeartMedia. They only work with podcasters averaging more than 20,000 downloads per episode, and pricing is available by request. Features include: