Podcasting has become the Next Big Thing. Because of that, choosing the right podcast host is about as important as choosing the best website host. Podbean is well-known, well-respected, and they offer some of the more unique features in the industry. We want to showcase what the service offers so that you can make the right choice when it comes to where your podcast lives.
Podbean: Free Podcast Hosting
Podbean is one of the rising number of podcasting hosts that offers a free tier of service for storage and distribution. By doing so, they lower the barrier to entry for new podcasters and give veterans to the medium a place to experiment with new ideas and shows without having a monetary barrier.
Free vs Premium
In terms of what the free tier offers versus their premium tiers, the features are roughly identical, only the free version is more limited. Premium users get access to the ad marketplace, which can be a big deal for some podcasters. Podbean is only one of a few hosts that work with their customers to introduce ads natively through the hosting platform, rather than it being on the podcasters themselves to acquire sponsors. One of the others that does this is Anchor.fm.
Another difference between free and premium is that while every new show on Podbean gets its own website (which is a big deal for some new podcasters), the ability to map your own domain (myshow.com instead of myshow.podbean.com) is a big deal. However, this is not necessarily a detriment that the feature is paywalled. It is the same on other hosts, even only-premium hosts such as Libsyn have an upcharge for domain mapping.
That said, we suggest going with your own self-hosted website for SEO purposes, as well as control over the longevity, life, ownership, and control of your content.
The Tiniest of Catches
However, the number one difference between the Podbean free tier and premium tier is probably also the most important. While the free hosting is limited to 5 hours of audio in terms of storage space (adequate for an average weekly show), the storage length is limited to 2 months. That is fine for people testing out the waters, but podcasting is an evergreen medium (in general). Meaning that Episode 1 is just as interesting and accessible to listeners as Episode 300.
With other free hosts like Anchor, Red Circle, and LaunchpadDM, the limit might be the number of files, the size of those files, or the length of the audio. But the time under which the files remain stored is not part of the deal. Because that is part of the base of podcasting on RSS feeds — that the audio is evergreen and available to be pulled.
That single limitation means that, for us at least, the free tier of Podbean isn’t something that is sustainable. It’s basically an extended, 2 month trial. With that in mind, however, the premium upgrade to $9 per month is really, very affordable for what you gain access to. Higher than that, to unlock all the features at $29 per month is for established shows and not dabblers or experiments.
The Podbean service itself is strong, simple, and reliable. In our experience, it’s one of the more straightforward services out there. If you’re familiar with any online publishing platform (like WordPress, for instance), you will feel right at home using Podbean’s backend.
The page is clean and easy to navigate. You can add tags, description, specific episode artwork, the media itself, and even pick which social networks to share to. Podcasters have the option to make the episode a Premium episode, which means only listeners who have used the Podbean patronage system (a proprietary Patreon, essentially) can hear it.
You can click the More Options button before publication, and you get a slew of detailed and nuanced options that aren’t always available on hosts, especially free ones. Apple Podcasts uses specific tags and fields to make podcasts in their directory easier to navigate for listeners. The More Options option lets you control those.
You also choose the permalink for the episode, so it’s a very good idea to change that to something that’s easily shareable with your audience to direct them to the site. Regarding the Apple Podcasts-specific options, they are just that — optional. Apple Podcasts does not require them, and the 800-lb Gorilla will take the industry standard RSS feeds without the proprietary tags. So if you don’t want to use these, you don’t have to.
We recommend, however, that you do. Because it makes your listeners find you easier.
Not every podcast host lets you do this, especially to this level. Free ones, most of all. You might get some options, but not all. For instance, Anchor lets you set the Episode Type, Season, Episode Number, but doesn’t have an option for a specific Apple Podcasts descriptions or titles. Podbean does.
We also want to note that if you aren’t just tinkering with the service that filling these fields out is worthwhile. If you decide to keep the service and go Premium, you don’t want to have to go back through the archives and update every field in every episode individually.
Podbean is a fantastic podcast host. They do offer a free tier, but that free tier is time-limited to 2 months for media storage. That essentially makes it a 2 month free trial. Which no matter how you cut it is a good deal. If you’re solely looking for a free podcast host, honestly, Podbean isn’t it. The time limit on media storage is simply too restrictive for how podcasts work (listeners find a new show, love it, and then go back to listen from the beginning). The free service is best for tinkering and experimenting with ideas and shows.
The premium tiers, however, start at $9 per month, and they’re absolutely worth it. For the unlimited storage/bandwidth alone. Libsyn, one of the other major podcast hosts, charges $20 per month for 250mb of new 0storage per month, for instance. So the jump to premium definitely has advantages in that realm. Not to mention the advertising marketplace, video uploads, and getting deeper stats.
Overall, the service is great, and we do recommend it. If you have an established show, you’re going to want to be a paid member. But their free tier is definitely work looking at and tinkering with to see if its the service you want to go with.
What are your experiences using Podbean as a podcast host?
Article featured image by Oleg and Polly / shutterstock.com
Great write up, BJ – thanks for sharing! I’d never heard of Podbean. Even after hosting and appearing on a number of podcasts, there are still some features that you highlighted that I had not considered necessary for long-term hosting. Thanks again.