Listen to the related podcast episode for this post.
Podcasts are very similar to a blog in how they are hosted. They are uploaded to a server and an RSS feed is generated. Whenever a new episode is uploaded the feed is updated which lets anyone following the feed know. When you submit your podcast to Apple, Spotify, or any other provider you submit your RSS feed URL. These services essentially follow your feed and update their listing of your podcast when you add a new episode. Of course, you could create all the infrastructure for this yourself, but why would you want the headache. Therefore, it is important to use a hosting service for your podcast.
What is a Podcast Hosting Service?
A podcast hosting service can have a wide variety of features but at its core, it is a place to store your podcast. This is where your episode lives when you upload it, the housing. The provider then provides the RSS feed I mentioned above so that the podcast services can play your episodes. They take care of any encoding for the audio and help format your data correctly for distribution to the podcast listening services.
As I mentioned this is the base functionality that these hosts provided in the beginning. Now they have added additional features on top to maximize your value. Some provide recording services or editing or even websites for your podcast. The added features are all based on your desires for your podcast.
When I first started my podcast I was not knowledgeable about podcast hosting. I also wanted a quick and easy way to get started to see if it was something I was interested in doing. Anchor was that solution for me. It has a fairly easy to use mobile app that allows you to record and publish episodes quickly. They also have some decent editing and soundtracks that you can use for your episodes. Plus, it’s free to use!
Now I don’t want to seem like I’m bashing Anchor, quite the contrary. I was and still am a big fan of it! However, I believe only casual podcasters should use it. They’ve put a lot into it to make it easy, but if you want more advanced podcasting functionality or control over every detail they might not be right for you.
My Reasons for Changing
Once I hit episode 10 of my podcast I knew it was time to make the change away from Anchor. I wanted to make sure that I was serious about podcasting before I paid for a hosting provider. Switching from Anchor would involve more work for me not just in the short-term but the long-term as well. I would have to edit and upload my episodes rather than just doing it all in the Anchor app.
One of the biggest reasons for change is that I could own my content. The big podcast providers (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.) have their own analytics tracking that you can view. These typically go well beyond what Anchor and other podcast hosts can provide. Data is a huge driving factor for any business so it is important to have access. With Anchor, they are pushing everything for you and they make it difficult to gain access to those extra analytics.
While the interface for Anchor may be convenient it is lacking in a lot of editing features. Your audio can only be trimmed and split, which is not substantial enough to provide good audio. You can always edit it outside of Anchor but then what is the point of using Anchor?
Anchor is free which is great for starting out. But remember, if something is free then you are the product. Anchor tends to own most of the content and attempts to push its brand on everything. Paid podcast hosts help you build your own brand which is incredibly important for the growth and success of your podcast.
So, I decided to make the switch. When considering a new podcast host I was looking for one with a decent amount of features, ease of use, and room to grow. After a lot of research, I settled on Transistor*.
So far it has been a great service! I got transferred over within a few minutes (besides redirecting my old feed). I adjusted a few settings and I was all set! Most time I spent was on getting the website the way I wanted it.
As a web developer, I had considered a custom website for my podcast. At this stage, I did not want to go through the extra work to make one so I used the built-in Transistor site. I found this to be a great improvement over Anchor’s solution, which felt more like a player on their server. My podcast website on Transistor is an actual website and it allows you to have a custom domain instead of using their info.
In addition to the website, Transistor packs a lot of features into its subscription plan.
Transistor provides similar analytics to Anchor in regard to your episodes. However, I found that Transistor goes a bit deeper with its stats. You can see your downloads based on whatever date range you want. Downloads per episode shows both the first 30 days and all time. They graph out which podcast players your listeners are using over time as well as the countries where it is being played.
Additionally, Transistor allows you to easily set up your own Google Analytics tag to track your website. This is great because a lot of hosting sites don’t allow this feature.
Transistor also has some great integrations directly in the dashboard. I can connect your email distribution provider (mine is Mailchimp) and it automatically adds a subscribe form to the bottom of your website.
Transistor can also automatically post to Twitter and to YouTube when you release a new podcast episode. This saves valuable time, especially for the YouTube video.
You can add your social media accounts and channels that you have distributed your podcast to. This creates a really cohesive experience on the generated website.
Transistor allows you to connect to other key podcasting services like Podcorn. This is where I connect with companies to create advertising partnerships, so integration is very important.
Other Great Features
These last couple of features really pushed it over the edge for me to make the transition. Transistor allows you to host as many podcasts as you want on one plan! I like the idea of having that kind of flexibility and ease of use.
It has an easy-to-use player that you can embed into almost any website. You can choose a single episode or a playlist.
Should You Switch Platforms?
I wouldn’t typically recommend switching platforms unless you are looking for something more. It can be an arduous process, especially if you have a lot of episodes. But if you feel restricted by your current provider and see something better out there at least consider it. Again, I have nothing against Anchor and I may even start another podcast on it. However, I would only use it as a casual recording more for convenience than anything. I’m also not saying you have to go with Transistor. There are many great podcast providers out there, I was actually in a toss-up between Transistor and Captivate for a while. Do your research and see what best fits you!