I still remember thinking of Buzzsprout as one of the ‘new kids on the block’ in the podcasting space. But, they’ve been around so long now, that I think they definitely qualify for OG podcasting status! But, OG or not, are they any good? That’s what this Buzzsprout review is all about – looking at the strengths and the weaknesses of Buzzsprout as a podcast hosting platform.
There are a lot of choices right now for podcast hosting, and it seems like it’s growing every day. So, if you’re still undecided after this, take a look at our full Best Podcast Hosting article for all the options.
Buzzsprout Review: Setting Up Your Show
If you’re setting up your show for the first time, this is the point where you need the most help – and Buzzsprout certainly offers it!
Or perhaps you’re moving your existing show to a new host – Buzzsprout makes the transfer a breeze. Let’s look at both.
Brand New Show Setup
You can start on a free plan with Buzzsprout while you get your show set up. You’ll want to upgrade to a paid tier later on since the episodes disappear after 90 days. But the free plan is perfect for the time before you “officially” launch your show.
The signup and setup process is a breeze, and Buzzsprout has a step-by-step setup guide to take you through it.
First are the show details themselves. You’ll be hand-held through all the standard Apple Podcast details, from podcast title to podcast type (including the more recent serial vs episodic tags, for example).
Next, you’ll upload your first episode, and you can see details on how that’s done in the next section.
Finally, distribution. This is where you make sure you’re listed in all the best directories. I’ll get into detail on that in the distribution section below. Suffice to say, there’s not much chance of confusion here. Sign up, and follow the steps. Your show will be live in no time. And always remember, if you do need extra help on the launch process – good show titles, defining your topic, creating great artwork, recording, editing, promoting your show – we cover it all inside the Podcast Host Academy. Happy to help!
Transferring an Existing Podcast to Buzzsprout
This is something a lot of hosts do well since it’s such an important part of their growth. But Buzzsprout’s process is among the easiest.
You’ll give Buzzsprout your existing RSS feed, then the platform quickly sucks in all of your previous episodes. It grabs everything, from audio files to episode details, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Check out the video below to see how easy it is, and don’t forget to subscribe to our Podcasting YouTube channel to get more like this!
The last step is to redirect your RSS feed. Depending on who you host with right now, this can be easy-peasy, or a little tricky. But, Buzzsprout have a guide for most hosts, so you should be able to find a way.
How to Publish an Episode in Buzzsprout
Buzzsprout’s publishing workflow is really simple, right from the front page. Once you’re logged in, hit ‘Upload a New Episode’ to start creating your episode.
Next, drag your audio file into the upload box to send the file to Buzzsprout’s storage. Buzzsprout does, in some cases, change your file to make it a standard format and bitrate.
For some this is a good thing – you can upload anything you like and let Buzzsprout worry about the format – but for others, this is a big downside. They do have an upgrade to avoid it, though. Check out full details in the ‘How they change your file‘ section below.
On the following page, you fill out your episode details. This doubles as your id3 tags which Buzzsprout will add to your mp3 file. Buzzsprout takes the following details:
- Episode title
- Episode description
- Episode summary
- Host / guest
- Episode artwork
- Season # and Episode #
- Episode type – full, trailer, bonus
- Explicit rating
- Publish time and date
On the last option there, you can leave a completed episode as a draft, publish it immediately or schedule it to go live at any point in the future.
And that’s it! Your episode is now ready to go live.
Here, there’s a positive AND a negative, in the form of Buzzsprout’s automated file conversion. Let’s see how it works.
When you upload an audio file on the standard package, Buzzsprout automatically converts it to a mono mp3 at 96kbps. In the olden days, this would be sacrilege! A standard question in the early 2010s was: “Oi, host! Do you change my file? You better not….”
To some podcasters, it still is taboo for a host to change your file, and understandably. If you know audio production, then you’ve mastered your file at the exact settings you think suits the show best. That’s a balance of file size and audio quality, and depends a lot on source material, the use of music and a bunch of other stuff.
If you’re an audio expert, you don’t need me to tell you this. For you, Buzzsprout have an upgrade at $6 per month, which allows you to upload 192k stereo files. That’s enough for any kind of production, right up to full-pro audio dramas. We use that upgrade for our own Audio drama, Hostile Worlds, for example. Matthew and I think 96kbps is just too low for the complexity of that show, mixing a lot of music and high-quality voice.
But, why’s this an advantage for some? Because the vast majority of podcasters aren’t audio engineers… One of the biggest questions we get on the site is: What bitrate should I use for my show? So, podcasters often don’t know, and, more importantly, don’t care! They just want it to sound decent and to take the minimum time possible.
So, the advantage? You can upload whatever the heck you like to Buzzsprout and they’ll convert it into a good standard format, and add your id3 tags for you. Yep, that even means you can upload the source files right from your Zoom recorder, your smartphone, your Skype recording, whatever. No need for editing, converting, just upload. For many, that’s a big plus.
You’ll see in our bitrate article above that I think 96kbps mono is perfectly good for the vast majority of podcasts. And if you do have studio quality recordings and a lot of music in your show, then you can upgrade to Buzzsprout’s 192kbps plan.
Audio Production & Mastering
With your extra $6 you get access to Buzzsprout’s “Magic Mastering” feature. This tool offers users the ability to have their audio polished up prior to hitting publish. They describe this as “like an Instagram filter for your audio”. Definitely not something for the experienced audio editor, but a great option for folks with no interest or clue about the production side of things.
Buzzsprout Vs Alitu
Alitu is an all-in-one podcast-maker tool. You can link your Buzzsprout account up to it and publish directly from the interface, OR, it works independently as a Buzzsprout alternative.
Alitu makes it super simple to record your show (either solo or remote calls), chop out mistakes, add in music and other segments, and it’ll do all the cleaning up, mastering, and processing for you automatically.
Alitu is all about streamlining your workflow and eliminating the need for multiple subscriptions and logins to run your podcast. Podcast hosting was recently added to Alitu’s arsenal of tools, so if you’re just starting out, or, are looking to save time and money, then it could be the perfect option.
With that said, when it comes to podcast hosting, Buzzsprout are one of the best in the business. If you’re already happy with the way you’re recording and editing your show, then Buzzsprout might be the better choice.
Remember, you can have the best of both worlds, too. You can link up your Buzzsprout account to Alitu and publish episodes from directly within its interface. Try it out free for 7 days and see what you think!
Now, back to our Buzzsprout review…
Promotion & Engagement Tools
Buzzsprout includes a few good tools which can help with promoting and listener engagement.
First, we’ve got their video soundbite feature. This allows you to pick out a short bit of your episode, and create a ‘video trailer’ based on it. There are a few ‘audiogram’ creation tools out there these days, and it’s cool to see Buzzsprout including it, for free, right inside your hosting platform.
The tool’s really easy to use, just needing a start time for the clip. Pick that out, preview it, and Buzzsprout does the rest!
Chapter markers are becoming more and more common in Podcasting and I, for one, use them a lot, when they’re available! I’m a Pocketcasts listener, and they’re really well implemented in that app.
Chapter markers let me look through longer episodes and cherry-pick the parts I want to listen to. Even more interestingly, they encourage me to listen to a whole show, because I know what’s coming up, and when. Instead of being in the dark, wondering when the host is going to talk about a certain topic that they mentioned in the title, or at the start of the show, I know when it’ll come up. And I’ve got an idea of how long it’ll last. Any time you can lower uncertainty, you increase the chances someone will stick around.
Some hosts will add chapter markers during editing. It makes sense – you’re listening through the show anyway, so pop them in. But, if you haven’t done it already, Buzzsprout lets you add in chapter markers really simply, right there in your hosting.
Buzzsprout offers dynamic add capabilities. This means that you can easily add up-to-date and relevant ads to the beginning and end of all of your existing episodes. You can use these to promote, announce, or share anything you like, and change them whenever you want!
Canva Artwork Helper
All podcasts need cover art, and some podcasters like to create episode-level artwork, too. If you struggle to create compelling images for your show and don’t have the budget to outsource, then Buzzsprout has your back with their Canva integration.
Canva is a graphic design tool that’s easy to use and is perfect for creating podcast visuals. With Buzzsprout’s Canva Artwork Helper, you can take advantage of these features without ever leaving the podcast host’s dashboard.
Buzzsprout Review: Other Features
A few other things of note. First, they include easy sharing tools for all the standard social media platforms, as well as simple ways to email links or copy them out for use elsewhere.
Next, transcription is built right into Buzzsprout. Transcription is important for accessibility, and if done well, can help with SEO too. You can get your episodes transcribed within your Buzzsprout hosting account for 25c per minute.
Finally, Buzzsprout allows you to create accounts for as many team members as you like. This is pretty useful if you have a couple of co-hosts or an editor who uploads your show. Give everyone access and you don’t have to do it all yourself!
No Buzzsprout review, or podcast hosting review in general, would be complete without looking at the numbers everyone pretends they don’t care about… download stats!
Statistics are pretty standard these days, across the board, so it’s not something that differentiates most platforms. But, it’s good to know, here, that Buzzsprout’s stats include everything you need to know about your show.
To pick out a few of the more unique features, the design is one standout point, to start with. As with the rest of the Buzzsprout dashboard, the stats look simply lovely. Well laid out, nicely presented, and super clear. I like how they have your most recent five episodes, right up top, and then most popular episodes below that.
They also show top-level stats to give you a picture of your lifetime growth, including ‘all-time total plays’.
One nice feature, not unique to Buzzsprout, but certainly less usual, is their ‘listeners’ stat. This is a number that they create for you, based on recent episodes, which gives you an estimate of your total subscribers. It’s based on listens, per episode, within 90 days, which is a decent estimate, if a little on the longer time side… But, it’s a nice number to watch to make sure you’re trending upwards!
Buzzsprout also show devices and locations, so you can get an idea of how and where people are listening.
Finally, who doesn’t love a bit of “gamification”? Buzzsprout has a nice section within its stats where you’ll find your podcast’s badges and achievements. These can provide a bit of extra motivation when you’re feeling flat or demotivated. There’s always that next milestone to strive towards, so a quick glance here and you’ll be ready to start planning your next episode.
Distribution & Directories
Buzzsprout has a very nice little ‘distribution’ section, listed as Directories. They show you all of the standard podcast directories that you should be getting into, and full instructions on how to get listed in each of them. Some have been set up in Buzzsprout as simple one-click processes. Apple/iTunes still requires a manual submission, but Buzzsprout does help make this quick and easy for you.
Buzzsprout also supports The Podcast Index and Podcast Namespace, which gives indie podcasters the ability to get more info (tags) into their RSS feeds and provides listening app developers more data to build features around. These are important for keeping podcasting open and accessible as the medium continues to grow, and more big money and big companies enter the fray.
Buzzsprout Review: Pricing and Packages
Here’s the bit you care about most in any Buzzsprout review – how much does it cost? 🤑
Buzzsprout keeps things pretty simple, opting for a price-per show, and the cost is based on how long your show is. Here’s what they’ve got:
- $12 per month – 3hrs of audio per month
- $18 per month – 6hrs of audio per month
- $24 per month – 12hrs of audio per month
So, if you know how long your show is, on average, it’s pretty easy to work out how much it’ll cost you.
If you run a 45-minute show, every week, you’ll sneak in on the $12 package, but if you go longer, or more often, you’ll need to upgrade to a higher package.
Buzzsprout Review: Hosting Upgrades
The upgrades are:
- +$6 per month – super-high quality audio (Magic Mastering & 192k stereo)
- 25c per minute for transcription
Low Price for a Single Show or Higher Price for Multiple Shows?
There’s a new trend in podcasting to price hosting around total downloads per month. I’ve found a lot of new podcasters find it a bit of a confusing measure. I mean, it’s not even based on downloads per episode. It’s downloads per month…. So, when I have 50 episodes live, getting, say, 1000 downloads per episode, what does that mean for my downloads per month?
In reality, the ‘total download’ tiers run by Captivate, Transistor and others are high enough that you won’t have to worry about it until you hit some decent success, but it’s still a bit uncertain when you’re first starting out. So, I like the fact that Buzzsprout’s pricing is immediately transparent, and translates directly into how a podcaster makes their show.
The downside of Buzzsprout’s model, of course, is that many of the hosts running the new ‘total downloads’ model offer unlimited podcasts for that price. Whereas Buzzsprout only allows one show, in total, for that $12 price.
So, it becomes a balance. Would you rather keep things simple and know you’re paying $12 per month for your 30-minute show? Or would you like the freedom to run a few different shows, for a little more (usually $19), but know that if any one of those shows gets popular it could jump to $40 or $100? Again, in reality, to jump up a tier on, say Captivate or Transistor, you’ll have to be doing very well.
There’s certainty in the Buzzsprout model that will certainly attract many podcasters, but there’s freedom in the new model that will be a big draw for others.
Summing up this Buzzsprout Review
As we approach the finishing line of this Buzzsprout review, let’s take a look back over some of the key points then, shall we?
Buzzsprout caters to podcasters who want things simple, quick and slick. It’s for the showrunner who needs hosting to simply do its job, with the minimum of thought, allowing you to concentrate on your content.
The feature set is rock solid. It’s not fancy, but it has everything you need to run a good show, without time-consuming or confusing bells and whistles.
The price is easy to understand and good value. If you know you’ll be under 45 minutes, per week, then it’s only $12 per month. There is a bandwidth limit, but it’s huge. If you hit it, you’ll be in a position to make a good living from your show.
The one dilemma: file conversion. For most of you, this is an advantage. You can upload any kind of audio, and Buzzsprout will sort it out for you. For others, it’ll put you off: in that case go to a host that doesn’t downsample your file at all, like Captivate or Transistor.
Our Rating: 4.9/5
Buzzsprout Review Conclusion: Buzzsprout is a quick and easy platform to set up and work with, but also has a powerful feature set to suit nearly any podcaster. If you’re running just one show, and want a great platform to do it on, Buzzsprout is a great choice.