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Captivate Review: Publish, Grow, & Monetise Your Podcast

 

Captivate Review Summary: Should you use Captivate as your podcast hosting provider?

  • You can host on Captivate for as little as $19 a month
  • Captivate has a clean and easy-to-use interface.
  • Captivate’s player and customisable podcast websites also look great.
  • You can seamlessly link up your podcast and WordPress site by using the Captivate Sync plugin.
  • Their Submit to All button instantly submits your podcast to every single-click directory.
  • They offer solid stats for all tiers, no upgrade required to access better analytics.
  • Captivate makes no changes to your uploaded episode files in any way.
  • You can create unlimited podcasts with Captivate, as well as build and organise teams.
  • You can create private (members-only) podcasts, even on their lowest payment tier.
  • Captivate also has some great monetisation tools, such as memberships, dynamic ad insertion, and tipping.
  • Read on to get the full lowdown in this 2024 Captivate review…

Captivate is a podcast hosting platform brought to you by the good folks who run Rebel Base Media and Podcast Websites. They know the podcasting space inside out, and this is reflected in Captivate’s look, features, and reputation as one of the best in the industry.

Choosing a hosting provider for your show is an important step in launching and running a podcast. After all, it’s the central hub of your podcast, handling all of the uploading, publishing, distribution, and more.

So what makes Captivate a safe pair of hands in the podcast hosting space?

Our Captivate link is an affiliate, which helps support all of our free content. That doesn’t cloud our judgement when it comes to reviews, though – we’ll always give you our honest opinion!

Captivate’s Cost & Download Limits

So, let’s get the price stuff out the way first. Captivate has three pricing tiers.

  • $19 per month ($204 when paid annually) for up to 30,000 downloads per month
  • $49 per month ($528 when paid annually) for up to 150,000 downloads per month
  • $99 per month ($1,080 when paid annually) for up to 300,000 downloads per month

With Captivate’s pricing, the total monthly download limits are the only thing that’s tiered. All other features are open to users from the Podcaster plan upwards.

Each plan includes a 7-day free trial, so you can play around with the service first-hand to decide if it’s right for you. All plans allow you to host multiple podcasts/RSS feeds for one cost.

Which Tier Will I Need?

For 95% of podcasters running one single show, the lowest tier will be more than enough. Even with multiple shows with decent-sized audiences, it may still be adequate.

For a deeper dive into stats, see What’s a good number of downloads for a podcast? But, if you did end up hitting the ceiling, Captivate would contact you to discuss an upgrade rather than cut you off. And if your show is doing that well, you’ll have tonnes of monetization options available to help cover costs!

Captivate Review: Getting Started

If you’re a brand new podcaster, logging into a media hosting site for the first time can be a bit intimidating. That isn’t the case with Captivate.

Not only is the dashboard well designed and easy to navigate, they also make sure that any questions you might have are answered quickly and easily. Each time you visit a new screen, you’ll get a complete tutorial of what it’s for and how it works. There’s also a little chat box on each page that guides you along the way, offering you hints, tips, prompts, and advice.

Whether you’re creating a brand new podcast or moving an existing one from another media host, the process is simple throughout.

Stats

Captivate provide download analysis on a number of different fronts.

  • Downloads Overview – A breakdown of downloads across set time periods.
  • Download Averages – On average, how many downloads your show gets across the stated period.
  • Daily Trends – The amount of total downloads your show had on each specific day.
  • How They Listen – This shows you the various ‘user agents’ your show has been listened to via (for example, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, etc)
  • Where They Listen – Captivate’s location stats show you where your listeners are, from country to country. They plan to hone in on this further to include things like states and cities in the near future.
  • Episodes Overview – The total downloads each episode has received.
  • Performance Comparison – Review episode performance against one another in an easy-to-analyse graph format.
Captivate analytics are responsive on any device

Files & Publishing

Captivate have a handy ‘Default Publish Time’ setting you can use. This would be useful for someone who, for example, wants to release all their new episodes at 7am. This would save them from having to set the time each time they upload new content.

Captivate is one of the few hosting platforms that doesn’t make any changes to your files. What you upload, your listener will download. That means no changes to file names, metadata, bitrates, etc.

This makes Captivate a good option for folks running highly-produced shows, such as stylised documentaries or audio dramas. If you want to encode your fully soundscaped episodes in stereo at a high bitrate, then you can. Here’s more info on podcast bitrates if that’s something you’re unfamiliar with.

Captivate also integrates with Alitu, our very own ‘podcast maker’ tool.

Alitu users can connect their Captivate account and publish/edit their shows using the two tightly integrated systems. This can make your podcasting workflow super simple.

Captivate Vs Alitu

You can use Captivate alongside Alitu, or, you can exclusively work inside Alitu for all of your recording, editing, production, and hosting.

Alitu might be the more attractive option to those looking for an all-in-one solution. This means fewer subscriptions, fewer tools, and fewer logins. Alitu is the perfect podcast maker for busy and non-techy folks alike. You can even edit your podcast by deleting text from the auto-generated transcripts. Once you’re ready, you can publish directly to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all the other listening platforms out there.

Captivate, on the other hand, is a hosting and growth platform first and foremost. They have a much more extensive range of additional features in this area than Alitu. If you’re already happy with your recording and editing workflow and are looking for a comprehensive hosting package, then opt for Captivate.

Podcast Websites on Captivate

All media hosts these days will give you a basic website for your show. These are, naturally, a lot more limited than if you were self-hosting your own site.

The site you get with Captivate looks anything but basic, though. It’s a heavily customizable space that you can make your own. Start by choosing one of three fully responsive website templates that look great on any device.

Captivate review - responsive website on any device

In your Captivate site, you can list your episodes in ‘start at the beginning’ order or by the newest episode first. There’s also a search bar, so your listeners can immediately seek out the content they’re after. You can pin your favourite episode or trailer to the top of the page, too!

Domain-wise, by default, you’d have showname.captivate.fm. But it’s really easy to set up and connect your own domain for free.

Working Inside WordPress

If you plan to run your own site, then Captivate Sync is a plugin that “allows you to easily link your WordPress website to your Captivate podcast hosting account and seamlessly publish from one platform to the other.”

This plugin means you can control much of your show in one single place. For example, you can publish, edit, or delete episodes in WordPress, and those changes will immediately be reflected in your Captivate account. Or, you could do the same inside your Captivate account, and the changes will be reflected in your WordPress site.

This can go a long way towards streamlining your workflow, saving you time, and generally making life easier.

Captivate’s Embeddable Podcast Player

Captivate’s superb-looking podcast websites are complimented by equally superb-looking embeddable podcast players.

These come with play speed settings and sharing buttons. Just like the websites too, they’re fully responsive on any device.

The players have a couple of really nice additional features, though. You can register as a Captivate affiliate, and this automatically turns the Captivate logo on your player into a referral link.

That means you can earn commission from everyone who clicks through their on your player and signs up to the service.

There’s also a nice ‘Calls to Action’ feature accessible from the player. I’ll talk more about this in the ‘Growth’ section.

You can now showcase all episodes of your show by embedding their ‘Playlist Player’ on your site. Or, you can embed a ‘Latest Episode Player’ that always shows and plays the most recent episode of your show. Either one of these would be great for your show’s homepage or ‘subscribe’ page.

Captivate Review - Player and Playlist

Captivate Review: Distribution

Submitting your show to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more can all be done from inside the Captivate dashboard. This is yet another process that they make really simple.

Captivate gives you a Submit to All button, which instantly submits your podcast to every single-click directory. The one major place this doesn’t include is Apple Podcasts, but you can submit there easily via the Captivate dashboard, too.

Podcast Distribution on Captivate

Once in Apple Podcasts, you’ll automatically appear in major apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Podcast Addict too. Captivate automatically generates links to these aggregators, which is a really nice touch.

You can also integrate your account with your Podchaser profile, if you have one. Podchaser is considered by many to be “the IMDB for podcasts”.

Sharing

Captivate automatically generates buttons on your site to places your show can be found. This makes it easy for your listeners to find and subscribe to the podcast on their app of choice.

You can also get special URLs for each episode to copy into your social media posts. These automatically generate an episode player to appear on platforms like X and Facebook.

Captivate Review - Single Subscribe Page

Privacy

In this era of increasing privacy concerns, Captivate offers a handy feature with their ‘Full Transparency Mode’.

There are a few third-party tracking, sponsorship and advertising tools on the market these days, such as Chartable & Podcorn.

Enabling ‘Full Transparency Mode’ will stick a short, nicely formatted statement to the end of each of your episode show notes. This will disclose to the listener which third-party analysis tools are being used within your show. On top of this, there’ll be a link to each service’s privacy policy so that the listener can dig deeper into those services, should they have any questions.

Create Unlimited Podcasts

If you feel a compulsive need to start a podcast about every topic you’re interested in, then Captivate is a great option.

You can start as many new shows as you like on whatever payment plan you choose. The only thing you’ll need to keep an eye on is the total combined number of downloads of all your shows. Start hitting that limit, and you’ll need to upgrade. However, Captivate gives you a 10% grace overage. You’ll only need to upgrade if you use that grace for the second month in a row, or push past that 10%. If you have a sudden publicity spike, for example, this is great.

Create Private Podcasts

Captivate also lets you create private or members-only podcasts. This is an excellent option if you’d like to run an internal show for a team inside a business or organisation. You can also use a private podcast as premium content to aid in your monetisation ventures.

You can use Captivate’s private podcasting feature even if you’re on their lowest payment tier. On the $19 plan, you can run a members-only show with up to 150 subscribers. For $49 a month, you can up that to 1000 subscribers, and on the $99 plan, you’d get three private feeds and up to 5000 subscribers.

Build & Organise Teams

If you have others working on your podcast(s) with you, then Captivate makes teamwork and collaboration simple.

You can add unlimited team members to your account, assigned to the roles of editor, producer, show manager, host, or brand partner. No need to be sharing around the same login details.

You can also create bios for each team member and have them appear on your website. This integrates neatly with Podchaser’s team functionality.

Monetisation Tools in Captivate

Whether you’re looking to recoup some hosting costs, outsource your editing, or aspire to swim in a Scrooge McDuck pool of gold, Captivate has lots of options to monetise your content.

Captivate’s secure transactions are powered by Stripe Marketplace. You’ll find an easy-to-use earnings dashboard inside your Captivate Wallet where you can track earnings and review each method’s performance. This is a brilliant way to bring your monetisation under one roof and free yourself from third-party tools such as Patreon.

Memberships

Memberships enable your listeners to support you on an ongoing basis. You can set up tiers, pricing, and benefits, such as exclusive or early access content. You can limit the amount of slots, too, which is ideal if you’re selling sponsorship as a membership.

Dynamic Ad Insertion

And if you’re selling sponsorship, you can easily add ad-reads into all of your episodes using Captivate’s Dynamic Ad Insertion tool. They even have a cool “Ad Painter” tool to easily overwrite old baked-in ads in your back catalogue that are no longer relevant.

Dynamic Ads are a great way to monetise, but they can also work well for growth strategies such as trailer swaps, or promos for other shows in your stable.

Tipping

Not all listeners want to commit to regular financial support, but are happy to throw you a one-off tip now and then. Captivate makes this easy with their tipping tool. Here, you can even suggest tip amounts, as well as customise your please and thank you messages.

Growth Tools in Captivate

Captivate market themselves as “the world’s only growth-oriented podcast host”. They provide some useful tools to help you grow and monetise your show.

Calls to Action

I’ve already mentioned the ‘Calls to Action’ feature. This lets you create two links to anything you like, which are accessible through the episode player, as you can see below.

Common uses for these links would be things like downloadable resources, or you could use them to encourage support through platforms like Patreon or Captivate’s own monetisation tools.

You can set these same CTAs to appear in every episode player, or use an ‘Override’ feature when publishing. This means you can have a unique CTA link for an individual episode, too.

You can edit and change these at any time, so if one particular CTA is time-sensitive, you can always update it to something relevant and useful in the future.

Email Opt-Ins

You can also capture emails for newsletters straight from your Captivate website. You can integrate with AWeber or most other email providers by using an HTML snippet.

Captivate also supports in-built opt-ins, allowing you to manage your lead magnet fully within Captivate and your email provider. If you choose to upload an image alongside your email opt-in, Captivate will make your opt-in layout look great automatically, too!

One-Click Sponsor Kit

The Sponsor Kit is another really cool feature. Inside your dashboard, you can automatically generate a nice-looking PDF media kit, complete with at-a-glance analytics. The document also displays key details about your show, your target audience, and your contact details. This makes it easy to reach out to potential podcast sponsors!

Captivate Review: Summary

Captivate gives you all the tools and features you’ll ever need from a podcast hosting provider but offers them in a way that isn’t overwhelming to brand-new creators. The team behind Captivate are friendly, forward-thinking, and always open to new ideas and suggestions, too. It’s a brilliant company, and a brilliant service.

Our Rating: 4.9/5

Need More Help Choosing a Podcast Host?

Thanks for checking out this Captivate review. And if you’re still looking to shop around, be sure to check out our Best Podcast Hosting Roundup.

And, if you’d like more guidance and support about hosting, publishing, or any other aspect of podcasting, then take a look at the Podcraft Academy.

There, you’ll find all of our courses, downloadable resources, community forum, and weekly live Q&A sessions. It’s the one-stop-shop place for building and growing a great podcast!

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