Podbean Review: a Podcast Host for Monetisation & Community
We've all heard the slightly cynical comment “everyone runs a podcast these days”, in relation to this medium. But I've actually found myself saying “everyone runs a podcast media host these days” in recent months.
New media hosts seem to pop up on a weekly basis, coming out the gate with promises of wealth and glory for all who podcast with them. Unsurprisingly, many of them vanish as quickly as they appear too.
One old head that's been a constant in podcasting pretty much since the beginning though, is Podbean. Alongside Blubrry and Libsyn they are very much in the “seasoned veterans” camp of media hosts.
But older doesn't necessarily mean better, especially when it comes to technology and the digital world.
So does Podbean's age and experience make them an attractive option for hosting your podcast on? Or are they a relic of a bygone age who've they been left behind by the young startups of the world? That's the question I wanted to answer in this Podbean review…
What is a Media Host?
Firstly though, let's have a quick look at Podbean's role in the medium.
A media host is a service that enables you to actually create a podcast series, upload episodes, and be listed in places like iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
Your podcast “lives” on your media host, so it's very important that you choose a good one.
You can run a brilliant podcast on a bad media host, and if that media host goes out of business, your podcast can disappear for good.
And to me, that's one huge plus point of Podbean's years in the medium. They actually have a proven and sustainable business model. It doesn't seem likely that they'll suddenly lose interest or commit financial suicide anytime soon.
What Can Podbean Do for Me?
The main role of a media host is to robustly host your episodes, and make them available to anyone who wants to listen to them.
What media hosts can't do is grow your audience for you, or make your podcast be successful. But they can give you tools that'll help you create a wide-reaching and impactful show – so long as you're creating good content.
This is another strong point of Podbean. They have lots of useful features available that'll really benefit you if you're willing to put the work in to your show.
Before we look at Podbean's features though, how much does it cost to run an account?
Well, you can actually get started for free. On this tier you'll be able to upload up to 5 hours of content a month, but your bandwidth is going to be limited to 100GB a month. Obviously, this will severely limit your show's growth, as well as access to Podbean's tools and features, so I'd advise considering a paid package.
Paid tiers start from as little as $9 a month. The $9 tier ($14 when billed monthly) includes unlimited audio bandwidth, comprehensive stats, and the ability to create premium content for your audience. That's great value in my mind.
You'll find plenty new media hosts offering unlimited bandwidth and storage packages for free. But the fact that Podbean have been in business since 2006 is evidence that charging its customers is a good thing. As long as they stay in business, your podcast stays alive!
You can get a month’s free hosting with Podbean when you sign up using the coupon code podcraft
Podbean Unlimited Plus
There's also a $29 a month tier for unlimited audio and video storage. This is for anyone who wants to run a video podcast.
It's subject for another discussion but I'm not convinced that video podcasts are worth doing. By all means, record your show in video and upload it to Youtube. But creating it as a video podcast that appears in podcast directories means it's actually in direct competition with the audio version of your own show.
This can split your audience and harm your search rankings in places like iTunes. But if you're set on doing a video podcast anyway, then Podbean are your best option for sure.
Podbean's free tier will get you basic stats, but for the $9 a month package you'll get full access to their comprehensive stats offering. These include downloads, popular episodes, geography, and listener devices.
They also now offer user engagement intel which is very detailed info from the Podbean app and player about just what the audience is doing. Here, you'll find details on things like who's listening, and how long they are listening for.
Granted, the majority of listens your show gets will come from directories outside of the Podbean app. But the data you get here will still provide a really useful sample, and you can use it to tailor and improve your future content to the folks who are listening.
If you really take care of your current listeners, they're much more likely to talk about your podcast and share it with others. And this is pretty much the most effective way of growing your audience in the long run.
Hosting Multiple Shows
The most economical way of hosting multiple shows on Podbean is to run separate $9 a month accounts. Though this does mean logging in and out of those accounts to manage each show.
If you're a business, organisation, or network though, then there's a $99 a month business tier available. This'll enable you to manage multiple podcasts from one dashboard.
Podbean have a popular podcast listening app on iOS and Android. All Podbean-hosted shows are included within this app, which makes it very clear and easy for listeners to subscribe to your podcast.
You also have the capability to record and publish directly from the Podbean app. If you do premium content (we'll cover that in the monetisation tools section) then you can easily sell this from within the app too.
Websites & Site Integration
Podbean provide you with a page for your podcast, which would have a URL based along the theme of “yourpodcastname.podbean.com”
There's lots of themes available to customise your page too, and this can serve you well if you don't actually have a website of your own.
If you do have your own site though, then you can simply use their player embed to create episode posts each time a new one is published.
Podbean can set you up with advertisers via their sponsorship marketplace. Here, the minimum is 1000 downloads per episode (after one month of its release), though they can also hand select and approve smaller shows for advertiser matches.
They offer a dynamic ad insertion option too. With dynamic ads, you'll continue to earn from them “forever”, as opposed to traditional ads which are embedded into the episodes themselves. Traditional ads still play on old episodes long after the sponsor has stopped paying for them.
The trade-off is that the return on dynamic ads is typically much lower. But Podbean offer the choice on which route you feel is right for you, should you want to run any ads at all on your show.
Running ads isn't the only (or often, the best) way to make money with your podcast.
All podcast monetisation methods do require you to have an audience, and to be creating consistently good content, however.
If you're willing to put the time and work in to do that, then Podbean have a couple of really useful monetisation tools to help you grow your show on that front.
Podbean's “Patron” Model
Podbean run their own version of Patreon for their members, which is more tailored to podcasting and keeps everything in-house.
Here, listeners can become financial subscribers to your show by each pledging a monthly amount to you.
With Podbean Patron you can set up reward tiers and goals, customise pledges, and raise funds directly from the podcast app. It makes it really easy for your audience to support you.
Another monetisation option offered by Podbean is the ability to easy sell premium content.
This could be ongoing bonus episodes, or it could be an entire block of “archived” episodes that have been packaged together. It's entirely up to you to decide what type of premium content you'd like to offer.
Podbean also offer a lot of flexibilty in how you sell. You can offer a subscription, or you can choose to sell individual bonus episodes, or seasons of shows. And again, this all ties in nicely with the app itself.
Podbean's revenue share is currently set to 15%. So you get to keep 85% of your subscriber or sales income.
Podbean Review: Summary
Podbean are an industry veteran in the media hosting space. I mentioned already that in the tech and digital world, that isn't always seen as a good thing. But Podbean have shown to be a company that is constantly improving and adding to their service. Their current offerings are some of the most attractive in the medium right now.
They're not a flash-in-the pan media hosting startup who've just arrived on the scene with a pile of funding to burn through. And it's a bad idea to gamble the future of your podcast on any platform like that.
For all the reasons mentioned here, that's why Podbean are one of our top recommended media hosts for podcasters of all levels. And you can get a month’s free hosting with them when you sign up using the coupon code podcraft.
If you'd still like to shop around a little though, then other media hosts are available.
Need More Help With Your Podcast?
Choosing where to host your show is an integral part of getting started. But there loads of other areas that are equally, if not more important.
So whether you need help with your show's strategy and content, or with presenting, recording, or editing, we have courses on them all inside The Podcast Host Academy.
In there, you'll also have access to our regular live Q&A sessions too, so you'll never be stuck on any aspect of podcasting again!