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Podbean Podcast Hosting: Review and Walkthrough

Podbean Podcast Hosting: Review and Walkthrough

Podbean has been around in the podcasting world for over a decade. It’s no surprise that it holds a special place in many podcasters’ hearts. But just because it’s well-known, does that actually mean it is the best podcast hosting service out there? We’re here to find out. This review and walkthrough takes an inside look at everything Podbean has to offer, weighing up its relative pros and cons to decide whether it truly lives up to expectations. 

TL:DR 

  • Podbean is a one-stop shop for everything podcasting. You can create, record, host, distribute, monetize and manage your podcast from the Podbean desktop or app. 
  • Podbean has four tiered pricing plans starting with a free Basic plan. But all plans come with unlimited hosting. 
  • Podbean is designed to be extremely user-friendly and enhance your podcasting experience. 
  • You can record your podcast and live stream using Podbean, though you may lose quality because it’s not compatible with lossless file formats. 
  • Overall, Podbean is a convenient podcasting solution but some podcasters may be left wanting more. 

How we’re reviewing Podbean 

Before we jump into the details, it’s good to get a grounding in how we’re looking at Podbean and the factors we’re considering: 

Pricing 

Even if it’s not your absolute priority, every podcaster has a budget. We place a lot of importance on how much a podcast hosting service charges for use of their platform and the features of a subscription. We also look at how they structure their pricing and whether you truly get value for money. 

Analytics 

We look for podcast hosting platforms that offer creators deep and insightful analytics into their podcast’s performance. We believe analytics should be easily accessible, comprehensible, and actionable, helping podcasters to proactively scale up their content. 

File hosting

If there’s one thing podcasters should not compromise on, it’s the quality of their audio. We look closely at compatible file formats, whether they’re lossy or lossless, and whether the platform places size limits on uploads. In addition, though not necessarily a dealbreaker for all podcasters, we check whether a platform is compatible with video podcasting too. 

Distribution 

These days, distributing your podcast should be easy and hassle-free. If it’s vaguely cumbersome to publish your podcast across major platforms from your hosting platform, it’s a major red flag. 

Monetization 

We look for innovative monetization features that help podcasters leverage their content and create lucrative revenue streams. We value platforms that give creators high degrees of flexibility, oversight and control, as well as proactively help them to access monetization opportunities. 

Additional features & useability  

We believe that your podcast hosting platform should be straightforward and easy to use. We don’t necessarily expect all the bells and whistles, but we expect user-friendly UX/UI and appreciate features that are designed to enhance the overall user experience. 

Media player 

Finally, we look at whether the podcast hosting platform in question provides creators with an embeddable media player. Though not absolutely essential, it’s also a huge plus when podcasters are able to customize and brand the media player to match their show aesthetic. 

A quick look at Podbean 

What is Podbean? 

Podbean launched in 2006, initially as a ‘blog-like’ platform aimed at helping podcasters create content. Since then, it’s grown into a sleek platform and app offering all the tools needed to take your podcast from concept to distribution and beyond. 

Podbean prides itself on its useability, with ‘no learning curve’ involved in getting started with the platform. More than a simple podcast hosting service, Podbean is a podcasting machine loaded with creation, distribution, monetization, management, and promotion tools. It’s no wonder that it’s used by over 600,000 podcasters worldwide, helping create 12 million episodes and driving 9.8 billion downloads to date. 

How much does Podbean cost? 

Podbean pricing is broken down into four different plans: Basic, Unlimited Audio, Unlimited Plus, and Business. 

Podbean Basic Subscription - Free 

  • 5 hours of storage space
  • 100GB of bandwidth/month 
  • Access to mobile app and podcast player 
  • Embeddable media player
  • Your own podcast site 
  • Distribution to all major platforms
  • IAB certified stats - basic 
  • No monetization options 

Unlimited Audio plan - $9/month 

All the basic plan’s features plus: 

  • Unlimited storage space
  • Unmetered bandwidth 
  • Custom design 
  • Map your own domain 
  • Multiple podcast channels
  • Ads marketplace
  • Premium sales
  • PodAds - SaaS for podcast advertising 

Unlimited plus - $29/month 

Same as Unlimited Audio plan with video podcasts and access to Patron Program. 

Business - $99 / month 

Same as unlimited plus with:

  • Multiple admins 
  • Private podcast with SSO authentication 
  • Engagement intel 
  • Groups 
  • Remove Podbean branding 
  • Live chat support
  • Podbean Pro App 

Podbean’s Unique Selling Propositions

A quick look at some of Podbean’s more unique features and other aspects of the platform that make it stand out from the crowd: 

Create, Distribute and Manage Your Podcast 

Podbean’s biggest selling point is that they cover all the bases. You can create, edit, host, distribute, promote, monetize and manage your podcast all from your Podbean account. For podcasters who are looking for a streamlined and consolidated podcasting solution, this just might be it. 

Note: You cannot record from the Podbean desktop app. 

No learning curve 

Podbean is designed to be highly user-friendly and intuitive, meaning even total beginners don’t have to be intimidated by a steep learning curve. 

Integrated social promotion  

Podbean’s integrated social media and email features make it easier than ever to promote your content to your followers and audience base. Whenever you publish a new episode, Podbean will automatically post about it on your socials for you. You can also generate social-media compatible videos that you can use to promote your content on Facebook, Youtube, and other platforms. In addition, you can build out an email list and automatically share new episodes with your email subscribers using Podbean’s Mailchimp integration. 

Private podcast for business

Podbean is simultaneously giving podcasts and corporate internal communications new meanings. The private podcast feature, available under the business subscription plan, allows businesses to use podcasts for sharing internal training videos, event recordings, and internal communications. These private podcasts are equipped with enterprise-level security to protect sensitive organizational data. They have even released a dedicated Podbean Pro App allowing enterprise users to access private audio and video podcasts from their mobile devices. 

Podbean Patron 

The Patron program is Podbean’s answer to Patreon. Through Patron, your loyal listeners can support you on a recurring basis through monthly pledges in exchange for ‘rewards’. These rewards are usually tiered according to the size of the pledge and can range from exclusive content to virtual rewards. 

Podcast transcriptions and closed-captions

Podbean recently released an automated transcription and closed caption feature that helps podcasters maximize their podcast’s SEO, repurpose their content, and importantly, make sure their content is as accessible as possible. 

What’s the catch with Podbean? 

There’s arguably no real catch when it comes to Podbean. The only thing that’s worth being aware of is the cut that the platform takes from your revenue. For example, Podbean receives 5% of any Patron processing fees. In addition, they charge a flat $1/CPM service fee on all your ad revenue. 

Advantages of Podbean 

Affordable Unlimited Audio and Video Hosting

Podbean places no limits on downloads, episodes, or recording time (other than on the free, basic plan). All of this for a reasonable monthly fee. 

Easy to use 

As we mentioned, Podbean is built to be easy to use. No clunky interfaces, confusing workflows, or steep learning curves. 

Video podcasting 

Unlike many of its competitors, Podbean supports video podcasting though not all podcasters have ventured into video, having the option is always a major advantage and allows you to cover all bases. 

Audio live streaming 

Live Streaming is a highly valuable medium for connecting with your audience in a different, more interactive, way. You can share content with your listeners in real-time, and offer a more raw and uncut version of your podcast. This is also a great way of giving your paying subscribers or ‘Patron’s exclusive content. 

Remote recording 

You can record remotely with up to 7 co-hosts or guests using Podbean’s Live Stream feature in the mobile app, all whilst customizing your recording and live mixing music as you go (more on this later). Your session will be automatically recorded locally and in the cloud, ready for you to use. 

Edit your podcast 

No need for separate recording, editing, and hosting software. Use Podbean to record your podcast and then get it ready for publication in post-production. Cut out unwanted content, merge your recordings with your intro or outro, add music and effects, then publish or export when you’re happy with the final product.  

Automated transcription and closed captions 

Podbean recently released an automated transcription feature that auto-generates a transcript and closed captions for your recording. This is a feature that’s available to any podcasters on a paid Podbean plan. 

Note: This feature isn’t free to use. Podbean charges $0.20/minute. In addition, it’s not an instant tool, taking up to 40 minutes for a 60-minute podcast recording to generate your transcript. 

Diverse monetization features 

Podbean equips its creators with multiple monetization options including the Patron Program, Ads Marketplace, Premium Podcasting and Fan Club. This means podcasters can diversify their income streams and harness the full potential of their content. 

Mobile app 

Podbean’s mobile app means podcasters can create, publish and manage their podcast on the go, as well as listen and discover other creators’ shows. Choose to record directly from your mobile device or upload pre-recorded audio. 

Media player 

Podbean’s embedded players are fully customizable. You can personalize the appearance, as well as whether it is connected to a single episode, multitracks, and even a video podcast. 

Analytics 

Gain access to IAB-certified podcast analytics displayed in an intuitive and digestible form. These critical analytics are designed to help you actively grow your podcast, measure its success, and understand your audience. 

Distribution 

Podbean automatically publishes your podcast to Youtube, Apple Podcasts and other major podcast directories, so you don’t even have to think about distributing your content. 

Disadvantages of Podbean 

Cannot record from desktop app

If you want to record using Podbean, you’ll need to be using the Podbean app on a mobile device. You currently cannot record using the browser platform but you can live stream. If you’re doing everything from your desktop, you’ll have to separately record your audio and then upload it to your Podbean dashboard. 

Lossy file formats & maximum file size

Podbean currently only supports mp3, m4a, and mp4 file formats, all of which are lossy. This means that podcasters who prefer lossless file formats will have to compromise on audio and video quality to use Podbean. In addition, there is a 3GB maximum file size limit for single file uploads. 

Audio-only livestreaming with a limit 

Podbean only supports audio-live streaming rather than the full video-live stream. In addition, you’re limited to 2 hours in length and an audience of 200. Though this isn’t a complete dealbreaker, podcasters looking to create a video live stream experience will have to look elsewhere. 

Podbean patrons have to use the Podbean app 

The Podbean Patron program works solely within Podbean’s crowdfunding infrastructure. This means that listeners who usually access your content from more mainstream streaming platforms such as Spotify or Apple Podcasts will have to make the transition to the Podbean interface to access their ‘Patron rewards’. 

No multitrack recording 

Although Podbean offers remote recording capabilities, it’s critical to note that it doesn’t offer multitrack recording. This is likely to make your life harder during post-production because you won’t be able to edit each participant’s audio without impacting the overall recording. 

Have to pay for closed captions  

As we mentioned earlier, although Podbean now offers automated transcriptions, podcasters have to shell out an additional $0.20/minute to use this feature. 

Key features of Podbean 

Let’s take a more detailed look at some of Podbean’s other key podcasting features: 

Live Streaming 

As we’ve seen, Podbean supports live streaming. This is a great way to offer more interactive and engaging content to your audience base. 

Audience interaction 

Podbean enhances this further with the ability to take listener calls during your live stream session as well as answer real-time comments. 

Monetize your livestreams 

Podbean also enables you to turn live streaming into an additional revenue stream by selling virtual tickets and selling virtual gifts during the session. You’ll earn virtual currency from any sales which can be later converted into US dollars and cashed out. 

‘Invite only’ live streams 

In addition, since you can choose between ‘invitation only’ and ‘public’ modes, you can also use live streaming as a type of ‘exclusive content’ for your Patrons. 

Customize your live streams 

You can make your live stream your own by customizing the branding, layout, and any music or effects that accompany your livestream. 

Customizable podcast website 

All Podbean accounts enjoy a free podcast website. You can choose from different templates to match your brand style and you can customize them to make your site your own. Edit your site and preview changes in real-time, similar to Squarespace or Wix. All templates are mobile-responsive and can sit under a branded domain. 

Best for podcasters looking for an all-in-one solution 

Podbean is a convenient solution for podcasters of all levels. With its huge range of features, it covers everything from podcast creation to distribution and management. Their emphasis on useability makes for an accessible platform that even beginners can get to grips with.

First look at the Podbean dashboard 

Podbean desktop 

When you first make an account, you’ll be greeted by two options: ‘Create New Podcast’ or ‘Import Existing Podcast’

Creating an account on Podbean.

Your dashboard looks like this (see below screenshot). The left-hand panel features all your different tabs for managing your podcast, distributing it, and analyzing its performance. 

Podbean dashboard.

Podbean app 

As we mentioned, the Podbean app is a combination of a podcast listening platform and a podcast recording app. When you first open the app, you’ll be met with your ‘For You’ page with a range of podcast recommendations, the Top Podcasts, current Lives, and Featured podcasts. 

Podbean mobile app For You page.

How to create a podcast using Podbean 

Desktop 

  1. On your dashboard, click ‘go to setup’
  2. Give your podcast a title, description, choose its category and upload your cover art. 
  3. Under ‘More Options’, you can customize your podcast’s URL, toggle language settings, and name the owner of the podcast. 
Filling in a podcast's title, description and cover on Podbean.

How to record an episode with Podbean 

Desktop 

Remember, you cannot directly record an offline podcast on the Podbean browser platform. However, you can live stream. 

To upload pre-recorded audio: 

  1. Click on the Episodes tab on the left-hand panel. Select ‘Episode List’
Episode List page on Podbean.
  1. Click ‘New Episode’ in the top-right hand corner.
  2. Select whether to upload pre-existing audio from your desktop or audio that you’ve recorded using the Podbean app.
Uploading or selecting an audio file for a podcast on podbean.

4. Once you’ve selected your audio file, you’ll be asked to fill out the episode details before hitting ‘publish’

Filling out an podcast episode's details on Podbean.

To live stream from your desktop:

  1. Click your account icon in the top right-hand corner 
  2. Select Live Stream
The account menu to find the Live stream option on Podbean.
  1.  Click ‘New Live Show’.
Creating a new live show on Podbean.
  1. Fill out your live stream’s details then click ‘Start now’
Filling out the details of a new live show on Podbean.
  1. If you’ve got co-hosts, invite them using the URL or send them an invitation email.
Inviting cohosts to a live stream on Podbean.
  1. Enjoy your live stream! 
Live streaming a podcast on Podbean.

Mobile app 

  1. To record audio from your mobile device, simply click on the red mic icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen. 
  2. Then tap ‘record audio’. If you haven’t already, give the Podbean app access to your microphone. 
  3. When you’re ready, tap the red ‘record’ button. 
  4. You can add effects and music as you record, as well as toggle the ‘echos’ and ‘tone’ of your recording. 
  5. At the bottom of your screen, you’ll see buttons that allow you to replay, redo, edit and save your recording. 
  6. If you want to cut a segment out, click edit and delete any irrelevant sections. 
  7. When you’re happy, tap ‘Save’ and give your episode a title. 
  8. You’ll then be taken to a page called ‘My Recording’. Here you can replay what you’ve got so far, import audio, reorder different recordings, and add an intro or audio. 
  9. When you’re finished, click the orange ‘upload icon’. Here you can retitle your episode, write your episode’s description, change the cover art and then publish. 

How to remote record or livestream from the Podbean app 

  1. Tap the red microphone in the top right-hand corner and select ‘Start Livecast’.
  2. On the next screen, enter your live show information, choose between ‘Public’ and ‘Invite only’ mode, and select a start time. You can also upload a cover image for your livestream from your phone’s photo library. 
  3. On the next screen, you can invite co-hosts by copying and pasting the invite link or emailing them an invitation to join. 
  4. Wait for any co-hosts to join and when you’re ready, start your live stream. 
  5. When your live stream is over, simply tap the ‘power’ icon in the top right-hand corner and ‘End the live show’
  6. Your live stream will automatically be recorded and saved in your drafts if you want to repurpose it at a later date. 

How to migrate your Podcast to Podbean

  1. Click import podcast or navigate from settings>general>import to Podbean. 
Button for importing a podcast to Podbean.

2. Enter your podcast’s RSS feed URL. 

3. Then redirect your feed to import your media files. 

4. Make sure to follow the specific migration instructions for your previous podcasting hosting provider.

Instructions for importing an existing podcast to Podbean.

How to customize your Podbean podcast website

  1. Head to ‘Distribution’ on your dashboard, then click ‘Podcast website’ and ‘Customize’
  2. To edit the design, you’ll need to click on the ‘Design’ tab. From there you’ll be able to customize your theme, font, and even upload a logo or icon. 
  3. You’ll be able to change the navigation settings according to your preferences, as well as your website’s banner 
  4. You can also play around with how your episodes are presented on your website, whether that’s in grid view, list view, or simple list view. 
  5. Lastly, you can choose to add custom sections consisting of text or text and an image together (note, you can add up to five custom sections). 

Distributing your podcast with Podbean

  1. On your dashboard, select ‘Distribution’ on the left-hand tab 
  2. When you’re first setting up, manually select which platforms you’d like to distribute to. 
  3. You’ll find specific instructions and video tutorials for the various different platforms. 
Distribution channels on Podbean.

Podbean Analytics 

You can find your analytics in your Podbean dashboard under ‘statistics’. You’ll be able to see downloads for all your episodes, user interactions, listeners’ geographic location, download sources, and user retention. 

Monetizing your podcast with Podbean

As we mentioned there are quite a few ways to monetize with Podbean, meaning you’re at liberty to pick and choose the revenue streams that suit you best. You’ll be able to manage all your monetization schemes from your central Podbean dashboard, including which content you’re monetizing, how much for, and for how long. There is no limit on how much content you monetize. 

Podbean Fan Club 

The Podbean Fan Club is designed to celebrate your most loyal audience members whilst creating a steady income stream for you. Keen listeners can pay to join the fan club in exchange for priority on your call-in list, a unique member label, special emojis, and a unique entry visual effect. 

If you want to activate your Podbean fan club, simply navigate to your ‘live stream center’, click ‘fan club’ and then ‘activate’. If you’re in the app, go to your Live center, tap the three dots on the right-hand side of your screen, and then ‘fan club’ and ‘activate’

Live stream admission & virtual gifts

Earn virtual currency that can later be cashed in from virtual gifts and live stream ticket sales. 

PodAds 

PodAds is an advertising management system with dynamic ad insertion. PodAds helps you connect with advertising partners and secure a campaign deal. PodAds handles the actual insertion of the ad into your podcast, you still retain control over the ad placement. Even if you’ve already got sponsorship deals on the go, PodAds aims to make managing your ad campaigns seamless and stress-free. 

Premium podcast

Create and sell one-off premium podcast content that your listeners can buy at the click of a button. There are no additional costs for the storage or downloads of premium podcast content. 

Patron for podcasters 

As we said above, Patron allows supportive fans to become ‘subscribers’ through monthly pledges in exchange for rewards of different values, depending on how much they commit. 

Podbean competitors: a comparison 

Podbean vs Libsyn

Similar to Podbean, Libsyn has been an original player in the podcasting world since 2004. Following a recent revamp, Libsyn competes much more closely with Podbean’s offering. With Libsyn, you also get unlimited bandwidth and reach, can host both audio and video podcasting, distribute to major platforms, and monetize your content. The biggest difference lies in the fact that you cannot record or live stream using Libsyn. Instead, Libsyn is geared towards the post-production stage of your podcasting journey. In addition, the way they structure their pricing is completely different, with every plan (including the most expensive) coming with an upload limit. 

Anchor vs Podbean

Just like Podbean, Anchor markets itself as a one-stop shop for podcasting. You can create, edit, host, distribute and monetize directly from Anchor. The biggest difference, however, is that Anchor is completely free to use. In addition, Anchor’s UX/UI and useability is noticeably sleeker and more contemporary than Podbean’s. 

Want to know more? Why not read our full review and walkthrough of Anchor? 

Final thoughts on Podbean 

Podbean is a comprehensive podcast hosting platform with an answer for almost any podcasting need. Having been around for more than a decade, it’s clear that Podbean knows what podcasters want and need. With an extremely usable interface and the ability to take a podcast from start to finish, creators looking for a one-stop-shop podcasting platform may have found their answer. That being said, more professional podcasters who seek a high-powered hosting platform with an emphasis on quality rather than a one-size-fits-all approach might be better off looking for a different solution. 

FAQs about Podbean 

Is Podbean really free? 

Podbean has four-tiered pricing plans and the Basic plan is completely free. To get access to all of Podbean’s features, you’ll need to upgrade to what’s known as an ‘unlimited plan’. 

Is Podbean podcast any good?

As we’ve seen, Podbean is a great solution for many podcasters. Although as with anything, ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what you’re looking to get out of your podcast hosting service. 

How much does the Podbean app cost? 

The Podbean app is completely free to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. 

Want to read more on podcast hosting platforms? Check out our other reviews:

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