Podbean Podcast Hosting Review (Updated 2020): The Truth Behind The Price You Get
Podbean is a robust and powerful podcast hosting platform that has everything you need for a successful podcast with an extremely user-friendly interface and affordable prices. With unlimited storage and bandwidth plans starting at just $9/month, Podbean could very well be the perfect home for your podcast.
Podbean’s innovative mobile app is a favorite amongst users, but they could get with the times and start including more social media-friendly features.
Transparent pricing structure and affordable plans. Their starter (free) plan doesn’t include much, but paid plans start at only $9.
Podbean wants to be beginner-friendly; and they managed to do just that! It caters to new podcasters all the way up to the pros looking to maximize revenue.
On their website, all you have to rely on is the help center (in the form of videos, etc.), and ticket submission. You can reach out to them via Twitter and Facebook, although there’s no way of telling the exact response time for that.
What is Podbean?
All seasoned podcasters should have come across the Podbean brand one way or another. If you haven’t already, Podbean is a renowned hosting platform that’s been around since 2006.
Podbean’s initial aim was to provide podcasters with a simple click-to-publish way to distribute episodes, all with little to no technical knowledge.
Although they have managed to keep it easy-to-understand, Podbean has since then included a set of more modern features to keep up with demand.
Now, it supports everything from embedded podcast players, domain integration, and audience targeting.
For this Podbean review, we get down and dirty with all you need to know about its features, who would benefit the most, and how it would compare to other existing podcast hosting platforms out there.
NitroPack was initially developed as a downloadable plugin in 2012. It was meant to work as a caching solution for e-commerce websites. Slowly, it evolved into a robust and reliable cloud-based speed optimization tool.
What to consider before buying Podbean?
Or in other words, how do you establish what you’re looking for in a podcast host?
No matter the host, here are some key elements you should always, ALWAYS be focused on.
• The right monetization abilities for you:
You may think that this isn’t a necessary feature to have (hey, let’s at least wait for me to get some recognition before I make money)—but this couldn’t be further from the right practice!
Monetizing your podcast is a decision you’re going to have to take sooner or later, so why not choose a platform that already has the capacity to make money for you at the very beginning?
Granted, the majority of well-known platforms out there would already come with some degree of monetization capabilities; it’s still very important to hone down on one that fits your content.
This could be through sponsorship, affiliate marketing ads; you name it.
Don’t want to interrupt your episodes with in-between ads? Go with premium content that devoted fans can subscribe to for a small fee.
Or perhaps you want to make cash on a more passive basis? In that case, affiliate marketing would work perfectly!
Always double, triple-check on whether or not your preferred host supports the type of monetization you’re geared towards.
We break down 11 of the most profitable ways of bringing in cash through your podcast right here.
• Look for one that emphasizes on a website:
Having a podcast website isn’t a mere option. As of right now, it’s a necessity!
A podcast website is an important tool in your arsenal to have. It’s not just about being a centralized location that your listeners can come to listen, subscribe, find out more about your show (because, duh)—it’s also an enormous move in the right direction with SEO.
You’d benefit from a host that would either provide a free website or, at the very least, give you existing domain integration options.
Look closely for this feature, because although more of them are jumping on the bandwagon, this option isn’t as popular as we’d prefer them to be.
What are you getting with Podbean?
Just so it’s easier to read—we’ve broken down Podbean’s best features into its podcast publishing, distribution, and promotion, statistics, monetization, live streaming, and pricing.
Here’s how to use Podbean for maximum results:
1. Podcast Publishing
• Free podcast website
By subscribing to a Podbean plan, you’re immediately given a podcast website, free of charge!
And yeah, this also equals a free domain name of your choice, provided it’s not being used by someone else.
Unlike a regular WordPress hosted website, it’s not meant to have many pages or to be 100% customizable. So no lengthy ‘about us’ pages, fancy blog posts, etc.
Rather, Podbean cuts through the noise to just give you a simple, to-the-point page. It’s simply meant to display your podcast episodes, description, and basic artwork—that’s it.
You can, however, choose a theme and edit basic styling elements (header images, font colors, audio player colours, etc).
Remember how we mentioned the importance of SEO?
If you’re wondering how to use Podbean to milk that sweet, sweet traffic—all you need to do is:
- Go to www.apps.podbean.com.
- Log into your account.
- Click on the ‘SEO meta tags’ option. Hit ‘Get App’.
- Go to your Podbean dashboard and go to ‘Settings’ and then “Apps”.
- In the right corner of the SEO meta tags, click on the settings icon tool.
- You should see a pop-up window. After adding your meta tags, just save the changes.
Having this app around allows you to increase traffic to your site when people search for your podcast.
• No limits on bandwidth and storage capacity
On their official website, Podbean promises unlimited downloads, number of episodes, or recording times.
However, this feature varies according to the type of plan you choose.
Naturally, the basic level plan doesn’t give you much wiggle room with storage. The ‘Unlimited Audio’ and ‘Unlimited Plus’ plans, however, are the ones with these unlimited goodies.
• Beginner-friendly user interface
Podbean encourages you to jump right in; without wasting a second more on learning complicated controls.
Okay, bear with us. We know every single hosting platform claims to be ‘user-friendly’ and ‘great for beginners’ (or maybe besides ones like Blubrry and Libsyn which can take time learning)—so it’s only natural for us to be sure.
I took some time to explore the general overview of the platform.
Starting with their dashboard, it looks something like this:
This is where you can have a clearer view of your published episodes. Clicking on an episode immediately takes you to your shiny new Podbean website too!
Okay, nothing to shout from the rooftop about. I did start with the free Starter plan, after all.
You can still choose different layouts from their ‘Layout’ page. Be that as it may, most of the good ones are premium (duh). So you’d still need to upgrade to one of their paid plans to activate the more professional-looking layouts.
Their ‘Statistics’ page is just what they advertised. Minimalistic, clean, and not overwhelming for rookies. Some metrics that are immediately accessible are the number of downloads and basic user interaction.
Just to reiterate—all of this is very surface-level and is just meant to give you a feel of navigating the backend. Of course, with Podbean’s paying plans, you’d be getting much more comprehensive stats and more wiggle room with your website.
All in all, it gets our vote of approval for user-friendliness!
• The mobile application
Podbean has its very own app, one that allows for easy listening and publishing.
Stream, download, sleep timer supported, lock screen playing, Chromecast, and Android auto options.
Audio recorder, background music to choose from, SFX choices, post-production (editing, split scenes, merging and exporting), social media sharing, and more.
Truthfully, we’re not too crazy about recording a whole podcast on a mobile app. If you need to record something in the spur of the moment, then sure, but let’s stick to recording quality episodes in your home studio for now, okay?
Nevertheless, you can still utilize the app for listening to user podcasts, etc. Podbean’s app also shoots you notifications when new episodes are uploaded, which is pretty neat.
You can also respond to comments on your episodes, follow other podcasters, and see a list of your followers.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we still should mention that Podbean lags a little behind in terms of social media engagement.
Hosts like Buzzsprout and Anchor are already shaking things up with their social media-friendly videos, which aim at sharing bits of your audio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
All of this is done to boost engagement. So instead of sharing a boring ‘Check out my podcast on Spotify!’ status attached to a link—you’re showing users the most interesting parts of your podcast.
Podbean could (and should) step it up in this arena to not get left behind.
2. Distribution and Promotion
• Website and social media integrations
Podbean supports publishing to all major podcasting platforms.
If you have an existing website, you can also just as easily embed players on your page. Options range from single-episode views to multitrack players—so go wild.
When you integrate with Mailchimp, Podbean makes collecting email addresses a breeze. Once you score a new subscriber, you can share all-new episodes with them.
Cool fact? Podbean connects seamlessly with Amazon Alexa! A total treat for your listeners. Here’s how you make your podcast Alexa-able.
The Podbean free plan is an impressive start to the stats you can view.
Regardless, if you want more detailed insights, the paid plans are the only way to get there.
Podbean’s paid plans would automatically give you access to metrics like listener geography, the types of devices they are listening from, etc.
One thing that particularly caught our eye is the ‘user retention’ feature.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s the average time a person listens to your podcast, or what time and day your podcast would rake in the most listeners—Podbean breaks it down here. Cool stuff!
Podbean’s monetization capabilities are some of their most talked-about features, hands down. But why?
• Advertising and sponsorship
We start with a quick look-see into their sponsorship marketplace.
After listing your podcast in the marketplace, you’re matched with interested advertisers.
It’s not listed on their website if you do need a minimum download amount to be listed—but they do offer this nifty little calculator that lets you gauge your earnings.
Podbean also includes something called ‘dynamic ads’ as a way for you to monetize.
PodAds allows you to take advantage of their dynamic ad-insertion, which in a sense, automates your ability to gain revenue.
So while traditional ads just keep on playing on old episodes, promoting old advertisers (who have probably stopped paying you), dynamic ads do away with this.
Instead, dynamic ads let you switch out those outdated ads for new, paying advertisers. Even on your old episodes! All so, you’ll have better earnings as you accumulate more downloads.
One thing’s for sure. Once you’re exposed to dynamic ads and earning revenue oh so passively, you’re never going to be happy with traditional ad placements ever again.
If you’re not already on Patreon, becoming a Podbean user should finally get you around to doing so.
Podbean makes it much easier for your fans to donate. If they are listening to your podcast on the app, there’s even a prompt on your episode page to be a patron.
On your end, you get to customize different tiers, pledge options, and more.
Here’s how a Podbean Patron’s page would look something like:
• Premium content
If you’ve already managed to garner superfans or diehard supporters of your podcast—Podbean urges you to start selling premium content to them.
For a fee, you can upload exclusive, can’t-get-anywhere-else content for your fans to access. You decide what this content is and how you’ll price it.
Is it through a bonus behind the scenes with a host? A novelty episode? A subscription to your podcast’s merchandise?
Your users get to access premium content two ways; through either Podbean’s app or straight from their website.
5. Live Streaming and Recording
Okay, so besides their thorough monetization options, our next favorite thing about Podbean would have to be their live streaming.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. You can live record straight from the Podbean app, wherever you are to your listeners.
This is pretty cool for a number of things.
One, Podbean lets you interact with fans through their comments while you’re streaming.
Second, either your listeners or guest speakers could call-in while a live stream is happening. You can fit up to 5 people in one live recording session!
Third, another form of income, maybe? You can do this by selling tickets to your live shows and/or getting virtual gifts from listeners that convert to real money.
There are no trials with Podbean—although you could opt for their free plan at first if you’re just experimenting.
Do note that Podbean’s free plan is extremely basic and bare bones. You only get their very standard website themes, no access to monetization, and a very limited 5 hours of storage space.
Don’t expect to grow your podcast this way, or rely on their starter plan forever. This only works if you’re a total rookie still learning how to maneuver a podcast host for a couple of weeks.
If you even hope to get some traction with your podcast, start looking towards either their Unlimited Audio or Unlimited Plus plans.
For $9/month, the Unlimited Audio works very well for podcasters who are just at the brink of taking off! You’ve got full access to their sponsorship marketplace, unlimited bandwidth, the works.
On the other hand, the Unlimited Plus comes with the Patron and PodAds features for $29/month.
There’s also one more glaring difference between these two, which is the support for video podcasts.
The video podcasting feature is only available in either the Unlimited Plus or the Business Enterprise package.
While we don’t see this as a must-have option for podcasters, video podcasts are a decent way of showing your listeners what goes on in an episode.
If you do incorporate this, however, make sure that this doesn’t do more harm than good! The last thing you want is having your audio and video competing for downloads or engagement.
7. Customer Support
Podbean’s customer support is decent, but maybe not as wholesome as we’d like them to be.
At the moment, the only way of contacting them on their website would be to submit a ticket. They also respond to queries on Twitter occasionally, and their Facebook messenger shows their average response time to be within a day.
Reading through a few other reviews online shows us that they might’ve had a live chat system in the past—but that’s not around anymore.
We’re not opposed to that or anything (not every platform can handle live chats), but there’s no denying that slow responses on what could be emergencies are sometimes frustrating.
Something that makes up for this, however, is Podbean’s section of comprehensive articles, guidelines, and video tutorials.
You can find everything from troubleshooting methods to the best advertising efforts.
Podbean also manages the ‘Podcasting Smarter’ Facebook group. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a community to provide podcasters with various tips, introduce new insight to the industry, etc. It’s listed as private, though, so you still need to request for permission before joining.
What’s everyone saying about Podbean?
Podbean doesn’t have an existing Trustpilot page (yet!).
However, they’ve still garnered some reviews on G2—which is another online tech marketplace where businesses can read through unbiased reviews of software solutions, etc.
As of January 2020, it’s rated a solid 4.7/5. Here are some of the buzz surrounding Podbean:
Is Podbean right for you?
What are some Podbean alternatives?
Blubrry is a powerful podcast host contender. One of its strong points? It’s very own WordPress plugin—the PowerPress.
Blubrry’s PowerPress makes it easy to integrate with your self-hosted website, so you can access download statistics from your WordPress dashboard, fully customizable media players and publish Blubrry media straight from the comfort of your already existing site.
You could still benefit from Blubrry’s statistics, of course, but it saves you some time if you’re already used to running WordPress.
Blubrry and Podbean’s overall podcast hosting features are similar. Two very noticeable differences are probably the pricing plans (Blubrry only has a free trial, with plans starting from $12 and above) as well as their monetization.
Blubrry monetizes podcasts by pairing with Stagepass, which is something like a marketplace that allows you to auction of smaller-scale and more intimate experiences with your listeners.
It’s glaringly obvious, but Podbean wins this round for monetization capabilities. And hats off to them for their Patreon integration too! I mean, why not already leverage on a system that a huge chunk of listeners already know how to use?
You can read our more in-depth review of Blubrry here.
While hosts like Libsyn, and Buzzsprout are geared towards intermediate to professional podcasters, both Buzzsprout and Podbean take over the market of beginners.
One of Buzzsprout’s coolest features is the ‘Visual Soundbite’ option. This lets you extract a small piece of your podcast via markers, and then promote this in video form on social media.
You can even customize the colors, font, and artwork. This comes in—and amp up the engagement.
If you want to get ahead with search engines, Buzzsprout pairs up with Temi (a transcription service) to transcribe your audio, all this starts at $0.10/minute and can be used in your Buzzsprout website.
Buzzsprout does have a free plan—but with only 2 hours of content each month in storage. Not much to start with, but you can upgrade to 12 hours/month for only $24.
In terms of monetization, you also get a very similar affiliate marketplace that connects you with brands.
That’s all, though, so Podbean still takes the cake if you’re looking to boost revenue.
You can check out our full-length Buzzsprout review right here.
Price: Free, $9-99/month
– Sponsorship and ads
– Patreon supported
– Premium content
Mobile App: Yes
User-friendliness: Intermediate to Professionals
Mobile App: None
Price: Free, $12-24/month
– Affiliate marketing and ads
Mobile App: None
What are our thoughts?
When all is said and done, we still thoroughly enjoy what Podbean brings to the table.
It doesn’t require you to have an expert (if at all, really) knowledge of how hosting platforms work. This is good, as you’re not going to be put off signing up and being bombarded with confusing stats and a bunch of over the top features.
Admittedly, some of their features could still be improved. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic end-to-end platform that does not skimp on monetization.
It’s one of my favorite facets yet, for the sole reason that monetization is a big element to consider when you’re narrowing down hosts.
For their value—Podbean is a great way to kick things off without dipping too deep into your budget. God knows how much you’d need to spend on equipment like mics, mixers, headphones, etc to produce a solid listener experience!
If you’re a Podbean user, do you agree with this? Do you not? Let us know your two cents!
DISCLOSURE: The HUSTLR goal is to help readers navigate around the digital economy by learning digital skills to achieve their life goals. This blog post may contain affiliate link(s) and any purchase(s) made through such links will result in a small commission to HUSTLR (at no cost to you). However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair in order to help you make the best choice.
Jesslyn has been a senior content strategist and writer for personal finance and side hustles for the past 4 years. She believes in the power of an idea and breaking the rules whenever necessary. Above all, balance is everything. When she’s not writing up a mad scramble, she leans towards wine bars and yoga studios on the weekends.