You listen to it on your daily commute to work. You listen to it on your way to the gym. You might even listen to it when walking on the treadmill.
Sure, sometimes (or, well, most of the time) it’s Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York or Oasis’ Wonderwall, but occasionally, we tend to listen to little chunks of audio content that’s delivered over the Internet. This my friend, is what we call a podcast.
What You Should Know About Podcasting
We’ve covered some of our favorite WordPress podcasts before, but today let me share some interesting statistics of the podcasting industry.
1. Podcasting Stat #1 – There’s a hungry audience.
According to a study done by Edison Research, 21% of the US youth have listened to a podcast in the past month.
Source: Edison Research – “State of the News Media 2016”
To provide some context for what 21% of the entire country represents, 13% of the USA listens to Spotify monthly, and 21% of the country uses Twitter. In a nutshell:
The same number of Americans listen to podcasts and use Twitter.
2. Podcasting Stat #2 – There’s proven growth.
And the number is ever increasing year-on-year. For example, the number of US citizens over the age of 12 who listen to a podcase have increased by 133% in the past decade i.e., between 2008 and 2016. And just between, 2015 and 2016, the podcasting industry has grown by 23%.
The number of podcast listeners in the US increased by 133% in the last decade.
PS: In case you were wondering where we got the numbers, we did some simple math on the data shared in the chart from Edison Research!
3. Podcasting Stat #3 – Consumption is easy.
Remember how we used to chat on a desktop computer? No? 90’s kids do!
The Internet has a new home and it’s in your pocket. Just as mobile searches overtook desktop in Google, the podcasting industry saw a similar trend. In 2014, most of podcasting was consumed in a desktop computer. Today, 64% of podcasts are heard on a smartphone or a tablet. (Hence, the weird introduction to this article!)
What Makes Podcasting Awesome
Now that we’re aware of some of these statistics, let me tell you why podcasting is the cool new kid in the block.
#1) It’s a great media outlet. Why? Because it saves time!
I would say that the number one benefit of podcasting is that it saves a whole lot of our time. Let’s face it – we are busy people. Podcasts are for quick information consumers who want to say on top of trends and follow their favourite people – on-the-go.
#2) You don’t have to read!
Don’t get me wrong, but for some of us (*raises hand*) reading takes effort. If you told me that there’s a way I can consume the same amount of information by not having to read, I’d be thrilled. And that’s exactly what podcasting does! Heck, I even read audio-transcripts of book summaries!
#3) Effortless media consumption.
You can listen to a podcast on your commute to work, or on your way to the gym. There are tons of amazing podcasting apps for Android and iOS that automatically download your subscribed podcasts over WiFi. Some also give you superb podcast discovery and recommendations based on your interests.
#4) It’s a great medium to reach out to people.
For content creators who are vocal and want to reach out to their audience beyond the text displayed on the screen, podcasting is an excellent channel. Podcasting always doesn’t mean audio. You can do video as well, but most of us prefer to save our phone’s space and mobile data.
#5) Everyone’s doing it.
And finally, everyone (and I really mean everyone) right from best-selling authors, to six-figure income bloggers, keynote speakers, influential marketers and digital publishers – has upped their podcasting game.
They’ve invested serious time, effort and money into creating, publishing and marketing podcasts to their audience. What follows is a ton of loyal subscribers, who eventually transform into to word-of-mouth marketers and top-tier evangelists for your products.
Therefore, if 2017 is a year when you’ve decided to take up podcasting, kudos. It’s going to be a difficult, yet rewarding journey. As WordPress powers over 27% of websites on the Internet, it’s quintessential that your podcasting setup is hardwired into your WordPress site. Not only will it cross-promote your content to your audience, but will also boost your search engine rankings.
With that in mind, following are the top podcasting services and plugins for WordPress. With the help of these plugins (and a lot of hard work), you’ll be able to setup your very own podcast channel right from your WordPress site.
How to Get Started with Podcasting on WordPress
The way I see it, there are two primary ways you can get started – free tools and premium solutions. For those just starting off with podcasting (we’ve got some great “getting started” content for you later), I’d recommend using the free tools. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can move to a paid solution.
For those familiar with the podcasting business and want to get started on their own journey, the paid solutions would be a good start. Before we jump on to listing the plugins and services, let us align on the objectives.
Objective #1 – Hosting the Podcast Content
The first objective is to host the podcast (mostly audio) files. That requires storage and consumes bandwidth, among other server resources. You can host your podcast files in the the same server where WordPress is hosted. Here, the audio files can be uploaded via the default WordPress media uploader. A lot of free plugins (as you’ll see below) support this option. You can also host your podcast files in online storage solution such as Amazon S3.
Note that you cannot use free storage solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive, since they typically require a lot of authentication before downloading a file. Amazon S3 on the other hand gives you direct access to the files, once you’ve configured the storage bucket.
Objective #2 – Podcast Player
We need a podcast player that would display our podcast files in an elegant interface and track the number of times the files have been played or downloaded.
The solutions are simple:
- Premium podcast hosting solutions for WordPress take care of hosting and displaying the podcasts in your WordPress site. You pay a monthly (or annual) fee for the service and no server resources are consumed on your end.
- Free Podcasting plugins for WordPress simply display (and even track) your podcast audio tracks in an elegant player in your WordPress site. Hosting the podcast audio files is your responsibility.
- Premium Podcasting plugins for WordPress are essentially feature-rich versions of the free plugins that display your podcast audio files from various sources. Again, hosting the audio files is your responsibility.
We will now cover each category in detail.
Premium Podcast Hosting Solutions for WordPress
First up are the premium options. These include a lot of features and don’t use any of your own server resources for a very reasonable price.
Buzzsprout (Free or $12+/mo)
Buzzsprout gives you a simple podcasting platform where you can upload, organize and promote your podcasts over podcast platforms (such as iTunes), social media or your WordPress site. It gives you detailed statistics of your podcast episodes, such as number of plays, average duration played and demographic information of your listeners.
The Buzzsprout Podcasting WordPress plugin plays your podcast content in an HTML5 audio player. The plugin fetches the latest episodes and displays them in a playlist. Simply use the shortcode to display your podcast content in any post or page.
Pricing: The free plan allows you to upload 2 hours of content per month and the files are hosted for 90 days. Plans start at $12/month, which enables you to upload up to 3 hours of content every month, with 250 GB of transfer.
Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting ($12/mo)
Blubrry offers two services – one is a free plugin and the other is a hosting service. The Blubrry PowerPress WordPress plugin has unique features such as displaying a subscription button, integrated HTML5 player, and custom taxonomy dedicated for podcasting. There’s also a shortcode to list all your podcast’s episodes in a page or post.
Apart from hosting podcast files, Blubrry provides additional features such as podcast SEO, which essentially enables you to add multiple descriptions for each episode (or track) to improve your channel’s discovery in iTunes and Google Play Music. Additionally, you can import podcast content from SoundCloud, Libsyn, Podbean, Squarespace, or another podcast RSS feed.
Pricing: Plans start at $12/month for 100MB of storage per month. Interestingly, if you subscribe to the service for 3 months, you’d get a total storage of 300MB. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth. And if you want a bit of help getting started, you can checkout our PowerPress quick start guide.
Libsyn is a renowned podcast hosting solution designed for serious digital publishers. It has everything starting from simple tools such as a HTML5 player, RSS feeds, to a full-blown “custom-app-for-your-podcast” solution.
Pricing: Basic plans start at $5 with 50MB of monthly storage. We would recommend Libsyn to folks who are looking for a dedicated podcast hosting solution.
Surprised? So was I when I found out that WordPress.com has in-built support for podcasting. First off, you create a category called “Podcasts” or similar, upload the audio files in a new post, assign it to the Podcast category, and you’re good to go. The podcast will be available as an RSS feed of the Podcasts category.
Furthermore, you can submit your podcast to iTunes with the same category feed URL. In our example, the category would be Podcasts. Before you do this, you’d have to configure channel information in Media settings, set the artwork to improve your chances of being discovered in the iTunes store.
Pricing: The Podcasting feature is available in the Personal or higher WordPress.com paid plans. It starts at $2.99/mo (billed annually) and comes with 6GB of storage with unlimited bandwidth.
Note: Unlike you own WordPress installation, you cannot install WordPress plugins when your site is hosted on WordPress.com. If you’re getting started with WordPress, we would recommend using your own WordPress setup.
Free Podcast Plugins for WordPress
Now for the free options. These may eat into your server resources but you can’t beat that price tag.
Seriously Simple Podcasting
Seriously Simple Podcasting is an all-in-one solution for your WordPress podcasting needs. All you need to worry about is hosting your files, which for starters, can be stored in your WordPress server as Media files.
You podcast files are played with the default WordPress player. The plugin has a bunch of useful features such as:
- Podcast post type and Series taxonomy for managing your podcast files
- Ability to host multiple podcasts from the same site, by using different categories. (Each podcast gets its own unique RSS link)
- Highly customizable options that makes it easier to submit to directories such as iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.
- Tons of cool add-ons as such Podtrac integration to enhance functionality.
Seriously Simple Podcasting also supports both audio and video podcasting, and includes a free stats add-on to display essential content from your podcast.
Podlove Podcast Publisher
Podlove Podcast Publisher is another great free podcast plugin for WordPress with support for advanced analytics.
You can create new podcast entries under the “Episodes” category. Podlove goes the extra mile in adding a customizable template engine, used to customize the player to match your theme. The plugin also includes a web player, and you can manage and present all the podcast’s contributors with ease.
As for analytics, you can track:
- Track number of downloads
- Podcast clients used to listen to your content
- Popular days of week
- Download source
Another USP of the plugin is the one-click subscribe button which when clicked, directly launches the default podcast player of the client. Here’s the good news – in the beginning of this post, we saw that 64% of podcast content is consumed from mobile. Therefore, with a well-designed webpage and clear “Subscribe” CTA, you can steadily increase your podcast’s listener base.
Premium WordPress Podcast Player Plugins
Last up are the podcast players with which you’re still responsible for hosting your own files, but include more features than their free counterparts.
Smart Podcast Player ($8/mo)
Created by online entrepreneur and podcasting veteran Pat Flynn, Smart Podcast Player is an elegantly designed web-based podcast player which was designed to deliver the very best podcast listening experience to your listeners.
The web-player can be inserted into a post/page with a help of a shortcode. The player itself is highly customizable, including light or dark themes and custom colors. Listeners can control playback speed, scroll using timestamps, sort playlists, and download individual files from the web player.
Smart Podcast Player’s single site license costs $8/mo billed annually or $12/mo with monthly billing and comes with automatic updates.
Simple Podcast Press ($67)
Simple Podcast Press is a premium podcast player for WordPress featuring a host of useful features such as clickable timestamps and podcast playlists.
Apart from a customizable player, the plugin includes subscription buttons, email opt-in boxes, podcast transcripts, auto-publishers, automatic URL shorteners and Tweet-able snippets. You can add all these options in your podcast’s page to increase your subscriber base and download count. The single site license costs $67 and comes with one year of support and updates.
Do you know what’s the number one thing that would determine your podcast’s success? It’s not creating kick-ass content, it’s not a beautifully designed website nor is it interviewing influencers in your domain. The single most important factor is commitment.
If you’re looking to make quick money off podcasting, think again. Podcasting is about connecting and engaging your audience in your own voice, rather than words. If you truly care about making your voice heard, podcasting can be a very relevant channel for you. Are you ready to get started? Check out this Lifehacker article for a quick guide on getting started with podcasting.
Are you a podcaster? Are you looking to get started? What is it that you want to achieve from podcasting? Have we missed out on a great podcasting plugin or service? Let us know in the comments section below!