Whether you’re new to podcasting or you’re an established podcaster, you must have a reliable podcast hosting provider to succeed.
The podcast hosting industry has become a highly competitive space—flooded with different options to choose from. But Libsyn has been around since podcasting first started back in 2004, making it one of the oldest podcasting hosting services in existence.
Over the years, Libsyn has continued to thrive and adapt to new trends in the world of podcasts. So if you’re looking to switch podcast hosting services or you’re starting a brand new podcast from scratch, Libsyn should definitely be on your radar.
This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about Libsyn podcast hosting, including how it works, why you need it, and how to get started. We’ll even take a closer look at the plans and pricing.
What is Libsyn?
Libsyn is a full-service platform for podcast hosting, distribution, and monetization. It currently hosts more than 75,000+ podcasts across the globe and has reached more than 6.2 billion unique downloads.
With Libsyn podcast hosting, you can distribute both audio and video podcasts to more than 25+ different platforms.
The platform also offers complete podcast management features. You can easily change episode titles, change descriptions, and even manage the links to your podcasts. Libsyn even monitors your crucial statistics and insights about your episodes.
From publishing through podcast marketing and monetization, Libsyn truly has it all.
How Does Libsyn Podcast Hosting Work?
Libsyn podcast hosting works in two main ways. First, it’s a platform for you to store and manage all of your podcast media files. But it’s also a distribution service to various podcast platforms.
Rather than recording a podcast and sending it straight to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, Libsyn podcast hosting acts as the intermediary.
Not only will it reformat your files in a way that’s appropriate for each platform, but it also serves as a safe storage location for all of your files.
Libsyn podcast hosting is also responsible for serving up content to podcast listeners. For example, let’s say someone finds one of your episodes on Apple Podcasts. When the click play, the file download will actually come directly from Libsyn—not Apple.
End-user podcast platforms (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Pandora, etc.) simply serve as a directory. But they don’t actually host the files being played to audiences, which is where Libsyn hosting comes into the picture.
Why You Need a Podcasting Hosting Provider
Beyond the simplicity for storage and distribution, there are several other reasons why you need to use a podcast hosting provider.
Without getting too technical, podcast directories require RSS feeds. So when a new episode of your podcast gets released, it’s delivered to the various podcast platforms and available for users to listen to.
Unless you know how to create and manage your own RSS feed (which most of you probably don’t), you’ll need to rely on a podcast hosting provider to handle this for you.
Forget about what happens behind the scenes for a minute. In simple terms, a podcast hosting provider takes your podcast file and puts it into a format that’s compatible with podcast directories—making it possible for listeners to consume your content.
You can think of a podcast hosting provider similar to a web hosting provider. When someone visits a website, the site’s website hosting provider is responsible for serving up content to the visitor’s web browser. If there’s a problem with the hosting service or their servers, the visitor won’t be able to view the website.
5 Easy Steps to Get Started With Libsyn Podcast Hosting
If it sounds like Libsyn podcast hosting is right for you, use the quick start guide below to get started using the platform.
Step #1 — Get Organized
Before you worry about hosting, monetization, or distribution, you need to make sure you have everything set up to create your podcasts. Don’t put the cart before the horse, and make sure you’re ready to record high-quality episodes before you do anything else.
- Recording program
- Soundproofing equipment
- Dedicated recording space
- Music and sound effects
- Audio editing software
- Video editing software
These are just the bare-bones basics. You’ll obviously need ideas for your shows, guests, and additional content to share during your episodes. But at a minimum, the checklist above will get you set up to create your first episodes.
Step #2 — Create Your Libsyn Account and Select a Plan
Now you’re ready to sign up for Libsyn. Just head over to the Libsyn website and click any of the “Sign Up” or “Get Podcasting” that are plastered throughout the pages.
Unfortunately, Libsyn does not offer free podcast hosting. There are some alternatives on the market that do, but there are actually some risks associated with using a free hosting service.
So you will need to pay before you start using the platform for hosting and distribution.
You need to choose a plan based on how many new hours of content you plan on uploading per month and how much total storage you need per month.
Audio hosting starts at $5 per month for three hours of new uploads and 162 GB of monthly storage.
All plans include podcast monetization, subscriptions, and advertising.
Video podcasting plans start at $40 per month for 14 hours of uploads and 800 MB of storage.
It’s also worth noting that you cannot use the same plan for more than one show. Meaning if you have multiple podcasts, you’ll need separate accounts for each show.
The cool part about Libsyn is that your plan is not based on how many downloads or listeners your show has. So you could have millions of downloads and pay the same amount as you would if you had 100 downloads.
When you’re navigating through the signup process, Libsyn will ask you to enter a show slug. This will become your unique identifier within Libsyn’s platform, and it will also get used to generate your show URLs for the RSS feed.
For example, let’s say I was starting a new podcast called “John’s Amazing Podcast.” I might choose “johnsamazingshow” as my slug, which would translate to a URL of: https://johnsamazingshow.libsyn.com/rss
Slugs must be alphanumeric and start with a number. You can include hyphens, but you can’t have any spaces.
Step #3 — Configure Your Show Settings
Next, you’ll need to set up your show. Just navigate to the “Settings” menu of your Libsyn account and select “Edit Show Settings” from the dropdown menu.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to configure on this page:
- Show Title — This is how your show will appear on directories, in your media player, and everywhere the show is syndicated. You can change your title at any time.
- Description — Descriptions are a quick pitch of your show and should only be a few sentences. Since descriptions aren’t searchable, you shouldn’t stuff them with keywords.
- Website — By default, this will go to your Libsyn blog page. But you can edit the site to go to your own website instead.
- Show Type — This is crucial for Apple Podcasts, as other directories really don’t use this field. You can select between episodic (meaning the order doesn’t matter for listeners) or serial (the listeners should listen to each episode in a specific order).
- Category — Every podcast directory has unique categories, and you can select three different options for your show to be included.
- Contact Information — Public contact information that will be included in your RSS feeds and podcast directories.
- Author — Your name and the name of the company producing the show. This is sometimes referred to as the “artist” or “provider” field in certain directories. Keyword stuffing in the author field is prohibited and could cause you to be banned from some directories.
- Content Rating — Typically, directories require you to set ratings as “clean” or “explicit.” It will be set to clean by default, and you can individually change the content ratings of each show.
- Language — English is the default language, but you can change this if your show is spoken in other languages.
- Artwork — Your artwork images will be used in different podcast directories for your show. It should be a PNG, JPEG, or PNG file that’s between 1400 x1 400px and 3000 x 3000px.
Once you’ve made your changes, hit the “Save” button to ensure your settings are updated.
Step #4 — Record, Export, and Upload Your Episodes
Libsyn is not a podcast creation platform. There are other hosting providers on the market that offer recording capabilities, but this just isn’t one of them.
This means that you’ll have to create your podcasts elsewhere using a third-party service. Once your show has been recorded and edited, you need to export each episode as an MP3 file.
For videos, files should be exported as .H264, MP4, or M4V. When you’re encoding the settings for the audio portion of your video files, you should use ACC.
The video resolution requirements will depend on where you’re planning to distribute the content. But we typically recommend using 720p or higher.
Next, you’ll need to upload your file to Libsyn. You can do this by navigating to the “Content” tab of your Libsyn dashboard. Then select “Add New Episode” from the dropdown menu.
Once uploaded, you’ll be asked to add to configure your episode with fields like:
- Episode title
- Episode description
- Apple Podcast title
- Episode type (full, trailer, or bonus)
- Season number (if applicable)
- Rating Author
You do not need to upload your artwork to each episode. The artwork in your settings will always be included when it’s published.
Hit the “Publish” button when you’re done.
Step #5 — Distribute Your Episodes to Podcast Directories
Now that your show is officially on the Libsyn platform, it’s time to get it in the hands of your listeners.
This step will largely depend on the directories you want to use. For example, some directories require you to take some steps on your own to set up an account before anything can come from your hosting provider. Others want submissions to come straight from the host.
You’ll also notice that each directory has a different approval process.
Some will get your episodes live almost immediately. Others, like Apple Podcasts, can take up to a week to approve your show.
Libsyn podcast hosting is an excellent option for any podcaster.
The biggest drawback is that it doesn’t include a creation platform, meaning you’ll have to record, edit, and export your episodes elsewhere before uploading them to Libsyn.
But once they’re uploaded to your Libsyn account, it’s extremely easy for you to manage your content and get your episodes live on multiple directories from a single dashboard.