What’s The Right Hosting Company?


For the independent podcast, getting good distribution without the tech headaches is just as important as attracting sponsors. So, what’s the best route to take?

That was the focal point of a conversation between Podcast Business Journal and Radio Ink Editor Ed Ryan and two podcasting business leaders that served as a strong kickoff to the three-day How to Make REAL MONEY Podcasting virtual conference.

Speaking Tuesday morning (7/13),Libsyn VP of Podcaster Relations Rob Walch and Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane first tackled the question of why it is so important to have a strong hosting company and why “free” isn’t always the best way to go?

Cochrane commented that “free isn’t often free,” and touted the value of having a paid hosting company. There’s tech support, and a staff that can help build a show. “The goal is to grow the audience, whether it is to make money or for something to add to their current lineup of social engagement,” he said.

Walch added, “People will try to cut corners in the craziest ways. They’ll spend $1,000 for new equipment but need to be on a free host and will then spend all this time troubleshooting to get their show up and running. You want to show that you are serious about it when it comes to podcasting.”

Case in point: Anchor. According to Walch, there are “more dead Anchor shows on Apple Podcasts than live ones.”

With concerns such as a show’s downtime, URL changes or the potential of moving a show to another host realities for some, using a paid host eliminates this, Walch and Cochrane assert.

Ryan also took the opportunity to ask about growth opportunities for new podcast entrants. For Walch, podcasting is still a niche medium, compared to a blog. And, it remains a niche even after its 2005 burst thanks to iTunes, followed by the iPhone, the Apple Podcast app, and then Google Podcasts and the popular offering “Serial.”

Today, the pandemic sparked what Cochrane calls “an unprecedented growth period” that could be waning as people return to outside-the-home activity. That said, podcasts are now more mainstream.

But, don’t be fooled: Just because an A-list celebrity is in the space, their presence may not be a success. Walch noted that the most successful podcaster, Joe Rogan, started off with a small audience and worked hard to build it. “It takes dedication, talent and understanding the medium and that is something that Joe got. He’s the first comedian to have his own web page. I’ve seen some A-list celebrities come in and get less than 2,000 episodes per download.”

Why? They didn’t commit the time and resources, he said.

Lastly, Ryan asked how the podcaster can profit from their efforts. It could come down to the content and how unique it is. Is it comedy attracting less than 10,000 downloads per episode? That’s not successful, Walch says, and won’t generate advertiser interest. Does it involve chameleons? That’s a niche that could attract a sponsor, because it has a loyal and dedicated audience.

Walch just did a RFP for a cannabis podcast. With no other medium letting them advertise, the opportunity for dollars is ripe, he says.

What’s the best way an indie podcaster can go after advertising?

Ask for help, Cochran says. Put a PayPal donation link. Add a closing line letting those know that if they’d like to sponsor the podcast, they can contact the host at a specific email address.

Walch points out that podcast advertising will come down to two things: demographics or psychographics. Histories, comedies, and true crime podcasts will require getting a network to handle buys for such companies as Warby Parker or men’s shaving brand Harry’s. If it is a “mommy podcast,” it’s a niche that Walch says could benefit from directly contacting advertisers appearing in magazines devoted to the subject.

Meanwhile, despite all of the growth in podcasting, Cochrane says 2% to 3% of top-tier shows are getting the bulk of ads.

“It is not as heavy as radio, but we are close,” he says, pointing to some podcasts where 8 minutes of spots are heard at the start of the podcast. That’s dangerous, Walch says, as aggregator apps can now be programmed to skip the pre-roll. “This will hurt shows and overuse of it will kill shows in the few years,” he says of the pre-show spots.

Lastly, when asked by Ryan if there is a podcast host to recommend, two names were mentioned: Patreon, and Glow.

With that, Walch had a final bit of advice: Understand your limitations.

It’s not too late to register for day two and day three of the conference. CLICK HERE.


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