I was talking to some people who were starting podcasts and the “B” word came up again. By that I mean podBean. This is a “Free” podcast hosting company. I had heard that “they hijack your feed.” I have helped people move away from them (and podomatic another free service), but when I looked at their non-free plans it caught my attention. Before we get to that, let me tell you why you will shoot yourself in the foot if you use their free version.
Free is Bad
If you use their free version, and look at your “Podcast Page” all the feeds on that page are uneditable. They are all Podbean specific. You get what you pay for.
You start podcasting and you want to “test” it out, so you go free. Your podcast is good and people start subscribing to your podcast. This is great. You decide to get your own hosting, and you want more control over the look and style of your website, and maybe you want better stats. Everyone who has subscribed to your feed (tied into Podbean) now has to subscribe to a new feed. This is a lot like when you move. Anyone who doesn't update their address book will miss out. You want to avoid moving. I once had an email list with a few thousand subscribers. When I switched to aweber, everyone had to re-subscribe. It was painful as not everyone did. You can argue that anyone who didn't re-subscribe wasnt an avid reader, but if I could've avoided it, I would've. I would avoid free. If you have no budget, choose the lesser of two evils and post the files on your website hosting account. If things go bad (like you get popular) at least you have more control.
They Seem to Be A Lot Cheaper
If we want to combine apples to Apples we see that for an account that allows you to upload 250 megabytes per month:
Libsyn charges $15 a month
Blubrry charges $20 a month
Podbean doesn't have a 250 that have a 350 Meg account and it's $4.95 – More storage, less money. Hmmmm…
Their stats at this level are described as, “whenever an episode is played in Podbean site, embed player, or iTunes the play action will be counted in the “hits” number. Moreover, Podbean statistics system will automatically filter duplicated hits from the same IP address or identified spam hits. So the hits number can reliably reflect how popular your podcast is.” I need it to be more specific. If it plays on my website does it count? When I went to my podbean page and clicked on my iTunes link, it opens iTunes and automatically subscribes to your podcast. That's the good news. The bad news is they are using the itpc method of linking which means you get no credit in iTunes for the subscription.
Here is what their player looks like. As I type this I am so curious if there will be advertising… (surprisingly not)
Bring it on Home to Podbean – Uglier than Mevio
They frequently suggest to put a podbean player on the site, and they want you to promote your page on their site (which I noticed seems to have a fair amount of comment spam). When you find a podcast, and click to listen the player (which has no volume control, maybe the premium version does) is sitting next to an advertisement. I would also say that they have done something I didn't think could be done. They made a site that looks worse than Mevio.com They resizing of their graphics is obviously done by a robot, and it seems every post has an advertisement, ever page has an advertisement, and the players have advertisements. I see why they are cheaper. Libsyn and blubrry have no advertising on their site.
If they Don't Make Money – You Don't Make Money
I did find an interesting disclaimer in their terms of service:
Of official policy is as follows: Monetizing Your Content through a third-party is allowed for Business Plan member only. Any attempt by Personal Plan members to directly monetize Your Content via third-party ad networks or other outside business agreements at the expense of Podbean without written approval from Podbean is prohibited. If you choose to monetize, Your Content, you agree to utilize Podbean Services to enable monetization including but not limited to in-content advertising, iPhone applications or sale of Your Content which may include additional requirements for revenue sharing or fees for use depending on the Service. To request permission to monetize Your Content via third-party ad networks or other outside business agreements at the expense of Podbean, please email contact [at] podbean [dot] com
This makes me want to go all Cee Lo Green on them. The change in my pocket wasn't enough? Now aint that some sh*t. I'm paying you to host my files. You should have no say in what I put in my content. Blubrry can tell me when I can use their FREE stats because I paid nothing for them. If I want to have running advertising (of my own) I need a business account which starts at $69.95.
While I ordered some hosting for a client, I was able to start using the system immediately. Its a shame that the first day I used them, I was able to upload a few episodes but then I had an issue with uploading my third episode . I was able to use the FTP upload, but in their dashboard you click a button to move the files in the FTP area into their system and that didn't work. Later when I tried the website again it worked. When I have contacted their support, I got an answer fairly quickly. When I asked them if they submitted podcasts to iTunes for people ( an accusation I had heard – they don't), I got a fairly quick reply.
More to come.
Podbean has very very bad customer service. If they respond to a question or problem at all, their response usually has nothing to do with the issue, and English seems to be their second language. They blandly claim there are no problems in the face of obvious evidence. They definitely don’t care to help their customers, apparently the money they pull in is enough for them, they have no interest in providing better service or maintaining their existing customer base, and I regret signing up with them, and am now stuck because I’d have to start all over from scratch with a new hosting company since podbean won’t let you direct your feed outside podbean. They are a horribly run and inept company.
Arnix. I just left podbean after four years and went over to Libsyn. The support is flipping amazing and they even emailed iTunes my new feeds and now it’s hosted just with them. The folks over there are awesome. Feel free to email me if you have any Q. doug at cruiseradio dot net.
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These are not my experiences with podbean – I do pay the unlimited monthly plan and there are sometimes problems uploading from a laptop but, otherwise, I have not had to ask for support and everything works very well. I cannot get the podcast onto iTunes but that is a problem for Apple to solve and people have been having the problem with all sorts of podcasting sites for about 5 years. So far podbean is brilliant, they have a great app and until I have any problems or find their support lacking I will encourage people to use it.
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