When we started The Lazy Geeks podcast back in 2010, within the first year we had two different hosting sites. Over the entire decade run, we had a total of four hosting companies. After hearing all the bad reviews on YouTube about Anchor, I decided to monitor our traffic and pinpoint the flaws. Anchor.FM One Year Later is to prove or disprove those internet conclusions.
In the beginning…
The decision to begin with Podbean, back in 2010, it was the most highly recommended hosting site. For $15 a month, we were able to upload four 90-minute episodes. It was bare bones. They didn’t offer to help share your feed with other services, but back in 2010 there wasn’t a lot of options outside Apple. The biggest problem I encountered was their incomplete tracking on downloads.
Within the first nine months, we went days without any tracking information. When I sent in a help ticket, it would get fixed. Only to break in another two weeks. After the nine month mark, they failed to answer my emails. Which is something that I learned with Anchor.
After some more research, I settled on Libsyn. For the same price, I was able to upload 250MB per month. This still allowed me four 90-minute episodes a month. If it went over, I would edit the show to keep it under that length. Eventually, we moved to 400MB for $20, which allowed us to not focus on the clock.
How did we end up at Anchor?
It was simply due to funds. By mid-2019, we weren’t able to afford the cost of hosting. With no donations, it was all self-funded. I was looking for a free service, which led us back to Podbean. Nine years had passed, surely they had improved. Honestly, they had but not enough.
They offer a free tier, which is five hours of storage. If you wanted to have more, you needed to remove an episode. And the way you had to double delete episodes to make run was ridiculous. Now, that isn’t good if you wanted to be serious about it. Besides, it will take more than five episodes to gain any sort of traction in the podcast world. Especially now.
This made me decide to look at Anchor.FM again. By this time, Spotify had purchased the company, but I was still seeing the same disinformation about the company that I saw earlier. Then I started to look at the ‘sources’ putting out this information. The people complaining were the same that got paid to handle (or produce) podcasts.
It dawned on me, why would these people say anything good about Anchor? They would be saying, you don’t need us. You can do it yourself. The truth is, you can do it all yourself. Many of their complaints can be said about other hosting sites, but since you need them why mention it?
Benefits of Anchor.
No monthly limits. Unlike Libsyn or Podbean, you don’t have to worry about monthly storage caps. There is a limit to the upload size. 250 MB is the file upload limit. If you are doing an hour long weekly podcast, you somewhere between 50 to 60 MB an episode. If you are doing radio play productions, you may want to consider a larger paid option. However, if you’re doing episodes with your buddies, you can make it without any issued.
Can produce artwork within Anchor. Now, it isn’t the greatest artwork, but you can change it later. Select a background and text. Save and you’re good to go. However, you can make a really good looking one with Photoshop Elements (paid) or GIMP (free) and be on your way.
Have sponsors on day one. Now, don’t get too excited about this. It isn’t a money maker than you hope it would be. The sponsor is for Anchor. You get paid $15.00 for every 1500 listens. Meaning, you make a penny for each time a listener listens through your ad. Now, you need to be selective to where you place your ad. If you notice not many people make it through the halfway mark, it wouldn’t make sense to make that your ad break. You may want to place it at the beginning or 20 minutes in.
One touch distribution. Anchor.FM will allow you to distribute your podcast with a one-touch button. It will distribute it through Apple, Spotify, Google Podcast, Castbox, and a bunch others. If you don’t want to be bothered by the task of doing it yourself, you can have them do it for you.
Downsides of Anchor.
App recording limits. If you record, edit, and render your podcast on your computer, then upload to Anchor – you’re good. Now, Anchor promotes recording through your phone (via their app) or online through your browser. Problem is there are limits to their recording. Solo web recording has a 30 minute limit via Chrome and 5 minutes on Safari. Wow, Apple gets no love. 2 hour limit via their app.
Wanna record with friends, you have a 2 hour max limit. That should be more than enough.
Don’t do the one-touch distribution if you plan to move. I mean, if you plan to move to another platform later on, you will want control of your distribution. On your Anchor.FM page, you can still link your shows to other platforms even if you did it on your own. I got my show on all the ones they work with as well as TuneIn and others.
Let’s be honest about one thing: it doesn’t matter who hosts you, but your content is more important.
Anchor.FM support leaves much to be desired. I’ve had issues, nothing major, but they were less than stellar. The one that sticks with me is Anchor blaming Twitter for my podcast icon not showing up when I share my show via Twitter.
They attempted to blame Twitter for the issue, but I share two other Anchor shows via Twitter and it works fine. After a bit of back-and-forth, they stopped responding. However, I never have to contact them much.
Unlike Libsyn, you can’t create multiple shows within a login. You will need to sign up for each individual show with a new email. I create an email for each show on Gmail, then sign up with that. It’s annoying but prevents you from uploading an incorrect episode. Don’t want to tell you how many times that happened on Libsyn.
Misinformation YouTube Vids Claim.
“You don’t own your show.” A complete lie. You do. Stitcher is the only one that will use your show to promote their service, much like Facebook. It is stated in their terms of service that YOU own your show. Again, another tactic these “reviewers” use to scare you. When they refer to “their clients”, they are trying to validate their jobs.
It’s free, you get what you pay for. To be honest, my experience with Anchor is no different than my experience with Podbean (which was the worst) or Libsyn. I was with Libsyn for nine years and it was the same. They had one touch distribution, but no one complained about not being able to get analytics. Plus, Anchor is the best free option than someone like Podbean.
“If you use Anchor.FM to distribute, you won’t get access to that information”. Also, false. The chief complaint is that you can’t use your private email in your RSS feed. You can. You need to make sure you select to “opt-in” on that piece before you decide to connect. However, if you distribute your feeds yourself, you can go in and see how they fair on each platform alone.
It’s free, so they won’t be around long. Again, false. They are owned by Spotify. Since they are getting heavy into the podcasting space, then need to find those homegrown shows to build their brand. The company was founded in 2015. In 2018, they began creating and publishing podcasts and was purchased by Spotify in 2019.
If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, but not sure if you want to continue with it – use Anchor. It is amazing how longs most podcasts go before people give up. Very few hit the fifty mark. A majority of podcasts end after the first month.
While it has some shortcomings, overall it is a great one to start with or if you want to stay indie. Some will say that you need to have a bigger hosting site for when your podcast goes viral. Those are few and far between. Many mid-range podcasts have over 10,000 downloads a month. Many will stay far below that.
One thing many of these “producers” say you need to spend big before you receive big. That isn’t true. If you plan to make money on these shows, pick another career. This is the perfect platform to start out. Find you groove. You could even move to another platform and Anchor allows you to do that. If they owned the show, you wouldn’t be able to do that.
Many podcasters would like for this to become their job, but that doesn’t always happen. Have fun with it and the people will follow. Work out your kinks and then start a new one on a paid service. I say spend money on your equipment, don’t record on your device or through their portal. Record on an external device. Control all that you can. Edit and add music on your own. Then upload a finished product. Create your own artwork using GIMP or Photoshop.
That is a better way to start a podcast.