Approximately 885,000 new podcasts were launched worldwide in 2020, which was almost triple the number in 2019, according to data from Chartable.
If you're hoping to add your own voice to the mix, consider hosting a podcast on WordPress. With the right plugins, themes, and services, you can launch a podcast on WordPress without needing to be a tech genius or breaking the bank.
Below we'll cover everything you need to get started, and include insights from Richard Midson’s session “Is podcasting the future of WordPress?” at WordCamp Europe 2022 and a follow-up interview. Feel free to click on any of the links below to jump to that specific section:
- overview of what you need to podcast on WordPress
- how to plan and record your first podcast episode
- how to host a podcast on WordPress in six steps
- best WordPress podcast hosting options
- best WordPress podcast themes
- best WordPress podcast plugins
- what podcasters can expect from WordPress in the future
What do you need to podcast on WordPress?
We're going to cover all of this content in much greater detail over the course of this post. But before getting into the nitty-gritty stuff, let's start with a bird's eye view and go over the basics of podcasting on WordPress.
To host a podcast with WordPress, you'll need to set up three things at a minimum (beyond recording your actual episodes, of course).
Here are the basics of what you need to host a podcast on WordPress:
- A place to store podcast files - you need a way to host all of your podcast's audio files (and potentially video files, too). You can either use your WordPress site's server or a dedicated podcast hosting service.
- WordPress podcast theme - while you can technically use any theme, choosing a dedicated podcast theme will help you create a design that's optimized for podcasts.
- WordPress podcast plugin - a WordPress podcast plugin adds all the features that you need to manage your podcast with WordPress. Depending on the plugin you choose, it might include a podcast player, RSS feed management, automatic syncing with your podcast hosting, and more.
Now that you have some context, let's start shifting into more actionable steps on how you can set up your podcast.
How to Plan and Record Your First Podcast Episode
This post is mostly focused on the technical details of how to host a podcast on WordPress, so we won't focus too much on actually recording your podcast.
However, before you can start hosting your podcast on WordPress, you need to actually have a podcast!
Here's a quick guide to recording your first episode.
For more details, you can read our full guide on how to start a podcast.
1. Pick a podcast topic.
To start, you need to figure out what you'll be podcasting about.
As an example, he said the BBC and other big broadcasters won't make a comedy podcast on scuba diving. "Yet, 2.59 million people took part in scuba diving in 2020. That's a pretty big niche market. If you were to capture even a small percentage for your comedy podcast show, it could become the new breakout show," he said.
To find your niche, Midson stresses that you need to specify your content and talk from your own experience: "Pick what you can talk about and what unique angle you can take...That's what podcasting is about: adding value and creating connections."
2. Map out your podcast format.
Before you start recording anything, you'll want to have a clear concept of your podcast format as well.
Basically, you'll want to have answers to questions including the following:
- What topics will I cover?
- Will I have guests?
- Will I have regular segments or will it just be a free-form conversation?
- How long will each episode be?
- How often will I publish episodes?
3. Purchase required software and equipment.
While you can just record your podcast with your phone, you'll usually want more high-quality hardware and software:
- Microphone - if you're on a budget, the Audio-Technica ATR2100 offers decent quality for under $100.
- Soundproof room - try to make your room as soundproof as possible. When in a pinch, you can always record in a closet.
- Editing software - software like Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Descript can help you edit audio and improve quality.
There's no need to overspend, however. In his WCEU session, Midson said not to worry about the equipment or technicals at first: “Focus on content first. Then you can start improving the sound.”
4. Record your first episode.
Now that you have your podcast topic and tools, you're ready to start recording!
Once you finish recording, you'll likely want to do a little editing to clean up the sound and potentially add some music and introductions.
When you have the finished audio file for your first episode, you're ready to set up your WordPress podcast website.
How to Host a Podcast on WordPress
- Create your WordPress site.
- Install a WordPress podcast theme.
- Choose your podcast hosting approach.
- Install a WordPress podcast plugin.
- Upload your first podcast episode.
- Submit your podcast RSS feed to aggregators.
Once you've recorded your first podcast episode, here are the steps to set up your podcast website and host a podcast on WordPress.
1. Create your WordPress site.
If you haven't done so already, you'll want to get started by setting up your actual WordPress website, including:
- Choosing and purchasing a domain name.
- Purchasing WordPress hosting - you can either self-host the WordPress software or use the WordPress.com Pro plan (you need to use the Pro plan in order to install your own themes and plugins).
- Installing the WordPress software if needed - some hosts will pre-install it for you.
If you're not sure how to accomplish any of these steps, you can follow our full guide on making a WordPress website.
2. Install a WordPress podcast theme.
Once you've set up your WordPress site, you can install a WordPress podcast theme to control the base design of your site.
We’ll cover more options below but for this example, we'll use the free Astra theme and its Creative Podcaster demo site. Here's what it looks like after importing the demo site:
However, feel free to choose one of the other themes above or browse our full collection of WordPress podcast themes.
It really doesn't matter which theme you choose - the only important thing is that you're happy with how your design looks.
3. Choose your podcast hosting approach.
Next, you'll want to choose how you plan to host your actual podcast files.
You have two main options:
- You can self-host them on your WordPress site's server.
- You can use a separate podcast hosting service and then integrate it into your WordPress site.
While the first option can work at the very beginning, it's generally better to use a separate podcast hosting service, especially once your podcast starts growing.
For that reason, we recommend using a podcast hosting service that integrates with WordPress. Two good options are:
- Castos with its Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin.
- Blubrry with its PowerPress plugin.
For this tutorial, we'll use Castos and Seriously Simple Podcasting, but feel free to use a different solution (we’ll cover more options later on). Additionally, the steps below will still work if you want to try self-hosting the files - you'll just skip the part where you connect the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin to your Castos account.
To get started, you can register for a Castos account - you'll get a 14-day free trial with no credit card required, so you can follow everything below for free.
If you'd rather use Blubrry, the basic steps will still be the same, but the interface will obviously be a bit different.
4. Install a WordPress podcast plugin.
Next, you'll want to install your chosen WordPress podcast plugin.
Again, we're using the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin from Castos. However, the basic principles will be the same for other podcasting plugins (which we'll discuss below).
Once you activate the plugin, it should automatically launch a setup wizard to help you configure all the important details.
First, enter the name and description for your show:
Next, you can upload a cover image. If you don't have one yet, you can always skip this and upload the image later:
Next, you can choose the primary category and sub-category, which will make sure your plugin gets published to the proper categories at directories like Apple Podcasts:
Finally, the plugin will prompt you to choose how you want to host your podcast files, which is what we discussed in the previous section.
If you already created a Castos account, you can choose the option to connect via the API. Or, you can choose to start a free trial.
If you'd rather try self-hosting your podcast files at first, you can choose the option to Skip:
You can find your Castos API key by visiting this page while logged in to your Castos account. Here's what it looks like to connect to Castos hosting:
If you want to dig into even more settings, you can go to Podcast → Settings to access all the options. For example, you can change the color of the podcast player.
You can also install free extensions to add features for stats, transcripts, and guest/speaker listings.
5. Upload your first podcast episode.
Now, you're ready to upload your first podcast episode!
If you haven't recorded the episode yet, it's time to do that because you're pretty much ready to go live.
To create your episode listing and upload the file, go to Podcast → Add New in your WordPress dashboard.
At the top, you'll see the regular WordPress editor, where you can add the episode title and description. You can also include show notes and guest bios in the description if needed.
Below that, you'll get a new Podcast Episode Details box, where you can upload the podcast file and add some important episode metadata.
When you upload the file, the plugin will automatically generate the duration and file size, but you're free to adjust if needed:
The nice thing about using the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin is that it will automatically upload the file to your Castos podcast hosting. So there's no need to duplicate your efforts and do any work outside your WordPress dashboard.
When you're finished, just Publish the episode to make it live. The plugin will add a dedicated podcast player on the frontend and also add the episode to your RSS feed:
To add more episodes, all you need to do is repeat the same process.
6. Submit your podcast RSS feed to aggregators.
Once you've started uploading some episodes to your WordPress podcast website, you'll get a dedicated RSS feed for your podcast.
This is what listeners can use to subscribe to your podcast in their favorite podcast listening apps. It's also what you can submit to podcast services such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify to expand your reach.
To access your podcast's feed in Seriously Simple Podcasting, go to Podcast → Settings → Publishing:
You'll want to use the Complete feed URL, which will work no matter if you're self-hosting the files or using the Castos podcast hosting service.
To make sure your podcast is getting in front of as many eyes (and ears!) as possible, we recommend submitting it to all of the major podcast services including the following:
- Apple Podcasts - this is especially important as many other apps are based on Apple Podcasts, including Overcast.
- Google Play / Google Podcasts
You can click the links above to go to the podcast submission page/documentation for each service.
Many services will also give you a URL for your podcast on that service. You can take these URLs and add them to the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin settings (Podcast → Settings → Feed details):
By doing this, the plugin will add those URLs to the podcast player on your website so that visitors can easily subscribe using their preferred services.
Now that we’ve walked through the step-by-step process of hosting a podcast, let's take a closer look at the best hosting options, themes, and plugins for podcasters.
Best WordPress Podcast Hosting Options
If you want to make a website, you need to purchase web hosting so that you can store all of your website's files and serve them up to visitors.
Well, it's the same idea with a podcast.
If you want to make your podcast accessible to other people, you need a place to host those audio files (and maybe video files, too) and then serve them up to listeners, typically via their favorite podcast apps.
More specifically, you'll serve up your episodes using an RSS feed. The RSS feed will include details about each file, along with the URL for the location of the file itself (which is where users' podcast listening apps will download the file from).
When it comes to WordPress podcast hosting, you have two main options:
- You can use your existing WordPress site's hosting and self-host your podcast files. That is, you'll store the audio files in your WordPress Media Library and people can download them from your site's server.
- You can use a dedicated podcast hosting service. This service will host the files for you on servers that are separate from your WordPress site. You can still manage everything from WordPress, though.
Let's deep dive into each option below.
1. Self-Hosting Your Podcast
If you're already paying for WordPress hosting, self-hosting your podcast files is attractive when you're getting started because it means you don't need to pay for another service.
However, it's usually not the best long-term option because WordPress hosts are optimized for hosting websites, not podcasts.
Podcasts put three unique strains on hosting:
- Large files - you'll be storing lots of large files, especially if you want to also offer videos. Most web hosts are not built for this and you'll quickly hit your host's storage limits.
- High concurrent downloads - many podcast apps will automatically download a new episode as soon as you upload it, which means you could have lots of people downloading at the same time. Having tons of concurrent downloads can bog down your server, especially on cheap hosting.
- High bandwidth - because podcasts involve people downloading the audio and/or video file to their local device, they can consume a lot more bandwidth than a website.
Your WordPress site's hosting might struggle to handle these issues. Or, in some cases, it might violate your host's fair use agreement because the bandwidth and storage needs could be so much higher than a regular WordPress site.
“The main thing has always been about deliverability. If you have a podcast with 10K people downloading an episode that's hosted on your home computer, it’s going to struggle,” Midson explained in a follow-up interview to his WCEU session. In that case, you could use a host that uses a CDN or a dedicated host, which promises that degree of reliability, according to Midson.
With that being said, self-hosting your podcast can be a viable way to keep your costs down at the beginning. You can always move to a podcast hosting service once you start growing.
The best WordPress podcast plugins generally give you an option for self-hosting the files if you prefer this approach.
2. Using a Podcast Hosting Service
For most people, using a dedicated podcast hosting service is a better option.
Podcast hosting services are specifically optimized for storing and delivering your podcast files, including handling high bandwidth and high concurrent downloads. Most podcasting hosting services also build in a content delivery network (CDN) so that listeners around the world will be able to download/stream episodes without speed issues.
Podcast hosts can also provide other useful add-ons, such as listener analytics, tools to create private podcasts, and more.
If you're using WordPress, you can find some podcast hosting services that offer really tight WordPress integrations. Here are two of the most popular options:
There are also a ton of other podcast hosts that offer varying levels of integrations with WordPress. Here are some popular options:
Best WordPress Podcast Themes
If you want to create the best possible design for your WordPress podcast website, you can consider using a dedicated WordPress podcast theme. Or, you can also use a multipurpose theme that includes podcast-specific demo sites, such as Astra or GeneratePress.
In this section, we'll quickly share some of the top themes. To see even more options, you can browse our full collection of WordPress podcast themes.
Tusant comes from SecondLineThemes, a WordPress theme shop that specifically focuses on creating WordPress podcast themes. If you want to see some other options, it's worth checking out the full SecondLineThemes library.
GeneratePress is another lightweight, multipurpose option that includes a dedicated podcast starter site named Stream.
Best WordPress Podcast Plugins
Because podcasting is so popular, you can find a lot of quality WordPress podcast plugins.
A WordPress podcast plugin typically helps you with a few things:
- Hosting your podcast files, either by adding them to your WordPress Media Library or syncing with a dedicated podcast hosting service.
- Creating the podcast RSS feed that you can submit to Apple Podcasts and other directories.
- Creating a dedicated page for each episode on your site, complete with an in-browser player, show notes, and other important details.
- Tracking analytics so that you can see listen counts and other important information.
However, it's important to note that not all WordPress podcast plugins will offer all of these features. Some plugins focus more on just adding the web-based player to your site, rather than the hosting and RSS feed features.
For that reason, you'll probably want to stick with one of our recommendations.
Here are some quick picks for the best WordPress podcast plugins. To see even more options, you can browse our full collection of podcasting plugins.
1. Seriously Simple Podcasting (Castos)
Seriously Simple Podcasting is a free podcast plugin from Castos, one of the WordPress podcast hosting services that we mentioned above.
You have two options for using it to host a podcast on WordPress:
- The plugin lets you self-host the files on your site's server. You can then generate an RSS feed using those files.
- The plugin can automatically sync files to the Castos podcast hosting service, which is a better option for most podcasts.
In addition to managing hosting, the plugin handles pretty much everything else about creating a podcast with WordPress including the following:
- Creating the RSS feed that you submit to directories like Apple Podcasts.
- Adding a page on your site for each episode.
- Inserting a podcast audio player for each episode so that visitors can listen on your website. It also includes other features like easy subscribe links.
- Tracking podcast analytics.
The Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin itself is free. However, you might want to pay for Castos's podcast hosting services to pair with the plugin.
Here are some examples of podcasts using the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin:
2. PowerPress (Blubrry)
PowerPress is another popular option to host a podcast on WordPress. It uses a similar approach to the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, but it integrates with Blubrry's podcast hosting service instead.
As with Seriously Simple Podcasting, it also gives you the option to self-host the podcast files on your own hosting.
It's a full-service solution that can also handle the following:
- Creating the properly formatted RSS feed to submit to directories.
- Adding a dedicated page on your site for each episode.
- Inserting a web-based podcast player.
- Tracking podcast analytics.
The PowerPress plugin itself is free. However, you might want to pay for BluBrry's podcast hosting services to pair with the plugin.
Here are some examples of podcasts using the PowerPress plugin:
3. Fusebox (Formerly Smart Podcast Player)
Fusebox, formerly known as Smart Podcast Player, is a WordPress podcast player plugin from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income fame.
Unlike the previous two plugins, Fusebox does not help with actually hosting your podcast. Instead, you'll want to sign up to a podcast hosting service directly. Then, Fusebox can integrate with that service to automatically pull in your episodes and create a really stylish player.
While it's not quite as full-service of a solution, the advantage that Fusebox has is that it has one of the best podcast player designs that you'll find.
Fusebox has a limited free version. After that, paid plans start at $19 per month.
Here are some examples of podcasts using Fusebox:
What Podcasters Might Expect from WordPress in the Future
Midson made some calls-to-action in his WCEU 2022 session “Is podcasting the future of WordPress?” that could lead to major innovations in podcasting for WordPress — if the community answers these calls.
According to Midson, when he was googling platforms that are best for podcasting, WordPress only came up in one list. “There’s no clear market leader right now. No obvious choice. And that’s a shame when we have this infinitely scalable platform,” he said. “So what we do over the next 12 or 36 months could influence whether we grab these podcasters’ attention or get left behind.”
If the WordPress community seizes this opportunity, here's what podcasters might expect in the next year:
1. More content could be created about podcasting on WordPress.
If the WordPress community does begin to cater to this new bread of podcasters, they can expect more blog posts (like this!), video tutorials, and other content about podcasting on WordPress.
Midson explained why this content is important for WordPress developers and other community members to create: “We don’t want to just say WordPress is great for podcasting. We need to demonstrate how it works. We need to show podcasters the potential of WordPress.”
You can already find some of this content online. For example, the current YouTube results for “podcast on WordPress” show videos created about a year ago, on average. In the future, podcasters may see even more and up-to-date video tutorials, among other content types.
2. Some plugins and themes could be redesigned or re-marketed for podcasters specifically.
Currently, you can find transcription, lead generation, redirection, and other types of WordPress plugins that could be used by podcasters to help automate or simplify certain tasks. However, many of these are designed for and marketed toward a general audience.
Midson believes there’s an opportunity to redesign or re-market these plugins to podcasters in particular. For example, on the official WordPress plugin directory, he said you can find plugins designed for church groups to organize and manage sermons that are not fundamentally different from generic video plugins.
“But if I'm in a church group, which plugin am I going to use: a generic video organizing plugin or the one that sounds like it’s already built for me and probably going to answer the questions I haven’t even thought of yet?” he asked.
He argued that this presents an opportunity for WordPress developers to change some existing code of their plugins and themes, and gear it up with some UI tweaks to get podcasters on board and show that WordPress is ready for podcasters.
If WordPress developers take up this opportunity, there could be some new releases of plugins, themes, and other tools that are specifically designed and marketed to podcasters in the future.
3. New must-have podcasting plugins, themes, and features could be created.
While some existing resources of the ecosystem and editor could be redesigned, there's also an opportunity for new “must-have” tools for podcasters to emerge, according to Midson.
In his WCEU session, Midson said that podcasters are different from the audience that WordPress is used to, ie. bloggers who know a little bit about websites or are able to learn. “This new breed of podcasters aren’t prepared to spend as much time learning [the technicals],” he said. “You can see this reflected in these very simplified, automated podcast portals that are appearing. These portals are fine for people making a podcast purely for fun. But if you press podcasters a little more, they have much bigger goals [than hobby podcasting.] That’s a problem for them, but an opportunity I think that WordPress can help them solve.”
To do so, WordPress developers will have to create new plugins, blocks, and other tools designed to help podcasters achieve their goals of managing email lists, building shops to sell merchandise related to their podcast, gating content for premium subscribers, and capturing emails, among others.
Launching Your First Podcast With WordPress
Podcasting has exploded over the past few years, so it's natural to want to get in on the action. Thankfully, anyone can learn how to host a podcast with WordPress. With the right podcast hosting service, plugin, and theme, you can easily create a website for your podcast and manage your show without leaving your WordPress dashboard.
In this article, you learned how to set up a WordPress podcast with the Astra theme, Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, and Castos podcast hosting service. However, you can apply the same principles to other tools, such as the popular PowerPress plugin and Blubrry podcast hosting service.
Record your first episode today and you'll have your first listener in no time!