Setting up a Private RSS Feed Guarantees that Paid Content will Remain Exclusive to Paying Listeners
To ensure that only paying listeners are able to access your premium content, we recommend choosing a podcast host that supports private RSS feeds. Normally, when you sign up with a podcast host, you will be given a public feed. The issue with public feeds is that they allow for premium content to be publicly available online. Some podcast hosts will also create a website that automatically shares your new content online when it has been uploaded. This is great for the content you want to share with the world, but can be a problem for premium content that listeners are paying for. So how do you fix this? By choosing a podcast host that supports private feeds, you can help guarantee that your exclusive content remains secure.
What Should You Look for in a Podcast Host?
- You need a reliable provider with a straightforward user interface for uploading and managing your content. Most creators will want media storage in the 200 to 400 MB range, as well as metrics so they can track their podcast downloads and see where listeners are located.
- The ideal host should allow you to host multiple podcasts. This will allow you to separate your content that goes out to the public (one podcast) from exclusive content only available to paying listeners (a different podcast). Of course, there is a lot of flexibility in setting this up. If you choose, for example, to keep all your content exclusive to paying customers, you will only need to set up one podcast.
- It is important that you choose a host that supports private RSS feeds. Normally, when you create a podcast, your host will provide you with the URL for your public RSS feed. Once you are given the URL for your public feed, you can connect your hosts to all sorts of public platforms, like Apple Podcasts and Overcast. Then, when you upload new content to your host, it will be automatically distributed across multiple platforms. This is great for your public content, as it becomes easily accessible to anyone that wants to find it. Your premium content, however, is something that you want to keep hidden from the public. Private RSS feeds allow you to do this. When you create a podcast for your premium content, instead of linking the feed to different listening platforms as you do with your public content, give this URL to us, and we will take care of it!
- Make sure you can disable or hide auto-updating websites. Recently, many podcasts hosts have been adding automatically updating websites as a feature to their hosting platforms. These websites link to your RSS feed and automatically update when you post a new episode, making this content available for download by anyone that visits the website. Again, this is great for your public content, but not the stuff you want to keep exclusive. Fortunately, most podcasts hosts let you disable this feature. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have a website. In fact, we recommend creating one! Whether you choose to keep the website connected to your public feed enabled (and disable the site connected to your private feed) or connect your own site altogether, there is no shortage of ways for you to maintain a great website.
Which Podcast Hosts do you Recommend?
With all of these things to think about in your search for the perfect podcast host, you might be feeling overwhelmed. But don’t worry! We have already done all the research and have found the best possible hosting options that meet these requirements.
Transistor provides a comprehensive solution at a great value.
Transistor is one of the best hosting options for keeping your content private. You don’t have to use the built-in website, there are specialized features for private feeds, and it is easy to use!
Transistor offers three different plans, all of which meet our requirements for what to look for in a host. This means that you can choose any plan. The biggest difference between the plans is that both team members and downloads are capped.
- Hosting multiple podcasts is free! That’s right, you don’t have to pay any extra charge to set up another podcast. This is great for keeping you private and premium content separate.
- Transistor offers extensive analytics and makes it easy to work in teams.
- Each plan includes automated features for easier use, like automatic social media posts for new episodes.
- Their plans cap downloads are capped on a monthly limit (see above for specific numbers). This can be limiting for more popular podcasts, but there is always the option to upgrade. The Business Plan should cover even the most popular podcasts.
- As it is a fairly new product, it has not been around as long as many other hosts. Could be both a pro and a con!
What Plan Should I Choose?
- The Starter Plan is the most affordable option, at $19/month. This plan only allows for two team members and caps downloads at 10,000 per month.
- The Professional Plan, $49/month, supports up to five team members and caps downloads at 50,000 each month.
- The Business Plan ($99/month) is the most expensive option and caps downloads at 150,000 each month.
How to get started on Transistor:
- Sign up for you Transistor account: https://dashboard.transistor.fm/signup. You will be prompted to pick between the Starter, Professional, and Business plan, depending on what best fits your needs. See above for more information.
- Once you’ve signed up, go to your Dashboard. You are ready to start creating your first podcast. You will be given the option to either “Create” or “Import”. (Choosing “Create” will allow you to start from scratch. If you already have a podcast up on another host, use “Import” instead).
- Input your podcast’s title, a short description, and other details like keywords for people to find your podcast and cover art for your show (which is very important). This first podcast will house your public content, so fill out the information accordingly.
- Once you have created your first podcast, you will be given a URL to your public RSS feed (found on the right-hand side of the page).
- Validate your RSS Feed using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This tests your feed to ensure that it is readable, basically ensuring that directories like Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files. (This doesn’t mean that your podcast will appear yet in Apple, only that Apple will be able to find it when it needs to).
- With your public podcast created, it’s time to set up a private podcast for your premium content. Click “Add a New Show” from the navigation bar.
- Go through the same steps you did to set up your public podcast, except remember that this time you are creating a feed for your private content.
- Once you get everything set up, find the advanced settings. Here, check the box that says “make this shows feed private and password protected.” You should now be provided with a URL title “Private RSS Feed.” Also, make sure that the optional website feature is disabled.
- Click “Add an Episode” once you’re done, and you’re ready to add MP3 files as new podcast episodes. Make sure you add public content to your first feed and premium content to the second private feed.
Pippa: A great choice for all podcasters, Pippa makes podcasting easy and fun.
We also recommend Pippa as a host for your podcast. Not only does Pippa support private feeds, but they make it easy to set them up! Compatible with Glow, Pippa allows designated content to be accessed by specific listeners through podcasts apps (like Apple Podcasts or Overcast), while remaining private for everyone else.
- Unlike Transistor, Pippa does not cap downloads on any of their plans! This is a great feature for growing podcasts.
- Fabulous user interface makes it simple and easy to use.
- Extra features are included, like automated episode transcriptions and an embeddable web player.
- Storage & bandwidth are unlimited.
- Private feeds are only available with the Professional Plan.
- Unlike Transistor, hosting multiple shows is not free. This means that you will be charged extra for hosting multiple shows. Although you will be billed the full cost of one plan per show, you can choose to mix and match plans to find a more affordable option.
What Plan Should I Choose?
Pippa offers three plans, of which the Professional Plan is the only option that offers private feeds. And unlike Transistor, Pippa charges the full cost of a plan for each show you add. You will need to purchase the Professional Plan for your premium content, but to keep things affordable, you can host your publicly available content on any of the three available plans. Pippa also makes it easy to manage multiple shows.
The three plans they offer include the following (note: cost is shown for annual payments. If you choose to pay on a monthly basis, rates will be slightly higher. Also remember that in order to host multiple podcasts, you will be charged for each additional podcast):
- The Growth Plan ($12/month): This is the most basic plan that Pippa offers. It won’t work for your premium content, but is a great option for the content that you want to keep available to the public.
- The Influencer Plan ($20/month): Like the Growth plan, this plan won’t work for exclusive content, but is a great option for hosting everything you plan to keep publicly available. This plan has added features, like automatically generated transcripts and automatically generated videos for social media distribution.
- The Professional Plan ($50/month): This is the only plan that supports private feeds, so you will need to buy it for your premium content. This plan also includes extra additional features, which you can learn more about at https://pippa.io/pricing.
How to get started on Pippa:
- Sign up at this link for a Pippa account: https://pippa.io/. In order to have access to the private feed feature, make sure to sign up for the “Professional Plan.”
- Once you’ve signed up, login and choose between “Create New Show” and “Import existing Show.” (If you are new to this, then choose the first option. If you already have a podcast up on another host, use “Import” instead).
- Input your podcast’s title, a short description, and other details like keywords for people to find your podcast and cover art for your show (which is very important). You will also be prompted to help create the URL for your public RSS feed. As this first podcast will host your public content, fill this out accordingly. When you are finished, press save.
- Validate your RSS Feed using FeedValidator: http://www.feedvalidator.org/ . This ensures Apple Podcasts can properly see your media files.
- In the navigation bar, return to Shows, and click “Add new show.” You will be charged (at the same cost as another new plan) for adding a show. Keep in mind, you can choose to use a different plan for the content you want to be publicly available.
- This new show will be the place for you to upload exclusive content. Fill out all of the information required, such as title, description and cover art.
- Under the show’s advanced settings, toggle the button that says private show. This will protect your RSS feed by generating a secret token for your RSS feed. Save your changes.
- In the show’s navigation bar, find “website.” For the second podcast, that houses the premium content, disable the website.
- You will now be able to find your private RSS feed URL in two places. The first can be found at the bottom of the window that pops when you click “Distribution.” This feed does not have the token needed to access content. The second place to find your feed is the tab marked “RSS Feed” on the left sidebar. This feed does have the token needed for access, and clicking on it will open a window in your browser. This is your private feed. Copy that URL and share it with us.
- Click “Create Podcast” once you’re done, and you’re ready to add MP3 files as new podcast episodes. Make sure you add public content to your first feed and premium content to the second private feed.
These two options are highly recommended, but they aren’t the only choices out there. Feel free to do your own research and let us know if you find something else that you think works well! Hosts that only have public feeds but allow you to turn off the website that connects to your RSS feed will also work— they just might not keep your content quite as secure.
While we strongly recommend both of these hosts, if you would like to use a different podcast host, including one that does not support a private feed, make sure to take precautionary steps (such as disabling auto-updating websites) to help maintain the exclusivity of your premium content. Such hosts, that have public feeds but easily hidden websites, include Zencast, Fireside, and Pinecast.
Can I Host a Private Feed for Free?
Kind of. Certain hosts, like Buzzsprout, do provide free hosting plans. If you do not want to pay for a podcast host, this can be a good alternative. Keep in mind, however, that there are a few caveats.
First of all, hosts that allow you to use their services for free do not specifically include the "private RSS feed" feature. Secondly, many of these free hosts will only allow you to host one podcast per account. This means that you will have to make multiple accounts to separate public and exclusive content.
And while Buzzsprout is not the only free hosting option out there, we have chosen to recommend it because it helps keep your content more secure than some of the other free options.
Why is that? This is because Buzzsproout allows you to hide the website associated with your podcast from search engines. If the website couldn’t be hidden, your content would be available online. So even if you choose to use a free host other than Buzzsprout, make sure that any automatically updating website feature associated with you host can be hidden or disabled. When picking a free host, also make sure to pay attention to any possible limitations or restrictions. For example, the free plan at Buzzsprout limits you to two hours of uploads per month and will only host your content for 90 days.
How to get started on Buzzsprout:
- Sign up for an account at Buzzsprout. There are four different plans available, but the most basic plan allows you to get started for free.
- Since Buzzsprout only allows you to host one podcast per account, the first account you will be creating is for your private content. Once you have signed up for you account, you will be prompted to confirm your email. You will then be prompted to create a password for your account.
- Once you log back in, you will be given the option to choose “I’m a new podcaster” or “I already have a podcast.” Pick the appropriate option.
- Once you have created the account for the podcast feed that you will be sharing your premium content from, disable or hide any associated website. Find the button title "website" on the navigation bar, and then click "Hide From Search Engines.”
- As you are in the process of getting your podcast created, make sure not to connect your podcast to any directories (ie. Apple Podcasts). Your listeners will still be able to access this content on these platforms, but taking this step will allow your premium content to be offered exclusively to paying customers.
- At this point, locate your RSS feed. This is the feed that you will share with us in place of a private feed. Once you provide us with this link, we can make it available as premium content. Although it is not a private feed, since it has not yet been connected to any directories, it should still be inaccessible for listeners that have not paid.
- If you already have a place where you host publicly available content, you are set! If you are starting from scratch and need to set up host for content that you want to be publicly available, keep reading.
- Since most free hosts do not support multiple podcasts being held on one account, you will have to make a new account for public content.
- Follow the same steps to create your account as before (you can use any host you want for this). Since this account is for your public content, you are welcome to keep any website features enabled. You can also go ahead and connect your podcast to any directories you want.
- You're finished. Now just make sure to keep tabs on both accounts. Happy podcasting!
What if I Already Have my Podcast set up with a Different Host?
If the host you are using allows you to host multiple podcasts, create private RSS feeds, and turn off auto-updating websites, great! Just create a new podcast with a private feed and you will be good to go. If you already have a podcast set up with a host that doesn't support private RSS feeds (or any of the other necessary features), you have two options:
Option one is to migrate your content to one of the hosts mentioned above (Pippa or Transistor). This option is recommended, as it will be easier to manage in the long run and is better for guaranteeing that your content stays secure. If you do not want to use these services, you are welcome to choose the second option.
Option two is to keep the content that you want to be public on your current host and to create a new feed for your premium content.
- If your current host supports hosting multiple podcasts under the same account, create a new podcast, disable the website and don’t connect the second podcast to any directories. Then, share the feed URL with us. This is for your premium content.
- If your host doesn’t support multiple podcasts, you can follow steps 1-5 of “Setting Up a Free Host.”