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.
Libsyn is a preferred partner with an easy interface and powerful stats.
Glow is now a part of the Libsyn family of companies, so naturally, Libsyn is supportive of the requirements of Glow's platform and private feed creation. Libsyn is offering guided assistance in setting up your private feed on their service after purchasing an account at one of their affordable plan levels.
- Glow is a part of the Libsyn family of companies, and you can expect integrations and benefits for Libsyn customers using Glow only to get better!
- Libsyn's advanced statistics are also IAB verified. They are some of the most robust and in-depth stats available on any hosting platform.
- Each plan level comes with features like a custom podcast website, player, and distribution to all your audience's favorite platforms for any future public content.
- Easy new interface, guides, and support to help you get started
- There is no automatic integration with Glow from the Libsyn interface to Glow yet.
- There is no free hosting plan level. Plans start at $5/mo, but you can signup for a free trial with the promo code GLOW.
What Plan Should I Choose?
- We recommend any of the Libsyn Advanced plans as they come with Advanced Stats. They start at $20 a month, and you get unlimited downloads. Plans begin as low as $5 a month. Libsyn's stats are one of their most loved features and one of the best ways to see where your marketing efforts are working.
How to get started on Libsyn:
- Sign up for a Libsyn account with the promo code GLOW* for a free month. You can pick any plan level, but the $20 plan level is our most popular. *Code valid on new Libsyn.com accounts only.
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org after account creation, and we will follow up shortly!
Libsyn is looking forward to helping podcasters get started with Glow's world-class suite of tools to build and monetize a membership program.
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. 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.
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.”