I started off using Anchor to host my podcast Never Mind The Bar Charts, before a year and a half in moving over to Podbean. Along the way, I’ve repeatedly benefitted from advice freely profferred by other podcasters, so here in return is my answer to the frequently asked question, “should I use Anchor to host my podcast?”
Cost: Anchor is free
Free sounds attractive, and was one of my reasons for initially choosing Anchor. If you’re trying out something for the first time, being able to experiment without cost is attractive.
When a service is free, it’s always sensible to think about the business model that underpins the service being free to you. Partly that’s about sustainability. If the service is free, will the provider be able to continue to support it, keep on top of security, add new features and deal with bugs? It’s also about not being naive. Is there a hidden cost which might put you off the zero price tag? Social networks being free to use but making lots of money about of your personal data are the highest-profile example of how free can come with significant non-monetary costs.
In the case of Anchor, I was happy to use it as there is a plausible business model that I’m comfortable with. Anchor places advertising with those podcasters who wish to run adverts and who advertisers wish to advertise with. The podcasters get a cut of the advertising revenue and Anchor gets a cut. That can be a genuine win-win: podcasters get revenue without having to manage their advertising themselves, and Anchor makes a profit from being the middle person.
Anchor’s subsequent acquisition by Spotify also gives confidence that – as much as you can judge these things – it’s likely to be around for the long-haul.
Your rights: Anchor is fine, if unusual
All podcasting platforms need some rights over what you upload to them. For example, they all claim the right to make copies of what you upload for backup purposes. That’s good and welcome, as the alternative would be no backups, and that’s never a good idea.
To put it simply, if you use Anchor, it claims more rights over your content than other podcasting platforms do. But – crucially – the rights they claim are very similar to those claimed by other platforms, such as YouTube. Compared with other services that will publish your output, rather than just to other podcasting platforms, Anchor isn’t that unusual.
It’s also worth adding that, so far at least, Anchor hasn’t been accused of misusing these additional rights and they’ve got a strong incentive not to. Because if they did, they’d lose lots of users.
Features: Anchor covers what the beginner needs
Anchor has a decent set of features, with a particular emphasis on making things easy for the beginner. That includes some simple editing tools, a handy app for smartphone recording and a library of sounds to use.
When you get serious about podcasting, you’re likely to want to do your own editing with more fully featured software. But to get started with the basics, Anchor is great.
Especially as Anchor sorts all the hard work of getting your podcast submitted to the key podcasting platforms, such as Apple Podcasts.
The features aren’t perfect. The website you get for your podcast is limited, and the analytics you get are fairly basic. Again, both are fine for beginners. But you may end up wanting to move.
Speaking of which…
Changing your mind: it’s easy to move from Anchor
I’ve done it and it’s fairly easy.
The norm amongst good podcast hosts is that if you move away from them, they offer a permanent redirect on your podcast feed address. That means you can move smoothly without losing any listeners. Anchor does this just as well as others.
In addition, if you’ve taken the easy option upfront of letting Anchor set-up the distribution of your podcast to places such as Apple Podcasts, it’s pretty easy to claim back those presences on other platforms as your own.
You might also want to do that even if you stick with Anchor in order to get access to more advanced analytics. (Apple Podcasts and Spotify, in particular, offer more detailed statistics if you access them direct rather than via Anchor.)
Anchor is a good choice for the beginner and for the podcaster who doesn’t want to spend much, if any, time on details such as playing with the website that hosts the podcast.
If you really get into podcasting, you may well end up wanting more – and it’s fairly straightforward then to move elsewhere.
Myself? I switched in the end because the speed with which my podcast was getting distributed after I hit publish slowed down considerably. From pretty near instant, it switched over to taking up to a couple of days. Their technical support was polite but not terribly prompt or helpful. All reasonable for a free service, but made me think it was time to pay up a bit.