A podcast player is probably the best friend of both podcast creators and their listeners.
It's pretty obvious what a player can do for your audience, but what about what it can do for you?
This guide gives you an overview of different podcast players and shows you a series of features you can leverage not only to allow people to listen to your show, but to also expand the reach of your podcast.
TABLE OF CONTENT
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Why having a podcast player?
At first glance, the answer to the question why should I have a podcast player on my site? seems pretty obvious: to allow people to listen to your show. How you'll see in this post, the answer is more complex than that, though. In case you're wondering no, you're not alone in this. Thinking about the podcast player is something other podcasters think about too. Take a look at this post from the Podcast Growth Mastermind: Having a player embedded on your site allows you to potentially turn visitors of your website and readers of your blog into podcast listeners – or even subscribers. That's right, subscribers. As you'll see in this article, some podcast players allow you to link to your show iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher pages, thus allowing visitors of your site to subscribe to your show on their favorite platform and app for podcast listening. Last, but not least, depending on the one you pick, having an embedded player is a way to grow your podcast as well. In fact, most players come with a social media share option, which allows people to share the specific episode (or your entire show) with their social media community:
Media Hosting Native Podcast Player #1: Libsyn
You're probably hosting your show on a media hosting platform like Libsyn, Blubrry, Podbean, Spreaker or similar.If you're on a tight budget, then you can get started by using your media hosting's native player.Libsyn, my go-to media hosting, gives you the option to choose between different designs:When choosing the custom player, you can also change its size, enable/disable the thumbnail (aka your podcast artwork), customize the color and turn the auto-play feature on: Check out how Mike Murphy from Mike Murphy Unplugged has customized its player color to match its website's:In addition to the standard buttons one would expect to find in a podcast player (play, rewind, fast forward), Libsyn's custom native player provides you with these features: 1. Subscribe: once clicked, it enables your visitors to subscribe to your podcast via its RSS Feed, iTunes or Stitcher 2. Download: the ability to actually download the specific episode on one's computer3. Embed: by clicking this button a person gets a few lines of code that they can copy and paste to embed the podcast player on their website4. Share: have listeners share the episode on their favorite social media platform with just a couple of clicks If your ideal listener is spending time on Twitter, Libsyn enables you to create a social media audio card listeners can use to play an episode straight from Twitter: Getting the episode-specific podcast player can be done within your Libsyn dashboard, as well as straight from your website.A few months ago, Libsyn released a WordPress plugin that, once installed, allows you to add your audio files and episode details from the show notes page on your site: Quick note: whenever I mention a WordPress site, I refer to a self-hosted WordPress.org website and not a WordPress.com blog.Ok, back to our podcast players… The second way to add an individual episode to a show notes page on your website is straight from the Libsyn dashboard.Once you've published your episode (in Libsyn), head over to Content > Previously Published. Look for the specific episode, click on More and choose Link/Embed The next page is where you can customize your player and it's where you'll get the code to add to your site.Once you're ready click on Preview/Get Embed Code Copy the code and paste to your WordPress post – remember to select Text, not Visual before adding the code to your post Up until now, we've looked at the podcast player for the individual episodes perspective. What about your overall show, though?Sure, your podcast needs show notes pages with the individual episode player embedded in each one, but it also needs a page entirely dedicated to it.Are you giving those who visit your website an easy way to browse through and listen to your entire podcast archive? Libsyn allows you to do this by using the so-called playlist player: To add yours, head over to your Libsyn dashboard and click on Destinations > Edit or View Existing and look for Web Player. Select Edit: The next step is to choose the custom player and make sure that the Render Playlist box is ticked: Once you've customized the player (size, color, etc.) you can click on Preview Player. If you're happy with the way it looks, go back to your Destinations page, look for Web Player and click on Get Embed Code: That's the code you'll paste on your podcast webpage to have the playlist player be displayed. Choose the WordPress page or post you'd want the podcast player to be feature on, click on Text and paste your code: Once you save and preview the page, your playlist player will appear: In case you don't see the Web Player option under Destinations > Edit or View Existing, you can easily add it by going to Destinations > Add New and click on the plus button next to Web Player. Both the individual episode and playlist players are mobile-responsive, which means that your podcast will always look (and sound) great on both desktop and mobile devices.
The player is included in each Libsyn media hosting plan – which costs between $5 and $75/month.
If you're interested in Libsyn, use the promo code yann at checkout to get a free month of hosting
Media Hosting Native Podcast Player #2: Blubrry
Initially, PowerPress allowed users to easily add a podcast player on their website:
PowerPress has been the plugin used by many podcasters to setup and manage their show on their website. Pat Flynn talked about it in his popular podcasting tutorial.
Once installed, PowerPress allows you to manage episodes and add them to any page or post of your site – similarly to what we saw for Libsyn.
When I started my podcasting journey, I used the exact same setup Pat recommends in his podcasting tutorial and used PowerPress. Things have changed a little since then.
As the industry progresses, so do the features a podcaster should look at when considering a podcast player. Giving people the ability to play an episode is important, but isn't enough anymore.
That's why, despite PowerPress still being available to anybody with a WordPress website, Blubrry has developed a brand new podcast player available for those hosting their podcast on the platform.
The Blubrry player comes with a similar array of features than Libsyn's:
- play, fast-forward and rewind episodes
- have your podcast artwork be displayed within the player
- download your audio files
- subscribe to the show on different platforms
- share an episode on social media
There are a few differences with the previous player, though.
Unlike what happens with Libsyn, it is possible to increase audio speed with the Blubrry player. You may be surprised by how many people listen to podcasts with a faster speed – I remember Eric Siu talking about it as a hack for learning more things faster.
While it's possible to share an episode on social media using the podcast player, it's shared as a simple link that redirects people to the specific page. This differs from Libsyn, which lets users listen to an episode straight from Twitter.
Last, but not least, Blubrry allows you to add link to a show notes page (or any other page):
The Blubrry podcast player works like a charm with PowerPress, which can be used to add buttons and a widget to pages:
This is an excellent way to capture the attention of someone visiting your website.
The player you'd use for individual episodes looks great on both desktop and mobile devices, and so does the one for your entire archive of episodes
By looking at the playlist player used for the PowerPress Podcast, it appears that the #1 focus of Blubrry podcast playlist player is to give people who visit your website an easy way to consume any episode you've published:
The player is included in each Blubbry media hosting plan – which costs between $12 and $80/month.
PowerPress is a WordPress plugin that's free to download, install and use
Media Hosting Native Podcast Player #3: Podbean
Similarly to Blubrry and Libsyn, Podbean comes with embeddable players too.
The episode-specific one has similar features than the ones discussed above:
- customizable player for both episodes and the entire show
- mobile-friendly (looks great on both desktop and mobile)
- can be easily embedded on your website
When it comes to the design, you can either opt for the rectangular or square player for your episodes:
Or for the entire show archive:
There are two main differences between the Podbean player and the ones discussed above.
First off, it doesn't come with the Subscribe on iTunes, Sticher feature, which means that the emphasis is all on having a person listen to the podcast right from the player.
While neither Libsyn or Blubrry provide listeners with stats (your media hosting plan lets you access stats stats as the host), the Podbean podcast player does so.
Somebody coming across your episode, will be able to see how many times it has been downloaded:
While it's true that some people may listen to an episode without downloading (and information wouldn't be displayed below your player) information on downloads is still useful. It can help your show in terms of social proof too.
And, similarly to what happens with Libsyn, Podbean too allows you to rely on social media audio cards. This way, you can leverage a platform like Twitter to gain more listeners, as Twitter users can listen to your show right from your tweet:
If you're looking for a solid podcast player and want to leverage social proof (aka show others how many plays your show and episodes get), the Podbean player is definitely worth looking at.
The player is included in each Podbean media hosting plan – the price plans varies between $3 and $99/month
Media Hosting Native Podcast Player #4: Spreaker
In a way, Spreaker is the “new kid on the block” among media hosting services for podcasters and players.But down be fooled: its podcast player doesn't have anything to envy from the others.You can embed an episode player to your website, like Phil Pallen does for his show, NoPhilter:In terms of customization, Spreaker gives you less power than the previous players.However, it does something subtle, that actually helps you and the listening experience your show provides.A person can play an embeddable player, skip to a specific time of the episode, share it on social media – through a playable audio card – and click on the leave a comment icon. This is where the subtle hack comes into play.When somebody clicks on the icon to leave a comment they're redirected to your episode on Spreaker: If listeners click on your name on this page, they'll be sent over to your Spreaker podcast page, where they'll be able to browse through and listen to your entire catalogue of episodes: A pretty-straight forward way to have a person go from listening to one episode to listening to several! Similarly to Podbean, the Spreaker player too provides visitors of a page with stats related to an episode. Here's the latest episode Sarah Rhea Werner's Write Now Podcast: A very transparent way to display stats, as well as number of likes and comments – both excellent for social proof and engagement.There's something else you may want to look into when using the Spreaker podcast player.As the admin, the podcast player for a specific episode features the Promote button: By clicking the button, you'll be able to setup the parameters to launch a paid advertising campaign to boost the episode's exposure on Spreaker – no bad at all! The Spreaker player is mobile-friendly too, so you know that your listeners will always have a top-notch experience on both desktop and mobile.
The player is included in your Spreaker media hosting plan – price varies between $4.99 and $119.99/month
Simple Podcast Press Player
The Simple Podcast Press Player came into the scene as the podcast player that empowered podcasters.
The player initially stood out for its customization power, unique design and array of features.
It's not difficult to understand why it has been supported by some popular podcasters:
For a one-time payment of $67, $97 or $147 (depending on the license you want), you get access to all the features we've looked at for the media hosting native players…and more.
In addition to design customization, the Simple Podcast Press Player comes with:
The player is compatible with all major podcasting platforms and media hosting services – which means that you can use it in combination with Libsyn, PodBean, Spreaker, etc:
Once installed, you can look at and change all the Simple Podcast Press Player settings straight from your WordPress dashboard:
One of the things this podcast player does well is allowing you to easily enable features and add them to your pages.
In fact, adding something like clickable timestamps, a clickable tweet, podcast reviews or a transcript – as well as the actual podcast player – can be done right from your WordPress post dashboard by clicking one button:
As podcasters, we know that people do other things while listening to our show. That's why, it's important to mention webpages that are easy for them to remember.
Whenever you publish a show notes page, you should try to include your keyword in the url (for search engine optimization purposes).
Once you've done that, you could create a redirect, so that whenever somebody types a link – like www.yannilunga.com/episode180 – they're redirected to the actual show notes page for that episode (www.yannilunga.com/whatever–the–episode–is–about).
Sounds quite technical? Don't worry, you can easily do that with the Simple Podcast Press Player too:
Additionally, the Simple Podcast Press Player lets you add buttons right below your player. There you can enable buttons to platforms like iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play – similarly to a media hosting's native player – as well as to Soundcloud, Subscribe on Android or any other page or site you wish to highlight:
Would you like to add a button that links to a specific website or page? No problem!
You can do that by adding a custom button:
Just like with the podcast players we looked at above, the SPP is mobile responsive too.
As podcaster, building an email list is very important. And the Simple Podcast Press Player can help with that as well.
By connecting it to a service like LeadPages, you'll be able to add an opt-in form right below your podcast player:
If you aren't a LeadPages user no worries, there are other tools out there you can use to grow your email list.
My favorite one is called Thrive Leads (yep, that's my affiliate link).
Thrive Leads allows you to easily create opt-in forms and buttons that you can add anywhere on your website. Here's an overview of the different forms you can create:
ThriveBox (Popup Lightbox): a popup that is displayed above your content and is very attention-grabbing
“Sticky” Ribbon: a ribbon type form which shows at the top of the screen and remains “sticky” as the visitor scrolls down the page
In-Line Forms: opt-in forms that can be inserted between paragraphs or at the bottom of your posts
2-Step Opt-In Form: an opt-in form that's displayed once a person clicks (or hover) on a button
Slide-In: a form that slides into view from the corner
Opt-In Widget: an opt-in form that can be added to your sidebar or any other widget area
Screen Filler Overlay: an opt-in form that get your visitor's full attention
Scroll Mat: a unique type of screen-filling offer that appears from the top of the page and pushes the content down
Multiple Choice Forms: an opt-in form that provides visitors with multiple choices
Is there a particular resource or lead-magnet you'd like to add to every show notes page? What if I told you that you could set that up one time in Thrive Leads and that your form/button that links to the lead-magnet will automatically be displayed to each show notes page you create?
Here's an example of that:
You can also use something that doesn't stand out as much
You have different form types and buttons to choose from.
To set one up, log into Thrive Leads, choose a form type and decide where to display it (on which pages and whether you want it to be visible to desktop or mobile visitors only or to both).
I tag my show notes page with the ‘Podcast‘ tag, so in Thrive Leads I simply tick the ‘Podcast‘ category box:
The next step would be to create your form, connect it to your email marketing service and you're good to go. Now you'll be able to provide your audience with a great listening experience while growing your email list.
There's one more thing that makes the Simple Podcast Press a player you may want to look into: compatibility.
Not only it works with the most popular podcasting platforms, but players too!
Are you using Blubbry's PowerPress and would like to add some of the Simple Podcast Press Player features?
Hani Mourra, the creator of the player has made sure that this can be done with just a few clicks. Same goes for the Smart Podcast Player.
The player is a WordPress plugin that works only with WordPress websites. The one-time payment price varies depending on the license: $67; $97 or $147.
Use the promo code success at checkout to get 25% off on any license
Smart Podcast Player
Built by Pat Flynn, host of the popular Smart Passive Income Podcast, the Smart Podcast Player has been leaving its mark on the podcasting industry from day one.Some of iTunes‘ regular top-ranking shows use it every week:The focus of the Smart Podcast Player is on creating ‘The Awesome Audio Experience You and Your Listeners Crave'.The episode-specific player comes with all the features of a media hosting native one:
- have people listen to your website on both desktop and mobile
- play, fast-forward it and rewind
- download an episode
- share episodes on social media
You can customize this mobile-friendly player to make it match your branding color, decide whether to enable or disable the episode download option and pick which social media platforms a listener can share it on:
Adding an episode player to your WordPress site is very easy. Once the Smart Podcast Player plugin has been installed, you're going to see two new icons in your post and page interfaces:
A new popup will appear upon clicking the track player, the black button. This is where you'd add the url to the specific episode (you'd get it from your media hosting dashboard) and would change any other settings you'd like:
Once everything is ready, the episode will appear on the page or post in a format similar to this:
[smart_track_player url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/360entrepreneur/TSE_182_Understanding_Prospects_w__Spencer_Fry.mp3” title=”TSE 182: Understanding Prospects” artist=”Yann ilunga & Spencer Fry” social_pinterest=”true” hashtag=”entrepreneurship” twitter_username=”theyannilunga” ]
As soon as you save & preview the page or publish it, the actual episode player will appear.
The process to embed the podcast playlist player is pretty much the same.
Go on the page or post you'd like to publish the player on and click on the green button (from the image above). A popup similar to what we just looked at will be displayed:
While the individual episode player is completely customizable, you can only choose between two looks for the playlist one: Light or Dark.
Connecting the player to your podcast RSS Feed is something you do only one time and every new episode will automatically be added to the archive player. In case you host multiple shows, you can use the archive player for each one by grabbing its podcast RSS Feed from your media hosting.
Placing this player on your podcast webpage will ensure that a visitor can listen to every episode and even browse your archive through a handy search bar.And what about subscribing to your show on their favorite app to listen to podcasts?
It can be done with just a few clicks:
Would you like to let a person know what the episode is about or would like to highlight the keywords related to an episode? That can be setup in the settings and will appear on each episode a person clicks on:The biggest downside of the Smart Podcast Player is that it's is a WordPress plugin (same as the Simple Podcast Press Player, by the way). This means that, even though it works with different web browsers, you won't be able to install and use it unless you use a WordPress site.
On my website, I use a combination of the Smart Podcast Player and the Simple Podcast Press Player.The Smart Podcast Player is what I use to embed both episode-specific and show archive players, while I use some of the features of the Simple Podcast Press Player – like the ability of adding buttons below each player.
The player is a WordPress plugin that works only with self-hosted WordPress websites.
Its price varies between $8 and $12/month
Although primarily a music-oriented platform, Soundcloud has its share of podcasters using it to publish their shows:
Its podcast player comes in with all the basic features you'll need, such as play, download and embed, as well as like, listener comments (similarly to what we looked at for Spreaker) and share the episode on social media:
Any media hosting native player will let your listeners share their favorite episodes on social media, and so do the Simple Podcast Press and Smart Podcast Player.
Not all, however, allow your people to listen without the need to leave the social media platform. Soundcloud does exactly that.
When tweeting an episode, the tweet will feature an audio card:
That's right. If I listen to your episode and share it on Twitter, my Twitter followers can listen to it too straight from Twitter – both the web-based version and app – because of the Twitter audio card that's automatically generated:
While all podcast players let you share an episode on social media, Soundcloud, Libsyn, Podbean and Spreaker are the ones that let users play an episode straight from the social media platform.
Creating and embedding an episode-specific player with Soundcloud is pretty straight forward, but the same cannot be said for the podcast archive player.
If you want to be able to display all of your podcast episodes together, you'll have to create a Soundcloud playlist.
To do that, head over to your profile (on the top right corner of the page) and choose Tracks:
If you'd like to add all of the tracks to the specific playlist, simply tick the box (1) and click on Add to Playlist (2):
Then give it a name, decide whether you want the playlist to be public or private and choose Create a Playlist (whenever you have a playlist, the option Choose Playlist will be available too):
As you can see, Omar Zenhom and Nicole Baldinu of the $100 MBA Show do use the Soundcloud podcast player in each episode's show notes page:
However, they use the Smart Podcast Player playlist on their podcast webpage:Some media hosting services lets you connect your podcast RSS Feed to Soundcloud, which means that whenever a new episode is published, it will be automatically added to your Soundcloud page.
In Libsyn, this can be done by going to Destinations > Add New and choose Soundcloud.
The player is available for any Soundcloud plan – the free plan lets you upload up to 3 hours of audio, while the price of the Pro and Unlimited plan varies between $9/month and $99/year
Choosing the “Best” Podcast Player
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the most popular podcast players on the market.
You may be asking yourself ‘What's the best podcast player?'
I'm going to be honest, there's no right or wrong answer to that. It really depends on what you're looking for in a podcast player.
All players let your website visitors listen to an episode and share it on their favorite social media platform.
The question is: would you like them to be able to easily subscribe to the show too? I know, that was a rhetorical question as every podcaster wants to grow his/her audience… Would you like to have a playlist player that gives people the option to binge-listen to your show straight from your website?
Or perhaps you're a big Twitter user and would like to give your Twitter fans the option to listen to your show straight from the social media platform?
Want to have you audience share their thoughts with comments left under the podcast player?
Choosing the “best” player depends on what you'd need from it. Whether it's one of the ones discussed in this article or one of the many others available, you think about what you'd like the player to do for you and your listeners.
And remember, it's possible to use several players! As I told you, on my website I use both Simple Podcast Press and Smart Podcast players
And, every now and again, I leverage Soundcloud's Twitter audio card feature too.
I have created a comparison chart that you can download, so that you can easily look at each player's features and choose yours according to what you're looking for.
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