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Anchor.fm Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

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Anchor.fm Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

Anchor by Spotify is well-known by now as a major player within the podcasting world. With its proclaimed mission of ‘democratizing podcasting,’ Anchor.fm offers serious and powerful functionality as well as unlimited hosting for free

Although it’s billed as a podcast hosting service, with its creation suite and other features, Anchor.fm might be better considered a ‘one-stop-shop’ for podcasting. This in-depth guide deep dives into everything Anchor.fm, looking at whether it is worth the hype. We review its features and useability and walk you through how to use the platform. 

TL:DR 

  • Anchor.fm is a free podcast hosting platform through which you can create, host, distribute, monetize and monitor your podcast. 
  • Anchor.fm is owned by Spotify and has a browser and mobile application. 
  • Its key features include its useability, recording and creation suite, and the ability to monetize your podcast
  • On the downside, Anchor.fm doesn’t support live streaming, and its remote recording capabilities are a little lackluster. 
  • Anchor.fm is best for beginner and hobbyist podcasters.

How we’re reviewing Anchor.fm 

Before we jump into Anchor.fm, it’s important to look at precisely what we’re looking for when it comes to podcast hosting platforms. This will help us critically assess how well Anchor.fm performs across several factors. 

When we look at podcast hosting platforms, we review them based on a few key considerations that we believe make the most difference to podcasters and content creators: 

Pricing 

Budget and pricing structures are a huge consideration when choosing a hosting platform. It’s not only about how much a hosting service costs, but whether you’re getting real value for money. 

Analytics 

We tend to value platforms that offer detailed analytics and insights into how your podcast performs. Integrated analytics that are easy to access and understand make podcasters’ lives a lot easier. 

Media Player 

A customizable and embeddable podcast media player is a non-negotiable for podcasters who value the ability to share their podcast directly on their own website. This means your audience can access your content straight from your site without having to head to a dedicated listening platform. 

File Hosting 

The file formats that a platform can host can be a make or break factor. For example, if you’re a video podcaster, you’ll need a hosting platform that’s set up to host both video and audio files. Plus, if you’re a stickler for audio and video quality, you’ll be searching for a platform that allows for lossless file formats that don’t compromise quality for size. 

Distribution 

Another important consideration is how easy it is to distribute your podcast to major listening platforms. Preferably, you’ll be able to publish your podcast directly (and quickly) without any additional hassle. 

Monetization 

The ability to monetize your podcast (through multiple streams) is essential, particularly for professional podcasters. And even if you haven't monetized your podcast just yet, the scope to do so is essential. We look at how a platform enables you to convert your podcast into a revenue stream and how easy it is to do so. 

Useability and Additional Features 

Though not an absolute essential since we can all work with clunky interfaces, the useability of your podcasting hosting service and any additional features that are on offer can make a world of difference to your experience using the platform. 

Anchor.fm: Quick Takeaways 

Quick summary: 

Anchor.fm is a free hosting platform from Spotify to create, distribute and monetize your podcast. Anchor.fm is browser-based, but there is also an anchor app you can use from mobile. 

Price: Free

Anchor.fm’s USPs:

  • All-in-one platform. Create, distribute, analyze and monetize your podcast from one integrated platform. 
  • Unlimited hosting. No limits on podcast uploads, even though it’s free. 
  • Use music from Spotify. You can pull whole tracks from Spotify and include them in your podcast episodes with Anchor. 
  • Monetize with Ads by Anchor easily. Ads by Anchor lets you choose between recording ads yourself or simply slotting sponsor-read ads into your recording. 

What is Anchor.fm? 

What is Anchor? Spotify acquired it in 2019 and has operated as a subsidiary arm of the streaming giant since then. Anchor’s mission is ‘to provide easy and powerful podcasting tools for everyone’, hence, the platform is entirely free. It is a one-stop shop for all podcasting needs, from creation to distribution. 

What’s the catch with Anchor.fm? 

When looking into Anchor.fm, you may run into a fair amount of skepticism about the platform. The reason for this is the amount of functionality that’s on offer for free. It seems almost too good to be true. While there’s no ‘catch’ per se, Anchor.fm has to make money somewhere to keep their service free. That’s why they take a small cut whenever they sell an ad placement on your show. 

Advantages of Anchor.fm 

Affordable

One of the biggest selling points of Anchor.fm is that it is free to use for everyone. Given the amount of functionality on offer and the sleek and intuitive design, this is a jackpot for podcasters on a budget. 

Beginner-friendly 

Anchor.fm is extremely beginner-friendly. It is a highly-usable platform with a whole host of integrated features designed to make podcasting a smooth and stress-free process. 

Mobile & Desktop 

The availability of a mobile and desktop app makes Anchor.fm a highly versatile tool. This is especially the case when it comes to recording your podcast. You can still use the anchor podcast app to record if you find yourself on the move. 

Remote recording 

Anchor.fm’s ‘Record with Friends’ function lets you record with up to 5 other remote guests. Remote recording is not a feature that many podcasting apps offer but is a functionality that many podcasters are now looking for. Unfortunately, though, Anchor.fm doesn’t quite live up to other services on the recording quality front (see below). 

Note, however, that the host has to use their Anchor mobile app to start the recording. Guests can join from the app or the browser. 

Integrated monetization 

Podcast monetization is an integrated feature of Anchor.fm with two revenue streams on offer to choose from (more on this later). Even if you’re a beginner or a hobbyist rather than a professional podcaster, the ability to monetize your podcast easily is a plus. 

Note, however, that monetization is only available in a select few regions globally. 

In-depth stats (from Spotify)

Anchor.fm delivers you detailed data and metrics on your podcast’s performance, all from Spotify. Through your anchor.fm dashboard, you’ll be able to access in-depth insights about your audience, including their average age, gender, and geolocation, as well as where your listeners are dropping off. 

Streamlined distribution 

Anchor takes care of distributing your podcast to all the major listening apps, including Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and of course, Spotify. 

Listener Interactivity 

Anchor.fm makes it easy for podcasters to build a sense of community and interaction with features such as the Q&A, poll, and timestamp sharing (more on this later).

Easy Streamlined Video Podcasting

Anchor only recently launched the ability to upload video podcasts, and through an integration with Riverside the process is simple. Users can record directly on Riverside and with the tap of the Spotify button transfer their video recording straight to Anchor. From there you just have to sign up, if you haven't already, fill in your episode details and you’re good to publish. This makes Anchor a great option for seamless video podcasting, especially if you use Riverside.

Disadvantages of Anchor.fm 

Limited editing tools 

The all-in-one creation and editing suite may be all they need for beginners. However, if you’re looking for high-powered editing capabilities, the anchor app probably isn’t for you. 

Low-quality remote recording & recording time limits 

As we mentioned earlier, the host has to use the Anchor.fm mobile app when recording with friends to start the call. Unfortunately, the anchor app is not compatible with external mics, which means you’ll be limited to the recording quality of your mobile. Plus, given that Anchor.fm doesn’t record locally, bad internet connection will negatively impact the quality of your final recording. 

In addition, if you’re using the Anchor mobile app, you’ve got a maximum recording time of 120 minutes. On Google Chrome desktop, it’s 30 minutes, and on Safari, it’s 5. Remember that you can record multiple segments and stitch them all together, but this can be a hassle. 

One podcast limit 

Currently, you’re only able to have one podcast per Anchor account. Though this is not a complete dealbreaker, this might pose an inconvenience if you’re a creator with more than one show on the go. 

Upload file size limit 

If you’ve prerecorded audio, you won’t be able to upload files larger than 250MB. If you’ve recorded using lossless file formats such as WAV, you may find yourself needing to compress your recordings to comply with the upload limit. This means sacrificing audio quality, which is not a compromise all podcasters are willing to make. 

One category limit 

Anchor currently only allows you to list your podcast under one category. This might pose a limitation if you create a show that fits more than one theme. 

Mediocre media player 

Although Anchor does offer an embed player, you can only embed individual episodes. In addition, the actual design of the player itself is fairly simplistic and the buttons can be hard to read due to their small size. 

No live streaming 

Unfortunately, Anchor.fm isn’t set up to allow podcasters to stream live. Though this won’t be a dealbreaker for all creators, it does mean you miss out on the opportunity to interact live with your audience and create a new experience for your listeners. 

Distribution method and limits to analytics 

Though Anchor’s automated distribution takes the stress out of your hands, it can also be a severe limitation if you’re looking to access analytics from services other than Spotify. Anchor publishes to Apple podcasts, for example, through Anchor’s account. This means that as a podcaster, you’ll be unable to access your podcast’s stats. This can be a severe limitation for podcasters who value their data. 

Key features of Anchor.fm 

Here’s a quick look at some of Anchor.fm’s unique features and functionality that we think add strength to the platform: 

Create episodes in ‘segments’ 

Anchor.fm divides episodes down into audio ‘segments’ that you can rearrange like ‘blocks’ to create a custom chronology for your episode. This is a unique way of visualizing a podcast episode and allows you to tap intuitively, drag, and rearrange easily. You can record new segments through the app or import pre-recorded audio that slots right in. 

Include music from Spotify 

Anchor.fm allows you to integrate full music tracks straight from Spotify. This means you can instantly elevate your podcast with some added audio and have no worries about copyright. 

Unlimited Hosting 

Another great feature is that with Anchor.fm, you get free and unlimited hosting for free! 

In-built audience interactivity 

Another unique functionality is the in-built audience interaction tools that allow you to integrate a sense of community and conversation within your podcasts. There are three tools: Q&A, Polls, and sharing timestamps. 

Q&As and Polls 

The Q&A feature allows podcasters to direct their listeners in any episode. Your audience can then respond directly through the Spotify app, and you can pin your favorite answers. You can also create audience polls with up to 7 answer options. Again, listeners can respond through the Spotify app.  This creates an organic sense of community and live interaction that you don’t often get with pre-recorded podcasts. 

Voice messages

Another nice touch is the ability to include ‘voice messages’ in your podcast episodes. You can ask listeners to send them in via your unique link (that you can retrieve from your Anchor.fm dashboard) and then include their messages in your episode when you’re building it out in Anchor. 

Sharing timestamps 

Usually, when you share a link to your favorite podcast, the URL will link to the entire episode, even if you’re referring to a specific segment. Spotify has changed that so you can link a particular moment in time. This is not only for your audience to use and enjoy but means that when you’re marketing your podcast, you can focus on a particular quote or section or highlight a specific guest. 

Bear in mind, though, that this is only integrated with the Spotify app, so it will target a select portion of your listeners if you distribute to other listening platforms). 

Podcast subscriptions & ads 

Lastly, the anchor podcast app makes it extremely easy to monetize your podcast through subscriptions and ads

Podcast subscriptions 

Create exclusive content for paying subscribers, build a community of listeners and benefit from additional revenue. Take your listeners behind the scenes, share bonus content, and email them directly. 

Listener Support 

Listener support is like podcast subscriptions, except your audience decides how much to pay each month and doesn’t necessarily get anything in return. 

Podcast ads

Anchor aims to give you ultimate control over how you monetize your podcast. You’re able to ‘mix and match’ how you include ads in your podcast, choosing between sponsor-read and host-read ads. Plus, the brand-matching process is completely streamlined so that you don’t have to go out of your way to find a sponsor for your show. 

There are 3 types of ads and sponsorship on Anchor: Ambassador Ads, Automated Ads, and Premium Sponsorship. 

  • Ambassador Ads are performance-based, host-read house ads. You need to have at least 50 listeners to get started. 
  • Automated ads (currently in closed beta) are automatically inserted into ad breaks in your podcast. You get to choose where these ad breaks fall. Depending on unique listeners, listening hours, and Spotify followers, any podcaster can opt-in. Automated ads are always sponsored. 
  • Premium sponsorships are where the host reads out ads during their show for third-party brands. These are only available to a select few creators with extremely high listener engagement. 

Anchor.fm is Best for Beginners & Hobbyists 

Anchor.fm is an excellent tool for beginners and hobbyists who don’t take podcasting seriously. Though the features and functionality on offer for free are impressive, if you look a little further, they’re fairly limited, especially if you’re a pro. That being said, for a free service, Anchor.fm packs a punch, and it is a one-stop shop for all your podcasting needs. 

Anchor.fm’s Desktop Dashboard 

When you first make an account, you’ll need to verify your email, and then you’ll end up on your Anchor podcast app dashboard. At the top, you’ll see three options: dashboard, episodes, and money. 

The Anchor Dashboard onboarding.
Anchor.fm dashboard (desktop) 

You’ll see ‘Settings’ in the top right. This is where you can toggle your podcast’s availability on different platforms. If you navigate to ‘settings,’ ‘update settings,’ this is where you can edit your podcasts’ details, including its name, description, and cover art. 

Anchor podcast availability.
Anchor.fm (settings - podcast availability) 
Anchor Podcast Settings
Settings, ‘update settings’ 

How to get started with Anchor.fm (desktop) 

Step 1: If you haven’t already, create an Anchor.fm account. 

Step 2: Verify your email

Step 3: On your dashboard, click ‘let’s do it'. It’ll then take you to this page. 

Creating an episode on Anchor.

Step 4: From here, start building your episode. You can record straight from your browser by clicking ‘record’, import pre-recorded audio from your library, choose tracks from Spotify, or include voice messages from your listeners. Note that you can also record directly on Riverside and transfer your video podcast to Anchor straight after recording.

Step 5: When you’ve uploaded or recorded, you’ll see the segments start to appear on the left. You’ll then need to choose which recordings you want to add to your episode by clicking the ‘+’ button. 

Uploading recordings to Anchor.fm when creating an episode.

Step 6: When you’ve chosen your tracks and recordings, the right-hand panel that says ‘Your Episode’ will display your segments. You can rearrange them by clicking the left-hand side and dragging them into your desired order.

Podcast recordings on Anchor

Step 7: When you’re happy, click ‘Save episode’. It’ll take you to a screen where you’re asked to name your episode and write an episode description. 

Entering episode details to submit a podcast to Spotify through Anchor.

Step 8: Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a pop-up that asks you to ‘set up your show’. You’ll be prompted to fill out your show’s name, its description, as well as your category and language. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be asked to upload your cover art. If you haven’t got one already, Anchor.fm has the option for them to choose one for you. 

Setting up a podcast show on Anchor.

Step 9: When you’ve filled out your details, you can distribute them to Spotify and other platforms. 

How to get started with Anchor.fm (mobile app) 

Step 1: Download the Anchor.fm app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store. 

Step 2: Login to your account (or create one). 

Step 3: From there, click the purple ‘+’ tools button. You can scroll along the bottom panel to see all your options, including recording, importing, Spotify music, voice messages, and sound effects.

Step 4: Hit the red record button to start recording from your phone instantly. You’ll need to allow your phone to access the mic on your phone if you haven’t already. Once you’ve done that, you can start recording. There’s an option to add a flag in the audio for your reference later. When you’ve finished, you can preview your recording, add background music and trim your audio.

Step 5: If you’re going to be recording with friends, click ‘invite friends to join’ on the home record screen. You’ll be given the option to invite ‘Anchor friends (i.e., friends who use the app) or invite them via messages, social media, or copying a URL. 

Step 6: When you’ve finished, your recording will be waiting for you in your ‘library’. You’ll need to manually ‘add’ all the relevant segments to your episode by clicking the gray ‘+’ button.

Step 7: You’ll need to click the ‘x’ in the top left corner to view your episode. Here you’ll be able to see all the different segments and rearrange them by holding the three dots and dragging them with your finger. 

Step 8: Click ‘publish episode’ in the top right corner when you're happy. Here you’ll need to fill out the episode title description and add your cover art. When you click next, you’ll be prompted to give your podcast a name and edit your Anchor profile URL.

Want to learn more? Watch our walkthrough on podcasting with your phone using anchor.

How to migrate your podcast to Anchor.fm 

If you’ve already got a podcast up and running, don’t worry. Migrating or ‘switching’ to Anchor is easy and involves two steps: import and redirect. And your audience won’t notice any difference. 

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create an Anchor account. You’ll need to head to Anchor’s Switch page and input your podcast’s RSS feed or manually search for your show. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to redirect your RSS feed to point to your Anchor URL. 

Also, if you’re hosting with one of the providers on this list, Anchor can automatically import your podcast for you. 

Distributing your podcast with Anchor

Though you can technically choose to self-distribute with Anchor, most creators will opt for the easier option: automated anchor distribution. If you choose to distribute your podcast everywhere, Anchor will automatically publish your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify, and more. If you’d like to distribute to a platform that Anchor isn’t integrated with, you can do so manually using your RSS feed. 

What Anchor.fm analytics look like 

Your podcast analytics are in Podcast Performance in your Anchor.fm dashboards. Remember, some of Anchor.fm’s podcast analytics only reflect your listeners on Spotify. You’ll be able to see: 

  • Total plays 
Total Plays on Anchor's analytics
  • Estimated audience size
Anchor.fm analytics estimated audience size
  • Unique listeners
Anchor.fm analytics unique listeners pop up.
  • Plays per episode
Anchor analytics plays per episode.
  • Top 10 episodes
Anchor Analytics Top 10 episodes.
  • Listener location
Anchor Analytics listener locations.
  • Listener Platform 

Anchor Analytics listener platforms.
  • Gender and age (from Spotify)
Anchor analytics gender and age from Spotify
  • Episode performance
Anchor Analytics episode performance.
Image credits: Anchor.fm 

Anchor vs Buzzsprout 

Another good way of weighing up how Anchor.fm performs as a podcast hosting platform is by looking at its competitors and alternatives. 

Key differences between Anchor.fm and Buzzsprout

Price 

Anchor.fm is entirely free with unlimited hosting. Buzzsprout’s free plan limits 2 hours of audio per month. The cheapest pricing plan is $12/month for 3 hours of audio. In addition, on Buzzsprout’s free plan, your audio is only hosted for 90 days, after which it is automatically deleted. 

Number of podcasts 

Unlike Anchor.fm, you can have more than one podcast associated with one account on Buzzsprout. Plus, you can have unlimited team members on your account to manage your podcast. 

Podcast website

Unlike Anchor.fm, you can create a branded podcast website with Buzzsprout. 

Additional features

One feature that makes Buzzsprout stand out against Anchor.fm is automated transcription. This means that you can create podcast transcripts, repurpose your content for blog posts or social captions, and make your audio more accessible. That being said, Anchor.fm’s intuitive UX/UI and audience interactivity are unique to its platform. 

Mobile app and recording 

Unlike Anchor.fm, Buzzsprout doesn’t have a mobile app or the capacity to record within the platform. So it’s not a ‘one-stop-shop’ in the same way. 

Key similarities between Anchor and Buzzsprout

Easy to use 

Both platforms are designed to be user-friendly and offer intuitive functionality to make your life easier. 

Streamlined distribution 

You can automatically distribute your show to the major listening platforms through both podcast hosts. 

Monetization 

Both Buzzsprout and Anchor allow you to monetize your podcast, albeit in slightly different ways. Anchor.fm gives you more control over the kinds of ads you include and where, while with Buzzsprout, you can only opt to add pre-roll or post-roll segments. 

Final thoughts on Anchor.fm 

Anchor.fm’s mission is to democratize podcasting and make it accessible and easy for anyone and everyone to get involved. On that front, we’d say they’re succeeding. The platform is available for free, with a whole host of well-designed, intuitive functionality undeniably fantastic for any creator. Spotify and Anchor seem to be constantly churning out new features that aim to enhance both creator and listener experiences, changing the podcasting landscape for the better. This is especially the case in terms of audience interaction and monetization. 

That being said, however, beyond the surface, some limitations might be less appealing for more discerning podcasters who are looking for a professional-grade platform. In particular, the recording quality from the mobile app with no compatibility for an external mic is disappointing. In addition, the file upload limit might be limiting for podcasters who prefer to pre-record. Plus, the fact you can’t publish video podcasts is another severe limitation. Finally, the inability to access in-depth analytics from other listening platforms might be a complete deal-breaker for creators who are sticklers for data. All-in-all, Anchor.fm is a great way to start with podcasting. It’s affordable, easy-to-use, and well-designed. Its integration with Spotify makes for a seamless user experience for podcasters who don’t yet know what they’re doing. However, if you’ve got the additional budget to spare or have been podcasting for a while, you may find that there are better options out there. 

FAQs about Anchor.fm 

Is anchor.fm free? 

Yes, it is. Even though it seems almost too good to be true, Anchor.fm is free to use with no limits on how much you host with them. 

Who is anchor.fm owned by? 

Anchor.fm is owned by Spotify and has been since 2019. 

Is anchor.fm good for podcasts? 

There’s no straightforward answer to this question. It depends on what you’re looking for in your podcast hosting service, what kind of podcaster you are, and whether Anchor.fm fits your needs. For us, Anchor.fm is an ideal solution for beginners and hobbyists. 

Can you video with Anchor.fm? 

Recently, Anchor.fm launched the ability to upload video podcasts straight from Riverside.

Does Anchor.fm own your podcast? 

No. When you host Anchor.fm, you still retain full ownership over your podcast and associated content.

Want to read more on podcast hosting platforms? Check out our other reviews:

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