Web Analytics
By
Evo Terra
-
Curator of The End
December 8, 2023

Buzzsprout is a popular choice for a podcast hosting company among fiction podcasters. A quick scan of our database on The End shows that a little under 9% of the shows we’ve listed use Buzzsprout as their hosting provider. A lot of that has to do with longevity—Buzzsprout has been around since 2009 and is a well-respected hosting company. And the people I’ve met at Buzzsprout (hi, Alban!) are super nice!

But does Buzzsprout make a good place for fiction podcasters to call home? It can be, but due to the quirks of fiction podcasting vs “normal” podcasts, some tweaks need to be made to optimize Buzzsprout for fiction podcasters. And some of those tweaks will require a more advanced—and therefore more pricy—tier to activate.

In the subsequent sections of this article, I’ll break down how to optimize your Buzzsprout account on a page-by-page, field-by-field level. I'll use the exact name of the fields and even include a cropped screen shot of each to help make things as clear as possible. But please note that I’ll only offer advice/opinions/directions for the fields that need optimization. If I don’t have anything to say about a field, that doesn’t mean the field isn’t important. It probably is! It’s just not something that needs to be optimized. With that, let’s get started!


Podcast Info - General

Just about everything we’ll want to optimize is info for your podcast, so let’s start our work on this section found in the top navigation bar.

Screenshot: Top nav bar
Get used to seeing this top nav bar.

And make sure you’re on the General tab.

Screenshot: Sub-nav bar
This or a similar sub-nav bar will also make frequent appearances.

There are four tags we’ll optimize on this page: Podcast Title, Podcast Description, Podcast Category, and Artist.

Podcast Title

Field lable: Podcast Title

This is the title of your fiction podcast, obviously. Some creators like to add “Audio drama” and stuff like that, but I say do that only if you need it. And remember, you don’t need to add “podcast” (probably) to the name of your show.

Podcast Description

Field lable: Podcast Description

The words entered here are used both for the description that appears on your Buzzsprout-generated website as well as the description that is distributed to various podcast listening platforms and directories. Is it important? Yes. Very. And it’s probably something you should revisit on a regular basis as your show grows. 

You have up to 4,000 characters to work with when you write your description. I included some tips on crafting a great fiction podcast description in this article. It’s item #3.

Podcast Category

Field lable: Podcast Category

You can choose up to three different categories/subcategories for your fiction podcast. My strong recommendation: Unless you have a very good reason not to, your first category should be Fiction or Fiction > [Comedy, Drama, or Science Fiction]. Don’t get me started on how dumb it is to limit fiction podcasts to just those three subcategories. It aggravates me too, but we work with what we have. 

Let your other two other categories be what they need to be, based on the contents of your fiction podcast. I’ve seen fiction podcasters also categorize their shows as Arts > Performing Arts, Arts > Books, Comedy > [subcategories], History, Leisure, Kids & Family, and many others. Whatever makes sense for the story(ies) you’re telling in your fiction podcast.

Artist

Field lable: Artist

The contents of this field are displayed prominently along with your show’s title and artwork in most directories and apps, so make sure it says what you want it to say! Repeating the name of your show here is rather pointless. Using the name of an aspirational production company won’t give you personally any branding. But you can enter something like Creator Name | Other Creatorname | Network/Studio in that field if you want to give more than one person/entity some initial credit.

That’s it for this page. Click the large green button that says Save Podcast Info and let’s move on.

Screenshot: Save Podcast Info button

Podcast Info - Advanced Info

Click Advanced from the grey sub-nav bar on top:

Screenshot: Top Nav bar, with Advanced selected
Top nav appearance #2

On this page, we’re going to optimize four fields: Podcast Type, Your Website Address, Episode Limit, and Keywords. 

Podcast Type

Field lable: Podcast Type

This is the big one. The one that is all too often missed by fiction podcasters. Chances are, you want to select Serial, not the default choice of Episodic. Episodic describes podcasts with formats like interviews, current events or news, or weekly gab-fests. With those shows—they make up the largest share of podcasts—it’s fine for a brand-new person to listen to the most recent episode. 

But most fiction podcasts—yes, there are exceptions—presenting the most recent episode to a new listener makes for a bad listener experience. When you read a fictional story or start a new fictional series on TV, you start at the beginning, not the end. And certainly not at whatever the current episode is, right?

This is the tag that gives fiction podcasters like you some control over how your episodes are presented to your listeners. Serial. That’s the right answer for fiction podcasts that publish episodes that really should be listened to in a particular order.

Your Website Address

Field lable: Your Website Address

This is where you enter the URL of your website so it’s included in (and distributed with) your RSS feed. Many of today’s listening apps and podcast directories will place a clickable link with “show website” or something like that, encouraging listeners to click and get to your site. 

If you have your own website—i.e. MyAmazingAudioFiction.show—enter the full address in this field, starting with https:// (or, less ideally, http://) to make a fully formed URL. 

If you do not have a dedicated and separate website/page for your show, then I recommend letting Buzzsprout generate a website for you. In which case, you’ll leave this as it currently is. (Though, really, you need your own domain name, at least. That’s my very strong opinion.)

Episode Limit

Field lable: Episode Limit

Here’s a setting from the early days of podcasting that needs to go away. Look, you probably do not want to limit the number of episodes people can listen to, right? Choose Show All Episodes, unless you have a very good and specific reason not to.

Keywords

Field lable: Keywords

Speaking of settings from the early days of podcasting that need to go away; keywords. Personally, I think they are pointless. Worse, they’re very easy to spam. You can enter them if you want, but they probably aren’t doing much for you. They are not used by any of the major platforms for anything, especially not search. 

All done here. Click that big green Save Podcast Info button again, then continue to the next section.


Podcast Info - Hosts & Co-Hosts

Click the word Hosts in the gray sub-nav bar.

It is very cool that Buzzsprout supports this quite new (as of this writing) feature. There isn’t a lot of current support for this, but you should be thinking about the future, right?

Chances are, you’re seeing a large square with a green plus. Click it.

Screenshot: Add host/cohost button
Click the big plus button!

Now, you don’t need me to hold your hand through this. It’s a standard bio for the host/co-host of the show. Which, you’ll note, doesn’t quite fit for a lot of fiction podcasts. We have showrunners, actors, sound designers, and more. But hosts and co-hosts? [sigh] Just another reminder that fiction podcasters play in a much larger pool, and one that isn’t always perfectly suited to us. Do your best. 

Click Add Host when you’re done, and do it again for each and every person you want to be listed either as a host or a co-host. And then we can move on to the next section.


Podcast Info - Podroll - Recommend Podcasts to Your Audience

Click Podroll from the grey sub-nav bar on top:

Screenshot: sub nav bar with Podroll selected

Oh! Another brand new, bleeding edge tag. Thanks, Buzzsprout! 

Click the very large Add a Podcast button… and get to adding! Like the Hosts tag above, the Podroll tag isn’t widely supported… yet. But fiction podcasters have a unique opportunity to lead the charge on this, which will act as incentive for more apps and directories to support it. 

Don’t try to game this by listing huge shows that have zero connections to your own. That’s not helping anyone. Instead, think of some other shows that are similar to yours that you’d like to recommend. 

Note that the recommendations will appear on your public Buzzsprout page, if you use that. When you’re done adding shows, continue to the next section.


Directories

We’re leaving Podcast Info and are now headed to Directories. Click on that from the top nav bar.

Screenshot: Top nav bar with Directories selected
Here's that top nav bar again!

Your goal here is to see nothing but green boxes. If you don’t, you’re missing potential listeners. These are the apps that will be displayed on your generated podcast website… but only if you fill them out. Which ones should you fill out? All of them, of course. Why not? People listen on lots of different platforms. Why not be everywhere? It only takes a moment to submit a show. Do it. All of them. And, while you're at it, here's a bunch more you should also submit your show to. You’re welcome. 

And with that, we’re done with the easy stuff. Now we have to go face some demons in your episodes. Ugh. I know. I’ll try to make it painless.


Episodes

Get here by choosing the first option—Episodes—in the top nav bar.

Screenshot: Top nav bar with Episodes selected, and sub-nav
Top and sub-nav bar together at last!

We have nine fields to optimize on this page: Episode Title, Episode Description, Episode Artwork, Season #, Episode #, Episode Type, Artist/Guest, Custom Episode Webpage, and Tags.

You should now see a list of your previously published episodes in reverse chronological order. Before making any changes to any specific episode, take a moment to look at the list of episodes you see on this page. You’ll see the 25 most recent episodes, but you can click Show All Episodes, which you’ll probably want to do eventually. But for now, just look at the Episode column (which is the title of the episode) for all thee episodes, and ask yourself some questions:

  • Do the story episodes look like they are all part of the same story?
  • If you see episode drops or promos, do they look different from your “normal” episodes?
  • Does the trailer episode(s) clearly look like a trailer?
  • Do your season finales clearly look like season finales?

The title of your episode is important, but it’s also important that everything looks like it belongs and is in the right place. If one looks odd to you, I can promise you it looks odd to potential listeners. Don’t do that.

Let’s click on an episode and then click Edit on the subsequent page to go more into detail on how to optimize episode listings on Buzzsprout. 

Episode Title

Field lable: Episode Title

There are many schools of thought on how episode titles should be written, but I belong to the “most important things first” clan. That’s probably not the episode number. That’s probably not the title of your podcast. What’s important is what the content if that episode actually is. That could be as simple as Chapter 1. Or it might be The Plot To Steal Xmas or whatever nifty title you’d write if the episode were a blog post or article. 

If you have extra things you want to add to your title, like Season 2 finale or Part 3 of 4, add those to the end of the title, as they are (probably) not the most important things.

Episode Description

Field lable: Episode Descripition

Each episode can—and should—have its own description. These are often called show notes in podcasting parlance, though I hate the term and prefer episode details, as that’s more representative of what this text should be. But I’ve been lobbying for that change since 2004, and I’ve gotten nowhere. Regardless, see item #8 in my previously mentioned article on some good ideas of what information you should put in this field for each of your episodes.

Episode Artwork

Field lable: Episode Artwork

If you make custom artwork for each of your episodes, this is where you upload them for each episode. By default, your show-level artwork displays. It’s up to you to decide if you want to do it or not. More podcast apps are showing them, however. I like it.

If you decide to create them, follow the sizing guidelines on the page, and try to keep the “weight” to under 500 KB.

Season #

Field lable: Season #

If you selected Serial as your Podcast Type, then you’ll most likely want to use season numbers. Modern listening apps like Apple Podcasts and others use the Season tag to group episodes of a season together. So… use it. Only use non-negative, non-zero integers (e.g. 1, 2, 3…).

Episode #

Field lable: Episode #

Episode numbers work in conjunction with Season numbers. This field also only takes non-negative, non-zero integers, and they are used to determine the order in which episodes of a particular season should be displayed. 

It is very possible that some of your episodes will not have an Episode number. You’ll see why next. Also, it’s best practice (though not a requirement) to restart your episode numbering with each new Season. For example, your first Season may have Episode numbers 1–10, and your second Season might also have Episode numbers 1–10. That’s fine, because the Episode number works in conjunction with the Season number.

Episode Type

Field lable: Episode Type

Most of your episodes will be tagged as Full and get a sequential number in the Episode # field. In fact, that’s a good rule—if an episode of your show is NOT to be missed, mark it as Full and give the correct Episode number so it displays in the proper order.

Got an episode drop or a special announcement episode in your feed that isn’t part of the story? Then it is most likely a Bonus episode. Bonus episodes are just that—extra content that a new listener doesn’t have to listen to enjoy the continuing arc of your story. Some apps, like Apple Podcasts, will segregate most (but not all) Bonus episodes to the bottom of a season or series. Keep in mind that caught-up listeners—those who eagerly download and listen to your latest episode as soon as it comes out—will hear your Bonus episodes as you add them. The segregation I spoke of is really for people who are “behind” listening, if you will. Or bingers (like me). So you don’t need to worry that your Bonus episode won’t be heard by your most rabid fans. It will be! But for people who come in a month (or years) later, those Bonus episodes won’t be speedbumps in their (our) listening. 

Bonus episodes can be numbered, but only if the Bonus episode is a Bonus episode for a specific Full episode. For example, let’s say that you had a guest actor on an episode, and you decided to do an interview with them. If you think it’s important for your listeners—current and future—to hear that conversation, give that Bonus episode the same Season and Episode number as the Full episode the actor appeared in. That will cause your Bonus episode to show up after the Full episode, at least in the modern apps that respect those tags.

Trailer is the other type, and it’s most often used like trailers are used in the movies, but can also be used to denote “sample” content. When you tag an episode as a Trailer, modern apps will elevate that episode to be the first thing a brand-new listener hears—sometimes even before they decide to follow or subscribe. And, if you use multiple seasons and you make a new trailer for each season, you’ll want to add the Season number to your Trailer episodes as well.

Like Bonus episodes, Trailer episodes can be numbered, but that’s unusual. I’ve seen some audio fiction creators put out Trailer episodes for a delayed-but-soon-to-be-released episode as a sort of teaser. The same rule applies: use the same Episode number as the Full episode that Trailer is about. (Pro tip: Episodes like that are only meaningful for people who are waiting on the next episode. Once it publishes, I think you should delete the numbered Trailer episode.)

After that, click the link that says See more options: Artist, Tags, and Custom Episode Webpage. Why they hide this incredibly important stuff is beyond me.

Artist/Guest

Field lable: Artist/Guest

This should auto-fill with whatever you have entered at the “channel” level. You probably will never change it for a particular episode, but you might. Episode drops are one example. Go for it!

Custom Episode Webpage

Field lable: Custom Episode Webpage

If you have a custom website and you make episode-specific pages with things like your extended episode details, transcript, cast and crew credits, fan art, or other nifty things specific to each episode, this is the spot where you connect the URL of that page on your website to your RSS feed, so that listeners are taken to your website and not Buzzsprout’s when they click on “more information about this episode,” or whatever they app calls the link. 

This also gives you a nifty SEO boost, as you’ll have a bunch of links from Buzzsprout pointing to your website. Nice, huh?

If you do not create episode-specific pages on your own fully functioning website, leave this blank. The apps will still make those links, but they’ll click-thru to the individual page generated by Buzzsprout.

Tags

Field lable: Tags

Buzzsprout says they use these for grouping, but I don’t that’s all that useful to most fiction podcasters. So no real optimization ideas here. But I wanted to mention it so that you don’t assume this field has any real benefit.

Hit the large Save and Update Episode button. And then do it again. And again. Yes, for all of your episodes. Sorry.

Next, we’ll make some changes to the Buzzsprout-generated website. Don’t use it? Cool. I’ll show you how to make it not compete with your owned website.


Your Podcast Website

Get here by selecting Website from the top nav bar.

Screenshot: top nav bar with Website selected, and sub-nav bar
This is the last time you'll see this. I promise.

The first set of options will help you make your Buzzsprout-generated website and pages look pretty. I am not a designer, so I have no interest or desire to tell you how to make your pages look pretty. That, I leave to you.

There isn’t much to optimize here, as most of it is done for you. One big thing I dislike about the generated page made by Buzzsprout is that it will always and only display the episodes of your show in reverse-chronological order. That’s fine for Episodic podcasts, but sucks for Serial podcasts like most fiction podcasts. I wish it were better for us, but it’s not.

The way to make it better? Use your own custom website, not the one Buzzsprout generates. If you have one, select Website URL from the sub-nav bar, then add in your custom domain. Which is an upgrade, sadly.

And if you do use your own custom website, click Hide from Search Engines in the sub-nav bar, and then check the box:

 

Screenshot: Hide from search engines box

Now the less-than-perfect Buzzsprout page won’t get ranked in search engines. 


That’s it! You have now fully optimized your fiction podcast's Buzzsprout account. Nicely done! It'll take a few hours (or days, sometimes) for your changes to be fully distributed. You should see changes to your website immediately, obviously. And, depending on how drastic your changes were, you may hear from some users about repeat downloads, which means you'll see a temporary spike in downloads. That will soon settle down. You did good work!

Special thanks to Audrey Martin, creator of The Heart Pyre, for granting me access to her Buzzsprout account, letting me poke around, and being the first one to implement optimization techniques!

If you’re a fiction podcast creator and you found value in this post, don’t keep it to yourself! I wrote it so that all fiction podcasters who use Buzzsprout as their hosting platform can present their show and episodes in the best way possible. Share it with your fellow creators.

I've also written a "how to" guide like this for Podbean, and I’m working on other guides for other popular hosting platforms, so stay tuned and I’ll probably get to your hosting provider very soon. You can always email me and lobby me to get to yours quicker. If you sign up to become an Individual Supporter or Supporting Creative Shop, I’ll bump you to the head of the line!

If you work for a hosting company, I’d love to chat with you about making it easier for fiction podcasters to use your platform. They have some pretty specific needs that, as you can see, can get a little obfuscated. I’m happy to consult with you on better serving those needs.

And if this is your first time experiencing me and The End; welcome! My focus is on helping listeners find more fiction podcasts they can enjoy on their schedule. Please subscribe to the weekly newsletter so you always know what fiction podcasts have reached the end of a season, have a new season coming soon, or have reached the conclusion of the entire series. It’s what we do around here!

- Evo

No items found.