BlogTalkRadio: A huge rip-off or a handy resource?

I haven’t started blogging yet, but I’ve been recommending it as a fabulous way to host your own radio show and build a loyal following.  

I’ve appeared an expert on several BlogTalkRadio shows, and I’ve always been curious about whether that service is worth it.

This week, Anne Roos, one of my readers, referred me to the blog post 11 Reasons to NOT Use BlogTalkRadio (again). It was written by Dave Jackson, a podcast expert who has helped hundreds of people launch their own shows.

He has spoken at many marketing and media conventions. His website, The School of Podcasting, has step-by-step tutorials that walk you through the entire podcast process. So he isn’t just a podcaster with an opinion. He knows his topic well.

Dave makes a compelling argument against using BlogTalkRadio. But he also knows all the ins and outs of podcasting, from the technology to how to promote your show. 

I’d like other podcasters to weigh in. Do you use BlogTalkRadio and like it? If so, why? What does it do for you that you can’t do yourself, or don’t want to do?

Did you use it at one time but bail out because of problems? If you refuse to use it, why not?

Your feedback will help other Publicity Hounds decide whether BlogTalkRadio is right for them. The comments section awaits…

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  • Stacy Harp

    Glad you raised this topic. The first thing I would tell you is that Dave Jackson isn’t the person I would trust regarding anything with BlogTalkRadio because he has nothing good to say about the subject. I know this because he contacted me via Twitter to tell me how horrible BTR is and how I should use his service. He actually gave me a complementary membership to his great school of podcasting, and it’s something I wouldn’t recommend because it’s not necessary in today’s day and age. While the quality of BTR isn’t the highest and it is true that you can have better quality doing your own podcast and using services that Dave recommends, I continue to use BTR because it’s like the Amazon of books.

    Dave offers an archaic service that doesn’t reach that many people. And obviously Dave isn’t going to promote BTR because it’s his competition, because BTR does what he can’t do for you – get you an audience.

    There are newer services like Spreaker that have better sound quality than BTR, but the problem really is that BTR was there first and so they have the largest audience. I’ve been there over a year and have had up to 32,000 downloads a month, on that platform, without having to build up ten thousand other places or spend additional money advertising my show. Is BTR perfect, hardly. But is setting up your own podcast and hosting it on your own network going to get me the audience… nope, not without a lot of expense. That’s my opinion. FWIW.

    • Joan Stewart

      Stacy, congratulations on your success with BTR. I suspect BTR is to podcasting like Amazon is to books. Thanks for commenting.

  • Stacy Harp

    I just read the article you linked to, I didn’t read it before my last comment. About the ad revenue, they have a program that DOES pay you, dependent on your audience size. I have already made about 1/4 of my yearly cost back from BTR, because I signed up…. and the problem is that if you don’t have traffic to your site and have the millions of listeners BTR does, you can have that on your site all day long and you won’t get anything. I think Dave should start his own radio platform and compete with BTR and fix the stuff he doesn’t like, instead of having people go through his archaic podcast school. 🙂

    • Joan Stewart

      Lawrence, as with most other online services, there are pros and cons, and you’ve pointed out several of each. Thanks for responding.

  • Sue

    I have been using BTR since November, have over 18,000 hits to my show and I only air once a week.
    I have no complaints about the service and am quite impressed with their “studio” set up.
    I can upload my own ads to air during my broadcast, so I can make money independent of BTR. I have my own intro music and I’m good to go.
    To set up a podcast would cost a lot of money and BTR gives me the freedom of not having to have a studio. I do everything as a call-in, which means I can do my show from anywhere.
    I have only had a good experience with BTR.

    • Joan Stewart

      Sue, I’m so glad you took the time to respond. Different strokes for different folks!

  • Kristyn Phipps

    While I accept that everyone is welcome to their own opinion, he’s assuming too many factors. BTR is free for those who want a free account. And while BTR gives its free members one 30-minute live recording, the recording doesn’t have to close at 30 minutes. It’s simply live for just 30 minutes.

    The next thing is the advertising. Yes, we can all agree that advertising can be annoying, but it’s no different on BTR than it is on YouTube. For those of us using it’s free services, a 20 second advertisement isn’t the worst thing to sit through before listening to the recording.

    I believe the live chat room is a HUGE advantage over other podcast procedures. BTR hosts the chat for free and it works perfectly well for us. I’m venturing to guess when he tried it, there was a flash update that interfered with this feature. That’s usually the number one reason for it not working correctly.

    Last thing…I’m a staff member of Marketing For Romance Writers, and we began using BTR a month ago. It’s been a wonderful experience for us. We’ve been able to reach out to our readers and give a voice to our writings. Whether someone chooses BTR or another podcast avenue, I highly recommend the experience.

    • Joan Stewart

      Kristyn, thanks for weighing in and presenting “the other side.” I know you have a huge Yahoo group, and if this works well for you, that’s terrific. A lot of of it depends on exactly what a podcaster needs and how much recording and promotion the podcaster is willing to do with no other support.

  • Donna Papacosta

    Joan, I’ve been podcasting since 2005 and have been a guest on several Blog Talk Radio shows. For my own podcasts and those of clients, I do not use Blog Talk Radio, nor do I recommend it. My main beef is their lousy audio quality. There are plenty of other ways to capture good audio, edit it and publish it as a podcast.

    • Joan Stewart

      Great discussion, here. Thanks for another viewpoint, Donna.

  • Anne Roos

    I’m glad you posted this, Joan. I’m interested in this feedback, too.

    I’ll be new to the podcasting arena, but as a musician (and Dave Jackson is, too), audio quality takes precedent over many factors. I suppose it depends upon whom you are interviewing…I think Dave and people sensitive to audio quality would pass on BTW.

  • Flora Morris Brown

    Hi Joan,

    I must chime in since I used BlogTalkRadio (BTR) to host my radio show for 3-1/2 years.

    Dave makes an unfair case against BTR in a number of areas in an obvious effort to paint his own service in a glowing light. He has every right to promote his own service, of course, but he’s representing BTR in the process.

    1. BTR offers a free membership that is great for entrepreneurs who want to try out hosting a radio show without making a major financial investment. They offer premium accounts, of course, like every other free service on the Internet, but choosing to upgrade is your choice. Free is a perfect starting point for an amateur radio host/podcaster.

    2. The free membership allows for only a 30 minute show, it’s true, but that’s enough time for an amateur radio host to manage so they can decide if this is for them in the long term. Most folks I know who started a BTR show only lasted a few episodes before they decided they didn’t want to continue. Isn’t it great they didn’t have to spend money to try it out?

    3. As Kristyn points out, the 30 minutes is for live on-the-air time, but the recording keeps going until the host ends it. I discovered this accidentally, but was delighted when I did since I didn’t like to cut my guests off who decided to long winded on that last question before sign-off.

    4. Because I had a weekly show I became very familiar with using the chat and other functions. There were occasional dropped calls and glitches with their system, but I challenge you to name any Internet teleseminar, webinar or other service that does not have its issues. Some of the most expensive webinar platforms cannot guarantee a glitch-free experience nor that the recording will take.

    Dave is right about the audio quality. It was not always great, but that was more a factor of the guests’ phone equipment and environment. When folks took my advice and used a headset, called from a landline, as well as located themselves in a quiet place with a low ceiling or some form of insulation, the sound was great. Otherwise, the sound was ho-hum. On rare occasions I would edit the audio to take out major annoying static, etc., but mostly I left the interview as it was recorded.

    5. My radio show episodes were posted by BTR in the archives within a short time after the show ended and I immediately downloaded them and sent my guests a copy. That way my guests got the interview without an ad. It’s the one that folks listen to on BTR that has an ad placed in front of the episode. I don’t blame BTR for selling ads to make money on their site. Aren’t we all in business to make money?

    6. Dave is also right that if you leave BTR you can’t take your subscribers with you. That’s why I had listeners subscribe to my list in addition to subscribing on BTR. Besides, when I promoted my show on FB, LI, Twitter and other places I was contacting folks I already had on my lists. In other words, I didn’t count on BTR to build my following.

    7. I chose to have an interview format. In the time I was airing my show, I interviewed about 180 entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, bloggers and business owners. I built amazing relationships as a result.

    8. Radio hosts on BTR have the option of doing their own commercials or arranging for their own sponsors. In addition, BTR allowed a link to Amazon for my guests who had books for sale. I would post the guests’ photos and their book covers as part of the announcement of their show.

    9. Over the years my colleagues asked me to put together a training program for aspiring radio hosts. Since I had only worked with BTR, I researched to see what other Internet radio services were available so my trainees had a choice. I only found one other free program, and it was not as easy to use as BTR. The others all charged a hefty fee to host a show and didn’t have as wide of a reach as BTR.

    You may ask why I put my show on hiatus after 3-1/2 years? I spent a lot of time finding, prepping and following up with my guests. I needed to focus on writing my books and working with my book coaching clients and workshops.

    The best part about BTR is that my free account is still sitting there waiting for my return whenever I want. The friends, listeners and colleagues I built up through that show are still part of my social media network on and offline.

    • Joan Stewart

      I’m thrilled you had such great success with BlogTalkRadio. And that you took the time to write such a detailed response which should help other entrepreneurs decide if this is right for them. Thanks so much, Flora, for being one of my loyal Publicity Hounds!

  • Flora Morris Brown

    Hi Joan,

    You’re most welcome.

    You make a point about entrepreneurs needing to decide if BlogTalkRadio is right for them. It certainly is not for everyone. I applaud those who investigate it, try it out, and then if it doesn’t suit them, move on.

    It’s easy to be a loyal Publicity Hound because of the valuable information you’ve shared with us over the years. Thank you.

    • Joan Stewart

      Thanks again, Flora. Let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to address here. BTW hit a nerve with my readers.

  • Mary E. LaLuna

    I want BTR to be all that I thought they were/are. I work really hard for my guests and my shows. right now, I do not know what to believe. I know something isn’t right.

    • Joan Stewart

      Mary, are you experiencing a particular problem with them? I have heard both good and bad about BTR. The biggest problem is that the quality of the podcast is usually very poor. On the other hand, BTR has given some authors, speakers nad experts fabulous reach into audiences they wouldn’t otherwise have found.

  • George Sinzer

    I have been on BTR since January 4th, 2008, now I have had my share of issues with them, most recently the “Trolls” if they would give ALL hosts a ban button so we can ban people from chat for ever, things might get better.

    But one thing I have not seen here is a alternative to BTR that would offer the same thing for less and better overall Host support from the company, now while I have been treated very well on BTR I will say if there is another site that offers LIVE Host call in/Guest call in, chat room and multiple lines for the guests, chat features that would allow hosts to ban along with kicking out for 24 hours, please tell me, I would be willing to check it out, neither Spreaker nor Talk Shoe offer what I mentioned.

    You either have to bring it using hardware or software or both and the costs are higher than most will be able to afford…

    let me know….

    • Joan Stewart

      George, I don’t know the answer to this. Why don’t you go into some of the podcasting groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ and ask this question and see what comes back?

  • Juanita Richburg Seon

    Hello, Joan, I have used BTR since 2009. I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, so my show is there waiting for me. BTR is a great way to start and get a feel for doing a radio show. From my experience, they have provided me with good support and tools to learn to have a better show. While podcasting might be good, it is clearly a lot more work involved that hosting with BTR.

    • Joan Stewart

      Thanks for sharing your story, Juanita. BTR is definitely for people who don’t want to do a lot of the heavy lifting themselves.

  • Heather Randall

    I was a Premium host on Blogtalk from 2006 until this past month. In the beginning, they were a very good service that was worth the investment. Over the last year they had multiple site “glitches” which at times prevented my hosts from accessing the studio. My custom ads (part of the Premium plan) stopped showing three months ago. After multiple support tickets over the issue, they said they would just update me when they had fixed it. They never did. In our last month with them (June) we had multiple glitches effecting the ads, audio and the ability to access the studio. Their archives were delayed up to 5 hours and the stats have not tracked properly since January. I was essentially paying for premium features that were hit and miss at best. A premium account is also supposed to provide quality and priority support. I have not had quality support in months. They stopped receiving calls since their staff decreased so there is no way to reach tech support by phone. The live chat showed no one available more often than not, so I was left no choice but to email support. I waited as long as 3 months for replies. This is not customer service. This is not what I was paying or or what was promised. Before leaving Blogtalk I spoke with tech via phone (they still took calls when I first broached the subject of leaving) and via email. I had written and verbal assurances that my existing content would be untouched if I left. They claimed the sound quality and content would be just as they were. So far that has not been the case. My existing content is now riddled with audio ads that go over top of the host and weird beeping noises and static that were not present before. Blogtalk was at one time a great service, but I would not recommend it today. We moved to Spreaker in July and we are very satisfied so far.

    • Joan Stewart

      Heather, let’s hope BlogTalkRadio sees this and replies.

    • Danny

      To Heather Randall, Finally someone tells the truth about BTR “service” and support. I have sent several emails to BTR support to only hear nothing for months. I gave up. Their support service is NOT! I couldn’t even log in to my account. I sat here reading all thesze posts and it is obvious that there are BTR personel writing most of these glorious reviews, I believe. I have never experienced the continuing issue of no direct way of contact to BTR. Guess I need to PAY first?

      • Joan Stewart

        Danny, I’m not familiar with BTR’s customer service, or lack thereof, but it isn’t unusual for companies to give support only to paying customers.

        • Danny

          Really? How does BTR expect potential clients or clients to contact them, or correspond?

          • Joan Stewart

            See if they are on social media and try connecting with them there.

        • Spooky Boo

          As of 2017, BTR does offer support to non-paying customers, but premium support customers will receive an answer faster. I love BTR. I haven’t had any problems yet.

          • Joan Stewart

            Thanks for stopping by to let us know this.

    • Robbin Purvis

      I have been having lot of problems too. BTR was pretty good at first. Now, I ashamed to have a guest come on because of my calls freeze, my commercials and music freeze up and no matter what I do, I’m no longer getting emails or no response. No way to treat Premium clients. I’ve been on BTR since 2010 about to give it up soon though. I don’t have $39.00 a month to throw away.

      • Joan Stewart

        Thanks for stopping by, Robbin, and letting us know about this frustrating experience. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of these complaints.

  • Andy Toh

    Hi Everyone, I am the GM/Chief Architect of BlogTalkRadio (Joined in January 2014) and thought I should chime in. My new team here has been has been working very hard at making lives easier for hosts from the inside out. What we are going for, is to vastly simplify the technicalities of podcasting for creative and passionate hosts so that the complexity of creating, managing, hosting, distributing, syndicating, measuring, and gaining financial returns for, a podcast can fall under the hood, so that podcasters can focus on the CRAFT of creating content listeners love.

    Aside from beefing up our production systems to scale with the growth of our hosts (listenership grew by more than 70% last year), and vastly improving our measurement systems to solve the overcounting problem in our industry with established techniques from mature digitial media, the bulk of our focus is placed on lifting the sound quality of our web studio, which to date, remains unmatched from a functional ease of use standpoint – something Dave has remarked on numerous times himself.

    The new hi fidelity studio is already in the hands of a segment of our host community as part of a large scale beta and what we’ve been doing is progressively pushing the system to its limits, and responding to the feedback of our beta testers to further refine the system. We now have 4 of BlogTalkRadio’s harshest critics testing the system among this beta group. We are now at the stage where we are adding cool features that our beta testers are asking for before formal launch.

    If you want to hear the difference, visit:

    www(dot)blogtalkradio(dot)com(forwardslash)page(forwardslash)pro-studio

    (sorry had to write it this way so the URL doesn’t get filtered out by commenting software)

    Hope this is helpful.

    Andy Toh

    • Joan Stewart

      Andy, thanks so much for taking the time to reply and let us know how you’re improving service.

    • Lawrence Altman

      We are using BTR’s HiFi format at Mama Lillle’s Beach Party.

      While their HiFi format is a great improvement, the audio quality of the host’s voice is still far below what it should be for broadcast purposes.

  • Joe Mastriano, CPA

    Hi Joan. I just started using BTR and ran into technical problems so I quickly switched to Spreaker. Now I find that after getting a skype number and switching software adjustments i still can’t manage multiple callers without considering a mixer and maybe a second computer to take the Skype calls. I never wanted to set up a studio, just take calls from potential clients who need to learn how not to be a victim of the IRS. Anyway, I will retry BTR now as a result of your blog. Thank You

    • Joan Stewart

      Joe, did you read all the comments on this post? Some love BTR, others not so much. I can’t vouch for it because I’ve never used it. Good luck on your technical journey.

  • EVANGELIST LACEY KAY GREEN

    I’ve been a host since 2012. I started out great then one day, they had a regrouping of STATS, been down hill since.
    After looking at all of this, I question what I’m going here.
    Grant it I don’t interview all the folks etc. but still.
    Things are going to change. I broadcast 2 times a week for 1 hour each time. things will change.
    Anyone suggest new radio for me to go to?

    • Joan Stewart

      Lacey Kay, it’s difficult to know why you aren’t gaining traction with your podcast. I recommend you join of the “Podcasters” group on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/communities/102333709604116814839. Tell them what you wrote here and see what comes back. Blog Talk Radio can be expensive, and the quality isn’t great. Let’s see what else members of that community say.

  • Paulina Brusca

    I have been a user of BTR on and off (whenever podcasting) since 2012. I have always loved it. My only concern now is the clients that I produce podcasts for want to see their podcasts appear on iTunes, Stitcher etc which is a feature supposedly offered by BTR. I have reached out to them for help to make this happen so we shall see. Other than that I really do like using it and find that I can easily create episodes and promote any podcast quite quickly. It is a great one-stop-shop for those who are doing more for their clients than just podcasting. I am a PR pro just FYI.

    • Joan Stewart

      Paulina, I’m glad to hear you like BlogTalkRadio. Podcasting is still on my to-do list. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  • Barry Boone host of Talking Motorcycles

    I am in my third year hosting a show on BTR. Our show is part of the rollout of the new HiFi audio and it is much improved. The way we are counting listeners since January is truly going to kill my marketing with sponsors. We were able to see clear growth. First year 25,000 listens, second year 50,000 listeners and on track for 75000 plus this year but now it appears absolutely no one is listening to my shows.

    • Joan Stewart

      That’s disappointing, Barry. I recommend you join the “Podcasters” group on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/communities/102333709604116814839. It’s an active group. And every time I post a question or a problem, I get good responses. If you find out a solution to this problem, I’d be grateful if you’d return here and let us know what the podcasters tell you.

  • April Nastasi

    Thank you for all the info. Is there videos onhow use btr? I’m totally new to this but definitely want to try it out.

    • Joan Stewart

      April, I don’t have a video on how to use BlogTalk Radio. I recommend you go to their website and see what you can find. Or Google it.

  • Spooky Boo

    I just started BlogTalkRadio and I love it so far. I’m on iTunes, Stitchers, and many other places. I was on soundcloud, which I did like a lot but they didn’t have paid advertising and they weren’t blocking the explicit episodes that had some swearing and gore properly. Parents didn’t like that so I had to switch and I feel it is my responsibility to work with the parents to make sure their kids are listening to the ones approved by them.

    It has only been a short while so I don’t know what the advertising will be like–if any. I do know that ranking on YouTube has been long and difficult. I get 30 views on YouTube to my 1200 views on the combo of the podcast so that is an immediate plus.

    • Joan Stewart

      To do well on YouTube, you have to post videos regularly. That could be the reason the podcast is doing so much better. Thanks for stopping by to share your experiences.

  • Jessica Yavar

    Does anyone know if BTR is still valuable for “book tour and populating podcasts in 2018?

    Any info would be super helpful 🙂

    Thanks so much!

    • Joan Stewart

      Jessica, I don’t think there’s one answer to your questions. I would find out which shows are on BTR and pitch them individually/

  • Charlotte

    I’ve been with blogtalk since 2007 I host a paranormal radio ahow.

    I like it. When I’ve looked into other ways to do the show, it’s just not cost effective.

    I am a premium user with a 60 minute to 2 hour show once a week.

    Yes there are issues sometimes like dropped calls, odd noises and other stuff but for me, the good outweighs the bad.

    Now you can even download the shows and edit them to take out the bad stuff and the upload them back up.

    There is even an option to prerecord your show without it being public so it’s like a podcast and u can edit and upload it.

    For me..I’m aware of the issues that blogtalk has and I have just learned to go with the flow. Again the benefits of using it far outweigh the costs of either podcasting or other platforms where you have to pay for bandwidth or on a per call basis.

    The only other service I use is talkshoe. It’s similar to blogtalk. It’s free too. Just not the big audience.

    • Joan Stewart

      Thanks for letting us know about the updates BTR has made, Charlotte. I wish you the best with your show.