Every year, the quality of technology goes up while the price goes down. This is good news for those who either want to test podcasting as a form of media or simply don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Can you do a podcast for free? If you already have some common computer and audio equipment, yes.
Do I recommend this? No.
There are a lot of ways to record your voice and distribute it, some of which are available free to you, but if you want your message to be heard and respected, you’ll find it worthwhile to spend a little money. You can have a great quality podcast with under $100 of hardware, free software, and as little as $5/month for reliable hosting.
Your Low-Budget Podcast
Recording Your Podcast
How to get your message “on tape.”
You need something to record your voice. My suggestion is a computer, but this can also be done via phone. If you’re reading this, you likely have one or both of these things. Assuming that’s correct, your cost here is zero.
You won’t like how you sound using built-in computer or phone mics, so you’re going to need a dedicated mic. Most broadcasters and podcasters, including me, prefer dynamic mics over condenser mics. The ATR-2100 by Audio-Technica is a great (and inexpensive) dynamic mic that will allow you to go directly into your computer or phone via USB as well as use with a mixer via its XLR input.
If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, Audacity is the king of free recording software. It’s easy to use, there’s a huge userbase that can help you with any problems, and there are thousands of Audacity tutorial videos on YouTube.
Auphonic has a free recorder available for both iPhone and Android. It’s not fancy, and the iPhone version doesn’t have a built-in editor, but it gets the job done. I use it when I’m on the road and need to quickly record something.
If you’re doing a podcast with a remote guest or co-host, Cleanfeed is great software to make that happen.
How to make your recording sound better.
EQ / Post-Production
You can make your recordings sound better by using the post-production software, Auphonic. This is paid software, but there is a limited, free option available.
More often than not, a fancy intro to your podcast is optional. On one hand, it’s nice to have something to explains who your podcast is for and the topics you talk about, so people know they’re in the right place, but you can easily let them know these things in your own voice and without the fancy production.
Fiverr is a great place to find both upcoming and established voiceover talent and some of these people will work for as little as $5. It’s also common to see podcasters looking to get into voiceover work offer related services on podcasting forums.
Music / SFX
The YouTube Audio Library contains both music and sound effects that can be used free-of-charge.
HOW TO USE THIS SERVICE: It’s worth noting that, because you and everybody else is using this free service, it’s highly likely that other podcasters will use the same music you use. This can happen on any royalty-free music site, because none of the music is exclusive or custom. My suggestion is to dig deep when looking for music and, when possible, avoid using the beginnings of songs and using breaks or other “middle” parts instead.
How to make your recording available to people.
Podcast Media Hosting
Anchor is free. I use it as the host for my “sausage factory” podcast, but don’t recommend it for your primary show as free hosting companies are not stable and, except for Anchor (so far), all previous free hosting companies have gone out of business.
Libsyn is a better option, in my opinion. They have plans as little as $5/month. Use the code “BIG” and you’ll get the first month free, so you can check it out and see if it works for you.
You can be listed in all the major podcast directories for free. Get the podcast directory list here.
Podcast Marketing Help
How to attract people to your podcast.
For under $20, I have a 462-page book that’s nothing but podcast marketing. You can get the audiobook free with Audible trial.
Start where you are. If an ATR-2100 by Audio-Technica is beyond your budget, use the microphone you have access to. And if you need to take advantage of Anchor’s free hosting, do that too.
Don’t let lack of money keep you from getting your message our and doing the work to make yourself a better host. All the money in the world won’t help a podcaster who doesn’t have a clear message or isn’t interesting, helpful, or entertaining to listen to.