Free and cheap online tools for your podcast

Podcasting is simple, right? From an ordinary smartphone you can, theoretically, press record, talk away, save it, post it, share it. Voila! You have a podcast!

Well, if you don’t care at all about the quality of your audio and if you have little respect for your listeners, sure, you could do that.

As podcasting starts to get more sophisticated, with better storytelling and higher expectations from audiences, it’s worth knowing what online tools are available to help you create your podcast masterpiece.

We have collated a list of some of the best online podcast tools that are either free or very cheap. We have not included tools that we have not used ourselves. And we haven’t included tools – that we have used – that we believe are not up to scratch to put in this list

The more you invest, the better the equipment, the better the audio. But, to get started or if money’s tight, these tools can help. All prices are in US dollars.

Podcast hosting platforms

If you’re uploading to iTunes directly, you’re doing it wrong! Take advantage of podcast hosting platforms, which allow you to share your podcast on social media, embed a slick audio player on to a webpage, and more easily redirect it to other podcast delivery channels, including iTunes.

Cost = free
Australian company kicking goals since it launched in 2015. Used by leading Australian organisations, including The Australian and its #1 hit podcast, The Teacher’s Pet.

Cost = free
This British company was one of the first and is one of the most popular distribution platforms. Used by Russell Brand, Associated Press and Yahoo! Sports Radio.

Transcription services

Sometimes it’s easier to edit a podcast – particularly if it’s narrative style – by working off a document of transcribed dialogue. Or, you might want to offer a transcription of the podcast episode in the show notes.
Cost = $60 a year or $15 a month subscription PLUS $5 an hour.
Sonix has automatic transcription software at a surprisingly high level of accuracy. This is handy for quick editing. If you were to use it as show notes, you will still have to proof it in real-time.

Cost = 15c/min ($9/hr) OR 7c/min + $10/month subscription
We think it’s not as accurate as, but still worth exploring its automatic transcription software.

Audio editing software

You really must edit and assemble your podcast. Throw in a bit of music and sound design, and clean the audio of ums and ahs and other detritus.

Cost = free
The open-source software that has been a favourite for many amateur podcasters. Some criticisms include lack of features and inconvenient interface.

Cost = free for Mac users
A very good in-built editing software, primarily aimed at creating music.

Recording remote interviews

Always try to record face-to-face. But if that’s not possible, obviously a remote interview is the alternative. There is no shortage of online calling tools to record your interviews.

Cost = free to other Skype users
Is very popular to connect with guests in remote locations. Its free and most people know how to use it. Audio can be poor, with drop-outs occurring, particularly with bad internet connection.

Cost = $7.99 a month for the basic package
We have used Ringr just a few times. It’s convenient because of its dedicated app for mobile devices, allowing the guest to connect with little stress. But, the audio quality is very poor.

Cost = Free for 1 to 1 “meetings”
Zoom has powered onto the scene as an alternative to Skype, with better connection and better audio. We don’t necessarily agree with using video to do an audio interview, as the video streaming may interrupt the quality of the audio.

Other online tools

Producing a podcast is one thing; supporting it with promotional material is something else. Take advantage of these among tools, as we do.

Cost = free for basics
Great for designing cover art for your podcast and podcast episodes, and images for your blogs and newsletters which feature your podcast.

Cost = absolutely free!
A tad on the amateur side, but good enough auto-generated social media videos for your podcast. They offer free automatic transcription, which you can edit and design the way you want.

Bonus – what we use that is not cheap

As a premier podcast company, we use some better online tools, the costs of which are just that bit extra.

Cost = $40 – $50 a month subscription; or approx. $640 a year
This is the software which film, television and radio industry uses: the best in the business. Ideal for the professional sound engineer, like our very own Peter Letts.

Hindenburg Journalist Pro
Cost = $375
This is designed for the podcaster in mind. Very useful for producers and interviewers to cobble together audio tracks. Easy-to-use, reliable interface, and you can record using Skype.

Hindenburg Field Recorder
Cost = $29.99
You can record directly to your mobile phone (with a portable mic, like the iRig). Once the recording is finished you can seamlessly send the audio straight to your Hindenburg on your desktop or laptop, via the Cloud.

Omny Studio
Cost = $99 a month
The Rolls Royce of podcast hosting platforms. Designed primarily for radio stations and media companies who are churning out large amounts of audio. Very easy to use, in-depth analytics, and a very nice audio player.
Cost = $1 a minute.
At a dollar a minute, the team at Rev delivers very accurate transcriptions of your podcast, within a few hours. This is not an automatic software. Actual human beings – remember them? – are busy typing away your podcast masterpiece. They have stringent internal standards. We were offered $10 refund for a lower quality transcription, a job we thought was actually okay.