Starting Your Own Podcast #4: Top Free Podcasting Hosting Services
If you are going to start your own podcast, you need to find a place for it to live, or a host. If you already have a website, you may be able to host it there. However, the experts recommend using a dedicated podcast hosting service. These are uniquely suited to handle the specific demands of podcast hosting.
This post is part of a series on starting your own podcast. You are welcome to start at the beginning with Starting Your Own Podcast #1 The Microphone.
If you are just dipping your toes in the water of podcasting, or if you have a limited budget (or no budget) you may be looking to get started for free. Always use caution when looking at "free" options. The biggest thing to consider is what happens when you need more? Fortunately, the options listed below offer paid plans. If and when you decide it is time to upgrade, you can move to a paid plan without skipping a beat. Given that, I will include their paid tier pricing so you can know what you might be getting yourself into in the future. (Except for one that doesn't have a paid plan!)
Free Podcast Option #1: Buzzsprout
Buzzsprout is known as one of the most accessible platforms to get started with. They offer an intuitive interface and help at every step of the way. Even if you have zero podcasting experience, you should be able to get your podcast uploaded and listed on iTunes in no time.
Free account limitations: Limited to 2 hours of content each month. Content is deleted after 90 days.
What this means: If your podcast is 30 minutes long, you could upload four episodes every month. For most, that is probably enough. The downside is, that they will be deleted after 90 days. Ideally, you put a lot of work into those podcasts so you would want them around longer than that. Though, if your podcast content has a short shelf life, maybe this isn't be a deal killer for you.
Upgrades: If you like the service and stick with podcasting, you can upgrade your account and you won't need to start over. They have three plans:
Upload 3 Hours Each Month
Overage allowed ($4 per hour)
Upload 6 Hours Each Month
Overage allowed ($3 per hour)
Upload 12 Hours
Overage allowed ($2 per hour)
I like Buzzsprout's pricing model. Most podcasts will be fine with the $12/month plan. And, if you are especially prolific one month, it won't break the bank to pay the overage. It is also great to know that your content won't be deleted as long as you stay with the service.
Free Podcast Option #2: SoundCloud
There appears to be a love/hate relationship with SoundCloud among podcasters. My podcast is currently hosted on this service. I will be migrating to a new provider soon. However, it is not due to any problems with the service; it is just about pricing.
Free account limitations: 3 Hours of Uploads
What this means: I find Soundcloud's pricing a little confusing, though if you dig deep enough, they explain it clearly on their website. As opposed to a monthly limit, they have a total limit. Once you hit three hours with the free plan, you have to upgrade, stop uploading, or delete your older content. Again, ideally with a podcast you would want to keep your past episodes available. But if you don't mind deleting older content, you could host up to six 30 minute episodes at once.
Upgrades: If you are happy with SoundCloud but need more space, hey have two upgrade options, Pro and Pro Unlimited.
6 Hour Total Upload Time
Pro Unlimited $16/month
Unlimited Upload Time
Note: With SoundCloud's Pro option, you are still limited by total minutes. It is not 6 hours of uploads a month, it is 6 hours total. If you go over that, you either need to upgrade or delete old content.
SoundCloud's pricing is a little confusing and the 6 hour limit on the Pro account is a deal breaker for podcasters who want to keep all their episodes posted. However, once you get to the Pro Unlimited plan, their pricing becomes competitive and the limits go away.
Free Podcast Option #3: Anchor
Anchor is the only totally free service on this list. They are new to the podcasting game after initially catering to short-form audio. Anchor may make some podcasters nervous since they are still new and they still aren't making money. The could go belly-up and leave podcasters scrambling to find a new service. However, with the substantial growth in the podcasting space, they might just make it.
Anchor promotes themselves as the easiest way to get started with podcasting. In fact, you can ignore my posts on microphones and software and produce a podcast right from your mobile phone with their app. If you want to take the more traditional route, you can also create your content with your editor and upload it.
Free Account Limitations: None
What This Means: There is only one account level on Anchor, the free one.
Upgrade Options: I imagine they will need to make money at some point. So, perhaps, in the future they will add some new, premium features and charge for those. But for now, what you see in the free plan is what you get.
In a future post, I will review some of the most popular paid hosts. But first, in my next post, I will discuss some of the features that make some providers stand above others.
Did I miss any quality free options? Let me know in the comments.
In the meantime, check out my podcast here.
If you are looking for a professional intro for your podcast, I can help. Check out my professionally voiced and produced podcast intros starting at $10.
If you want to check out some of the equipment I used in my own studio or write about on this blog, you can read more here.