Podcasts are huge and are growing in popularity all the time. They are easy to consume, freely available and some can be very entertaining. Like blogging or vlogging, podcasts need a good host and a lot of perseverance to do well but can catapult you to stardom if you are exceptionally lucky.
Cheap or free podcast hosting sites are the ideal place to begin your foray into podcasting. It will involve minimal outlay and come with restrictions that won’t really affect you as a beginner. You can then move on to a more performance oriented service with more advanced features.
When looking for a podcast host, there are a couple of things to check. Upload limits is a prime example. Some free hosts will limit the size or number of files you can upload. Fine if you’re experimenting but not if you are planning to launch your own network. Analytics is also important and many free podcasts hosts have minimal analytics. Some allow integration with third-party tools, some do not.
Integration with iTunes or other platforms is also a useful addition, as does the ability to create a homepage within the site where your latest podcasts can be featured in one place. After all, if someone stumbles across a podcast and likes what they hear, you want them to quickly be able to find more.
Finally, if you can find a podcast hosting site that offers a free account with the option to upgrade to a more feature-rich service, all the better. It means you can upgrade your offering without having to set up all over again. Cheaper hosts that offer upgrades without having to shift your content would work well too.
The cheap or free podcast hosting sites within this list includes some or all of these features.
PodBean is one of the most accomplished podcast websites around. It is simple, has good reliability and performance and competitive pricing. It has a very clean interface that prioritizes ease of use so you can spend more time producing content. The tools are simple and get the job done quickly with the minimum of fuss. It is a very easy podcast hosting site to get to grips with.
It isn’t free, but plans start at only $3 a month. In return you get up to 100MB upload per month with 1GB of bandwidth. This plan also includes basic analytics, an app and your own themed site. More expensive plans include unlimited storage and bandwidth, more details analytics and better support.
Libsyn is one of the most established names in podcast hosting. It isn’t as generous with its offering as PodBean and the interface isn’t as intuitive but it is reliable and straightforward enough. Libsyn takes a little while to get to grips with but once you do, producing and publishing content is a breeze.
Libsyn isn’t free either with plans starting at $5 a month. You only get 50MB monthly storage but no bandwidth limitations that I could see. Analytics cost $2 extra per month which is a little tight as they are mandatory for running an effective podcast. Step up a level to the $15 a month plan for better features.
SoundCloud should need no introduction as it is huge. Known more for music than for podcasting, it nevertheless can provide both. The platform is bulletproof in its reliability and very fast to publish and to listen. The creator’s interface is fairly simple to use which is always nice. Select the Create part of the site to upload your podcast.
There is a free plan that includes basic elements and three hours of uploaded content. You can share easily, connect and comment with listeners and access basic analytics. The Pro plans are worth investment once you’re up and running as they only cost up to $16 a month for unlimited use.
YouTube is a fantastic place to host a podcast given the power of the platform, the tools available and the sheer number of users. The interface is simple, you can upload or just drag and drop. There are some decent authoring tools but the majority of the work will be done locally and uploaded to YouTube.
The ideal combination would be SoundCloud or PodBean and YouTube. YouTube may count its users by the billion but it doesn’t have all the tools a podcast might need such as RSS. The downside is that it doesn’t support MP3 so you will have to encode in MP4 for it to work. It does have extensive analytics, a home page of sorts and is incredibly easy to use. Plus, users by the billion, some of whom will undoubtedly stumble across your podcast.
Pinecast seems to like to keep things simple. A very stark website, minimalist interface and uncomplicated but powerful tools. Yet what it does, it seems to do well if reading reviews are anything to go by. The UI is easy to master and puts the podcast at the center of everything. It also includes analytics as standard and makes it easy to become a publisher.
There is a free account but it’s the paid accounts that have the real power. From as little as $5 a month you get unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth and has no limitation on any aspect of the service. The only difference between the $5 and $15 service is the complexity and detail available in the analytics and the ability to have a homepage. The Tip Jar is a neat feature also.
Buzzsprout markets itself as the podcast hosting site for normal people. It touts a simple interface, powerful publishing tools and a no-nonsense approach as its forte and seems to deliver on all of them. The dashboard is super-easy, with a clear UI, big green upload button and an obvious measure of how much storage you have left for the month.
The free plan offers two hours per month hosted for a maximum of 90 days. For $12 you get 3 hours per month and indefinite hosting. $18 gets you 6 hours and $24 a month gets you 12 hours.
Blubrry is another podcast hosting site that emphasizes ease of use. It also provides some powerful podcast publishing tools and decent analytics even with their cheapest account. One of the highlights of Blubrry is their WordPress plugin that allows you to integrate your podcasts into your blog or website.
Blubrry don’t offer free accounts and subscriptions begin at $12 a month. In return you get 100MB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, full analytics and a web uploader. More expensive plans offer more storage and the ability to add vlogs as well as podcasts. The PowerPress WordPress plugin is available in all plans.
BlogTalkRadio is a podcast hosting site to consider when you’re up and running and need more powerful publishing tools. It is expensive but in return you get an extensive selection of tools and features to publicize, monetize and promote your podcast. The interface is detailed but simple to use and uploading your audio takes mere seconds.
BlogTalkRadio is a little reticent to show their prices and for good reason. They start at $39 per month but provide 2 hours of podcast, unlimited uploads, unlimited media hosting, the ability to hold call-ins, have guests, scheduling and live broadcasts. There is a free Tryout Plan that offers 30 minutes of broadcast with limited analytics so you can try before you buy.
Fireside is our final cheap or free podcast hosting site worth checking out. It is another platform that combines power and simplicity into one. You can upload your files from local storage or import from other podcast hosts or cloud storage. The layout is a little like WordPress, so if you know that publishing platform, you will find yourself in familiar territory.
There is only one plan for Fireside and it costs $19 per month. In return you receive unlimited storage, bandwidth and full access to analytics. You also get your own homepage to help promote your work.
Finding good quality, reliable podcast hosting sites took a lot of research but I am confident that those listed here are currently some of the best around. As you can see from reading through each one, there is a huge difference in what you get for your money and how much you pay.
Some of the more expensive plans justify that investment by offering powerful monetization and promotion features while a couple do not. Some offer free or trial plans before you have to pay and some do not. My advice would be to find a podcast hosting site that offers a free account or decent length trial so you can switch should you like to keep going or upgrade your experience. Which you choose is now entirely up to you and what you are looking for.
Got any other cheap or free podcast hosting sites that we should mention? Had experience using any of these? Tell us about your experience below!