So, you’ve decided to get into podcasting but aren’t quite sure where to start.
You’ll need a microphone and a pair of headphones, but what else? Obviously, there’s software you need, but what?
That’s where this list will come in handy. As a long-time podcaster, I’ve used dozens of apps over the years. Knowing how difficult it can be just get started, I’ve tried to mostly include free-to-use software.
Here’s what every podcast beginner needs to kickstart their show:
So, you’re starting your podcast. First things first: you need an app to record your audio.
Enter Audacity, a free, open-source audio recording and editing software.
The Audacity UI Credit: SCREENSHOT: Audacity
Audacity is easily one of the industry standard podcast creation tools. Yes, even though it’s free, many professional podcasters use it. While there are more advanced things you can do with the app if you’re an experienced audio producer, it’s also extremely simple and straightforward for the basics. Simply connect your microphone – if you’re beginning it’s likely going to be a USB mic – and select the model from the drop-down menu. Start a new track and click record. Podcasters can also drag and drop audio files right into the app and do all of the podcast creation right there.
While expensive software like ProTools and Logic are great for recording and editing, Audacity has all the tools needed to record a podcast, and best of all it is free.
Skype or Zoom
If you’re looking to record a show with a guest, you can’t go wrong with using a service like Skype or Zoom. While Zoom does have a time limit for free chats, Skype is free regardless of call length as long as you’re calling another Skype user and not a landline or mobile number.
Make your call, hit record, have your conversation, and then drag the file right into Audacity for editing.
Ecamm Skype Recorder
However, if you’d like to up your audio quality with an easy-to-use, one-time purchase ($39.95 Mac app, I highly recommend buying Ecamm Skype Recorder.
What does it do? It’ll record up to four users on a call, but with each on a separate audio track. This makes audio editing and other post-production work, like fixing sound levels and background noise for one particular guest, a breeze.
Once your podcast show is edited and exported, you’re going to need to upload it so people can find it.
There are quite a number of podcast hosting services online: Libsyn, Buzzsprout, Simplecast, Podbean…the list goes on. These are all monthly subscription services.
You need one of these platforms not just to host your new episodes, but also to continue hosting your archive of podcast episodes. These podcast services basically ensure the entire library of your show — new and old — are available online. Each has their own positives and negatives. I highly recommend looking into one yourself as there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution here for everyone.
Use Anchor.FM to host your podcast for free. Credit: Anchor
However, if you’re just starting out and don’t want to put any financial commitment into your new endeavor quite yet, Anchor is a good option. It’s owned by Spotify and absolutely free. You can create your entire podcast within the platform and skip all the above apps if you want something extremely simple with limited options. But, even if you don’t edit on the platform, you can still just host your podcast through Anchor. The service also provides a simple distribution feature that automatically puts your show on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and other popular podcast directories.
This free little Mac app is by Overcast, a popular iOS podcast player. Forecast takes your uncompressed audio file that you export from your audio editor, such as a .WAV file, and encodes it into a smaller .MP3 file.
The free Forecast by Overcast app for Mac. Credit: overcast
In addition, it is ridiculously easy to add metadata to your audio file, such as podcast title, show title, and description via Forecast. The app also allows you to add chapter markers to timecodes within the file, making it easy for your listeners to find specific content within the show. As an added bonus, Forecast will also let you know where there are large gaps of silence within your podcast.
The newest app on this list is easily RateThisPodcast. Getting listeners to review your podcast on different directories such as Apple Podcasts and Podchaser are actually pretty important in growing your subscription base. These directories often use a combination of downloads and positive reviews (as well as other data) to rank your podcast on listeners’ charts as well as make recommendations to other users.
RateThisPodcast makes it easy for listeners to find where to review your show. Credit: RateThisPodcast
RateThisPodcast makes asking listeners to leave a review a breeze. Simply sign up – there’s a limited free tier – and RateThisPodcast will automatically create a page with links to your podcast on various podcast directories. The service will even let you know via an email notification when someone leaves a new review for your podcast on one of the directories.
Patreon or Ko-fi
Listen, I know you’ve just started your podcast, but have you considered monetizing it from the get-go? If you don’t already have a built-in following, you’re not going to get rich, but you might have a handful of early fans who want to support your show. Making some side income is certainly a pretty big incentive to keep podcasting on a regular basis.
Patreon is a great platform if you’re looking to sign up members with a recurring monthly fee. The platform makes providing paying subscribers with bonus material very easy. You simply upload an exclusive audio file and choose what subscriber tier(s) to “unlock” it for. Then, only those users can listen to or download the file.
Ko-fi is another option. While the platform now also provides Patreon-like features, where it really stands out is how it started: A place where listeners can quickly and easily make a one-time donation to their favorite creators if they’re not looking to sign up for a recurring subscription.
You’re going to want to promote your new podcast, right? Headliner is the app to use to do just that.
Headliner will help you create social media friendly audiograms to promote your podcast. Credit: headliner
Have you ever seen those square video graphics posted by your favorite podcasters on social media? The one that plays a snippet of the podcast alongside a cool waveform? Headliner will create those audiograms for you so you can easily share short teasers of your show on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever else people can find you online. It’ll also transcribe your clip and add captions. There’s a free tier too!
OBS / Ecamm Live
These aren’t technically podcasting apps, however, I’m a big proponent of getting the most out of your content. If you’re already recording an audio version of your show, why not just set up even a simple webcam and record video of yourself as well. This will make for much more engaging content that can be used to distribute your podcast on platforms like YouTube as well.
OBS and Ecamm Live are both video streaming programs, but you can use them to just record locally on your computer without going live as well. OBS is a free multiplatform open-source app. Ecamm Live requires a paid subscription ($20 a month) and is only available for Mac.
Now get podcasting!