A podcast hosting service is an essential tool that no podcaster can forgo. Despite their name, nowadays, podcast hosting sites do much more than simply store your audio files. They can help you with distribution, marketing, analytics, and growth. All of which are vital to a successful podcast.
You would think that you would have to pay a premium to access this kind of toolbox. In fact, with the number of high-caliber free podcast hosts out there, there’s no need to make a financial investment.
In this article, we’ll take you through the best free podcast hosting services out there so that you can take your pick.
- A podcast host stores, distributes, and ultimately delivers your podcast to your audience.
- Podcast hosts simplify distribution, help you monitor your podcast’s performance, and grow your show.
- Keep in mind that free podcast hosting sites may have limitations on storage space, bandwidth, and functionality.
- Some of the best free podcast hosting services are Buzzsprout, Anchor, and Podbean.
What is a podcast host?
A podcast host is a platform that stores your podcast’s media files, distributes them to podcast directories of your choice, and ultimately delivers your podcast to your listeners.
Podcast hosting platforms act as a bridge between the podcast creator and the podcast directories they want their podcast to appear on.
Why do you need podcast hosting?
Though using a podcast hosting site isn’t strictly necessary, it’s recommended. This is because they exist to make podcasters’ lives easier. If you’re still not convinced, here are just a few of the reasons you need a podcast host:
To store large media files
On a practical level, podcast hosting platforms are better equipped to store your podcast’s media files. This is because podcast recordings are typically huge files that require substantial storage space and bandwidth, both of which a podcast hosting site has.
To simplify podcast distribution
Podcast hosts significantly streamline podcast distribution by providing you with an RSS feed. Distribution is the release of your episodes to the podcast directories (or listening platforms) of your choice, and in the end, to your listeners.
To monitor your podcast’s performance
Podcast hosting services provide insightful data and analytics about your podcast’s performance, how listeners are engaging with your content, and more. This kind of information is invaluable for helping to refine your content output.
To grow your podcast
Nowadays, podcast hosts do much more than simply store and distribute your podcast for you. Most major hosting sites come with various features designed to help you grow your podcast.
How free podcast hosting works
For podcasters on a budget, free podcast hosting sounds like a dream come true. As we mentioned, the principal aim of podcast hosting companies is to make your life easier. And when there’s no price tag attached, it’s even better.
The whole process is super straightforward. Here’s how free podcast hosting works:
- Create your account with the podcast hosting platform.
- Create your show on the podcast host site by entering details such as the name, description, and your show artwork.
- Upload each episode’s audio (or video) files to the podcast host, where they will be stored.
- The podcast host will automatically generate an RSS feed for your show.
- Manually submit your RSS feed to your desired podcast directories.
- Sit back and relax. Publishing your podcast will be easier than ever. The RSS feed will automatically deliver your new episodes to listeners and listening platforms.
Top tip: RSS stands for ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘Really Simple Syndication’
Pitfalls of Free Podcast Hosts
Free podcast hosting services can be an excellent solution for creators with a budget. However, you should be aware of some of the disadvantages of opting for a free hosting platform:
- Lack of choice. Opting for a free hosting platform means choosing from the small selection of hosting services that offer a free plan.
- Upload limits may restrict the amount of content you can upload.
- Episode duration limits. Some podcast hosts place a limit on how long your audio can be, which can be frustrating or even a dealbreaker.
- Third-party ads. Some free hosting services advertise your content without compensating you for the ad space.
- Copyright issues. Always look at the fine print. Some podcast hosts stipulate ownership claims over the content stored on their servers.
The said, don’t be disheartened. Suppose you are on a budget or would prefer not to commit to a paid hosting service just yet. In that case, free podcast hosts offer the essentials and great flexibility (not to mention affordability).
How to choose a Free Podcast Hosting service?
Not all hosting platforms are the same. So when choosing between free podcasting hosting services, here are a couple of factors to bear in mind:
Bandwidth, Upload, and Storage Limits
Some free podcast hosting services limit your uploads and storage allowances. This could affect how many hours of audio you can upload or the length of your episodes.
If you can, opt for a podcast hosting site that offers unlimited bandwidth and storage. Or if not, one that gives you the option to upgrade. When it comes to podcasting, storage space is precious - so don’t overlook this.
If you’re a stickler for audio quality (which most podcasters are), then ensure to check which file formats your chosen podcast host accepts. You may find that the hosting platform converts files into a lower-quality format.
Although do bear in mind that most major listening platforms also stipulate their compatible file formats.
Look for a podcast hosting service that makes monitoring your podcast easy. You should be able to easily access stats and data regarding listener engagement, as well as the performance of your content.
Top tip: look for stats that are IAB certified and compliant. IAB stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau and sets globally consistent standards for metrics collected by the podcasting community.
Competitive podcast hosting services will offer growth, marketing, and analytics features that help you maximize your podcast’s performance. You should also look out for any integrations that might be relevant to your podcast.
You need a podcast host that you find easy to use. Look at the interface and dashboard design, whether you find the site clunky, and whether the features on offer are easy to implement.
Best free podcast hosting services
If you’re wondering where you can host a podcast for free, you’re in the right place. Here are some of the best podcast hosting platforms (all free!) out there:
- Upload 2 hours per month, although note that audio files are automatically removed after 90 days.
- Advanced analytics and stats on your podcast’s performance that are IAB compliant.
- Unlimited team members for collaborative work.
- Accepts almost all file formats.
- Distribute to major listening platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Castro, and more.
- WordPress plugin so that you can publish your podcast directly to your WordPress website.
- 5 hours storage space per month.
- 100GB monthly bandwidth.
- Ability to use iOS and Android app.
- Embeddable player so that you can include a podcast player on your podcast website, for example
- Dedicated podcast website and several themes but with Podbean branding.
- Limited number of team members.
- Distribute to major listening platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
- Access to an online recording studio.
- Up to 5 hours of audio and up to 10 episodes.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- 15 minutes Livestream allowance.
- Basic stats and analytics that are IAB compliant.
- Automatically distribute to iHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more.
- No ability to monetize your podcast.
- Unlimited storage: no limit on the number of episodes you upload.
- Limited to one podcast per account.
- You own the rights to all of your content.
- One-step distribution to Spotify and other major platforms.
- IAB certified metrics & engagement insights.
- Podcast monetization: easily include promotions in your podcast with Ads by Anchor and get matched with viable sponsors.
- Include full tracks from Spotify in your podcast.
- Up to 500 MB Storage.
- Up to 6 hours/20 episodes.
- 15GB of outbound bandwidth per month.
- Basic podcast statistics: daily analytics and tracking of your podcast’s performance that are fully IAB compliant.
- Easy podcast distribution.
- Monetize your podcast with Podcorn, Patreon, and What For Apparel.
- Unlimited episodes and downloads.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Basic analytics that is fully IAB compliant.
- Basic podcast website with ads.
- Basic marketing tools that offer functions such as transcription.
- RSS feed that you can submit to podcast platforms.
- Upload up to 3 hours of audio.
- Maximum file size of 4GB.
- Accepts most file formats, with lossless file formats recommended.
- Basic analytics, although note that these are not IAB compliant.
- Distribution is not that straightforward.
Free podcast hosting FAQ
Can you podcast for free?
Absolutely. The beauty of podcasting is that you can get started by recording your first episode with just your phone if you want to. Podcasting costs as much or as little as you want it to. So if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry; you can start out for free.
Does it cost money to host a podcast?
Strictly speaking, no. As we’ve seen in this article, there are plenty of free podcast hosting sites that offer all the functionality you need. That said, ambitious podcasters may find they outgrow their free podcast hosting service after a while.
If you think this is the case for you, some podcast hosts, such as Libsyn, offer extensive services for a very nominal fee. Alternatively, you could give some more premium podcast hosting sites a test run using their free trial period. For example, Transistor has a 14-day free trial, and Captivate has a 7-day free trial.
What is the best free podcast hosting site?
There’s no single best podcast host site. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and what works best for you and your podcast.
Is Podbean really free?
Yes and no. Podbean has a ‘Podcast Starter’ plan that is free to access and comes with 5 hours of storage space and 100GB of monthly bandwidth. If you require more storage or bandwidth, you can consider upgrading to one of their paid plans.
Is Buzzsprout free?
Buzzsprout does offer a free pricing plan. However, your uploads are limited to 2 hours per month, and the file will be automatically taken down after 90 days.
Is Spotify podcasts free?
For podcasters, uploading to Spotify is entirely free.
You can also listen to podcasts on Spotify for free, but your listening will be interrupted by the occasional ad. You can upgrade to Spotify Premium for uninterrupted listening for just $9.99/month.
Are iTunes podcasts free?
iTunes podcasts are now known as Apple Podcasts, and the good news is, it’s entirely free for both listeners and creators alike.
That said, Apple Podcasts recently launched paid podcast subscriptions. These subscription models allow podcasters to monetize their content further and listeners to pay for access to exclusive content.