Free Tools I’ve Used to Make my Audio Drama

I produce Sidequesting by myself on a shoestring budget, so I’m always on the lookout for free software/websites that will help me make and promote my show! Here’s some of what I’ve used.

  1. Google Docs. You’ve probably heard of this one. I use it to write my scripts! It’s free (up to 15 GB, I think), and I like having an online backup of everything I write. When it comes time to send the script to actors, I just give them the google doc link. Actors can easily make a copy of the script to modify to their liking (changing font size, adding highlights, etc). In fact, across the board I’ve heard from VAs that they prefer to receive scripts in google doc form and not pdfs.
  2. Audacity. Another one you might have heard of. It’s a free audio recording and editing program. I use it to record my lines and edit episodes together. It’s a simple program that lacks many of the fancy features of other programs, but I use some of the effects (ex: noise reduction, amplify, fade out) every episode. If you’re working on a podcast where you want everyone’s volume on the same level, Levelator is a free plugin that does just that.
  3. Pinecast. You’ve got to host your podcast somewhere. Pinecast’s free plan allows you to upload 10 episodes free, and then continue with a $10/moth plan to host near-infinite episodes. This is a great option if you’re making more than one show, as it allows for multiple RSS feeds. Anchor is also a free podcast platform that is easy to use.
  4. Carrd. You should have a website for your podcast! List your episodes, credit your cast and crew, link to your social media, host your transcripts, and tell people how to listen to your show. With a free carrd account, you can create three one-page websites. The url will end in .carrd.co for each of them. There are a bunch of templates you can customize to make something that looks really nice. Some other low-cost options I’ve seen used are wix, wordpress, and tumblr. Having a website is good for your podcast and everyone involved in it! It doesn’t need to be fancy.
  5. Canva. I wanted to have some visual posts to promote episode releases with. I used Canva to make mood boards and graphics for each episode. These are especially great for Instagram (where you need an image to post). Canva has paid pro plans, but you get a lot with the free version. Make sure you’re using royalty free images to promote your podcast — Unsplash and FlickrCommons are good places to start, and Canva also has some images available for use.
  6. Headliner. Speaking of social media, sometimes I want to share audio clips. On Headliner, you can upload audio and add a background image to make a downloadable video. You can also add a moving waveform and captions. The free plan is 10 videos a month.
  7. Trello. I use this to organize everything; the system of columns and cards that Trello uses is really flexible and great for my workflow. I have columns for different stages of the production process and cards for each episode that I move from column to column as things get done.
  8. Freesound. I get so many sound effects here! There’s lots of public domain sounds, and I like to grab several and layer them together for the perfect noise. (There’s even more free sounds with other copyright, too!) It can be hit or miss — there’s lots of stinkers in this library because it’s all user recorded. Zapsplat also has a bunch of free sounds and music, though many aren’t public domain. Make sure to credit sounds where required.
  9. Soniss Sound Library. Soniss has a huge sound library collection available going back to 2015. Everything is royalty-free and commercially usable, and there’s some REALLY GREAT sounds in here.
  10. Free Music Archive. It’s an archive of free music. The copyright varies, but you can find some excellent public domain stuff here, as well as even more artists whose music you can use with credit. I discovered Loyalty Freak Music through FMA, an artist who makes a bunch of excellent and free music.
  1. Other Articles: There’s so much info out there on how to make things. I love Wil Williams’ and Elena Fernández-Collins’ websites and newsletters. https://selftaughtsolo.com also has a bunch of resources.
  2. Discounts: Sometimes Humble Bundle has audio software, music, and SFX for cheap. Occasionally Izotope RX software goes on sale at a deep discount (I cannot recommend their audio repair plugins enough). Vistaprint and Moo often have deals for business cards. Sticker Mule has weekly deals that can be great for cheap stickers. None of this is necessary to make an audio drama, but they’re all helpful in their own way.

If I’ve missed something, feel free to suggest it in the comments!

Tal is a SoCal based podcaster who cannot be stopped from making things and will occasionally write about audio fiction.