Basically, these two digital audio tools are the best (that you can get for free).
Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor made by a couple of dudes at Carnegie Mellon 15 years ago. It has been downloaded since then by at least 76.5 million people, and supports over 30 languages. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
It looks scary at first, but I was surprised how easy it was to use and how well supported it is with its own wiki and more. You can record directly into the program, drag and drop other audio files, and make multiple tracks. You must then export from Audacity to use elsewhere because the program uses its own unique file type within the software.
In my limited experience, I’ve found the Audacity Wiki super helpful. Most of what you are wondering about has already been answered, or categorized so that you can even anticipate/explore other issues/options.
You can also watch videos/screencasts like this one to help you with improving vocal qualities by exploring normalizing, noise removal, compression, equalization, and hard limiting.
And now, a little about SoundCloud. Originally founded in Stockholm, but headquartered in Berlin, SoundCloud is privately held company that allows users to upload, share, or listen to recordings for free up to a point. (SoundCloud gives you 170 free minutes of uploads.)
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/198852891″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
As you can see by this paragon of an example, SoundCloud also allows you to embed an image with your uploaded material. A lot of money has been poured into development, and so it has other cool features like concurrent play with site navigation. You most likely have seen this player recently embedded in sites or linked to on Facebook. Distinctive features include how easy it is to share or embed, as well as it waveform comment section.
If you are starting out with audio editing and sharing, these two tools have made themselves the go-to options because their simplicity and ubiquity.