If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, one of your first questions will undoubtedly be, “How much is this going to cost me?” Knowing what the upfront costs are and determining if they align with your objectives will allow you to decide if podcasting is even worth your time. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how much it costs to start a podcast!
Figuring out your podcast budget requires asking a few questions about what you want to get from launching an audio show. Are you a hobbyist, or will you be using podcasts to generate income? Are you a well-established brand that needs to produce a high-quality production from the outset? Where you are now and where you would like to be will play a key role in determining how much you will need to invest in podcasting at the beginning.
The good news is that you can create a podcast with almost any budget. You may already have the basic equipment you need to start recording: a computer, headphones with a microphone, and the recording software available on your computer.
If you’re looking at just the basics of what equipment you have lying around or are working with a low budget, then you will have to sacrifice some quality. However, you can steadily work towards higher quality equipment and setup over time as your podcast begins to generate more income for you to reinvest in better production. Podcasting is a process of constant improvement; you have to start somewhere!
The following are the basic equipment and tools you should invest in if you’re starting:
It’s tempting to start out with the microphone that’s already built into your mobile device, your laptop, or your earphones. Although the quality of built-in microphones has improved significantly over the years, these tools aren’t always designed to deliver the presence that podcast listeners expect. That said, we’d rather hear you start with the tools you’ve got if you haven’t got the budget to invest in a dedicated microphone.
USB microphones plug directly into your computer, without requiring a separate soundboard, making them excellent for beginning podcasters. We recommend The Audio-Technica ATR2100. Many podcasters use it, and you can snag it on Amazon for around $79. (There’s a newer version of this model, selling for a little more—either one works great.)
If you have a higher budget, you can splurge on some more sophisticated gear. However, fancier microphones often sound best in rooms that have been professionally treated and soundproofed. You might sound great in front of a Shure SM-7 or an Electro-Voice RE20, but those mics will catch all kinds of ambient sound if you’re recording in a home or office. We agree with experienced podcasters like Marco Arment, who use a highly directional handheld microphone—the Shure Beta 87A. Paired with an XLR-USB interface, you’ll spend about $400 on a solo setup.
Pop filter: $8-20
A pop filter helps to cancel out loud “p,” “s,” and “t” sounds. You might have never noticed these “pop” sounds before, but once you start recording your own voice, you’ll notice them everywhere. A pop filter looks like a metal screen and goes in front of your microphone. There are DIY options you can find on YouTube, but standard pop filters don’t cost that much. A Neewer NW 6-inch pop filter is $7.99, but you can get others at $20 or more depending on the size and the brand.
As you get more comfortable recording your own voice, you’ll want a comfortable set of headphones that will help guide your mouth and head placement. The earbuds that came with your phone are a decent start, but you could accidentally add a bunch of background feedback if you turn them up to a high volume.
Likewise, many popular consumer headphones may sound great to your ears—but could end up distorting your voice recordings. For instance, speakers that overdrive the bass in your ears could lead you to leave out too much bass in your recordings. Therefore, we recommend a classic set of headphones that have been standard issue in professional studios for years: The Sony MDR7506 sell on Amazon for about $79. They’re comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time, and they produce clean, consistent sound.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on audio editing software. Audacity is free on all platforms, and GarageBand comes free on most Apple devices. You can even use the “First” version of Avid Pro Tools for free. When you’re recording an interview over Skype or Facetime, tools from Ecamm and Callnote streamline the process for under $50. If you’re looking for more sophisticated tools that support automated workflows, check out the full version of Pro Tools, Adobe’s Audition, or Apple’s Logic.
You’ll need a podcast host to distribute your show across multiple platforms. We’re fans of Anchor’s free service, though you’ll be giving them the power to drop ads into your feed. If you want more control of your audience’s experience, we’ve used both Transistor and Fireside for our clients’ projects. Transistor’s especially good if you want to run lots of smaller seasons of shows, and Fireside’s excellent if you want to build a network of episodes connected by hosts, guests, or themes. You’ll spend between $19-$100 per month, depending on your audience size.
The startup costs for your podcast really depends on your situation, what equipment you already have, and how big you want to grow. As you can see, there are some free alternatives and budget-friendly options to get started that will cost you about $200-$300. If you have a bigger budget and want to go for a more professional setup, the costs can range into several thousand.
Would you prefer not to worry about the technical production aspects of podcasting and focus on creating great audio content? You should let our team of podcast production experts and engineers take over! We make your podcast sound top-notch and help you develop a marketing plan to reach your audience. Hop on a complimentary discovery session with one of our experts!