How much does it cost to start a podcast

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Podcast

Starting a podcast is certainly not as challenging as it was 10 years ago. Today, there are many different free or low-cost options to jumpstart podcast production. Even still, starting this journey does come with a few one-time as well as recurring expenses. Some of these expenses include:

  • Podcasting Equipment (Mic, Headphones, Boomstand, Soundproofing, Studio, etc. ) 
  • Hosting Platform ( Free or Paid)
  • Podcast Production ( Editing Software, Transcription, etc.)
  • Creative Production (Graphics, Audio, Ads if Advertising)
  • Learning / Coaching Resources (Coaching, Courses, Strategy Sessions)
  • Marketing Costs (Advertising, Content Production & Promotion, etc.)
  • Employee / Contracting Expenses (If Applicable)

Overall, because the cost of starting a podcast can vary dramatically we will break down this article into 3 tiers. These costing tiers will be low tier, mid-tier, and high tier. 

3 Primary Podcasting Tiers

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It does without saying that every podcast creator endeavors to produce high-value content regardless of the investment. At Podasts.com we understand your quality standards this is why we offer a Free Forever Plan. This will help cut down on your overall costs. That being said,  as mentioned above we structured this guide into 3 parts to give you an overarching view of what it actually costs to start a podcast depending on your current budgeting constraints. In each section we will provide the following information: 

  • Equipment Requirements
  • Software Requirements
  • Hosting Solutions
  • Approximate Cost
  • Pros and Cons For Each Tier

Note: We will not include the cost of a computer in this article. We’ve composed this article with the assumption that a person owns or has access to a computer.  

After reading through each section, you’ll be able to determine how much it will cost you to start a podcast based on your specific requirements! So without further adieu let’s jump right into it. 

How Much Does Starting a Low-Tier Podcast Cost? 

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If you’re starting on a shoestring budget or perhaps you’re not sure if you’ll commit to podcasting the low tier is a great place to start. While many of the price points here will land at $0 there are certainly some items you should invest in to get the best bang for your podcasting production. 

Equipment Requirements

To ensure you have a basic quality setup the low range requirements include a pair of standard headphones and a decent quality mic. There are several approaches to this. You can consolidate the mic and headphones into a decent headset. This will save you money. A pair of headphones is essential for podcasting, especially if you decide to interview someone or if you have more than 2 interviewees.

For example, Logitech’s Clear Chat Headset is an excellent starting point. At the time of this publication $39 on Amazon. Another option is Logitech’s Gaming Headset with Boom Mic. In this class, what you’re looking for is a mic that reduces background noise and picks up your voice clearly. 

If you already have a decent set of headphones you may want to consider a lapel mic. For example, FiFine’s Lapel Mic with Soundcard and Audio Plugin is well-reviewed on Amazon boasting excellent audio quality at a surprisingly low price point, which ranges between $14 to $18 depending on-sale periods. 

Software Requirements

At this price point, your software requirements can all be obtained for free. To get started you’ll need at least 3 types of software including graphics software, recording and editing software, and call recording software.

Graphic Software

For graphics software, there are many different options to choose from these days as a result of SAAS solutions. You can create free accounts or download software packs from companies like: 

  • Canva.com
  • GIMP
  • Pixlr
  • Inkscape
  • Vectr
  • Krita

Podcast Recording and Editing Software 

When it comes to editing software there are several free go-to options that work extremely well to get your podcast audio from raw to refined and ready for publishing. These options include: 

  • Audacity
  • Garageband
  • Ocenaudio

Podcast Call Recording Software 

Call recording software is important if you intend on hosting interviewees. As a new podcaster, you have several directions you can go. The first is simply to record calls via Skype using Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype or Ecamm Live both options run between $30 to $40 and integrate with Skype. However, for those without a Mac and Skype, another option is to use Zoom.us to record calls.

Zoom’s free plan allows you to record calls locally which is great. It also provides a call-in number in case your guests do not have access to the internet. The major restriction when using Zoom is that calls are limited to 40 minutes per call. However, for most podcasters, 40 minutes is enough time to get some great interview content! 

Podcast Hosting Solutions

If you’re searching for a podcast hosting solution we’d, of course, have to toot our own horn here. Podcasts.com provides a free hosting plan that includes

Our free plan comes with more storage and bandwidth per month than many other paid hosting providers. However, if your deadset on finding another solution some other podcasting solutions include Lisbyn, BuzzSprout, Blubrry, and PodBean.  

Approximate Cost

Now that you understand all the requirements necessary to get your podcast from the idea to live, let’s breakdown how much starting a podcast will cost based on our low tier model.

Cost of starting a podcast estimate low tier model 

Please note, while costing for each tier can be modified to fit your specific scenario it will provide a good general baseline. 

  • Equipment (Headphones / Mic / Headset) –             $ 40
  • Software (Graphics / Recording & Editing)  – $ 0
  • Hosting (Podcasting Hosting, Distribution) –           $ 0 (With Podcasts.com)
  • Total Cost To Get Your Podcast Live –                      $ 40 

Pros and Cons For Low-Tier Cost

As you can imagine every tier is accompanied by some pros and cons. Let’s discuss the pros and cons associated with starting a podcast in the low tier. 

Pros For a Starting a Low Tier Podcast

The obvious pro for starting in this tier is the low cost. However, if budget is not a huge constraint for you there are certainly other benefits for starting at this level. Some of these pros include

  • Agility – At this tier, you are less committed or stuck to specific processes. This means you can make quick changes with very little impact. 
  • Embracing Lean – Starting at this level helps you truly see what features and functionality are required as opposed to just nice to have. As with anything commerce based there is always something shiny to buy which may not be practical or necessary.
  • Simplifying the Process – One of the big challenges associated with getting a project done is actually driving it to the finish line. Keeping it small and simple to start off with increases your potential success rate. 
Cons for Starting a Low Tier Podcast 

Although there are many pros for starting at this level there are certainly some cons. For example, if time is a huge constraint this may threaten your ability to get your podcast live. Let’s outline some of the cons below. 

  • Time Dependency – If you are one of those people who are pressed for time the low tier model will require a great deal of it since all aspects of production will depend on you. 
  • Ad-Based – If you are anti-ads this or intend on selling slots or running influencer promotions this might not be the best option for you. 
  • Brand Considerations – At this price point we haven’t considered brand requirements which can range from simple add-ons like domain masking to larger considerations like website development and syndication. 
  • Production quality – Of course there’s an obvious difference between a studio-based production and the DIY version. However, for most podcasters, the DIY setup will suffice. 

Now that we’ve addressed the low tier version of starting a podcast let’s get fancy and move into the Mid Tier option. 

How Much Does Starting A Mid-Tier Podcast Cost? 

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While the low-tier option has its advantages starting mid-range allows you uplevel the quality and speed of your production. At this level, you can expect higher quality equipment and faster production time. Let’s explore the mid-tier podcasting model in greater detail below. 

Mid-Tier Equipment Requirements

Mid-Tier Podcasting Microphones 

At this level, you want a higher grade mic. Preferably one separate from a headset. There are many different mics to choose from however some of the most popular options include the Blue Yeti or Snowball Ice and Audio Technica. Generally, in this range, you can find an option between $100 – $200. In terms of microphone selection, you may want to consider how your voice or recordings will sound with specific microphones like condenser vs. dynamic.

For example, if you intend on recording musical instruments during your podcast dynamic mics are generally better for this process. Whereas, condenser mics are generally better for recording acoustic or vocals. However, if you want to dive deep into vocals, there are also other detailed mic related considerations including tone, pitch, and bass requirements. A great tip when finding the mic that’s best for you is to identify an existing podcaster with a similar sound as you and then either search their website or send them a quick question regarding the type of mic used, most creators are very responsive. 

Mid-Tier Podcasting Headphones 

At this tier what you’re really looking for is headphone quality specific to sound clarity and noise reduction. We won’t dive deep into OHMs, open backs, and sound profiles as this is not an audiophile post. However, here are a few considerations you should take into account. 

  • Sound Clarity – Sound frequency is important when it comes to editing and moving your podcast to a production-ready version. Finding headphones with an extended frequency range will help you hear sounds that are typically missed in low-tier versions. 
  • Noise Reduction – Noise reduction is essential because you’ll want to hear the podcast as if a member of your audience was listening. 
  • Comfort and Convenience – Look for features that are less fussy and of course comfortable since you’ll be wearing these headphones quite a bit. Generally over the ear headphones are preferred primarily because of the better sound quality. However, they are also more comfortable and less fidgety. If you’ve ever tried hosting a podcast while your earbud headphones fall out, it’s a bit of a nightmare. 

An excellent option for podcasting headphones includes the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones or the BayerDynamic DT990. Both options range between $120 to $180. 

Optional Mid-Tier Equipment Add-Ons 

At this level, you’re probably a lot more serious about podcasting than the general hobbyist. As such some other considerations may include: 

  • Setup for In-House Guests ($250 podcasting bundles)
  • Mic Arm  – $50.00 
  • Pop-Filter – $20.00 
  • Shock mount – $15.00 
  • Boom stand – $50

You can spend upwards of $385 for add-ons alone. In total, you can expect to spend around $600 for mid-tier podcasting equipment. 

Software Requirements

In the mid-tier range purchasing software is ideal. You’ll likely want either the added convenience or more robust features. At this level were allowing 4 software categories, this includes graphics software, recording & editing software, and call recording software. 

Graphics Software 

At this level, you’re liking considering software or solutions that are more robust or convenient. In this respect consider the following options: 

  • Canva upgraded for teams, more templates, and organization
  • Paid Design Software like Adobe Creative Suite
  • Affinity Design Software

These options range from $29.99 a month to a one-time $40 purchase. 

Recording and Editing Software

At this stage, many of the free options will still work wonders. This includes: 

  • Audacity
  • Garage Band
  • OcenAudio

However, if you’re interested in a paid option Adobe Audition is an option included in Creative Suite. This is particularly helpful when you are using other Adobe products. For example, if you are using Photoshop and Premiere for graphics and video editing Adobe Audition will be helpful because of its deep integration with other Adobe integrations. If you decide to add this option the cost has already been integrated into our estimate. 

Hosting Solutions

Podcasts.com offers excellent scalable options for hosting your podcast. One very interesting feature included in an upgraded plan includes guest management. This is very useful for hosts getting serious about hosting interviews.  An upgraded Podcasts.com plan starts at $14 and gives you the option to scale by use. This way you are not paying for more bandwidth than you need. 

Team or Outsourcing Costs

Our mid-tier model considers that while you may not have a dedicated staff for podcast production you might have a budget to there are always options to outsource creative tasks or projects.  Some of the tasks you may consider outsourcing include: 

  • Creative – Logos, Podcast Cover Art, Podcast Episode Art, or Podcast Banners
  • Podcasts Audio – Intros, Outros, and Sound Effects
  • Podcast Transcription
  • Podcast Editing 

Although the cost for each of these items may vary depending on one who it’s outsourced to and the level quality you expect in return we’ll set aside a consider $250 budget for these tasks. 

Approximate Cost

Now that you understand the different options available in our mid-tier model let’s recap the estimate for clarity below. Please note, costing for each tier can be modified to fit your specific scenario.

  • Equipment (Headphones / Mic + Optional Add-Ons) –  $600
  • Software (Graphics / Recording & Editing)  – $30
  • Hosting (Podcasting Hosting, Distribution) –                  $14 (With Podcasts.com)
  • Outsourcing Costs (Approximate Budget) –                   $250
  • Total Cost To Get Your Podcast Live –                             $894 

Pros and Cons For Mid-Tier Cost

Mid-tier pricing is a great happy medium for starting a podcast. However, there are also some pros and cons associated with this model. Let’s address these aspects in further detail below. 

Pros for Starting a Mid-Tier Podcast 

The pros for starting at the mid-tier model are primarily associated with speed and improved quality. At this level, you can expect that you’ll have a bit of help to aid you in increasing the speed at which you produce content. In addition to this, because of the higher quality equipment, you can expect that the quality of your podcast will generally be better than the low-tier model. 

Cons for Starting a Mid-Tier Podcast 

The obvious con here is the increased price point. Consequently, if you decide to stop podcasting you will have already invested a significant portion of your money getting started. You should also keep in mind that we only formulated an estimate on the “getting started” cost. Therefore, you should also consider the longterm costs associated with podcasting.

How Much Does Starting a High-Tier Podcast Cost?

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Just as you would imagine, a professional podcast operates with the best of the best in terms of equipment and often employs a team for each task. Although the primary requirements are similar you can expect some of the related upgrades will include the following: 

  • Studio Space or Home Studio
  • Higher Quality Equipment
  • Professional Creative ( Cover art, Intros, Outros, etc.) 
  • Advertising Expenses
  • Production Expenses
  • Website Development
  • Payroll Expenses
  • Guest Management / Outreach 

As you can see from the components listed above starting a podcast based on a high-tier model will require a significant investment in time and money. Moreover, the cost associated with this level of podcasting is highly variable.

For example, setting up a home studio includes additional costs like soundproofing on the DIY level soundproofing can start at $50 whereas professional panels can run upwards of $500 to outfit a room. In contrast, perhaps you’d like to rent studio space as opposed to outfitting your home. In such cases, 2 hours of studio time with a sound engineer can cost upwards of $200. 

Other examples of variable costs include website development, advertising expenses, and payroll. At this level, an extremely conservative estimate will land at $5000+ with an expected annual production cost of a least $24,000. Creators at this level are likely operating within an existing organization or have decided that podcasting will play an integral role in their business. 

Pros and Cons of Starting a High Tier Podcast 

The pros of starting a podcast at this level are higher quality output and the ability to scale quickly. However, since the investment is significantly higher the obvious cons are the risks associated with a lack of ROI. In addition to this, if you do not have experience managing a podcast or organization at this level you’ll likely have a significant burn rate. 

Final Thoughts on the Cost of Starting a Podcast 

Overall, there are many different options available to start a podcast. One important component you should consider is the longevity of your podcast and your overall purpose or goal. Then create a plan and budget the best accommodates your goals in the long run.

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