How much does starting a podcast cost? We get this question frequently. 🤔
(A lot of times we get this question from people debating whether to start a blog or podcast, so if that’s you, check out our Blog vs Podcast piece).
The honest truth is that it can be anywhere from free to a couple thousand dollars. Since that is not a super helpful answer, we have put together this blog post guide in a way that we hope will be helpful on this topic.
Think of this blog post like a menu. 🍲
Each section is like a part of a meal, or a course. You can skip a course if you would like. You can also pick a range of options within a course. Maybe you skip the appetizers and deserts altogether, but you order the most expensive entree. Maybe you want the cheapest option in every course.
Each decision is up to you. 👈
However, we do have a bit of advice as you begin.
Our Advice: Start Strong
Yes, Podcasting Can Be Free
One of the truly powerful aspects of podcasting is that it almost anyone, regardless of how much money they have, can make a podcast. Of course there are still too many barriers to creating a podcast for free, like lack of accessible spaces and equipment, for example. But in general, people can go to a library, record themselves on a computer, upload the recording to a free (very limited) hosting site, and then broadcast their voice to listening platforms around the world.
With all that said about free and very cheap podcasting, we do want to add our experiences and observations from decades in the podcasting and production world: To succeed, invest in your podcast from the very beginning. 💰
The “I will spend more later” Trap
Too many times people starve their podcast budget, assuming somewhere along the way they will become more comfortable with investing more in it. What happens in those cases: The podcast never picks up steam and fizzles out. The equipment is uncomfortable to use, the sound is low-quality, and a listener community never forms because there are little to no marketing efforts. The podcaster gets tired of the slog and eventually burns out completely. 😔
On the other hand, people who invest in comfortable, high-quality production equipment and space, cover art and music they are proud of, and marketing that moves their show forward… those people are happy with their podcasting, energized to keep going, and have no regrets for having spent the money they did. 😍
Invest Early so Time Will Work for You
This also plays out in a very technical sense. Take marketing, for example. When starting a podcast, if you invest early in strong marketing, then your show can have an early growth spurt and then grow organically and exponentially from there. If you do not start by investing in marketing, you will not have that strong base to then grow from later. Then when you do decide to finally invest in marketing, you have wasted precious time and it is basically like starting from scratch. Remember, things like SEO and social media algorithms are very much based on how long your marketing has been strong. ⏱️
All this to say, when you look at this menu we have put together, think about the items in terms of long term investments. If you have the means to invest when starting a podcast, you should.
Ok, ready to look at the menu items… Bon Appetit! 🥖
Studio Rental or Room Treatment
The first step in mapping out your budget is figuring out where you are going to record your content.
The space you record in is just as important if not more important than the recording equipment you have. 🏠
Record at Home
If you are planning to create a space to record at home, the biggest step you should take is adding acoustic foam panels to your walls to block out unwanted sound and any echoing. These are pretty cheap at about $2 per one foot square panel.
Be sure you have a solid, stable desk or table to record your podcast on. You do not want one that moves or squeaks because then you will have unwanted audio blips in your podcast.
Choose furniture that you can be comfortable in for long stretches of time when recording an episode. Make sure it does not make unwanted noise.
Recording podcasts at home can be the cheaper option, but renting a studio space can save you a lot of money too! Sounds counter intuitive, right? But think about it: If the studio space provides all the recording equipment you need, then you do not need to buy your own. 🥳
Prices of studio rental space and what equipment the studio provides varies widely so we cannot give you a reliable price range guide. But this is definitely something you want to check out before you buy all your equipment to start your show.
This is probably the one thing you absolutely cannot skip when it comes to podcast production. The good news is that almost every modern computer, desktop or laptop, can handle making a podcast episode. 💻
You can get a basic laptop for anywhere from $400 to $800 these days.
However, here are two things to consider:
If you plan on making video podcast episodes or really any video content at all, you want to find a computer that can handle video editing. You can check out our blog guide about the best laptops for podcasting to get more information.
As you will see in that blog, computers that can handle video content editing will cost you somewhere between $800 and $1,500.
Software and Compatibility 💽
Most podcasting equipment and software are compatible with both Macs and PCs, but there are always exceptions. If you already have some equipment, or have your eyes set on some, make sure your computer is going to be compatible with them.
Also, keep in mind that Macs come with GarageBand for free. GarageBand is a great, high-quality software you can use to both record and edit your podcast episode. So while Mac computers tend to be more expensive, by having this free software it may help save you money in other areas.
Another big factor in your launch budget is the podcast microphone you choose. In our blog post that dives into the details of specific microphones, you will see that the cost range goes from $50 to $400. If you dedicate about $150 for a microphone, you can get a high-quality one that has everything you need (pop filter, whatever cords are needed, etc).
Remember, if your format is going to be interview-based, you will need one microphone for the host and at least one microphone for the guest (with an additional microphone for each additional guest you may have at the same recording). 🎙️🎙️
With one mic for the host, plus one for the guest, your microphone cost when starting a podcast can be anywhere from $100-$800.
A lot of beginners forget about this piece of audio equipment when they figuring out how much starting a podcast will cost.
Some microphones, like the Blue Yeti, come with a stand so no dollars needed there. 😁
You can check out our blog about the best microphone stands on the market for more info. But for the purposes of this blog post, we will just list the price range here: $10 – $200. There are a lot of good options around the $70 price point.
Just like with microphones, you will need to make sure to get a stand both for the host and for the guest(s). For two microphone stands you are looking at a price range of $20 – $400 with a lot of options around $140. 👯
Remote Recording Platform
This is another podcast budget step that many people forget about: do you need to use a remote recording platform. Think: Zencastr, Zoom, Riverside, etc. To learn more about your options, check out our blog post on how to record remote interviews.
Luckily, most platforms have free levels that are suitable for beginner podcasters. However, if you plan to use any of these for a long period of time or if you plan to have multiple guests one at the same time, you may need a paid version. 📶
For the paid versions, you are looking at paying around $15-$20 per month.
For budgeting menu purposes we will keep it simple here. When starting a podcast, you can get headphones for anywhere ranging from $25 – $600. You will find a ton of great options around the $100 mark. 🎧
Unlike microphones, studio headphones for guests are a little more optional. It is certainly nice to give them something to block out distracting noises and to hear what they sound like through the microphone, but it is not a must have.
A mixer might be too advanced for a beginning podcaster, but we will put it here on the menu just in case you are interested in one when starting a podcast. 🎛️
Mixers help with the quality of audio recording, including mixing and editing during the production itself. They really help in cases where you have multiple people on a podcast at once (check out this podcast mixer blog post for more info).
If you want a mixer, it is going to cost you between $150 – $500. Again, if you are trying to figure out how much it costs to simply launch a podcast, you may be able to leave this one off the list. ✍️
Like we talked about in the computer section, if you have a Mac, the free GarageBand app that comes with it might be all that you need in terms of editing software for your podcasts.
For non-Macs, there is the free online editing software called Audacity. However, Audacity can be super hard to use for beginners. 🤓
Adobe Audition is a tried and true editing software option, even though it does have a bit of a learning curve for new users. It costs $20.99/month.
There are some AI services that get rid of the filler words like “ummm” and adjust the audio to sound nice. These are around $11-$40 per month. However, these do not edit for content. 🤖
Some podcast production companies offer editing as a service and there are freelance podcast editors out there. Prices vary greatly, but the range is generally somewhere between $50-$250 per episode.
A hosting platform is another non-negotiable in podcasting. You have to have one. It is what creates the RSS feed that listening platforms (like Spotify and Apple) use to pull in the audio files of your episodes along with their metadata. In other words, it is how you publish podcasts so that listeners can access them. 🖥️
When you are figuring out how much starting a podcast costs, this is a core budget item.
There are some free hosting platforms out there, as well as some hosting platforms that have free tiers in their plans. However, proceed with caution. ⚠️
Typically, free hosting platforms will only distribute to their own listening platform (Spotify is an example of this). Getting your podcast on as many listening platforms as possible is critical when you are starting an independent podcast and need to build an audience.
In terms of free tiers, the drawback is usually that the hosting platform limits to how much you can upload (aka publish) and how often your podcast episodes can be downloaded (aka how many people can listen to it). In other words, you will probably be limited to only a couple of short episodes per month. And, if your podcast starts to grow its number of downloads, then you are going to have to pay more in order to let your audience access your show. 🙀
When you are comparing at paid hosting platform options when starting a podcast, you should be analyzing these five services that a hosting platform can provide:
Of course, we are biased, but if you look at these categories across the board, Ausha is the best deal. Our plans range from $13/month to $69/month. 🚀
The price range for hosting platforms is $12/month – $150/month.
While some hosting platforms offer some marketing tools, like we mentioned above, many do not. So it is important to have a budget category for marketing. ⚒️
Remember when we said investing early matters? It really matters in marketing to gain more listeners.
Podcast marketing tools include:
- Link Page (example: Linktree)
- Newsletter (example: Mailchimp)
- Social Media Manager (example: Buffer)
- Website (example: WordPress)
- Video Trailer Creator (example: Headliner)
If you were to go with the cheapest pricing plan for each of these examples, it would cost you a total of $36/month. 😧
You can compare this with the cheapest plan with Ausha where you get all these social media and marketing services, plus all the hosting services for $13/month. 🥰
In addition to the marketing tools themselves, be sure to factor in the cost of marketing campaigns, if you plan on doing those.
For example, you may want run ads on a social media website, targeting people who are interested in the topic your podcast covers.
Running those ads for two weeks may cost around $60. Plus, you need factor in any professional help you may need in creating the ads themselves. 🧑💻
Cover Art and Music
The last category you need to think about when starting a podcast budget is cover art and music.
Your cover art is the image that appears with your show on listening platforms.
You know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, we all know that people do, and the same goes for podcasts and their cover art. 📚
Think about it: Basically the only thing potential listeners immediately see when searching for new podcasts on Apple or other listening platforms is the cover art thumbnail.
Based on your cover art, listeners will form an opinion of your content before they even listen to it or even before they know its topic. That is why it is important that the cover art looks good and fits with your overall branding. 💃
All podcasters should consider hiring a graphic designer, or any related artist, to make your cover art.
The costs for graphic designers varies a ton, so we cannot give you a reliable price range. Just remember to value people’s labor and skill and pay them with respect! 🧑🎨
Music is an important component for a podcast. Usually you need intro tunes, interlude tunes, and outro tunes. Sometimes all three can be from the same song. Some podcasters opt to change up their music everything single episode, while some keep it the same. 🎵
There are a lot of free song options out there that you can explore– here’s our blog listing sites that have free music.
Also, if you are an Ausha member, you have access to our free music library that holds over five hundred free songs for you to use. 👀
However, you may decide that you want a certain song that you have found on a paid catalogue. Or, you may decide you want to hire a freelance composer to get your audio branding just right. Again, these costs are so varied that there is no real range we can give you that would be helpful. But again, value people’s labor and skill and pay them with respect! 🧑🎤
So, How Much Does Starting a Podcast Cost?
Ok so after all that information, where does that leave us on the key question of “how much does it cost to start a podcast”?
We are not going to leave you hanging with the answer “it depends,” though that is the most accurate answer.
A better answer is: Read through this blog post, pick what you want, and that is your final price.
But, we do not want to just leave you there either.
We are going to show you two examples of what a budget might look like in a certain situation when starting your podcast in order to give you an idea of what your budget might look like.
Starting a Podcast Budget: Situation One ☝️
Let’s say that you have decided to record at home so you need to purchase all your own equipment and create a little recording space for yourself (assuming no in-person guests). You are going to use the computer you already own and you are not going to get a mixer right away. For remote recording, you are only going to use free options. You are going to edit the episodes yourself in Adobe. For the cover art, you are going to make it yourself. Music wise, you have decided to use free music from Ausha. You are going to use Ausha for your hosting and marketing, going with the basic ‘Launch’ plan.
The costs would be:
- 50 foam audio panels: $100
- 1 Microphone, 1 mic stand, 1 set of headphones: $350
- Editing software: $30.00/month
- Ausha hosting and marketing (Launch plan): $13/month
Total: $450 up front, $43/month ongoing. ◀️
Starting a Podcast Budget: Situation Two ✌️
You have decided to go the podcast studio rental route when starting a podcast, complete with all the recording equipment you need, including capturing high quality remote audio via cell phone. For editing, you are going to pay someone to do a simple edit of each episode, including adding free music, because you do not have the time for it. You are also going to hire someone to create your cover art. For hosting and marketing, you are going to go with Ausha’s mid-tier plan, the “Boost.”
The costs would be:
- Studio with equipment rental (assuming two hours a month): $150/month
- Editor (assuming two episodes a month): $200/month
- Cover Art: $150
- Ausha hosting and marketing (Boost plan): $29/month.
Total: $150 up front, $379/month ongoing. ◀️
Again, we cannot stress this enough: If you are able to, invest in your podcasts early. You will gain more listeners and a broader audience, giving you the drive and possibly even the income to create a self-funded show for years. 📈
Also, if you have already started a podcast, do not be afraid to take a step back and take a look at your expenses. Is there an area that you should invest in more. Is there an area where you could find some ways to save money? New technology and new services are being developed all the time so keep your eyes out. Also, your personal life may change— you may have had the time to edit your own podcast at the beginning, but now you need to farm it out.
Finally, know that we are always here to help, no matter what budget you choose. Our mission is to make every podcaster’s voice heard, and that includes you! 🧑🚀💜
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