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How Much Does Podcasting Really Cost? (Breaking down the expenses)

Ideas are great things; they form the foundations of everything we love, from businesses, to songs, from governments, to plays.  Both that delicious cake you enjoy, and the very oven it’s baked in started out as ideas.  And the best thing about these beautiful seeds of greatness  is…they’re free! Ideas are 100% free of charge, but it always costs something to execute on that flash of inspiration.  

If you’re an aspiring podcaster with a great idea for a new show, we want to help you by laying out everything you will need to launch your own podcast. There are amazing editing companies out there, (such as We Edit Podcasts), that will take your idea from seed form to towering red oak, giving you an industry standard podcast in just 48 hours!  But even if you’re just looking to get started out of your home office, we want to help you convert on that great idea and see it become a tangible reality enjoyed by others (…not just a dream that lives in your head!).  

Take out time to count the cost of your idea, to invest into a plan, and set aside a budget for the necessary resources and you’ll be well on your way to sharing your idea with the world.  

In today’s practical article we want to explore the question: How Much Does Podcasting Really Cost?  Ross Winn from Podcast Insights was a huge resource of information for me on my journey and I’ve leaned on much of his wisdom for today’s article. Check out his thoughts on this topic in his article Best Podcast Equipment (For Beginners & Pros).

We list all prices in USD, and give pretty accurate approximations for the year 2021.  Read on, and let’s break down the expenses together so that the expenses don’t break you!

Related read: Podcast Basics: What You (Really) Need To Start A Podcast In 2021

Mic Check…1, 2!

Let’s start with the foundation of what we’re building: your microphone.  You have a few categories of mic available to you. They each have different features and clock in at different price ranges.  Let’s start with the most basic and affordable.

USB Mics

A USB microphone connects to your computer via USB, simply plugging directly into your computer or laptop’s port. This solution is simple and affordable, yet drastically improves the quality of the audio you capture – especially when compared to the built in mic on your computing device.  

Great choices include:

Rode NT-USB Mini Condenser Microphone – $139 USD

  • Delivers warmth and presence for a clear, professional sound
  • Built-in pop filter for reducing plosives
  • Magnetic desk-stand to mitigate knocks and bumps
  • Simple to use – just plug in and hit record

Blue Snowball Ice – $49 USD

  • Custom condenser capsule offers crystal clear audio – great for podcasting.
  • Easy plug and play – no drivers to install
  • Adjustable desktop mic stand

Dynamic Mics 

Dynamic microphones are a great podcasting solution, typically used for singing vocals, they work especially well when it comes to handling louder inputs. They tend to shine when you’re recording in a noisier environment or situations where multiple people are being recorded in the same room, as was often the case in my recording setup.

This is because the pick up configuration focuses on the direction of the sound source directly in front of the mic. They don’t require phantom power like a pricier condenser mic does, but they are not as sensitive and don’t pick up the same range of frequencies. You may also need  an external preamp to give you the additional gain necessary to record at an adequate level.  A preamp, like the Cloudlifter, will take care of that issue for you by providing you with 25 decibels of clean gain.

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 – $199 USD

  • Clean gain boost of +25db
  • Rugged steel case
  • Simple and easy to use

Shure SM58 – $99 USD

  • Cardioid mic, so it doesn’t capture many unwanted sounds
  • Rugged and durable

Shure SM7B – $399 USD

  • An industry favourite, known for its characteristic sound
  • Built in pop shield and grill fixture
  • Iconic design
  • Cardioid mic, so it doesn’t capture many unwanted sounds

Condenser Mics

These are used for quieter, more complex sounds, and have a greater range of frequencies.  They are sensitive, accurate, and often found in studios being used to capture voice overs, vocals, and live instruments. They are, however, generally pricier and more delicate. A condenser microphone also requires electricity to work, either supplied through batteries in the microphone itself, or through phantom power provided by your audio interface or mixer. 

Great options include:

Audio-Technica AT2020 – $130 USD

  • A cardioid mic (read: a mic that chiefly captures the sound right in front of it) with condenser mic qualities 
  • Ideal for project/home studio applications
  • Crisp and clear

Blue Yeti Pro – $239 USD

  • 3 handy pickup patterns (cardioid, stereo bi-directional & omnidirectional)
  • Cool retro look
  • USB and XLR inputs


When purchasing your mic, also make room in your budget for a mic stand ($20 USD +), a pop filter (starting at around $9 USD), and XLR or USB cables (again, starting at around $9).  You do not have to break the bank to get your hands on any one of these!  But as with all things, you definitely get what you pay for.

Mix It Up

Audio Interface

This is the all important connection point between your great new mic and your laptop or computer.  Microphones capture your voice in the form of an analog signal, once routed through your audio interface this analog signal is converted to a digital one – and voila! – you have something your computer can use. Very popular examples would be:

Focusrite Scarlett 2I2 (3rd Gen) – $239 USD

  • Two balanced line inputs, For multiple mics and even instruments
  • Simple interface
  • Phantom power

M-Audio AIR 192|6 – $169 USD

  • Two ins and outs
  • Easy studio monitoring
  • Iconic, intuitive interface

(The M-Audio AIR is my personal audio interface of choice!)

Mixers


You may find yourself needing to use a mixer instead of an audio interface if you need more control over input and output levels, or if you will be having multiple or remote guests.  The company Behringer is known for crafting affordable audio solutions that work well – despite getting a bad rap for coming in on the “cheap” end of things.  Be that as it may, I feel the following mixer to be an easy entry level option to help get your podcast off the ground:

BEHRINGER, 6 Audio Mixer – $148.99 USD

  • Low noise, 6-input analog mixer
  • 2 Mic Preamps
  • 3-band EQs for warm sound

Listen Up

Headphones

Now, I know at first this may be very awkward, but you will need to monitor your voice as you record using a pair of headphones.  This is an often overlooked but very worthwhile upfront investment that will save you huge potential editing headaches on the backend. 

Monitoring your recording using headphones will help you to spot any background ambient noise, any hissing, any issues with your voice (dry mouth, pops, harsh sibilance) and then balance and EQ your voice accordingly. This will allow you to achieve the best product; ensuring that everything you record is of a high level of excellence will result in an end product that is a worthy reflection of your podcast show. 

Podcaster Ross Winn also advises that it may be necessary to invest in a headphone amplifier for when you have several hosts, so that each of you can have your pair of headphones.  He swears by the following pair as a go to option:

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x – $99 USD

  • Excellent sound isolation in loud environments
  • Closed back and comfortable
  • Budget Friendly

Related read: Gifts For The Podcaster In Your Life 

Chop It Up

Editing Software


For beginners, great examples of entry level podcast editing software are GarageBand:

and Audacity:

The former is exclusively for Mac OS users, the latter can be leveraged on both Mac and Windows operating systems.  And they’re both priced just right at $0! These applications are – thankfully – relatively intuitive, with smaller learning curves than professional Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). 

(GarageBand is my personal audio interface of choice!)

The Other Kind of Hosting…

Podcast Hosting Service

So, we’ve now got you hooked up with all your gear, everything is plugged in and connected, and you’re ready to hit record – your idea is coming to life!  But allow me to inform you that you’re not the only one hosting your awesome podcast – you will also need dedicated hosting for your podcast files. At the We Edit Podcasts studios, we have built a great working relationship with Buzzsprout, and I used them personally for my own work before I joined this awesome team.  Another fact you’ll be happy to know – you can get started for free!

Another word of wisdom from Ross Winn:

“It’s a common misconception, but iTunes doesn’t host your actual .mp3 files, they just read an RSS feed and allow people to play your files hosted elsewhere.”

Learn how to upload to iTunes here.

In Conclusion

It’s not magical, it’s not exciting and it’s certainly not “sexy”, but it may be the one key ingredient missing from your strategy, and one that will give your podcast idea wings to fly – a budget!

You can see from the line up of items and their associated cost that there is some investment required up front, and your idea is definitely a worthwhile investment.  If cost poses a problem, then get creative and be resourceful; find and purchase a used mic, maybe you don’t need a brand new computer and can simply download the necessary apps to your current device, and remember to take advantage of tools and services that are offered for free.  If you have the money set aside, go ahead and pull the trigger on items from our curated list above. 

But don’t be afraid to shop around, read reviews, and see what works best for you – I encourage you to do just that!  You get what you pay for, so quality is the name of the game.  Friends, don’t let the expenses involved with podcasting stop you from sharing your idea – and your voice – with the world.  We’re rooting for you.  Happy podcasting!

Related read: How To Start A Podcast In 2021

Sources:

1. Best Podcast Equipment (For Beginners & Pros): https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-equipment/

2. What’s the Difference Between Dynamic and Condenser Microphones?: https://musicianshq.com/whats-the-difference-between-dynamic-and-condenser-microphone

3. Best Dynamic Microphones For Vocals (For Every Budget): https://www.podcastinsights.com/best-dynamic-microphones/#Shure_SM7B

4. Mike’s Top 10 Condenser Microphones for Podcasting: https://mikemurphyco.medium.com/073-mikes-top-10-condenser-microphones-for-podcasting-f07ed8e3acfe

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David Hutchinson

David Hutchinson

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