Running the AM Podcast Network gave me a lot of insight into the world of podcasting and the desire that so many have that step up to the microphone to cash in on the media. I don’t blame them for putting the cart before the horse, but too many lose sight even before they get a couple episodes out. Money is always enticing to everyone I have ever met and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
I want to separate these two issues so we can walk through a few ways to get into podcasting and then slip into advertising. Obviously, getting started is something you have to do before even thinking about getting advertisers. You are betting against a lot of other people globally that own microphones and know how to post to the internet. That is realism 101, but we can beat the odds if you know how to launch yourself into a medium.
I am going to break down the three ways I have seen people get into the world of audio. These are not the only ways that you can do it, but it is the base of most. Feel free to add more to what I address here in the comments.
Podcast Equipment & Services
Plan A (super cheap): Get a cheap mic for your computer ($10) at Wal-Mart or other department store, download Audacity to record and edit (free). Once you do that, you could upload it to for free, but I don’t think you will have an RSS for iTunes (free). You can download GIMP if you wish for your podcast artwork (free), and then create social media accounts and start promoting where possible (free if you hustle).
Equipment Cost: Practically free
Credibility Cost: High. Please don’t do this, or you will create terrible audio for very few listeners and the free hosting says to your audience that you’re not invested in your own show, so why should they.
Plan B (a better way to go): Purchase a $100 mic from Amazon, download Audacity for recording and editing (free). Purchase a Soundcloud Pro account for $135/year, Libsyn, or Blubrry media hosting. They all come with RSS, Soundcloud is social, and it tracks everything for stats. I never recommend Libsyn or Blubrry, because with Soundcloud, it’s unneeded. Go to Fiverr ($5-$20) and grab some cheap podcast cover art, or join a network and get artwork done on the cheap or ask your network to provide it. Build your social presence out by learning marketing and other techniques through YouTube tutorial videos.
Equipment Costs: Medium
Credibility Cost: Low. While this maybe not perfect for everyone, for solo shows this is the right way to start. I would personally choose this method if I was limited on funds, but feel free to change out what you feel comfortable with. The goal is to produce the best quality audio and experience for your listeners.
Plan C (this is what I have): Purchase several mics ($200-$800) on Craigslist or brand new on Amazon. I have sets of the same model of mics so everyone sounds the same. I spent $50/mic during an estate sale I found on a Facebook group. I got 3 mics and they are awesome. Purchase a mixing board ($100-$500). I had a 12-channel Yamaha that was incredible. I traded for an 8-channel Bheringer because I want something smaller.
Next, download Audacity for recording and editing (free). Purchase a premium Soundcloud account for $135/year and higher a graphic designer for your social media and podcast artwork ($50-$500). If you don’t like Soundcloud then check out other media hosting to include Amazon S3. Then hit social media marketing hard with all of that content you can create or share.
Also, don’t forget to build a website in the meantime as a home for all your traffic and content. That’s always first in my book.
Equipment Cost: High
Credibility Cost: None. Your audio will be great assuming you have the right settings, editing, and acoustics. There will be no threat to your credibility if you push out a high-quality product. I recommend going big or go home, but not everyone can, so then I would revert to Plan B but never Plan A if I can help it.
I don’t like advertising so this is an easy one for me. You aren’t going to make money in podcasting unless you are the next John Lee Dumas, and I don’t mean this to be condescending. Rather, I would rather push you to build content and a website that you can advertise on first and use the podcast to drive ears and eyes to your platform. Let the podcast be your pitch, not your push.
If you absolutely have to have advertising, then get popular and have a big listener base. As in tens of thousands of them to tune in on each episode. Soon, Squarespace (small jab since they are the big one right now) will be paying you $50-$100 per episode to read their ad. Advertisers notice you when you have kind of made it.
Obviously, there are exceptions though. An advertiser is not going to want to dump a ton of money into a show that doesn’t have much reach. Wait as long as possible to really build the audience and then go into building a media kit that you can give to potential advertisers. Each niche and audience size can vary from podcast to podcast. You will never find an “one size fits all” answer to getting this step accomplished with ease. My advice is to focus on the content and the advertisers will find you.
Lastly, don’t sell your show for $30 reads. I personally don’t feel like this is the right amount of money to stop a show just to read a cheap ad. Instead, check out Patreon or other crowd-source funding to get your show out to the world without sweating the return on investment.