Starting a Podcast? Here’s What to Know About Expenses

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The world of podcasting is a vast and wonderful place, and you can find podcasts about every corner of the universe. You can also use the medium to solidify your own brand, form or connect with your community, and establish yourself as the go-to source for the topic of your choosing. But what are the costs associated with actually starting and maintaining a podcast?

The good news is it’s not expensive to get a basic podcast off the ground, according to voice actor, Backstage Expert, and host and producer of the VO School Podcast Jamie Muffett. You don’t need much of an equipment set-up for a simple monologue-type podcast. There are production services that make it easy to record using what you already have and to share podcasts online like Anchor, which allows “you to record on your phone and upload directly to their service which will then distribute to all podcast aggregators.”

This means you don’t have to worry about funding at the start unless you have a more ambitious plan, in which case you can consider looking for sponsors who would benefit your audience.

“This is where being niche is helpful. While you may not be able to attract hundreds of thousands of listeners, reaching very targeted groups can be an attractive prospect for certain businesses,” Muffett says. “As there is a low barrier to entry for podcasters and a long wait for significant market penetration, I would not suggest getting into debt starting a podcast. Even if you do see a financial return it will likely take a long time for that to hit your bank account.”

What changes things is if you want to conduct interviews with more than one person, have call-ins, improve audio quality, or move to advanced editing for things like music and sound effects. That requires a more comprehensive recording and editing set up that can make expenses add up.

“One of the most noticeable ways of improving the sound quality of a podcast is to record in an acoustically treated space. This can run the gamut from a simple pillow or duvet tent to an entire room treated with acoustic foam or panels,” Muffett explains. “If acoustic isolation is needed, construction or recording in a pro recording studio is the next step. As you can imagine, costs escalate quickly.”

So what do you need to think about when it comes to an ongoing budget as you run a podcast? It varies depending on the type of podcast, according to Muffett, but everything from technical requirements to the expectations of the audience can impact your ongoing costs. If your costs go up as your podcast grows, however, the money can come from other sources. 

“Once you have a listener base you can sell merchandise. You can sell products and services off the back of your raised profile. You can organize live tapings with paid audiences and possibly—most commonly—you can use Patreon to support your podcasting endeavors,” Muffett says. “There is also great value in putting yourself out there as an authority on a given subject, and so the financial benefits of the podcast may not be as simple as an easily chartable transaction.”

While your exact budget will vary and it’s important to consider the expenses involved when starting and running a podcast, Muffett stresses that content still reigns supreme when it comes to podcasting.

“If your content is strong people will forgive certain technical corners being cut,” Muffett says. “There are a lot of awful podcasts out there muddying the waters and so a great sounding podcast that is as listenable in a car, on earbuds, or a computer will help you to stand out.”

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Lisa Granshaw
Lisa Granshaw is an editor at Backstage.
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