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Podcasting FAQ for Beginners and Beginners at Heart

Over the past few weeks a number of people have emailed me asking a bunch of questions about starting a podcast.

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

From an equipment perspective, you can pick up a great USB microphone and one year of podcast hosting for around $100 total. There are also free hosting options

The average cost to starting a podcast is probably between $100 and $300.

If you hire an editor like me, it will add some cost. But it would be worth it to take that headache off of your shoulder, wouldn’t it?

What do I need to start a podcast?

All you need is a microphone and a dream. But seriously, you’re going to need a few things right from the beginning:

  • A topic to focus on. What’s you podcast about? Why are people listening? Are you doing an interview show? NPR-style narrative affair? I can’t tell you the number of people I talk to about podcasting who compare themselves to Joe Rogan, Marc Maron or any of the other podcasters who have captured the pop culture zeitgeist for a moment. Marc Maron wasn’t Marc Maron at the beginning. He had to chat up his comedian friends to get some experience before he moved on to Presidents.
    You can do that too, but it will be a slow burn to build an audience. If you know what audience you’re going to be serving at the beginning and then create content with that audience in mind, your show will grow a lot quicker. Don’t do the show for you, do it for the audience.
  • An idea for a show format. Too many people out there think they can just wing it. Don’t be that person. Your format can and should evolve over time, depending on what works and what doesn’t. But you should always have a plan of attack.
  • A microphone. There are a lot of options out there. Obviously you’ll need one, but don’t spend too much time worrying about equipment until you know what the show is going to be. I’ll have a rundown of options for you later, but my advice for right now is to put together a set up that will get the job done and then upgrade later as your show grows.
  • A recording device, recording software or someone like me to record and edit for you.

How long should my show be?

As short or as long as it needs to be. This is a podcast and you’re not trying to fill time until the next commercial break like you would in live radio. Ultimately though, it depends on three factors:

  • Topic
  • Format
  • Audience

It’s worth pointing out most commutes are about 20 minutes. If they are at work and a productivity enthusiast, a Pomodoro is 25 minutes. So a good rule of thumb is probably about 20-30 minutes. If you’ve done your homework for the show in general and the specific episode, it’s a good bet you’ll be able to keep people’s interest.

Are you doing an interview show? Keep it going as long as it’s interesting. If you’re just talking, make your point or ask the question and get out.

Where do I upload my podcast?

Once you’ve created actual audio files, you’ll sign up for a podcasting “hosting” service. This is where your podcast lives. These companies will store your audio files and publish your episode & show details to an RSS feed, which is used by podcast players and directories to play your podcast.

There are plenty of options out there, but here are the three I have the most experience with:

RedCircle is my go-to hosting platform for a podcast. First of all, it’s free to host your show. RedCircle makes their money from taking a commission on ads and premium content. So they only make money if you make money.

When your podcast has a place to live, you have to get it out there to the huddled masses. Once you’ve uploaded your podcast audio to your host and published it, you’ll want to connect your RSS feed to podcast directories. There are many directories out there, but there are a handful that tend to dominate the landscape.

For example, here are the places you can find my show The Greatest Story Ever Podcast:

How much money do you make from podcasts?

I am sure there are plenty of people who skipped right to this one, but it should be the last step in the process. You need content before you can make some money.

A podcast that has roughly 1,000 downloads per episode might reasonably expect to earn between $15-50 an episode with a typical sponsor. (Industry standard CPM is between $18-30, i.e. “cost per 1,000 downloads”)

Larger podcasts with thousands (and millions) of downloads often take on multiple sponsors, with multiple ad reads during their shows, increasing their earnings.

There is also the option of finding your own sponsors, which you could do at any time in the process.

It’s all a lot to take in and you need a sherpa to help you along. That’s where I can help.