There’s a ton of money in podcasting these days – and the market gets bigger every year.
“I’ve been able to charge $2,000 per episode for sponsorships,” says Gene Hammett, an entrepreneur and host of Growth Think Tank. Hammett says that sponsorships are one of a number of income streams generated by his podcast, which has over 900 episodes and was launched in 2014. “There are a lot of people [online] searching for information,” says Hammett. “Books take a long time to read, whereas a podcast could be consumed in less than an hour. If you’ve got something you want to talk about, there’s an audience that wants to listen.”
Over 100 million Americans listen to audio podcasts in 2022, according to reporting from Statista, a data analytics company. With stories like Call Her Daddy host Alex Cooper signing a reported 60 million dollar three-year podcasting agreement with Spotify, starting a podcast could be a profitable side hustle that has the potential to turn into more.
There are some great podcast equipment options to help you launch your podcast on a budget, and a successful podcast may not be as far off as you think. Podcasting can be the gateway to multiple income streams that create financial independence.
We interviewed 11 experts on what they think is the best podcast equipment, as well as how to get started efficiently. Here’s what they had to say.
Best Podcast Equipment for Beginners
Before you publish your first podcast episode, you first need to decide on two important factors: your microphone and your audio editing software. Here’s what our experts think are the best podcast microphones and digital audio workstation options.
Best Podcast Microphone for Beginners: Blue Yeti
When figuring out your setup, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use a USB or XLR microphone. A USB audio interface will plug directly into your computer, whereas an XLR mic will need to plug into a switcher, mixer, or other audio interface first, but will result in higher quality. For beginners, we recommend a USB microphone; you can always upgrade later once you’ve found your rhythm.
Good Podcast Microphone for Beginners: Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB
Best Podcast Microphone for Professionals: Shure SM7B
The experts we interviewed like the Shure SM7B for the professional sound quality. The microphone offers natural, accurate voice reproduction, removes unwanted ambient sounds and background noise, and has a built-in pop filter.
“The Shure SM7B is a pro mic you see in even professional studios,” says Jared Easley, host of Starve the Doubts and co-founder of Podcast Movement, a podcaster community. “It’s one of the most professional and best-sounding mics I’ve used. You’ll get good quality sound, reduce background noise, and sound natural.”
Good Podcast Microphone for Professionals: RØDE NT-USB
Our experts like the RØDE NT-USB for the ability to get professional sound quality in a portable microphone. RØDE is known for producing great microphones for various creators, such as podcasters, YouTubers, and streamers.
“The RØDE NT-USB is simple to use being a USB microphone,” says Scot Chrisman, an entrepreneur, and host of The Athletic Stance podcast. “When I started podcasting, I was overwhelmed with all the equipment and software I had to figure out. With the RØDE NT-USB, I didn’t need to download any drivers or deal with a complicated process to set up. I also use the microphone for Zoom calls, interviews, and professional meetings because the sound is amazing.”
Best Editing Software for Beginners: Audacity
Audacity is editing software that gives you the same power as other editing software you would have to pay for, and it interfaces well with most podcast equipment setups.
“If you are new to audio editing and you might not be the most technical person, Audacity is a good choice,” says Drew Linsalata, the founder of HELIX Interactive, a podcast production company and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. “Audacity was a default choice because it was free, but I have not found any reason to move away from it.” Linsalata adds that the app has a ton of community support and great YouTube tutorials.
Good Editing Software for Beginners: GarageBand
Our experts say GarageBand is great for native recording and editing. You can insert sounds and instruments and easily combine clips, the interface is simple to understand, and you can edit quickly.
“I wanted to use the most simple editing software until I could afford an editor. GarageBand is simple, easy to use, and very initiative,” says Chrisman. “It came installed and was easy to figure out. I didn’t want to spend months figuring out other software; I wanted to get episodes out. If I had gotten stuck in perfection, I never would have launched the podcast.”
Best Editing Software for Professionals: Descript
Our experts bring up one drawback about Descript: it’s a subscription service. Unlike other editing software where you pay once, you’ll pay for Descript monthly. However, it’s still a great editing tool.
“I started using Descript to make transcription easier, but was pleasantly surprised with other cool stuff I didn’t know it could do,” says Azul Terronez, an entrepreneur, and host of Authors Who Lead podcast. “Descript is great because it removes all of the unnecessary words. The stutters save me a lot of editing time because you can click a button, and it pulls unnecessary or unwanted words out of the recording.” Terronez also says the learning curve was quick, which was refreshing.
Good Editing Software for Professionals: Hindenburg Journalist Pro
Our experts said Hindenburg Journalist Pro is a software to consider because it does away with fancy knobs, sliders, and complicated settings.
“I like using Hindenburg because of its ease to use,” says Easley. “It does everything a podcaster needs, you only pay once, and there are many Facebook groups for it so you can get support and ask specific questions.”
How to Start a Podcast in 5 Steps
Still with me? If the answer is yes, you’re serious about starting a quality podcast and making money online. Here are five steps you should take into consideration when getting your podcast off the ground.
- Define your podcast’s purpose.
- Record and edit your audio.
- Choose a hosting service.
- Launch and promote your podcast.
- Grow your audience over time.
Step 1: Define Your Podcast’s Purpose
From day one, you should be able to clearly explain the reason your podcast exists.
“One of the first things I like to start with or know is what the goal of the podcast is,” says Angie Jordan, a podcasting strategist for service- and consulting-based entrepreneurs who has been creating digital marketing campaigns since 2008. “What is it that you want to achieve? Before you identify your audience, it’s important to understand what you want this podcast to even do.”
Jordan adds that many people start podcasts and don’t understand or think about what they want to accomplish, which leads to their podcast fizzling out. Get crystal clear on the why behind your podcast to ensure your efforts are productive and create momentum.
“Knowing your why helps you to avoid ‘podfade’, which means you decide to stop podcasting abruptly, and will keep you going when podcasting is no longer your new and exciting venture,” says Nicole Walker, host of the WinHers United podcast. “Goal setting will allow you to measure your success and the success of your podcast, as well as course correct when things are not going the way you intended.”
Step 2: Record and Edit Episodes
Obviously, to have a podcast, you need to record audio content. You also need to edit those recordings to ensure they’re easy on the ears and coherent.
“A lot of people overcomplicate recording and editing,” says Jordan. “I have a successful business where I teach people podcasting, and I literally record my episodes on my phone because it’s easy. I’m all about the barrier of entry being as low as possible.”
Additionally, when editing audio, keep in mind that episode content should add value in the form of valuable information, entertainment, or both, says Chrisman.
“What you have to remember when [creating and] monetizing your podcast is that you’ve become your own media company,” he says. “Your goal as a media company should be to improve the lives of your listeners either through entertainment, valuable insights from thought leaders, or how-tos. If it feels like you’re just in it for the money, you’ll likely not make much and possibly chase away listeners in the process.”
Remember that you’ll also need to create podcast cover art in order to start a podcast successfully.
In figuring out podcasting equipment, decide whether your setup will be fixed, mobile, or hybrid. You don’t want to be stuck in a fixed location if you plan to record on the go.
Step 3: Choose a Podcast Hosting Service
Your podcast audio files need to be hosted on the internet. Contrary to popular belief, your files are not hosted by popular services like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Instead, you’ll host your audio files on a podcast hosting provider like Buzzsprout, Podbean, or Transistor.
You’ll then submit a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed, and this feed gets syndicated to mainstream streaming services. With this approach, you only need to upload your podcast audio to one place to have it be streamable on many different platforms.
Step 4: Launch and Promote Your Podcast
Once you have a strategy, some episodes, and a host, it’s time to launch your podcast. Think about where you can promote your podcast online and how you can create buzz around the launch date so that you can create momentum. Podcasters commonly promote their podcast episodes through blogging, social media, and email marketing.
Step 5: Cultivate an Audience Over Time
If you want your podcast to make money someday, you need an engaged audience. You don’t need a lot of listeners, but you do need the right listeners and proof of engagement if you want to monetize your efforts, says Cliff Duvernois, host of The Podcast Lead Generation Show.
“You don’t need a huge audience to make money,” he says. “Each episode of your podcast is content with room for an ad. Seek out sponsorships and partnerships with organizations that want to share new and different content with their audiences.”
How to Make Money Podcasting
There are four ways a podcast can make money: Selling sponsorships, promoting affiliate links, doing business with guests themselves, or directing listeners to a different platform.
No.1: Sell sponsorships
“Podcasters can earn money by creating relationships with brands that want to reach consumers that listen to that podcaster’s show through affiliate or direct sponsorship agreements,” says Vernon Ross, a podcast producer whose current clients include General Electric and PNG. “A recent consumer survey conducted by NCSolutions stated that when consumers hear a podcast host endorse a product, 28% of all listeners say they’re more likely to pay attention or remember the product.”
No. 2: Promote affiliate links
“One way to monetize your podcast and grow your audience is to do affiliate offers as a podcast host,” says Terronez. “Let’s say you are a coach and you recommend a program or software you use regularly and would recommend to other coaches, you could have an affiliate relationship and get a small referral fee just by mentioning it on your show and sharing the link. This is an easy way to monetize your podcast without having to create a program, course, or content.”
No. 3: Do business with guests themselves
“A great way to monetize your podcast is with your guest strategy,” says Rusk. “Identify people you could potentially do business with and interview them on your podcast. Not every single podcast guest will become a client, but if you drill down your ideal podcast guest based on the demographics of your ideal customer, you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to turn your podcast episodes into revenue-generating opportunities.”
No. 4: Direct listeners to a different platform
Remember that your podcast can also function as a billboard for your services, programs, or products. Direct users to your website or offer in your podcast episodes to increase sales and overall revenue for your side hustle or business.
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Podcast (FAQs)
What should you consider when starting a podcast?
Consider starting your podcast with a limited number of episodes so that you can test the waters and see how things go, rather than put yourself on a hamster wheel from day one, says Easley.
“Consider the Netflix season approach,” he says. “Start with an eight to ten episode commitment so you won’t burn yourself out. You can collect feedback during the release of these episodes to help you to plan for an additional season of episodes if you want to keep going.”
How much experience do you need to start a podcast?
Choosing a microphone is not a technical decision that requires technical expertise, but selecting the right editing software will be. That’s because you’ll need to learn how to edit and use the software.
In addition, there are the technical aspects of uploading your podcast and ensuring it’s showing up in an RSS feed. In evaluating decisions about the podcast you wish to start, think through the technical knowledge required in each element.
What’s the best podcast hosting platform?
For your podcast to be listened to and discovered, you’ll need to host it somewhere. There are a variety of podcast hosting platforms such as Buzzsprout, Podbean, Spreaker. RSS.com, Simplecast, Libsyn, Captivate, Blubrry, and many others.
Pick a podcast hosting company that can give your podcast distribution but also one you understand. Read the reviews and check out what kind of customer support is offered.
How should I format my podcast?
A podcast can offer many different types of formats. You can interview guests, have a solo show, have panels, or even film some video while recording your podcast and uploading the content to YouTube.
“Choosing the format of your podcast depends on its purpose,” says Duvernois.”If you want to build a platform for yourself and get your message out, the solo format would be your best bet. If you’re looking to build genuine relationships and strategic connections, the interview format is for you. If you want the best of both worlds, do a hybrid of the two.”
Figure out your equipment and hosting but also think about your podcast format. The equipment will only take you so far—good content will take your podcast from unknown to the top of the charts.
Do I have to record a podcast in a studio?
Some podcasters build elaborate equipment setups in a set location that includes soundproofing and other elements to make the sound quality as clear as possible. Others are on the move and need flexibility. A mobile podcast setup allows in-person interviews, event reporting, or podcasting on vacation if someone wants to.
“I was at an event in Mexico when a fellow podcaster asked me to record an interview,” says Deirdre Tshien, host of the Grow My Podcast Show. “It took him five minutes to set up, and we recorded quickly thanks to his mobile equipment setup.”
A hybrid option means you have a set location, but your equipment can be transported if you need to be mobile. Consider what your priorities are with regard to both quality and flexibility before making any investments.
Start Your Podcast Today
Your podcast can be an online business card and a way to build a new audience of consumers. You can also monetize a podcast directly and use it to create financial independence.
Familiarize yourself with the best podcast equipment and editing software for your situation so you can spend less time feeling held back by tech and more time creating an audio experience that gets both yourself and your listeners inspired.