Earlier this week I received an email from a friend. He said he and two of his friends were setting up a new podcast. It’s the kind of news gets me punching the air with joy nowadays. It takes all sorts, I know.
Crucially the email said:
“we have absolutely no funding. What is the minimum equipment can we get away with? I was thinking of initially recording it via my iphone/ipad but need mics and possibly a simple edit software to add a jingle or two.”
Hmm. Providing there’s a little wiggle room on the “absolutely no funding” thing, challenge accepted.
We all hear that setting up your own podcast need not be expensive. But just how cheap can you set up a three person podcast for? Well, let’s start with the basics. For something like this, you need the following:
Plus, if you want a jingle or two, you need to budget for that too. So, let’s break it down.
Let’s face it, your new podcast is going to be amazing: a ratings winner. So, unless you’re sitting on significant bandwidth at home,you’ll need a podcast hosting site to deal with all the download requests your podcast will get.
A hosting site both manages your media files and generates you an RSS feed, which you need for iTunes and other podcast directories.
However, you can cut out the ongoing costs and find a provider that does hosting for free. Do tread carefully though. For example, do your homework on SoundCloud, which seems to be under a consistent financial cloud at the moment. Check out Podigee, Buzzsprout and Spreaker for its limited free option. For me, Podiant seems to have the best free plan, offering unlimited storage and bandwidth, an embedded podcast player and analytics – all for zip. People talk highly of Podiant within podcast circles, so they are well worth checking out.
Running Total £0
Let’s be honest, you could spend nothing at all on microphones. You could pick up your iPhone and speak into the in-built mic and interview your friends in the same way. If you did, at best you’d get arm-ache. At worst, it would sound terrible and no one would listen.
If you are going to do that, at least invest in a mic windscreen and put it over the in-built mic to get rid of pops and interference. In fact, having a windscreen in your bag is a good idea for recording quick out and about interviews for your show.
Investing in some microphones is pretty much a must. And, a decent start-up solution need not cost the earth. Lapel or lavalier (lav) mics are a good starting point and work well with smartphones. But they are condenser microphones, so find a quiet room to record in as they will pick up background noise.
You can pick a lavalier mic for under a fiver. – meaning you could mic up a double headed podcast for less than £10. But adding that third person into the mix – as my friend wants to – makes things a little more complicated and pricey. In this case, it might be worth looking at the Movo range. The Movo PM 20 has two mics on the one lead, with the PM10 a more straightforward one headed lav. I use PM10s and they create a good sound for a reasonable price.
Three lav mics would set you back £40. But if you consider the best cheap directional podcast microphone is about £60, you can see what a good deal this is.
To get those lavs mics plugged into a smartphone, you’re going to need an adapter. The Rode SC6 is very good because it allows you to plug in two mic leads and a set of headphones at the same time.
Running Total £52.51
So now that you’ve got a decent and low cost mic set-up, next its finding some recording and editing software. And here’s the mind blowing thing – you can do this bit for free.
If you’re an Apple user, check out iTalk Recorder, which allows you to record up to a 44.10kHz sample rate. It’s a simple and effective app to use. And I’m not sure you need the £1.99 upgrade offered as an in-app purchase.
If you want a step up, then the Ferrite app is pretty unbeatable. It’s a free multitrack recorder and editor, while maintaining a simple user interface. There are a selection of upgrades available all the way up to £19.99 but you can record up to one hour at a time on the free app, which may be all you need.
On Android, you can try Easy Voice Recorder or Audio Recorder. But whatever smartphone you use, please bear in mind that apps can be buggy at times. For peace of mind, you may eventually want to upgrade to a digital audio recorder. Zoom have a great range, from the basic H1 to a H4n or H6 for more complicated set-ups..
Once you’ve recorded, then it’s time to edit. And if you’ve got a desktop or laptop computer, then take a look at Audacity. It’s a free open source editing suite which is the choice of many podcasters. If you have a Mac or a MacBook, then the in-built Garageband, will also do the job well for no money. There are tonnes of how-to videos for both pieces of software on YouTube.
Running Total £52.51
Getting the audio spot on is important but your visuals are important too. To get your podcast registered on iTunes and other directories, you need artwork. Podcast art needs to be a 1400 x 1400 pixel image and has stand out to grab attention. If you’re a dab hand at Photoshop, you could do it yourself. Or there are lots of podcast artwork designers on Fiverr.
Running Total £56.41
You don’t need a jingle or a theme tune but a good theme tune can help your podcast be memorable for listeners. However, copyright law prevents you from just picking your favourite song and putting it at the top of your show. Instead, you’ll need to use royalty free music, which is clear for you to use once you’ve paid a small fee. There are lots of these sites – including two I’ve used in the past, Audio Jungle and Audio Network. The latter allows you to download a WAV of your chosen piece of music for £6.99 plus VAT. They do offer 10 MP3 downloads for free to get you started too.
And with that, you’re all set. Yes, you need to register your podcasts on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn amongst others, but that’s not going to cost you any money. So, at current prices, anyone looking to do a three person podcast can do it for a total cost of £64.80. Not bad eh? Certainly on a par with three friends going out for a meal.
Caveats? Well, smartphones and apps make me twitchy, so a decent digital audio recorder is a good investment. Secondly, putting a few quid into the coffers of a start-up like Podiant will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside (and help them stay in business in the long term). Finally, good directional microphones will give you a much better sound than lavs.
But all in all, this is a good set up to get going. Which means now all you have to worry about is getting the content right. Putting a price on that? Well, that’s a whole other story.
Steve Austins is the Founder and Director of Bengo Media. Check out how we can help get your podcast off the ground and make your content stand out.