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Issue #9 • September 2017

The Podcast Gear You Need to Start Recording on Any Budget

Content Marketing Podcasting

You’re scrolling through your social media feed and see yet another roundup blog post highlighting the “very best podcasts” in your niche. When you read through it, there’s a part of you that deeply wants to be on the list.

You’ve been wanting to increase your thought leadership and visibility online, so podcasting seems like a natural fit. And getting paid to talk? That would just be the cherry on top. The only problem is you don’t know where to start.

If the tech side of podcasting makes your head spin and you’re only working with a shoestring budget, starting a podcast can seem downright daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

We often overcomplicate what it takes to get started. Today, we hope to simplify the process by providing options to fit every budget and every stage of podcasting. Let’s dig in.  

Beginner podcast gearEntry level podcast gear — $150 budget

You’ve been playing around with the idea of launching a podcast for a while but haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet. You know you have something special to share with the world but the tech side of podcasting has you a bit confused.

You’re not alone. While it does take a few pieces of equipment to get your podcast setup, it’s a lot easier than you think. You don’t need to be an expert audio engineer to get started.

Let’s talk about how far we can stretch a $150 budget. These small investments will help you dip your toes into podcasting without the added financial stress.

Choosing an affordable microphone

Affordable podcast microphone

Let’s start with our obvious first step– selecting a microphone. A great place to start is with an affordable microphone like Audio-Technica ATR2100 because it has both a USB digital output and XLR analog output. The downside to this microphone, however, is that it’s a handheld microphone so you’d want to invest in a microphone stand as well.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use microphone you can take with you on-the-go, the Blue Snowball USB Microphone could be a good option. It’s a favorite among location independent bloggers and entrepreneurs for its small size (it fits perfectly in carry-on bags!) and cheap price.

Both microphones take up about a third of your $150 budget, but it’s well worth it since a microphone is the most essential piece of gear when you begin podcasting. Now let’s talk about recording software.

Affordable recording and editing software for podcasters

Affordable podcast software

Luckily, there are many affordable and free options to help you record your podcast episodes. When I started my own podcast, I used the free version of QuickTime to record my own audio and instructed my guests to record their own audio using QuickTime.

The original audio file gives you the best sound quality rather than using the combined audio from a Google Hangout or Skype call. This is a great tip to keep in mind as you continue to grow your podcast equipment.

The most popular audio editing software on the market is Audacity. It’s free to use and pretty comprehensive. If you don’t want to download extra software, you can use Garageband if you have a Mac computer.

Additional budget-friendly podcast gear

Affordable podcast gear additional

When recording a podcast, you always want to wear headphones. For a budget-friendly option, just use your ear-buds.

One of the most affordable ways to seriously improve the sound quality of your podcast is to purchase a pop-filter, like this pop-filter from Dragonpad. It softens any harsh syllables, especially the natural pop of “p” sounds. The swivel mounts on the pop-filter also make for easy installation on virtually any microphone. Pop-filters range anywhere between $9-$20 so it’s a small price to pay for better sound quality.

While this may not be gear per say, it’s important to think about investing in a cloud-based storage and sharing tool like Dropbox. Nothing would be worse than recording a full podcast season ahead of time and losing all of the audio files in a computer crash. Yikes!

Dropbox has many affordable plans to help you backup all of your audio files with ease. You can also access the files from any device and share folders that guests can drop their audio, photo, and text files into.

Don’t forget to save some money for digitally hosting your podcast! Because of the large size of audio files, you’ll want to host your podcast on a third-party site like Libsyn or Soundcloud. Libysn costs anywhere between $5-75/month depending on your hosting plan (with beginner to advanced options) and Soundcloud is around $7-15/month. Check out their unique features to see which one is best for you.

Mid level podcast gearMid-level podcast gear — $500 budget

Now you’re a few episodes into creating your own podcast and are already seeing the benefits. Your podcast downloads are increasing on iTunes and Stitcher, your listeners are asking for more episodes, and you’ve received a few podcast interview requests.

This is a great time to think about investing in the next level of podcast gear. In this mid-level tier, you can strategically purchase podcast gear for the long-term.

Choosing a better quality podcast microphone

Midlevel podcast microphones

Naturally, we’ll first start with a higher quality microphone. The Blue Yeti USB Microphone, around $130, is a common podcaster favorite and is highlighted in many Instagram posts. It has different settings for solo podcasting, recording in groups, and beyond.

If you’re looking for the superior sound that still fits within your $500 budget, think about investing in EV RE320 Variable-D or a Heil PR-40 dynamic microphone. These are highly recommended and reviewed by long-time podcasters as “the best of the best”.

If you host podcast interviews locally, you may want to invest in better microphones for both you and the guest. This way, you won’t have to share a microphone and you’ll have better sound quality.

Upleveling your podcast setup

Midlevel podcast setup

Now that you’re ready to invest more time (and money) in podcasting, it may be time to purchase a DuaFire Microphone Stand for more hands-free podcasting. It’s ideal to have your microphone sit four to six inches away from you, so a microphone stand will come in handy.

With a microphone stand, you can adjust the microphone to the right height so you don’t have to crane your neck to speak into a microphone sitting on a desk. This is an especially great option if you plan on creating a mini podcasting studio in your home office or in an additional office space.

Once you have more room in your budget, you can finally retire your ear-buds and invest in high quality headphones. While Beats by Dre is a popular, more flashy option, the sound quality of Sony MDR-7510 and Sennheiser HD 598 SR headphones do the trick.

You also have enough room in your podcast setup budget to experiment with other audio editing software. If you’re looking for advanced editing options with an approachable interface, Reaper may be a great fit. They have a large collection of resources and video tutorials to help you learn how to masterfully edit your podcast episodes.

Advanced podcast gearAdvanced level podcast gear — $1000+ budget

Now your podcast has been featured in a few “best podcast” roundups, it’s successfully directing listeners to your website, and it’s increasing your bottom line. #winning

Since the podcast is driving extra revenue through product sales, additional client projects, or podcast sponsorships, you’re looking to put money back into the podcast to further increase its quality.

Advanced podcast gear and software

Advanced podcast gear

Now that you’re growing your podcast, you may want to reach a whole new audience by producing video shows. Many successful podcasters have transformed their once audio-only podcasts into full-blown audio and visual content generators.

You can do this in two ways. You can either livestream interviews and turn the audio files into a podcast episode, or you can pre-record the interviews and mix the audio files for podcasting purposes. For live-streaming, think about using YouTube Live or Crowdcast. For pre-recording, you could experiment with Zoom or Skype.

If you want to experiment with creating a video show, you can record the shows using an upgraded webcam, like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam. For the best quality, invest in a DSLR camera like the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, as recommended by our course video expert, Caleb Wojcik.

If you’re outgrowing your audio editing software, you may want to upgrade to Adobe Audition CC, which is built for experienced podcasters. The noise-reduction features are out of this world, and the EQ tools take editing a step further with better options than Reaper and Audacity.

It’s also great if you want to add more custom music tracks to your episodes. At $240/year, the software isn’t cheap but it’s well worth the investment as your podcast brings in more revenue.

Additional option: Outsourcing podcast tasks

You’ve been working really hard on producing the podcast but now you’re ready to work smarter. Your DIY efforts just aren’t cutting it anymore. With extra room in your budget, you may want to outsource certain tasks in your podcasting workflow.

While this doesn’t add podcast gear to your collection, it will free up time and energy to think more about your high-level podcast strategy, which could be invaluable.

Let’s say you’ve been podcasting for a full quarter and totally enjoy it. Interviewing guests gives you bursts of creative energy unlike anything else, but then the behind-the-scenes work begins.

You love facilitating the interviews and connecting with podcast guests, but you wouldn’t mind having someone else on your team take care of the show notes, audio editing, or scheduling interviews.

At the advanced level, you may have the extra funds to allocate toward outsourcing work to experts. Whether it improves your sound quality, streamlines your workflow, or simply allows you to focus on the tasks you love, it’s a great option. You’d also be helping other business owners by providing employment opportunities. It’s a win-win!

Our best podcast setup advice is to invest as you go!

You may outgrow specific pieces of podcast equipment over time, but remember that you don’t need a lot of expensive, state-of-the-art podcast gear to get started. Instead, focus your attention on creating an epic podcast content strategy and upgrade your gear as you go.

What podcast gear are you most looking forward to investing in? Let us know in the comment section.   

Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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