Bare-bones Podcast? How to go about it?
June 7, 2022 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking of doing podcasts to help ramp up my business. I have a minimum budget. What is the most inexpensive way to create one? I would be interviewing individuals. Podcast platform info would also be great. Request more information if necessary. I'm new to this.
posted by goalyeehah to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I do a very basic podcast for work, and I record on zoom (use separate audio channels for each participant) edit in Audacity (free, learned from youtube), and I think I want to move to libsyn for hosting (~$5 a month for the basic tier). Spotify used to have a free tier that would syndicate your podcast, but they charge for it now and also moved their model more to music vs. podcasts.

My next purchase would be an external mic, both the one in my laptop and the one in my earbuds are pretty crap. I also avoid recording in my home office because it's echoey, test out your setup beforehand. I recorded via zoom even with someone nearby to get the separate audio channels for editing, if you're planning more in-person recording, you'll definitely need a mic and ideally a directional mic for each person.

Also, I'm slow, but it takes me 8-10 times as long to edit as the recorded interview. Figure out if there are better ways you can use this time if you don't inherently want to have a podcast. It is a nice excuse to be able to talk to people and pick their brains, even if you don't have a ton of followers.
posted by momus_window at 11:59 AM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're recording remotely, Trycast is worth a look. (It's what the metafilter podcast uses.) Get a decent mic. A 70 USD mic headset isn't a bad investment.

If you're recording in person, it might be worth getting a digital recorder. I'm a fan of Tascam. Zoom is cheaper and might be fine. Stay the hell away from m-Audio. A decent one is probably 200-300 USD.

For editing, audacity is free and pretty easy to learn. There are better tools, but they're either expensive or have a steep learning curve. is more radio than postcasts, but has some useful reviews of gear and software. Cheers!
posted by eotvos at 1:00 PM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Audacity was bought by a new owner and there are concerns about shady practices w.r.t. private data. It's widely being called spyware now, but since I don't personally use it I haven't looked too deeply into it to see how much is valid concern vs. overblown panic. I would definitely suggest doing your own research before installing. Here is an article that weighs in on the side of 'overblown panic', though it notes that there is data collection occurring now.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm 5 episodes into a bare-bones indie podcast. Here's what we use:

- Zoom for recording. This is good if you will have guests. We (my co-host and I) just use our MacBook's internal mics for recording, which has horrified several audiophile friends but sounds OK to my podcast-fan ears. If you want mics, the Yeti Blue mic seems to be popular and is not that expensive (we plan to buy them at some point).

- We created our cover image on Canva. Our theme song is from

- We use libsyn for hosting. I don't love it and we will probably migrate at some point, but it's very affordable ($5/month) at the lowest level and pushes to most podcast platforms (some you have to do separately, and then connect them with the host, or take additional steps on their platform, and libsyn does have good documentation and support for this).

- We started out editing in GarageBand because it's free but I don't recommend that either. I actually stumbled on someone who edits podcasts pretty cheap and so we use him, which has been well worth it to us. In addition to editing the dialogue, adding in the music, etc. he does some stuff to make it sound better which probably helps with the no-mic issue. (DM me if you're looking for an editor who will do a good job for cheap because he's a young guy looking for experience)

- I've seen some people recommending Descript, which turns your audio into a transcript, which you can edit like a word doc, and then the edits translate to the audio! That sounds like magic and I want to try it sometime.

- I've gotten a LOT of good advice from r/podcasting. (That's where I found the editor) Definitely check it out and look at the guides/FAQs.

Also, make sure you have realistic expectations for using a podcast as a marketing tool. If you have 88 downloads per episode, that will put you in the top 25% of all podcasts. The median podcast has 29 downloads. The best thing to do is find your niche and figure out how to get them listening. If your guests are people you want to network with, that's also great.

General advice: listen to a lot of podcasts that have the format you want. Take note of how the host leads conversations, how they deal with transitions, etc. I HIGHLY recommend having an outline for each episode. It's also great if you can certain segments or questions you ask each time. Helps your guests prepare, lets your listeners know what to expect, and makes it easier on you.

Also: HAVE FUN. Podcasting is a lot of work and it can take a while to build an audience and see material results. But it can be a lot of fun. And the more fun you are having, the more enjoyable it will be to listen. So focus on guests, topics, etc that you really enjoy.
posted by lunasol at 2:05 PM on June 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

(Oh, also: the reason we didn't get mics yet was that I read the average podcast only releases THREE episodes. We didn't want to spend a bunch of money on gear and then never use it. We decided we'll buy mics after we've released 10 eps. Halfway there!)
posted by lunasol at 2:07 PM on June 7, 2022, owned by Spotify, is a free app that lets you record through your smartphone (not sure about tablet) to make a podcast. And hosting your podcast is still free.

You can purchase quite decent microphones for cheap depending on your connectivity requirements, like to smartphone, PC, tablet, or good old XLR interface (i.e. to a pro-grade mixer)

A decent microphone for the price is like a RODE NT-USB Mini for $100, the perpetual favorite Blue Teti for as low as $100, the smaller Blue Snowball for about $70, or Mackie EM-USB for under $100. Personally, buy a good arm and isolation mount if it fits, and a windscreen if you want to reduce the "spitz". That'll add another $35-70.
posted by kschang at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sorry, one more thing: your first episode should be a trailer. It can be really short, like 2 minutes, but you want to do this because it can take different amounts of time for your first episode to load on different apps/platforms. It took several weeks for us to be up on Apple, for RSS reasons. That way you can launch your first full episode when you are fully up and running on all platforms. This also gives you a chance to get a few subscribers before the first ep.
posted by lunasol at 2:35 PM on June 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

To get good audio, the sound absorption is actually more important than the mic. Make a padded box to record in if possible (Pinterest DIY recording studio and DIY soundproofing has lots of ideas) it helps your voice not echo and sound richer.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:37 PM on June 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I am using a USB microphone from 2017, only paid $30 for it on Amazon then, and it still works great today. Even came with a shock mount. Cheap arms can be bought nowadays for like $15-20.

If you can't rig up a space for recording, you can buy "acoustic shield" on Amazon for like $40, but a good one will probably cost more, like Kaotica's Eyeball which is like $200+.
posted by kschang at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2022

The $9 usb mic that came with the Rock Band game is easily available on eBay and sounds great. Don’t make people listen to your echoey laptop mics.
Similarly, stay away from Bluetooth mics or AirPods.

If you have people on zoom, have them use their phone and voice memo app to record themselves. Then they can send you the file.

It doesn’t take much to sound decent, but bad sound can absolutely turn away listeners.
posted by bug138 at 4:32 PM on June 7, 2022

Here is a good minimal budget for starting a podcast:

Microphone: Samson Q2U is a dynamic USB microphone that goes for around $56 USD.
Computer: whatever you have right now should work.
Editing software : GarageBand (Mac) and Audacity (PC) are both free.
Hosting: SoundCloud and Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor) are both free options.
Recording remotely: Zoom and Skype both work for this. Usually, I'll ask my guest to record locally on their machine as well (as a backup) using something like QuickTime. This video shows how to record a "double ender" remotely.

This guide has some other good podcast equipment and software recommendations, as well as ideas on how to promote your podcast.

Here are a few quick tips for promotion:

1. Submit your RSS feed to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many of the other listening app directories as you can.
2. There are some new indexes to submit to as well: Podchaser, Podcast Index, Listen Notes, and Podyssey.
3. Leverage your business' existing channels (email list, website, blog, social media) to promote the show and get more listeners.
4. When you record your audio, remind your listeners to "share the episode with a friend." Most podcast recommendations occur through word of mouth.
5. Ratings and reviews on Apple Podcasts and Spotify won't necessarily affect your ranking, but they do provide social proof for potential listeners.
6. Record a short trailer episode for your podcast. Most players will highlight episodes tagged as "trailer" when folks find your podcast. It allows the listener to get a taste of your show without having to commit to listening to a full episode.

Podcasting can be a helpful way for a new business to connect with an audience, but remember: you need to tell a compelling story! Nobody wants to listen to something boring or "corporate." But telling the story of your business (especially as you're building it) can be really compelling. Gimlet's Startup podcast is a good example of this.
posted by mijustin at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

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