If you’re just starting out as a podcaster, or you’re trying to manage a podcast on a budget, you’re probably wondering how to get up and running with podcasting resources that won't break the bank.
We know – we’ve been there.
However, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s a lot of guidance and services out there to support you with your podcasting.
In this post, we’re going to introduce you to some fantastic resources that will enable you to create and manage a superbly professional podcast – without having to reach deep into your pockets.
At Content Champion, we’ve been producing podcasts for years (in 2016 we even took part in the world's longest ever podcast - see below), and over that time we’ve come across loads of podcasting resources.
What’s always impressed us is how easy it is to tap into expertise and support without having to fork out too much from the budget. This is especially important for startup podcasters – although really, even veterans like us appreciate a bargain.
We’ve rounded up our favourite podcasting resources, all of which have helped Content Champion’s podcast at some stage. We’ve chosen these because they are genuinely helpful, straightforward to download and use, and are either free or very reasonably priced.
They’re not ranked in order of cost or excellence; rather, we’ve tried to create a podcaster’s journey, from free advice for rookies right through to getting your podcast onto YouTube.
We start with some advisory resources, before moving on to look at the branding, equipment, software and hosting you need to get your podcast going. Finally, we look at the more sophisticated tools such as transcription services and repurposing software that manages the social media side.
You’ll come out the other side of this guide inspired by these resources, and ready to give them a try – happy in the knowledge that you can podcast on a budget.
Pat Flynn’s Podcasting Guide
This a great free resource to get your podcast started; indeed, it’s the one we used ourselves when we were setting up the Content Champion Podcast. Pat Flynn takes you through everything, from setting up your mic to adding background music to publishing the finished product.
Pat’s advice is clear, and he has a welcoming style that makes his blogs super-easy to read and follow. And if you scroll down the page to his videos, you can watch and listen to his straightforward words of wisdom. Novice podcasters should try his Top Ten Tips tutorial, which takes you through the basics, and acts as a springboard for the elements that you need to consider in more depth.
What’s really great about these videos is the chatty way he takes you through the basics – it’s like getting advice from a friend, which is a great style to adopt for podcasting. Pat gives you the kind of information that’s so helpful when you’re getting started, such as creating an appealing introduction, and how to build the relationship between your podcast and your blog.
He also has an engaging and encouraging tone, which again is what you need if you’re debating taking the plunge into podcasting. He really makes you feel that you can do it, and his self-deprecating asides help grow your confidence.
You can watch his tutorials and read the posts on his website for free. If you want to carry on learning from Pat, you can also subscribe to his paid Power-Up Podcasting Course, which looks at more in-depth elements of podcasting such as marketing and monetising. However, as a how-to guide before you start out, we highly recommend these free tutorials. Plus, it’s also a master class in clear yet informal delivery.
Yaro Starak’s Power Podcasting Course
Widely regarded as one of the real masters of podcasting, Yaro Starak has been podcasting since 2005. His first podcast was recorded on his iRiver: that’s how venerable and experienced he is. We purchased this course and devoured it in 2017 – learning so much as we went along – and it was a delight and honour to then host Yaro on the Content Champion podcast some time afterwards.
Yaro’s course takes you deeper into the nitty-gritty of podcasting. He does cover the basics of getting started and the practicalities of recording your first podcasts, but he also looks at how to monetise your show, and this is where we found him incredibly helpful.
Instead of focusing on advertising, which is what a lot of us think we’ll do at first, Yaro talks about using the podcast to promote your existing business. As few podcasters start out by simply podcasting, the chances are you have a product or service that you want to push. Yaro’s course helps you to build your podcast as a marketing tool.
That’s why this course comes so highly recommended, as most small business podcasts only ever achieve a relatively small audience – but this doesn’t mean they can’t help you sell your products and services, and actually become quite profitable. They also build your brand awareness online, which has a knock-on effect in increasing sales.
One of the ways to make your podcast appealing to your audience is by introducing guests and interviews (a formula we’ve found to be really popular). Guest podcasters keep your podcast lively and engaging, as well as growing your network by tapping into theirs.
One of the ways Yaro really spoke to us was through his emphasis on storytelling. As many of us make the transition to podcasting from blogging, the fact we could bring our storytelling skills with us was greatly empowering.
As you can tell, we highly recommend signing up for this superb course – it would be money well invested. It’s also a good idea to subscribe to his podcast to hear the master at work.
Fiverr For Podcast Square Design & Audio Branding
When you’re setting out, you probably don’t have much cash to splash on making your podcast look shiny. However as we soon found, there are some great budget ways to get surprisingly high-quality podcast squares and bumpers.
If you’re still right at the beginning of your podcast journey, a “podcast square” is the graphic that represents your show, named for its shape. This will appear next to your link on iTunes, and is a bit like your Twitter avatar. Here is the one we use at Content Champion. This one was made by a professional graphic designer we found on FIverr.
A “bumper” is essentially your audio branding: think of those little snippets of music you hear on the radio in between items and songs, sometimes with a voice-over as well. Even though these are just a few seconds long, they’re still a powerful way of creating a distinctive identity (and we bet that you can still sing the radio jingles from your childhood, can’t you? A good bumper lasts).
As mentioned, the online creative directory Fiverr can help you here. You can source low-cost logo design for your podcast square too (like we did), which will help to build your brand. Search through the listed designers, and choose someone that suits your style and matches your budget. Be careful to read several reviews to choose the right person for the job.
Sourcing a bumper seems harder – after all, there are also copyright laws to navigate here. Step forward again Fiverr. Have a look at their Music & Audio listings, which work in the same way as the graphic design page. Eighties rock jingle? Ukulele? A rap? It’s all here.
Just make sure the provider who creates your bumpers for the beginning, middle and end of your show can provide background music and a voiceover as a part of the package – then you can write your script and they’ll voice it for you.
Podcast Microphone & Equipment Packages
Step away from the jingles (it’s an addictive page, isn’t it?) and start to think about the kit you’ll need. If you’re not very technically minded, this can seem like one of the more daunting bits of podcasting (however, if you do like a gadget, this element is really exciting). You don’t actually need much to get started, and we still use the same equipment that we bought ages ago.
This microphone package from Editors Keys is very similar to the Content Champion set-up. This home booth gives you excellent sound quality for a reasonable outlay; and as soon as you set up the portable vocal booth, you’ll start feeling like a real pro. As it’s a USB mic and you don’t need a mixer, all you need on top of this is a pair of good-quality headphones, and you’re ready to record.
It’s really handy for the home office, as the vocal booth simply clamps on, and instantly transforms the acoustics of your office, study or kitchen into something really professional-sounding.
This particular bundle gives you a choice of microphones and a “pop filter”, which removes popping p-sounds and hisses to give you a cleaner sound. A clear recording is essential for a good podcast: you wouldn’t use a blurred phone photo on your website, so apply the same quality standards to the finish of your podcast.
When you’re recording your audio – and especially if your room is light on soft furnishings - it’s also a good idea to drape some duvets, blankets or towels around the space to stop hard echoes.
Unwanted sounds such as this are nearly impossible to edit out afterwards – so make sure you wear your headphones too when interviewing your guests – so you don’t create a feedback loop on the recording.
You needn’t spend a fortune on your headphones by the way (just have a quick browse through Amazon), but make sure they’re comfortable. And if you’re video podcasting, you also have to like how you look in them.
It’s worth bearing in mind that headphones can change how your voice sounds to yourself when you’re speaking, which can be disconcerting. Some podcasters avoid noise-cancelling headphones for this reason - because ironically they become too distracting.
Skype & eCamm Call Recorder
If you’re going to be recording remote interviews, it’s important that you don’t lose quality when recording down the line. At Content Champion, we use the eCamm Call Recorder and Skype, which come together perfectly for recording our remote audio interviews. It’s an excellent way to produce your recordings on a budget.
Most of us use Skype now, so it’s great to be able to harness this familiar tech for your remote recordings and side-by-side video podcasts – and the best part is that it’s free when you’re going Skype-to-Skype. However, what’s the best way of recording your conversation?
eCamm Call Recorder lets you record your Skype podcasts in HD. It automatically records your calls (both audio and video) onto your Mac, or you can choose to do this manually with simple record and stop buttons. It genuinely couldn’t be easier.
You can convert your calls into MP3 files, which is perfect for podcasts. It also has a multi-track recording feature to help you with editing, so you can single out both voices in separate files from your interviews. You can try it for free for seven days to see if you like it (but honestly, we know you will. It’s so straightforward), and after this, it costs around $40 to purchase.
And there you have it: long-distance audio recordings using economic, everyday tech that even your grandparents use. Perfect for the start-up podcaster who wants to reach out to remote interviewees.
Just make sure that you both have the connectivity to manage your Skype recording, as you don’t want to lose that all-important interview or end up with a stuttering result.
Audacity Podcast Editor
Again, we can recommend this from personal experience, as this is the editor we use at Content Champion. Why is this so good? Well, for a start you can download it for free, which is exactly what you need to know when you’re podcasting on a budget.
Next, it’s easy to use, and it works with Windows and GNU/Linux as well as Macs. The link above takes you to the version we use; however there have been updates since. Have a look at their download page for later versions.
What can you do with Audacity Podcast Editor?
Firstly, it records live audio, then it lets you tweak it until you’re happy with how it sounds. You can cut, copy, splice and mix sounds together, and add effects including changing the pitch or the speed of the recording (spend a bit of time making yourself sound like a cartoon character to get it out of your system, then go back to the serious business of editing your audio...).
So what exactly should you be editing? Pat Flynn suggests editing as little as possible and letting the conversation flow naturally. He says this approach is what helped him grow as a professional podcaster.
We’d recommend editing anything that could be a distraction. This could be silences, excessive ums and ers, factual errors and clumsy corrections, invading offspring and pets, accidental profanities etc.
But on the whole we agree with Pat - the beauty of a podcast is its natural, conversational delivery. Erms, ums and ers are a normal part of human speech – just try removing them all, and listen to how unnatural you suddenly sound.
Editing multi-track audio can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it – so watch the video below before you get started with Audacity. It’s full of handy tips and suggestions.
We appreciate that this is an area that always alarms the less technically-minded among us, but please don’t let it put you off. Audacity really does help to make editing easier, and you can always take Pat’s approach and do the minimum.
Another great tip before you start your edit (and one professional audio editors probably hate me for) – that works really well to equalise the sound levels of two different speakers – is to run your raw interview files through the Levelator app.
You simply drag and drop your raw audio onto the desktop icon and it spits out a handy audio file where both speakers are talking at the same volume. Make sure you do this before adding in your music bumpers through, as it only works well on spoken word audio files – and seems to compress the hell out of music.
Libsyn Podcast Hosting
Where is your podcast going to live? At Content Champion, we use Libsyn Podcast Hosting, which is simply the best podcast hosting available.
Libsyn (full name Liberated Syndication) are old hands at this, and they pioneered podcast hosting and publishing way back in 2004 (to put that into perspective, there wasn’t even an iPhone then).
These days they host over 35,000 shows with a staggering 62 million audience members each month. Even though they’re big, they’re still really cheap to use, with plans beginning at just $5 per month.
You get an extraordinary amount of start-up support for this. Libsyn can provide you with hosting, publishing tools, a website, RSS for Apple podcasts and helpful statistics. Have a look at their pricing plans to find out more.
Their packages grow with your podcasting business, and their more advanced features include developing custom mobile apps, and a super-sized package for those of us who now have a huge content library to look after.
They also provide unmetered bandwidth and storage space that grows with time. This really is a hosting service for the long-term podcaster, and we’ve been really pleased with the service and support we’ve received from Libsyn.
Before we sound too much like a commercial, we’d better say that other hosting services are available (just remember that we’re writing this based on our personal experience of setting up in podcasting). We’ve also heard good things about Podbean, and apparently Buzzsprout is really straightforward to use.
Rev Podcast Transcription Service
Alongside your podcast, you’ll need to produce “show notes”. These are exactly what the name suggests – notes from your podcast show – and the standard for what readers expect is a brief introduction, the key conversation topics as bullet points, links to resources mentioned in the show – and a transcript of the audio.
Your audio won’t do the same SEO work that your show notes and transcription will – so you do need to create this written content for every podcast episode.
While it’s relatively straightforward to create your show notes yourself (just have a look at any of the podcast pages on our blog), we all acknowledge that the act of transcribing your podcast is not one of the world’s most exciting tasks – which is why we outsource it.
This needn’t be expensive, and when you’re starting out, the chances are that you’re time-poor as well as working to a tight budget. Rev, who we always use, costs from just $1 per minute, and they certainly work quickly. If it takes them an hour and it costs you $60 - but it would take you four hours of your time to produce the same result - you need to do the maths to see if it’s worth it, (which it always is).
Rev’s transcribing team is accurate as well as speedy (unlike our typing...), and produce really top-quality transcriptions of Content Champion’s podcasts. They use real people rather than speech recognition software, which enables them to pick up on nuances that software still struggles with. It’s easy to use: upload your files, or use their iPhone app, and they’ll email you a complete transcription within 12 hours.
I know this seems like a pain, but if you want to run a successful podcast then you need written show notes and a transcript to go with it – which as mentioned are both really great for SEO, especially if you do some keyword research and optimise you page properly.
And if you really want to take the presentation of your podcast on your blog to the next level, I have to mention Pat Flynn's Smart Podcast Player here too - we use it for the Content Champion podcast and it's ace.
Repurpose Podcast Marketing Software
You’ve created, recorded, captured and even transcribed your podcast. We’re now progressing to the more sophisticated side of podcasting: getting your audio content out there. Repurpose is software that lets you, well, repurpose your podcast and push it out to other platforms. Again, we speak from experience when we say that this has become one of our must-have tools.
How does this work? Repurpose converts your audio content into videos that can be published on Facebook, YouTube and Dropbox (for uploading to Vimeo). You can also send the audio files themselves to SoundCloud. You have a lot of control over how this happens, and decide your workflows (i.e. deciding what format you want to send to which platform).
Then, enable the Auto Publish function, and let your podcasts be uploaded automatically (“automagically”, to quote Repurpose). The videos are uploaded complete with call-to-action links to your website, which is excellent for conversions.
You can also brand your content with Repurpose’s customisable templates (back to Fiverr...). And, if the idea of automatically uploading content seems alarming at first, you can use manual mode instead. When your confidence grows, you’ll probably just stick the programme onto Auto Publish, and enjoy the fact that it’s one less thing for you to do.
This isn’t free software, but at $12 a month for a podcaster package, it’s not going to blow the budget. There’s a free trial if you want to give it a go before subscribing. If you want to reach out to a bigger audience (and don’t we all?), this is a superb and time-efficient way to do so.
Here's an example of one the auto-created videos from our podcast. We've recently uploaded them all to YouTube and the other platforms - and although there views are just starting to trickle through - across all shows and platforms this soon adds up to hundreds more listeners.
Podcasting On a Budget Infographic
To help you in your quest to discover the best podcasting resources for putting together a show on a budget, we've created this nifty infographic with all our favourite selections in one easy to consume format. Feel free to share this or embed it on your own site, with a credit back to ContentChampion.com.
What Are Your Top Podcasting Resources?
As you can see, there are a lot of podcasting resources out there to help you create a professional podcast on a budget.
These are all tried-and-trusted resources that have worked really well for us – and in-fact they’ve been so good for our podcast that we have no hesitation in recommending every single one of them. And with many of these resources being free or at least reasonably priced, they’re certainly worth a punt.
Every podcaster has his or her favourite resources. You’ve read about ours – how about yours? Do you have any tips for super-helpful podcasting resources that we’ve missed?
We love to have recommendations from fellow podcasters, so please share your tips, hacks, suggestions and links with us. If you’re just starting out - or trying to podcast on a budget - please let us know what’s working for you in the comments below.