How To Start A Podcast on The Cheap

Step-by-step instructions on how to start a podcast (on the cheap). Learn how podcasting can help your personal and professional life and help you make money from home!

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Step-by-step: How to set up your podcast for under $55

Starting a podcast was one of the best decisions I made for my personal and professional life. My first podcast, She Did It Her Way, I created with two friends to interview female entrepreneurs. We pick their brains about how they started their businesses, made sacrifices, faced challenges, and (for some) left their jobs to pursue their dreams.

Then, I did the same. I left my job as an Actuarial Consultant to pursue my dream of helping other millennial-aged women, and myself to be honest, navigate the world of managing their finances and making money work for them.

The Words+Money Podcast was born.

Every week, I get to sit down with another inspiring woman and talk life and money, but your podcast can be entirely different.

The best part about podcasting? It's completely up to you what you put out into the world, and you can do it even if you're on a budget (which is obvs my favorite way to roll).

I've made friends, met business partners, expanded my network, learned all about the world of online marketing, expanded my knowledge on personal finance, and learned how to make money online from the comfort of my own home, all because I started a podcast on the topic.

Imagine what starting a podcast can do for you.

So here are my step-by-step directions on How To Start A Podcast (on the cheap). Exactly how I did it (with even cheaper options that I've found through my research!) and how you can do it and be successful too!

Step 1: a home for your show

The Most affordable Website Option

First and foremost, you need a home for your show. This is the place that people will go to listen to your show, get more deets (like in the show notes), and connect with you. It's your website.

Let's get you a website: Open this and follow my steps, below.

So how do you get a website? Well first, you just need to get a self-hosted domain. (See mine up top? It's "www.tesswicks.com" because I went out and bought my name and then I self-hosted it which means I 100% own my website.) 

All the smart kids on the block know that you need to be self-hosted. It's really the way to go if you want full control over your site (and maybe someday make some extra bucks on the side-side).

Get Your Domain:

Go to Bluehost.com. (their website is super sleek and their customer support is on fleek... that wasn't supposed to rhyme, but I'm pretty proud that it did.) It's really one of the cleanest platforms I've seen, and it is sooo reasonably priced.

Bluehost will self-host your website for $3.95 per month (say wha?! that's less than a latte with almond milk!) AND it includes a free domain for the first year as long as you buy hosting for 12 months, which... why wouldn't you?

All you really have to do is head over to Bluehost (<– my special link gets you a deeeep discount!) and select a plan. I'll be the first to tell you that the "Basic" plan is all you need at this point in time... I'm pretty #basic on all my websites.

Pick your website domain (name)... this is the MOST important part. Don't mess this up! Unfortunately, www.alldogsgotoheaven.com is already taken... I checked.

After you fill in your domain, you'll select your package information and be on your way. Note: you may want to consider Site Backup and SiteLock Security, but if you're on a tight budget it's not going to be the end of the world.

Imagine, getting 3 years of your website that can one day make you a solid living for under $48 a year, plus a free year of your domain with a 12-month plan. Not to mention, you have a 30-day money back guarantee. - BOOM! (Just in case you get that buyer's remorse.)

I don't tell you this because you would want to get a refund, I tell you this because companies that offer killer customer service like this (unlike some utility/cable companies we all know and love <wink>) just make me giddy, and I trust that they aren't trying to screw me over.

Here are the top reasons to love Bluehost:

  • Free domain registration for the first year
  • Easy to use and super reliable!
  • 24/7 (and always friendly and helpful) customer support via Phone, Chat, or Ticket.
  • Leading industry technology and Dedicated Hosting (in case this speaks to you)

For a more detailed step-by-step tutorial see: How To Build a Website Even if You Have No Skills

Set Up Your Website:

Getting the domain isn't the end of it, but it is the end of you paying any money for your podcast home. Once you have your Bluehost domain, it's time to set up your actual website, and they make it super easy for you to get your website off the ground with Bluehost's 1-Click Wordpress Install

Worpress.org (not ".com" <-- this is not self-hosted!) is a great website building platform. It allows you to completely personalize for the look and feel you want your website to have because it's yours and you own it.

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Setting up a website on Wordpress.org is completely FREE!

(Of course, you could purchase a pretty template if you don't like any of the vast number of free templates that are flying around the web-o-sphere, but that will run you around $50. Still a steal.)

For this particular site you're on right now, I use Squarespace, but it's not the cheapest option, nor does it offer the most flexibility, but it's where I started TessWicks.com with so for now, it's where I'll stay.

To be honest, I'm not sure how I would set this whole thing up if I were to start over again, but I wanted to provide you with the most affordable option, and that is the Bluehost+Wordpress.org combo, so there you have it!

Step 2: all the tools you need

RECORDING

  • For interview-based episodes: You will want to use Skype to have a remote interview discussion. Skype is video-calling application that you can download on any type of computer for FREE.

  • For interview-based episodes: Along with Skype for your interviews, you'll need a recording software to capture both the input (your voice) and the output (the person on the other line). You have a couple options based on whether you have a Mac or PC.

    • Mac users: You can download a great software called ECAMM for a one-time cost of $29.95. This software has been my favorite recent purchase (since I just got a Mac). It gives me so much control over my recordings and my audio editor really appreciates the track-splitting capabilities!

    • PC users: Lucky ducks! When I had a PC I used the Skype Call Recorder from Voipcallrecording.com. It's FREE and an amazing platform. (They are also super responsive in their Facebook group.) I'm a raving fan!

  • Soloshow episodes: If your podcast will always be in-person interviews or you are the only guest, you can record the episodes using another FREE software called Audacity. Just download it on your Mac or PC and hit record. I also use this software for editing my podcast (more on this below).

Microphone

  • Eventually, your mic will be your biggest expense (if you decide to get serious) but you can get a pretty low-cost mic that sounds great until you decide to move up.

Logitech USB headset mic

Yeti by Blue Microphones

Editing

  • For soloshows and editing your audio, you will need an audio recording and editing software. I use Audacity, it's FREE for PC and Mac and it's just fine for my audio editing needs.
  • If you want more bells and whistles and don't mind paying a monthly fee, you can download Adobe Audition for 20 bones per month ($20/month). It will give you a little more if you're a true sound engineer.

Step 3: where to keep your podcast

You will need a Media Host

With my first podcast, this was the most shocking thing to learn. You need a media host to host your audio files because you website host will not be able to support the size of your audio files + your other website content and traffic. If your podcast takes off, say goodbye to your site bandwidth and it's ability to support traffic.

I'll warn you again: DO NOT HOST YOUR AUDIO ON YOUR WEBSITE!

I personally use Libsyn. For just $5 per month you can get 50mb of storage each month. As long as you have a short weekly or monthly podcast, that's all you need. The next level of storage is 250mb for $15 per month. High quality, longer, or more frequent episodes will require more storage.

Libsyn is pretty simple to use, and they have great onboarding articles and videos if you need extra help. The most important is knowing the requirements for your podcast image. That's right, if you want to get your show up on iTunes (more on that in the next step) then you have to follow very specific rules for the image, and Libsyn is alll over it! Read more here.

Once you publish your podcast on your media host, you can either embed the player into a new blog post that corresponds to your episode, or copy the link into a different podcast player on your website.

Step 4: let the world hear (iTunes and Stitcher)

Publish Your Work

There are many places you can publish your show, but the most popular is through iTunes and Stitcher, in my opinion. You will want to publish to both platforms to hit both the Apple and Android (or other) market. These platforms both have podcast apps that can be accessed on-the-go.

Uploading to Stitcher is pretty easy and intuitive once you conquer iTunes, so I'll focus on iTunes because it's a little more difficult.

You must submit an application to get published on both of these platforms. You will start by submitting your RSS feed from your media host (Libsyn in my case) as well as a show description to iTunes.

The RSS feed can be found under Destinations > Quick Links > Libsyn Classic Feed. (as shown below)

Note: it will take 2-3 business days to get up and running, and I recommend that you already have a couple episodes uploaded in your media host and published to your RSS feed before submitting to iTunes.

To submit: Go to iTunes, filter to view Podcasts. On the right hand side you'll see "Submit a Podcast." *CLICK*

This will send you to a website where you'll log in with your iTunes ID. Then you can submit your podcast RSS feed from your media host.

It's a process. The good news? You only have to do this once. Then every time you upload your episode to your media host, it automatically submits to the published directories. 

Be patient and send me an email if the waiting game is driving you crazy and we can make sure you did it correctly.

Step 5: set show standards

Establish your show standards 

From what you're going to talk about, how you're going to open and close, what intro music you're going to use, who you're speaking to, and the visual elements of your shows, you'll want to think of all these items to make your podcast truly cohesive.

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For my music, I grabbed some royalty-free audio for free online. If you search through the crowd of corny stuff, you'll find some gems. (Well, mine might be corny too... but I embrace it.)

I paid someone $5 to record an professional intro on Fiverr, but before I got all "profesh," I had one of my awesome friends record an intro for me.

I also use Canva.com to create my show graphics. Canva is a FREE online photo editing tool, and I absolutely love it. I use Canva to create all of my blog and podcast graphics. It helps my brand stay cohesive and really helps me systemize the process by having a standard template for all of my graphics.

 

Step 6: measure your performance

The only way you can guarantee success is by measuring and tracking your past performance, improve upon what's not working (and even what is working) and continue the cycle. 

I track my performance on social media platforms, my website, and my episode downloads.

Between your website analytics (I use Google Analytics) and using a media host that offers excellent stats like Libsyn for only $2 extra per month if you're on the $5/month plan, you should be set to understand what is and isn't jiving with your audience.

Measuring performance might feel like the least sexy of it all, but you'll be impressed at how many people are tuning in to hear a piece of your mind, learn something from you, and become loyal followers and listeners throughout the time that you're slinging podcasts to the world.

Now, I'd love to hear from you: What are some podcast ideas you have? What's keeping you from starting your own talk-show podcast? What do you need help with?

*This post may contain affiliate links which means I'll get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, for some of the items I showcase here. I only promote and have partnerships with products or services I use and love.

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