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How to Start a Free Podcast [Expert Advice]

Use this checklist to start a podcast free and learn how to make money fast

Podcasting is exploding as a work-from-home business with billions of dollars rushing in from advertisers and millions of new listeners over the last year.

According to Podcast Insights, just over half of American households now listen to at least one podcast a week and 68 million people listen to multiple podcasts regularly. Advertising on podcasts has jumped over 15% last year to more than $815 million and that doesn’t include sponsorships and other compensation.

Besides the money while you grow your podcast, big money deals are being signed to acquire podcasts. Spotify alone has acquired three podcasts so far this year for a total deal price of $404 million to the hosts.

You can spend over $1,200 to launch a podcast with hundreds for equipment and hosting…but how do you know you’re going to make any money? How do you know you’ll even like podcasting?

I’m not about spending my hard-earned money on a business until I know I’m going to be able to make money and make it a success. That’s why I sat down with three popular podcasters to get the inside scoop on starting a podcast for free!

How to Start a Podcast at Home

I found out that starting a podcast is surprisingly easy and you can have everything up and running in a day or two. Of course, success is in the details for any new business but one of the best pieces of advice I got was just get started and develop those details as you go along.

As in most home based business ideas, getting started is the biggest hurdle. Once you’re online and ready to rock, success is just about weekly improvement to refine your podcast.

So let’s go over a quick-start checklist to get your podcast started fast. Then I’ll go into more detail on some of the important advice I got from the podcasters. I’ll link to relevant articles below to give you more detail on some of the points.

  • Choose a Topic and Name for Your Podcast – Pick something you enjoy talking about…a lot! You might not make money immediately so you want something you can talk about each week that you enjoy. It also helps to have some experience in it though you can also make the theme a beginner’s journey.
  • Create Graphics and an Intro – You’ll want a banner graphic and an intro with music. You can do these yourself but I recommend going to Fiverr and getting a few ideas. You can get banners and intros for as little as $5…which I know isn’t technically free but it’s a great deal for professional work.
  • Find Music – You’ll want background music to set the ‘mood’ of your podcasts whether it’s a quiet conversation or a fast-paced rant. There are lots of paid sites like Epidemic Sound…but why? You can get free music off YouTube Music or other sites like the Free Music Archive.
  • Get a Microphone and Other Equipment – This is going to be the only must-buy item on the list, a decent microphone. I’ll detail some recommendations in a section below but none are prohibitively expensive. If you’re really unsure, you might consider buying used on Ebay so you can resell it if you quit podcasting and get most of your money back.
  • Sign up for Podcast Hosting – This is the website that’s going to store and deliver your podcast to visitors. There are plenty of free options to start with and I’ll detail those in a section below. You’ll be limited on what you can upload but it will give you time to decide if you want to grow your podcast.
  • Record and Edit Your Podcast – This is where you get to actually START PODCASTING! You can use free recording software like Audacity that will allow you to edit as well. After having spent three years editing my videos for YouTube…podcast editing was soooo easy! Seriously, it takes less than 30 minutes to record and edit a podcast!
  • Upload Your Podcast – This is simply taking the file you recorded and uploading it to your host. You’ll write out a title and description for the episode and create an image. It takes all of 10 minutes but don’t neglect some of the keyword research and SEO to make sure your podcast gets found.
  • Submit your Podcast to Apple, Spotify and Google – this is a one-time task, submitting your podcast feed to the major podcast distributors. This sends each episode directly to Apple iTunes or Spotify so people can listen on the platforms. It’s a great way to get noticed and bring people back to every episode.
  • Promote Your Podcast! Believe it or not, this is where you’ll spend most of your time as a podcaster. You’ll share a link to the podcast on social media in your profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You’ll also want to create a YouTube channel and upload the audio there…it’s a great way to use the power of 2 billion monthly YouTube users without doing anything extra! Check out the social media strategy I use for blogging and YouTube.

If your head is spinning, I know it’s a lot to cover but any good work-from-home business is going to take work. What I want you to get from the podcast quick-start list though is just that, a quick-start guide to launching your podcast.

I’ve had hundreds of people ask me about starting a YouTube channel or other home-based business idea, they get bogged down in the details and never get started. I don’t want you to fall into that analysis paralysis trap. Don’t worry about the details yet. Just cover the basics and GET STARTED!

Don’t miss out on starting a podcast because you’re too wrapped up in details like how long should each episode be and what should you talk about. Just get started, talk about a topic you enjoy and gradually improve with the details every week.

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Free Podcast Hosting

You’ll need a home-base for your new podcast, that’s your hosting platform. This is the computer servers that store your podcast episodes and then feed them up to listeners online.

While most professional podcasters use a premium hosting service to get more storage and other features, there’s nothing holding you back from using a free service to start. You’ll be limited in how much you can upload but it’s a great way to get started without the commitment.

  • Buzzsprout offers up to two hours of uploaded content free for 90 days
  • Podbean allows up to five hours of content per month and a max of 100 GB bandwith
  • Soundcloud offers up to three hours of audio content

I’d recommend either Buzzsprout or Podbean. Both are extremely popular and offer great features under premium services. Best of all, by starting on these free podcast hosting services, you can upgrade to premium without missing a beat.

There is another free way to get your podcast online that nobody talks about…YOUTUBE! It’s totally free to start a channel and you’ll have no restrictions like with the free podcast hosts. You just upload your audio and put in a graphic image as the video or you can video record yourself as you speak.

What Equipment Do You Need to Start a Podcast?

As a bare minimum to start a podcast, you’ll need a microphone and audio editing software. Free recording and editing software is easy to come by but the microphone is something you won’t want to skimp on.

Don’t worry, like a lot of things we’ll talk about, you can start with a microphone in the $30 to $50 range and then upgrade later.

The first thing to decide though is between a USB versus an XLR microphone. USB mics plug right into your computer and are the easiest to use. I use this type for videos shot at my desk and love the quality.

XLR microphones come with an extra cable to connect to your computer. They’re usually a little more expensive but are slightly better quality. If you’re going to be recording from two people in the same room, it also makes it easier to plug multiple microphones in together rather than having multiple USB mics.

That said, most new podcasters won’t need an XLR and I think the quality in a good USB mic is great. I use the Blue Yeti which is a little more expensive around $120 but really the gold standard for podcasters. You can compare microphones here, again maybe keeping it under $100 to start and upgrade later.

I use the free Audacity recording and editing software and honestly, that’s all you’ll need even as your podcast grows. I know podcasters with thousands of daily downloads that still use the free software. For Mac users, you can also use Garageband for free though I like Audacity because you can get used to it and then use it anywhere.

Beyond your microphone, there are a few other podcasting wish-list items you might consider but let’s talk about making money on your podcast before we start spending it!

Can You Make Money with a Podcast?

So much money is pouring into podcasts right now, as a YouTuber I’m more than a little jealous! It’s a natural evolution for online advertising, from websites to podcasts and I’m guessing eventually to video but right now it seems all the love is going to podcasters

All the ways we’ve talked about for bloggers and YouTubers to make money can be used as podcasters as well. You’ll need to be a little more explicit about promoting your products and links since people will be listening rather than watching or reading, but the key steps are the same.

  • Sponsors is the hottest trend in podcasting right now with most podcasters charging for a 30-second mention at the beginning and end of the podcast. Offer multiple campaign choices at different prices to give your sponsors a choice including single-mention, mentions across multiple episodes and interview opportunities for the company.
  • Self-Publishing – Readers of the blog know, this is my first and favorite way to make money online. You’re already creating the content, why not reformat it and publish as a book on Amazon? It’s almost totally passive and is a great source of income.
  • Consulting and Coaching is another popular one for new podcasters because it’s just a short step for listeners to go from the free podcast episodes to paying for premium services like coaching or private episodes. You can sell through Teachable, Patreon or directly from your own website.
  • Affiliate Marketing is a little more difficult for podcasters because it’s just as easy for listeners to go to the affiliate’s website without clicking on your link. Still though, this is a great way to supplement your sponsorship program by offering a discounted sponsor price and making it up in affiliate sales.

For the first time ever, I’m revealing the entire strategy I’ve used to self-publish 12 books on Amazon and average over $2,100 a month in passive income. In Self-Publishing for Passive Income, you’ll learn everything you need from getting a book idea to making writing easy and selling more books.

Where to Spend Money on Your New Podcast

You CAN start a podcast for free…ok so by free I mean less than the cost of taking the family out to Olive Garden but when I can start an at-home business for less than $100…that’s free in my book.

But what if you decide to really kick your podcast into the next level? Where can you spend a few bucks, get the best return on your money, and really grow your podcast?

I asked the experts and this is what they recommended,

  • Pop filter – this is the screen that goes in front of your microphone to reduce hissing and popping noises. It will improve the audio quality of your podcast ten-fold and costs less than $20
  • Boom arm – a metal arm you connect one end to the desk and the other to your microphone. Allows you to move the mic around for perfect positioning and sound.
  • Premium podcast hosting – This is really a must if you’re serious about your podcast as a business. The free hosting services are just too limited on what you can upload and how much control you have over your own podcast. Premium services like Libsyn, Podbean and Buzzsprout are less than $15 a month and give you everything you need to be successful. As a bonus, you can start your podcast free and then upgrade without losing any of your listeners.

Even if you decide to spend a little on your new podcast, you can easily get a professional setup for less than a couple hundred dollars. If you think about all the things you spend money on, that’s a pretty good deal for something that could become a six-figure home based business.

Click to reserve your spot at the FREE YouTube Quick-start Webinar! I’m sharing three strategies that helped me grow my YouTube channel and double my business income and I guarantee they WILL work for you. Seats are limited for the webinar so make sure you reserve yours.

Don’t let the year go by without getting started on your new podcast. Growth in listeners and podcast advertising is booming and it’s the perfect time to try out the side hustle. The best part is, you can start a podcast for free to see if you like it. There aren’t many great business ideas you can say that about so don’t miss the opportunity.

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