March 4, 2022

What Equipment Do You Need to Start a Podcast?

Tae Haahr

There are plenty of things to think about when starting a podcast. But one of the most important is going to be your equipment. 

I find that most new podcasters make equipment-related mistakes, but not the ones you think. Podcasters are so excited to get started that they run out and buy top-of-the-line equipment, but you simply don't need to do this.

There are really only a few pieces of equipment I would classify as things you "need" to get podcasting, and you don't need to break the bank to get your hands on them.

So, let's take a quick trip down podcasting lane, and see what it is that you need so you can get started on your next exciting journey.

So, what equipment do you need to start a podcast?

I am a budget-minded business owner.

I have no qualms about spending money on things that I need, and those that make my life significantly easier - but I don't need the latest and greatest of everything. Honestly, I find that the top-of-the-line items are rarely worth the expensive price tag. 

So, when it comes to getting your podcast off the ground, there are only five things you need in my book:

1. Computer

While everything else on this list is important, getting a podcast out into the world requires a device, most often a computer, to help you get it there.

Having a computer doesn't mean running out and spending $4,000 on the latest-and-greatest MacBook Pro. Something basic will do, but that basic device will need to be capable of supporting the hardware and software to get the job done.

Luckily, you can find any software you need for podcasting, from recording to publishing, on the web. Ergo, any computer capable of accessing the internet will do -- though you will need a stable internet connection.

What about a tablet or mobile device?

New podcasters who are on the go often wonder whether or not they can make their show on a tablet or mobile device. The answer is yes, but.

There are programs that you can record, edit, and publish your show with built for your mobile device, but these programs are not necessarily of the same quality as something you can access from a desktop.

Your biggest issue for mobile podcasting is most likely going to be editing. Most industry-standard programs are built with a computer in mind. In addition, there's the difficulty of editing on a smaller display, which might compromise your accuracy.

Ultimately though, the answer is yes. Yes, you could most likely find a program for every stage of the podcasting process built for portable devices. However, you won't have the variety of choices that you have for desktop devices and the process will be more challenging.

2. Microphone

When it comes to recording a solid sound, your microphone is key.

You don't need to spend a fortune to get a good recording microphone, but you'll want to buy one instead of using your device's built-in microphone or the one in your headphones. Even using a cheap microphone can make a world of difference in sound quality.

When it comes to your microphone, there are also two small but meaningful additions that you'll want to make. Luckily, they don't cost a ton. Consider purchasing a:

  • Microphone stand
  • Pop filter

Your microphone might come with a stand already, but if it doesn't you'll need to have one to help make sure you're not moving it around and bumping it. Even if your microphone comes with a stand, you might want to switch it out for something else. 

On the other hand, the pop filter will help break down the sound as it goes into your microphone and soften the edges of your popping Ps. You can add one of these to your collection for an affordable amount, and you really shouldn't record without one.

3. Recording Software

You can use almost any audio recording and editing software to record your show, but they're not all equal in quality.

You may have an audio software package that came with your computer, so you will be tempted to use it because it's 'free'. But free isn't always best if that software produces poor-quality audio. You don't have to break the bank but will often find paid solutions offer much higher audio quality.

You may want to skip recording software like Zoom or Skype. While they allow you to record your conversation, the sound quality is not the greatest and the editing experience is not seamless. There are plenty of affordable or free options that give you higher quality sound, regardless of whether or not you're recording solo or with someone else. Alitu automates all the boring and complicated parts of recording so you can focus on your content.

4. Editing Software

Your editing software might be the same as your recording software. But that isn't always the case.

There are many options for podcast editing software out there. The one you end up choosing will depend on how much effort you want to put into learning. The other important factor is whether or not you're going to do audio-only, or opt for both audio and video. Not all editing software handles both.

While you need editing software to get started, you don't need to commit to a particular piece right away. It might be worth it for you to take advantage of free trials to test everything out. There are plenty of quality options out there, but not all of them will work for you.

5. Hosting

Like recording and editing software, hosting isn't a tangible piece of equipment but you can't podcast without it.

To podcast, you need a podcast hosting provider. This is the tool that allows you to connect your audio tracks with the rest of the podcasting world. You record, edit, and upload, and your host adds it to your RSS feed.

Without that feed, your show isn't going to make its way to popular players like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. This means that your adoring fans won't get a chance to enjoy your stellar show.

Hosting is something you need to commit to right away. While you can switch your hosting later, it can be a bit of a hassle.

I highly encourage new podcasters to use a paid host. There are free options out there. But if you're not paying for a product, you are the product. Free hosting platforms usually have terms of service that allow them to do whatever they want with your audio tracks. That can include adding in advertisements, or selling your information to advertisers. 

There are plenty of affordable premium hosting options out there. From Buzzsprout to Captivate.fm, you can get your show out to the world without breaking the bank. But make sure you check out the hosts, look at their interfaces, and find something that appeals to you.

Where should you spend next?

While I'm a firm believer that you only need the above things to get started, there are some other options that you could add.

Podcasting isn't just about recording, editing, and publishing audio. If you want to get listeners, you need to do some promotion. These tools will help get you off the ground with your promotion:

  • Website hosting: at some point, you'll want to build a website for your blog. I would highly encourage you to go the more traditional WordPress and hosting route because long-term you'll gain the most benefit. Independent web hosting costs around $85 for the first year, if you go for a cost-effective host. The WordPress software (.org not .com) is free.
  • Canva: You can use Canva for free, but I would highly recommend the paid version. You get more options for graphics, text, and images, which can make promoting your podcast easier and more engaging.

You will also very likely want to purchase some form of theme music for your show. I didn't drop this in the mandatory category, but it is something you'll want to buy sooner rather than later.

You can pick up a track for less than $20, but you'll need to read the licensing agreement. Plus you'll probably need to renew it on an annual basis.

Get Started With Your Podcast Today

You really don't need a ton of things to get started with your show, and I'd encourage you not to go crazy getting prepared.

Podcasting isn't for everyone, and you don't really know if it's for you until you give it a try. It would be a real bummer to spend a bunch of money on equipment you won't use.

But, more importantly, you don't yet know how you're going to podcast. Maybe your voice is a little stronger and you'd benefit from using a microphone with external volume controls. Or perhaps you love editing and you decide that you want to go bigger and better so you can do more work

Give yourself time to get started on your journey and find out what works best for you before you build a complex podcasting setup. You can always add things to your production process, so let yourself figure out what works best for you before you do anything too advanced.

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