When it comes to starting a podcast, not everyone has a huge budget to start out with. When we first started our show 4 years ago on Blog Talk Radio, we were using our cellphones. When I look back now, I realize just how bad the sound was.
After learning from our friend Cliff Ravenscraft that “While content is king, audio is queen” we decided to start making some gradual changes. We switched over to the Pro version of Blog Talk Radio and that allowed us to use Headset mics instead of cell phones.
This made a huge difference in sound quality from where we were. Early last year while into the 3rd year of doing the podcast, I decided it was time to make the jump. After talking with Cliff, he guided me through everything that I needed – Heil PR40 Mic, Mackie Mixer, Edirol digital recorder, and Limiter Gate.
I spent over $1,500 for the whole setup. It was a decent investment, but we were looking at this show long term and I really wanted to take it up a notch.
I realize not everyone is ready to put that kind of money into podcast equipment, especially when they haven’t even recorded their first podcast. I think it’s actually a good idea to give podcasting a try with some less expensive equipment first to see if it’s something you enjoy and something you’re going to stick with. Remember, we grew our show on BTR to 68,000 listens using nothing but a phone.
But you can get started with a pretty decent sounding podcast on a small budget.
So here’s what I would recommend if I were trying to start a podcast with a $50 Budget.
Start with the mic. With a small budget, I’d just go with decent headset mic. The Logitech H530 is great choice to go with. I’ve tested out a lot of headset mics and I like the Logitech. This model is $34.99 (and free shipping) on Amazon, so that will fit us in under that $50 budget with room to spare.
If you have a little extra room in the budget, I’d go with the Sennheiser PC 151. It’s $48, but the sound quality is a little better than the Logitech. I would recommend you get a USB Audio Adapter for this one. I use the Sennhesier all the time for doing screencast videos.
If you don’t like to wear headphones, then you might try this cool little compact mic that clips right onto your laptop – The Samson Go Mic . We gave one of these away in a raffle last month at Podcamp Nashville.
Recording and Editing
Next I would download a copy of Audacity for recording and editing your podcasts. It’s free so the price is perfect. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, plus Cliff has an excellent training tutorial on using it to edit your audio. For a Mac, just use Garage Band. It works great recording for editing audio.
Next, you’ll need a hosting service for your audio. I recommend Libsyn. You can get started out with a simple $5 a month plan. This will give you 50 MB a month to start with. That’s not a lot of space, but you can always upgrade to a $15 a month plan which will give you 250 MB a month.
One other tool you may want to get is a MP3 tag editor so that you can add pictures and other descriptive info onto your MP3s. This allows you to put your show’s info and logo onto each of the MP3 files. I use a paid one called ID3 editor. It’s $15, but you can also get a free one called MP3 Tag.
These are the main tools you’ll need to start your own podcast for under $50. With the exception of the mic and hosting, everything else is free to start with. As you grow your show, you can look at upgrading to some more expensive tools.
Roland R-05 Digital Recorder
As you start creating your show, you’ll eventually you’ll want to invest in a high quality digital recorder for recording your podcasts. The Roland R-05 is one of my favorite tools for this.
The reason I like this device so much is that it lets me record podcasts on the go – while I’m traveling in my car, or taking a walk at the park. It has a built-in stereo condenser mic so the audio quality is superb. Recently I recorded episode 179 entirely from the Roland recorder while at the park.
If you’re planning to purchase a high end Heil PR40 Mic, order from Cliff Ravenscraft here. He can definitely get you the best deal on one. I bought my Heil PR40 and a boom arm both from Cliff last year and he followed up with me after the order and made sure I got everything as soon as possible.
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