How Much Does it Cost to Start a Podcast? Less Than You Think

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How much does it cost to start a podcast? Less than you might think!

I’m about 3 months into my podcasting adventure with The Side Hustle Show, and it’s been a ton of fun so far.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to meet some amazing side hustle entrepreneurs and share their stories and success tips with a growing audience of listeners.

One question I’ve been asked a few times is how much it costs to start a podcast, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of the expenses in case you were curious or are thinking of starting a show of your own.

By far the biggest expense has been time. It takes a few hours to record, edit, write the show notes, and publish each episode.

But the monetary costs are quite low. I’ll include the Free, Budget, and Baller options for each of the items below.


Without a way to get your voice into the computer, there’s no way to make a podcast.

Free Option — The built-in mic on your computer.

Sound quality will probably be less-than-awesome, so I don’t really recommend this, especially when the content you’re producing is an audio format, and poor sound quality can scare away listeners in a hurry.

Besides, a quality microphone is a pretty small investment.

Budget Option — Audio-Technica ATR2100

This microphone was priced around $36 on Amazon. I added a mic stand and one of those foam microphone covers (pop filter) and I was out the door for under $50.

When I use this mic for Skype calls, people always comment on the voice clarity, saying it sounds like I’m right there in the same room. And the best part is it plugs right into your USB port so you don’t need any extra fancy mixer equipment.

Baller OptionHeil PR-40

This one is around $280 on Amazon and gives professional quality sound. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners because the price is so much higher.

When we think of the 80/20 rule, it definitely applies here. The Audio-Technica mic will get you probably better than 80% of the sound quality as the Heil, for less than 20% of the cost.

The other downside of the Heil is that it only has an XLR connection, which requires the additional investment of a mixer board ($50-$200) for recording.

Recording / Editing Software

Audio software is definitely required to edit out the unwanted tangents and awkward pauses during your recording. You can also use it to splice in different audio snippets and sounds, such as your intro and outro, any special commentary, or applause effects and laugh tracks.

Free Option — Garage Band for Mac or Audacity for PC

Both of the above are free. Garage Band should come pre-installed on any Mac. Windows users will have to go out and download Audacity.

I’ve been using Audacity and there’s a little bit of a learning curve but I’m getting it figured out.

Baller Option — Adobe Audition

The Adobe Audition software is $20 a month, and I’m not sure if there’s an option to just buy it outright. I’m sure it’s amazing but for the near-term my cheap self will be sticking with Audacity.

Call Recorder

If you plan on having guests on your podcast, it’s important to have a way to record your conversation. If the show will just be you on your soapbox, you can record directly into your audio software (Garage Band or Audacity).

Free OptionCallnote for Mac or Amolto for Windows

My original Skype recording software (CallGraph) began giving me problems in 2016, so I tested a few alternatives including Zencastr and Ringr, before settling back on another free option in Amolto.

Baller OptioneCamm Call Recorder for Mac or Pamela for PC

The eCamm software is around $30, and the Pamela recording software is around $20. Because Mac users are richer?

Note: Pamela failed on me a couple times so I actually got my purchase refunded.

Intro / Outro Music and Voiceover

Most podcasts don’t go directly into the content without a little intro at the beginning. Think of it like the theme song and opening credits of your favorite TV show.

Free Option — Do it yourself

You definitely don’t need a fancy intro or outro, and you can certainly record one yourself and even add some homemade tunes or sound effects from Garage Band or Audacity.


I love the hilariously awesome and super cheesy voiceover I got from Fiverr. It ended up costing $15 because the music was an extra $10.

Baller OptionVoice123

With Voice123, you can submit your project for thousands of voiceover actors to bid on. Then, you can pick the best one and work directly with them. The average cost of a podcast intro might be in the $100-$150 range.


The hosting question was something I was completely unaware of when I started. I figured thought Apple hosted your mp3 files in some massive datacenter somewhere.

Nope, you have to do it yourself. iTunes and other services are basically just feed readers. The service is called media hosting and is naturally a whole industry in itself. Had no idea.

Free Option — Use your current web host

Since you’re likely already paying for hosting for your website, the lowest cost option is to use that account to host your podcast files. After all, even most cheap shared hosting accounts come with “unlimited” storage, right?

Well doing it this way has some pretty serious disadvantages. If the podcast files are hosted on the same server as your website, you site may slow to a crawl if even just a few people are trying to access the file. And because you site is on a shared server, you may run into trouble with your hosting provider if the bandwidth becomes an issue.

Buzzsprout offers a free podcast hosting plan that allows up to 2 hours of new shows each month, but the downside is they delete your old episodes after 90 days.

If your content is “evergreen” that’s a big drawback since people will no longer be able to hear all your great older episodes.

Budget OptionAmazon S3

Amazon’s cloud hosting option is a viable choice for beginning podcasters because the file storage and bandwidth charges are inexpensive, and there is even a free usage tier for light users.

With S3 media hosting, ultimately you pay for what you use, so if you plan on having an unpopular show, it could make sense. Of course the downside is if the show becomes a hit you could be faced with big bandwidth charges.

What I dislike about Amazon S3 is that it’s written for engineers. They don’t want to sell hosting to you and me, and so they deliberately make it hard to understand what it will actually cost. And on top of that, they don’t have any good reporting on podcast download activity.

Baller OptionLibsyn

For $5 a month you can upload 50 MB a month of new podcasts, and for $15 a month you can upload up to 250 MB worth.

I’m on the $15 plan. For the sake of illustration, each minute of audio is approximately 1 MB.

The great thing about Libsyn is the cost is fixed no matter how many people download your show, and they track your download stats for you.

I used the promo code SPI when I was creating my Libsyn account, which I believe earned me a free month and was a nice way to say thank you to Pat Flynn for putting together his excellent video tutorial series on starting your own podcast.

Cover Art

When you submit your podcast to iTunes, they’ll ask for some cover artwork they can display in their interface.

Free Option — Do it yourself

I actually made my album cover myself in PowerPoint. Make sure the dimensions are at least 3000 x 3000 pixels.

It’s not the best-looking thing in the world, but I liked it.

Update: In early 2015, I updated the podcast cover art to this simpler look, intended to highlight the “ideas, action, and results” theme:

It was also a PowerPoint creation.

The Side Hustle Show

Budget OptionFiverr

Have one of the talented graphic designers on Fiverr create your album art for you. Heck, you can buy 5 different gigs and pick the one you like best and it still only be $25.

Baller Option99designs

For $299, you can have a worldwide army of professional designers competing to win your business.

In Total … Less Than $100 to Start a Podcast

All in all, it cost me about $80 to get The Side Hustle Show up and running, and the only recurring cost is the $15 a month for the media hosting with Libsyn.

Not a bad investment to reach thousands of listeners! Over the last few years, the show has turned into an amazing creative outlet and a pretty substantial standalone business of its own.

Related: 11 Ways to Monetiza Podcast … Plus My Actual Results

Related: Podcast Marketing Brain Dump: 21 Lessons from 200 Episodes, 3.5 Years, and 1.9 Million Downloads

Related: How a Part-Time Podcast Turned Into Multiple Streams of Income

Related: My Podcast Production Process, Start-to-Finish

If you need a website to go along with your podcast (like a place to put your show notes and receive comments from listeners), my free video course on how to set up a website will get you started on the right path.

Pin it for later:

how to start a podcast

52 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Start a Podcast? Less Than You Think”

  1. This info is fantastic!!! Wow. Thank you for laying it all out.

    I had no idea how much was involved. I have to be honest that just the thought of all this makes me tired. I’m not very tech forward yet. =)

    I can now see that I’d be probably best off choosing to start by focusing on webinars, videos, podcasting or blogging. I think I’m leaning toward webinars or videos, for now.

  2. I believe I will have to disagree with you on the hosting section. The Budget option should be the libsyn or blubrry, out of the point you made, that it get very expensive when you site takes off with Amazon S3 while Libsyn will not increase you fee if you have one or a thousand downloads. But that is just a differing of opinions.

    Good to see I found someone who is mentioning the ATR-2100 great starter mic.

  3. Excellent content Nick, exactly what I was looking for, and I will b giving you a call in the future to have YOU as a guest on my new podcast! (Future BC its not up & running yet)

  4. I’m not sure if it would work, but it seems like Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive would work for hosting as well. They all have ways to host files and you can make them public with urls to embed files or media to your site.

      • Nope Dropbox, Google drive, and the such are very bad ideas for media hosting.
        Why? 2 reasons, 1) it is against their Terms of Service. I have had a few people in blind panic because Dropbox closed their account. 2) Byte Range Request your HOSTING server has to provide this for iTunes. Yes they require it, if you want to be listed in new and notable and have your show grow. Also if your want your show to be steamed.
        If you have to go free use but is you want to start out with the best for forward then libsyn or blubrry is your preferred option.

    • Yeah buddy — the start-up costs are super low. The biggest expense is the time to record and produce each episode and create the show notes. And of course the hosting cost is kind of indefinite… $15/mo for the life of the show.

      • True that!
        So how do you get your show notes done Nick? Do you do them yourself or VA?

        I really like the summary that your provide for each show in a pdf format. Really helps.

          • is there any way to do the podcast on youtube? would i still need a host or just upload?
            what about calls and conference calls and how do you record the conversation?

  5. Hey Nick, your podcasts are excellent and they are turning my commutes into very useful and educational uses of time. Just curious…how do you connect with your interview guests? Are you using Skype for the podcast calls or some other call recording method? Thanks.

  6. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind updating the post with equipment you might be using nowadays?

    For instance, where do you stand on the value of purchasing a mixer for podcast production?

    How are you coming along with Audacity? Have you ever given Goldwave and Reaper a shot? Both paid options, but fairly inexpensive for audio editing.

    And, as far as Libsyn, are you still paying $15? If so, do you remove older shows for less storage, or do they only charge by the number of downloads/bandwidth you use?

    I’m a big fan of the show and look forward to more helpful behind-the-scenes material like this in the future.

    • I’d update … but my set-up is still the same :)

      Occasionally I’ll use Auphonic instead of Levelator of leveling but that’s about it. Still plugging away with Audacity and feel like I have it medium-well figured out — still doing all the audio editing myself. Libsyn is still $15 a month. That’s what’s cool about; it’s based on the monthly update storage (250 MB) regardless of how many or how few downloads you have.

      Buzzsprout has been recommended lately for podcast hosting but haven’t checked it myself. Stay tuned in a week or two I’ll share some monetization strategies I’ve been testing out for the show.

      • Just to be clear to Joe, Libsyn lets you put store all your old (uploaded previously) content free as part of an ongoing membership. So they are only looking at how much new content you are adding. And if you have a backlog, you can often find a 1st-month-free option (and then scale down to the low-cost version like Nick uses). Of course, LibSyn is not totally crazy, most of your traffic will be around new content, so giving you the ability to store and continue to share your older content is a good way to help with indexing and making it simple for you to decide they are the way to go.

        Another key point of Libsyn is you get download statistics.

    • For an example of how much you can make off a podcast, check out the monthly income reports at :)

      In the next couple weeks I’ll have a post on the different ways to monetize a podcast and my results in testing a few different methods.

      Reg. the cost to play music, I’m not sure so I tend to stick to the royalty-free stuff. This is one place I’ve used in the past:

    • it doesn’t cost money if you use podsafe music. Like music from music alley. You can do a search for podsafe music and get a good list. Another way is to buy royalty free music. Does cost but you don’t have to pay residuals.

  7. And how much can you make from a podcast? Not much. Yet, you can make a good living because of your podcast.

    Look at John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire fame. He bring in, at last I heard, $250,000/month. Lot of cash I agree. 60,000 of that is from his podcast, or sponsors. The rest of his income is because of his podcast. That is, people listen to his show and they then buy his services.

    Yeah 60,000 is a whole lot of dough but he puts out an insane number of shows.

    But the point is in ratio speak John doesn’t make his money from his podcast but because he has a podcast.

  8. Hello Nick, This is very useful. The original post is from 2013. Are there updates to the information and suggestions that you provide? Thanks

  9. Great ideas! I love the break down. I am a truck driver and i am starting my own podcast. I will be recording as i drive. Any ideas on a good mic for that?

  10. Very helpful article – thanks. Couple of questions:

    Does Libysn allow/facilitate having a paywall if I want to have a paid subscription to my archive vs. free?

    Is there a way to do a live stream at a set time each week?

  11. Hello Nick Loper,

    I love your compilation and I just found out your site. You are really doing great work.

    Just to let you know I can be doing transcription for your podcasts at a fee and free you the hustle of having to make notes.

    Thanks and get in touch.

  12. Another option for recording and editing is Camtasia
    I originally got Camtasia because I needed it for creating training video on but it also works for audio only files. It makes it super easy to cut out sections of audio that you don’t want in there (like if someone coughs). It was $250 but it was a one time purchase that I can use forever. Compared to that option for $20 a month, its not a bad deal for a professional recording and editing program.

  13. Wow – super great info Nick! Thank you for listing it all out in an easy to understand read.

    I hadn’t even considered where I would host all of the audio files. Guess I figured I’d just use my Google Drive but that wouldn’t work. Obviously Libsyn seems like the logical choice. Thanks again!

  14. Sir,

    I wish to advertise my company’s transcription services through a podcast. Kindly tell me how to go about it? Would a podcast be a useful tool for advertising services in UK and Canada? please answer asap.

    Warm regards,


  15. Great info. Many thanks. Just one quick question:

    I intend to outsource interviews to someone living abroad. What is your advice regarding how the audio files should be sent to me for editing before publication?


  16. Nick, this is hands down the best article I’ve found on starting a podcast. The articles I’ve seen were either saying I had to spend an arm and a leg, or, they suggested options that didn’t pan out in terms of recording quality. After reading your post, I’m excited about giving it another try! Thanks for the great piece.

  17. Excellent content Nick, very helpful and actually tremendously helped to start my website and podcasting. I’m hoping to have the rest of my equipment next week to broadcast the first show.

  18. Great article, thank you for sharing!

    It looks like the budget option for the microphone has gone up quite a bit, is there another you recommend? Also, which mic stand and pop filter do you recommend?

    And if you’re interviewing someone could you set the microphone up on a table and it would pick up the conversation or would you need two?

    Thanks again!

  19. I have enjoyed reading your article. I am an artist and plan to use podcasting on my Patreon Site. I am a deep thinker type of discussion oriented and question asking teacher and mentor for creating art. I am just starting the Patreon site and uploaded lessons and exercises, and some discussions etc. The plan was to have my difference from the other teachers by having a podcast. I looked around and found your article. I have read a couple of the other things you have written and downloaded your Cheat Sheet and will be doing an on-demand webinar for more information from Pat Flynn. I have been reading on his site about how to start a podcast in 2019.

    It was interesting to check out the cost of things at 2019 pricing, compared to when you first wrote the article. Still the budget plan for most things was good and had not increased too much.

    The learning curve for this is taking time away from the studio time on art, but I need a stream of income other than selling art. So Patreon was mentioned and I like what they have. Adding the podcast to my tiers of patrons will be something good. Hope I can learn to do this. I’ve read your article twice and keep going back to re-read some points. And I have signed up for your newsletter.

    Have you helped any other fine artists (two-dimensional … as in paintings)?

    It is interesting to think of how this helps the more narrow world of producing art, and is not podcasting on an infinite number of topics. Hope it works. Wish me luck!


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