Despite getting their start in 2004, podcasts are a super hot trend right now for businesses and individuals alike.
There’s a podcast out there for everything, from storytelling to political discourse. No matter what exactly it is that you’re passionate about, the chances are good that there’s someone out there who’ll listen to you talk about it.
So: what do you need for a podcast?
Do you want to start a podcast? Great – it’s time to get planning. Before you have something ready to send out into the world, there are a few things you’re going to need.
If you’re not sure what they are, don’t worry. This article will tell you everything you need to get your hands on to make a good podcast.
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1. A Computer to Handle Large Audio Files
You’re going to need a computer that can record and handle the programs you need for cutting and editing audio, alongside doing any research you need to do before recording.
Most businesses have computers, but if your company primarily uses computers for office work rather than handling graphics, video, or audio, you’ll want to test your computer or laptop with smaller files before investing heavily in podcasting.
A computer will be your production base, so it’s worth investing in high-quality tech if you’re serious about making media. And nothing frustrates people more than watching the processing bar crawl slowly across the screen.
Mac or PC? It doesn’t matter! Whether you want to get something new or start work straight away on your current device, your computer will be crucial to your process.
Not sure if your computer fits the bill? Test it. Use the free software options listed below and use the built-in microphone (also free) to see how your computer handles the workload.
2. A Great Starter Podcast Microphone
When it comes to the question ‘what equipment do you need for a podcast,’ the microphone is essential.
Podcasts are an auditory experience, so making sure you can record crisp sound is the most important thing you can do before starting.
There are two big reasons why people stop listening to a podcast:
- Poor content
- Bad audio quality
If you don’t believe it, a quick search on Twitter tells us how important audio quality is to a podcasting experience:
Here are three starter podcast microphone options for you to choose from:
- Good: Blue Snowball iCE, $49, Mac/PC, USB
- Better: Samson Technologies Q2U, $69, Mac/PC, USB/XLR
- Best: Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB, $99, Mac/PC, USB/XLR
Yes, you can go out and buy a more expensive microphone (if you do, I’d recommend the Shure MV7 ($249)). But podcasting can get expensive quickly. Our advice is to make smaller investments until you’ve tested the medium.
In the end, you can choose how much you’d like to spend on podcast audio gear (mics, mixer, and cables) — make sure you get something with good reviews that fits your budget.
Many sound and music stores offer packages where you can get everything you need for computer-based recording at once, so try looking at those to get an idea of what components you need.
3. A Pair of Studio Headphones
It’s important to listen back to your work from the point of view of an audience member, so you know how it sounds and what needs editing.
Even if you’re not editing it yourself, it’s necessary to have a great pair of headphones to monitor the sound as you record (and listen to your guests). Studio headphones pick up detailed sound and will indicate to you whether something is wrong.
Here are a few starter options for podcast studio headphones:
- PHILIPS Headphones for Podcasts, $20
- Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, $50
Your headphones don’t necessarily have to be top of the line. With an average pair (like the above recommendations), you can optimize your soundscape based on what the audience will hear.
Avoid using AirPods and other wireless headphones to monitor podcast interviews. Even the briefest lag time can cause problems during the interview, and especially during the editing process when trying to sync up the audio tracks.
4. A Podcast Recording Space
As we’ve already covered, the quickest way to lose a podcast audience is through poor audio quality. Listeners don’t want to hear random background noise.
For most of you, recording in your office will work great.
You need somewhere to work where you won’t be facing constant disruption and interruption. OK, so maybe the office isn’t so great …
Find somewhere with a good web connection that you can go for an hour or two to do your recording.
If you’re struggling to find a space without echos and distracting sounds, it’s not unheard of for people to record shows inside a closet (the clothes absorb all the echos). Here’s a video that describes how to record in your closet, including how it enhances the sound:
Booth Junkie (the channel this video is from) is great, but his target audience is voiceover actors. So I’ve skipped past all of the microphone recommendations here because they don’t apply to a beginner podcaster. That said, Mike DelGaudio’s videos are a great resource for describing how sound works to beginners.
Places to avoid:
- Coffee shops and restaurants (the ‘ambiance’ is a distraction)
- Big empty rooms (constant echo off of the walls)
Simple things that can improve the sound:
- Carpeted floors or area rugs
- Pillows, couches, clothing
In the beginning, the audio doesn’t have to be perfect. We’re working toward the audio sounding good enough that it’s not distracting from the excellent content you’re creating.
5. Podcast Recording and Editing Software
One of the reasons you need a computer that can handle big files is most recording and editing software will use significant resources to record and process the audio.
Many people recommend Audacity; however, it’s hard to make that recommendation given its recent privacy scandal.
Here are 5 of the best options for the novice podcaster:
- GarageBand (free) – Mac only
- OcenAudio (free) – Windows, Mac, Linux
- Less intimidating option: Hindenburg Journalist ($99, one-time) – Windows, Mac
- If you don’t want to learn audio editing: Alitu ($32/mo.) – Web-based
- Best simple editor for audio, video, and screen recording that also creates subtitles, audiograms, and transcripts: Descript (Free+) – Windows, Mac
If you’re intimidated at the prospect of editing your own audio AND from a budget standpoint, you need to do your own editing, go with Alitu or Descript.
6. Best Podcast Hosting for Business
Podcast hosting is where things get field-specific. You need a place to upload your audio files that connects you with podcasting platforms like Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. That’s what podcast hosting does.
Although there are numerous high-quality podcast hosting companies, here are the top three for business owners:
- Buzzsprout (starting at free, likely $12+/mo.): excellent support, educational tools, and “magic mastering” to make it easier for your show to sound great. The downside is pricing is on a per podcast basis, meaning if you want short-term shows to promote a product or service, it can double your costs
- Captivate (starting at $17/mo.): excellent support, educational tools, WordPress website integrations. Pricing is for unlimited podcasts and includes at least one private podcast, which you can use for exclusive/subscription-based shows.
- Transistor (starting at $19/mo.): excellent support, fantastic analytics. Pricing is also for unlimited podcasts and private shows.
For the Women Conquer Business podcast, I use Captivate for podcast hosting. It was a wonderful experience migrating to this hosting service.
Our Everyday Epiphanies paid podcast is a little different. Since we intend to sell several audio courses, we selected Soundwise to host that show because it’s easier for our customers and specializes in audio lessons.
7. Use Canva to Create Podcast Logo & Artwork
Elements of a good podcast logo and cover artwork:
- Remember it will primarily be viewed on tablets and phones — make it easy to read when it’s small
- Make it compliant with the latest Apple cover artwork requirements (they even give you a template to help you)
- Do a Google search for best podcast covers for inspiration
- If you’re not famous, find another way to convey the emotions or meaning behind your podcast besides relying on an image of yourself. It works for Tim Ferriss; yes, and he’s famous
Images provide the kind of detail that will encourage people to join in and listen to what you have to say. Putting that extra time in to make your accounts and content look good will show consumers that you’re dedicated to producing high-quality content.
8. Zoom for Podcast Interviews
Signing up for a free Zoom account gives you the ability to create content that gets people interested.
You can use the power of video conferencing software to create great-sounding audio while taking advantage of the collaborative nature of video. (Plus, it’s super easy to share that podcast interview on YouTube).
Here are the basic settings you need to create better sound using Zoom:
- Go to Zoom Settings, and click “Recording”
- Then, click “Record a separate audio file for each participant who speaks”
- This will create separate tracks and make it easier to edit one speaker at a time
- Then, go to Zoom settings, and click “Audio”
- Next, click “Advanced,” and check the box next to “Preserve Original Sound”
- Prserving original sound will make the audio slightly less compressed, thereby increasing the quality
Whether it’s an interview, a discussion, or a guest speaker, having someone else feature on your podcast can do great things for interest. And, it further expands your reach if you encourage your guests to share the episode with their network.
If you can get a popular guest that speaks to the specific problems you’re tackling on your show, it can change the trajectory of your podcast’s success in a huge way. You can boost your audience in a single episode with the right guest talking along.
What Do You Need for a Podcast? Ambition, Ideas & Support
Now that we’ve answered what do you need for a podcast, you can start creating. Just make sure you’ve got what you need, and you’re good to go.
With your podcast equipment and your grand ideas on your side, nothing can slow you down.
If you feel like you’d like a little more support around planning out your podcast from the ground up, we offer our Ultimate Podcast Planning Checklist for $10, which includes 25 pages of step-by-step insights, plus video insights.
If you’ve already released a few episodes but you’re not getting the traction you’d like, you can also try our free course, 3 Big Mistakes Podcasters Make: How to Adjust Your Marketing Strategy to Save Your Sanity (And Your Business), which includes videos and a workbook.
Jen McFarland is a passionate and compassionate champion of entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners. She has more than 25 years of experience in leadership, digital marketing, and strategic project planning across corporate, nonprofit, and government environments. She is the Co-Founder of Epiphany Courses.