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How to Launch a Podcast on a Shoestring Budget

Felena Hanson
Feb 04, 2020

Creating a podcast can be as simple or complicated as you make it.

For many business owners, the idea of starting a podcast can feel daunting. There is a hefty amount of information available on how to start and produce a podcast effectively, but we don’t think it needs to be complicated or expensive. Today we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look of the exact process used to create an episode of The Flight Club podcast.

Before diving in, let’s start with some stats to help illustrate this growing medium. Right now, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million podcast episodes. Some 22% of Americans (approximately 103 million people) are weekly podcast listeners (i.e., listen to podcasts at least once a week). The average podcast listener listens to seven shows in an average week and subscribes to six.

Step 1: Choose your topic.

Before you begin, obviously, you need to decide on what it is you want to talk about. Building a podcast is a commitment, so don’t do it just because everyone else seems to be. Perhaps you have a unique angle on your industry or access to potential guests who can entertain and educate. Please do your research on existing podcasts related to your topic, so you’re not just creating a carbon copy of 100 other podcasts in your segment. I recommend opening the native podcast app on your phone and just start searching and listening. The biggest podcast platform (iTunes/Apple) breaks down its podcasts into 16 categories (some with subcategories). This is a helpful way to figure out where you fit.

  1. Arts (Design, Fashion & Beauty, Food, Literature, Performing Arts and Visual Arts)
  2. Business (Business News, Careers, Investing, Management & Marketing and Shopping)
  3. Comedy
  4. Education (Educational Technology, Higher Education, K-12, Language Courses and Training)
  5. Games & Hobbies (Automotive, Aviation, Hobbies, Other Games and Video Games)
  6. Government & Organizations (Local, National, Non-Profit and Regional)
  7. Health (Alternative Health, Fitness & Nutrition, Self-Help and Sexuality)
  8. Kids & Family
  9. Music
  10. News & Politics
  11. Religion & Spirituality (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Other and Spirituality)
  12. Science & Medicine (Medicine, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences)
  13. Society & Culture (History, Personal Journals, Philosophy, Places and Travel)
  14. Sports & Recreation (Amateur, College & High School, Outdoor and Professional)
  15. Technology (Gadgets, Podcasting, Software How-To and Tech News)
  16. TV & Film 

iTunes, of course, is not the only podcast platform (although it’s the most prominent). You’ll also want to feed to Google Play, for Android users, and Stitcher and Spotify, which can be listened to on all devices. These feeds will be set up via your podcast host, discussed in step three.

Step 2: Invite and schedule your podcast guests.

Sending the invitation

Inviting a guest to be on your show doesn’t have to be complicated. Use your favorite note-keeping app like Google Keep or simply whatever note keeper is available on your phone or computer to create the script that you will use to invite your guest. Additionally, you can share this information with other team members who can reach out to invite guests. Be sure to include important information about your podcasts like testimonials from past guests and a link to schedule the interview. It is also helpful to share a previous episode so guests can get an idea of how to prepare. Not all podcasts need to be heavily scripted. Here’s an example of a simple webpage that provides information for people you invite.

Scheduling the recording date

To simplify scheduling consider using scheduling software that integrates with your calendar, like Acuity Scheduling. This allows guests to easily pick a date that is available on your calendar for the timeframe needed to record. Include day-of instructions or set up reminder emails to help automate the process and keep everyone on the same page. It is also easy for guests to reschedule when you choose to use a scheduling platform, saving you time and energy.

Utilizing your intake form

Most scheduling software includes the ability to add a form. Forms will let you easily collect important information like social media handles, websites and the bio of your guest. The content submitted by your guest will be saved to the calendar event created post scheduling. This can make handing off important information over to your team members a breeze. If you choose to keep to a specific script or outline, you can also use your intake form to further prepare guests for the upcoming interview, by sending questions prior to the interview.

Step 3: Record and publish your podcast.

Recording the episode

It’s the day of your interview and you’’e ready to go. Recording your podcast doesn’t necessarily require a fancy studio and expensive equipment. For recording the episode, there are options such as UberConference, Zoom and Skype. We’ve chosen to use the free service that UberConference provides. Giving your guest the option to join by phone as well as the computer makes recording simple for the host and the interviewee.

As far as equipment goes, I simply use the old-school iPhone headphones (with the 3.5 mm audio jack) and record via my laptop. If you’re on the go, like I am, this keeps things easy. Another reason for choosing simple equipment is there is no major audio disparity between you and your guest. Why go to all the trouble and expense to have a professional microphone and then stress about the setup of your guest? My rule is to keep it simple.

If you do want to go with higher-quality equipment, Pat Flynn has some great tips in his guide. As he notes, one of the most popular podcasting microphones on the market is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB. 

Preparing your podcast for publishing

It is pretty standard practice to have a recorded intro/outro for your podcast. To keep things free and simple, I recommend sourcing free (and royalty-free) music. You can then hire someone to read a short script for the intro/outro via sites like Fiverr. Once you have the MP3 file, you can splice it into your podcast recording using an application like GarageBand (for iOS users) or Audacity (for Windows users). Tip: Hire a virtual assistant to do all the editing and uploading (next step) for you for only $5 per hour. This is not something you should be messing with yourself.

Publishing your podcast

Once your podcast audio file is ready to go, you must upload it to a hosting platform. At Hera Hub, we use Libsyn, but there are others you can choose from, like Buzzsprout, PodBean and newcomer Transistor. Take your time to choose what works best for you and your budget, because changing platforms is a lot of work. We like Libsyn because it is simple and syndicates to all major podcasting streaming services, like Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Libsyn does have a monthly fee, starting at just $5 per month, depending on your storage.

Again, hiring a virtual assistant to do the back-end legwork of preparing and publishing your content is very affordable and saves time. Check sites like Upwork. Hera Hub also offers virtual assistant placement services to help you find and hire a qualified virtual assistant. 

Step 4: Market your podcast episode.

Once your podcast is finished and has been syndicated on your chosen podcast host, now is the time to share it with your audience … aka marketing. There are several ways you can repurpose your content for sharing:

  • Publish and embed the episode on your website as a blog post.
  • Share the blog post with your podcast guest and invite them to share it with their audience.
  • Share the episode on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Be sure to tag your guest for additional reach.
  • Publish your recorded episode on YouTube.
Image Credit:

Rawpixel LTD / Getty Images

Felena Hanson
Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven. Her 20 year career has spanned from technology start-ups to digital marketing agencies. Some of her former clients include DirecTV, Epson, CNN, and Union Bank. Before becoming an entrepreneur she was Director of Marketing for a venture-backed San Diego internet company that sold to America Online in 2003. As Felena launched her first business, Perspective Marketing, she found her passion for supporting other female entrepreneurs through leadership roles with several professional women’s organizations, including Ladies Who Launch. Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. The business supports hundreds of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits in over 16 industry segments. She has two company-owned locations in San Diego and licensed locations in Carlsbad, Phoenix, DC, Orange County, and Sweden, with more cities launching soon. She’s on a mission to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by the end of 2020. Felena is a published author and international speaker. Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon. She is passionate about education, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of San Diego and her MBA from California State University Dominguez Hills. She taught Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and at California State University Dominguez Hills for the MBA online program for eight years. Hera Hub has received national media attention from publications such as Inc Magazine, BBC, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, Mashable, and the New York Times – AWARDS & RECOGNITION “Women Business Owner of the Year” winner – National Association of Women Business Owners, 2012 “Women Who Move the City Award” finalist – San Diego Magazine, 2013 & 2014 “Women Advocate of the Year”? winner – National Association of Women Business Owners, 2014 “Small Business Champion of the Year” winner – San Diego Small Business Administration, 2015 “Fastest Growing Business Award” winner – National Latina Business Women’s Association, 2016 “Cool Women Award” winner – Girl Scouts, 2017 “Growth Through Licensing” winner – Small Business Administration, 2018 “Innovation and Economic Opportunity Award” winner – LEAD San Diego, 2019