Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes
With hundreds of millions of daily listeners, this media outlet shows no sign of slowing. Insider Intelligence predicts that by 2028, podcasting will be a $94.88 billion industry. Here's how you can get started.
Ask the Experts: Daniel Mangena, CEO of Dreamer HQ; Trevor Oldham, Founder of Podcasting You; Jackie Minsky, Founder of The Divine PR; Kristel Bauer, Founder of Live Greatly; Nancy Solari, Founder of the Living Full Out Podcast; Taylor Kovar, CEO & Founder of The Millionaire Marrage Podcast; Amy Porterfield, CEO of amyporterfield.com.
What is the first step to getting a podcast business started?
Bauer: You can begin by picking your topic, the style and title of your show and your ideal listener. Do some research to get a feel for different styles and popular podcasts. Get a good microphone, start recording and fine-tuning your audio, then pick your hosting platform and create your podcast cover art. Once you have enough episodes recorded, focus on planning and promoting your launch.
Mangena: Do some research into where your expertise and interests intersect with a problem people are facing and/or desire to hear regular content about. The bigger the pain point, the more scope there is to be of service.
Minsky: When I was starting, the first thing I did was make a list of 100 people I could interview, then set about getting in touch with them so I could book them in advance. After that, I had to get very clear on the kind of questions I was going to be asking and my intention for the show. What would my audience be able to learn from me? After realizing the importance of networking during podcasting, I started to see how quickly and effectively my PR brand started to grow because of branding and marketing. To anyone starting any kind of agency or business, consistency is key: Keep creating content, don’t do anything just for the likes or the downloads, and continue branding yourself — sticking to your vision and setting goals every three months. Also, keep in touch with all the guests you book… create genuine relationships and don’t give up!
Oldham: Create an account on UpWork and keep applying to jobs each day. Eventually, you'll get hired as a freelancer. Keep trying out different jobs until you find an area you have a passion for.
Solari: If you’re ready to start your podcast, you have likely come up with a topic or theme that you feel comfortable committing to long term, even if it's a general idea. If you haven't done that, you need to. What are you going to talk about? Is it already being done? If so, what will your unique angle be? Once you've made that determination, getting started is as simple as having the right equipment: a computer, a decent starter microphone and headphones (which can be found for approximately $60 to $70 each), editing software (which you can get for free) and a room that has been set up, or "treated," for recording without echoes or sound reflections.
You'll also want to come up with a name for the show. In this case, think broader than just the topic, as you may want to expand as it grows. It’s also important to determine format: Will you have a teaser? Intro music? Outro music? Some of these things are optional if you want to just introduce yourself and start talking, but certainly don't forget to put a call to action in there someplace, such as, "Be sure to review my show and tell your friends." Then, come up with some sort of cover art, select a podcast host and record your first episode.
There are a few other optional steps you can take, such as securing a domain name and creating intro and outro music, but if you have your equipment and someplace to upload, you are pretty much ready to start.
Kovar: Decide what type of marketing you want to provide. Are you more interested in the new age of digital marketing (social media, TikTok, Geofencing, Etc.), or traditional marketing tactics, such as billboards, printed materials, and radio advertisements? This will be pivotal to determine how you plan to serve your clients.
Is the industry growing?
Solari: With the growing numbers of listeners in recent years, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of podcasters. When you consider that a show can feature content that’s opinion-based, news-oriented, focused on advice or strictly for entertainment purposes, there’s a wide range of professionals who can get involved. Whereas these people may have only had radio and TV in the past, podcasting — and the ability to have an accompanying video element — has allowed them to showcase talents much more widely. These voices are no longer restricted by the strength of a sound wave or video signal: This is a global movement reaching a worldwide audience.
Kovar: Yes! Podcasts are expected to grow 27.5% from 2020 to 2027, the industry is likely to reach $60.5 billion in 2027.
What are the current trends in podcasting and what type of person is a great fit to try this?
Oldham: According to Statista, there are 120 million people in the U.S. who listen to podcasts, and that number is expected to grow by 20 million each year. A good fit is someone who is determined and okay with rejection. When trying to pitch a show, you will get a lot of rejections, but if you stick with it you will find success.
Bauer: This is a growing industry and a great way to share your message, build relationships and enhance visibility. I started podcasting with zero experience, and am currently in the third season of my Live Greatly podcast, with Brazilian-American model and designer Camila Alves McConaughey as a recent guest. It took me about a year and a half to really build up an audience and monetize the show with sponsorships. Doing this takes time and patience, but if you have something valuable to share and want to have a platform to talk with really interesting people, it’s worth looking into.
How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?
Oldham: In the first year you could expect to make around $10,000. Within five years, at least $100,000.
Minsky: Depends on consistency, branding and the intention behind the brand. With a good sponsor, you can make $1,500 to $3,000 an episode.
Porterfield: The thing about podcasting is that there are so many other ways to look at the ROI than just the money you earn. I run an eight-figure online business and built it over 13 years because I prioritize relationships with my listeners, and also look at my podcast as an email list builder. It’s a revenue generator down the road, but I also use it to bring people into my world and build trust at the top of my funnel.
Kovar: This can vary depending on the number of downloads of the podcast, and whether or not your podcast is monetized. A person could make around $25 to $50 per 1,000 downloads. As the downloads increase, the sponsored segments so can the income!
What kind of experience/training do you need to have?
Mangena: I came to this as a complete virgin four years ago, and have not done any training personally.
Oldham: You need to be familiar with the podcast space and also have creative writing skills, so that when you're sending pitches to clients or potential guests, you stand out.
Bauer: I started without any media experience and learned as I went. You could hire editing and promotional support if you have a budget for it.
Solari: Some sort of broadcasting or performance training is important for putting on the show itself, but you also need a good business sense if you’re going to be successful. When my show was on commercial radio stations, we had to understand our audience. If you are going to attempt to syndicate your show, even if you’re doing it from home and regardless of whether you syndicate on a podcatcher company or pay to do it, you need to know your demographic. Who are the people calling into your show? Do they match the demographic of the podcast company? What kind of topics do listeners ask about the most? And of course, depending on the content, if you want people to listen to what you have to say, it’s going to help if you have some background knowledge or credentials in that field.
What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
Minsky: That genuine relationships are everything, so keep in touch with all past guests and build long-term working relationships. You never know how the stars will align, especially when you’re authentically you.
Bauer: It takes time to grow. Be patient and consistent.
Porterfield: One of my favorite authors, James Clear, was quoted as saying, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems." That could not be more true of podcasting. They are a lot of work, but you can uplevel productivity with the right systems and processes so it doesn’t take up all your time. If I had to choose just one system that I wish I had implemented from the start, it would be batching my episodes — the process of dedicating chunks of time to work on similar tasks without interruption. I batch my podcasts six episodes at once to stay organized and productive, and it’s one of the most powerful things you can do to set yourself up for success. It saves you time and headaches and gives you the dedicated space to let creativity flow. Batching will reduce podcast content creation stress and allow you to produce more in less time.
Kovar: Have a plan! It can be exciting to start a new endeavor and jump right into it but have a general idea of how you’ll continue to operate your business after you start it. We plan and record our podcast episodes at least a month in advance, this way you will have plenty of time to fix any issues that may come up!
Who are your customers and where do you find them?
Mangena: I look at guesting on podcasts with my ideal client in the audience and having guests who have my ideal subscriber in their communities.
Oldham: My customers are real estate investors, and I grew my following by cold emailing them to see if they would like to be a guest on other real estate investing podcasts. This has been our core strategy from the start.
Bauer: My listeners are people interested in self-improvement and wellness. The answer to the second question is that it helps to regularly promote my show on social media.
What type of growth can be realistically expected year over year?
Mangena: We grew exponentially over an 18-month period, during which I exclusively had guest interviews on my podcast.
Oldham: Each year I've been in business (four years-plus now) we have doubled in revenue. That won't sustain forever, so my estimation would be growing 20% year over year.
Solari: From a financial standpoint, revenue will grow depending on your efforts in sponsorships, direct sponsorships, affiliate sales and complementary offerings. Sponsorship opportunities — and in some cases specific revenue amounts — will grow as your show’s popularity grows and more listeners download it.
From a listener standpoint, this will largely depend on the podcaster. You can go after those who aren’t being served by other shows or market your unique perspective on a familiar topic. As you grow, though, be sure to further invest in the show to create a higher quality, more polished production. Research your demographics, listen to your audience and find new ways to engage with them.
Kovar: Our podcast listeners grew about 560% within the first year. As long as you remain consistent – have a set release date/schedule for your episodes and post on your social media platforms, you can grow at least 20% year over year.
Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable in getting your business off the ground?
Mangena: A good microphone is essential. People will be hearing your voice in close quarters, so don’t skimp on that! I personally have a full setup, including a Shure SM7B, but the Blue Yeti is a super and reasonably-priced mic that served me well for my first year or two.
Oldham: I'd recommend listening to podcasts such as Entrepreneurs on Fire to help you generate ideas and give you confidence. When I was getting my business on its feet, I found it invaluable to listen to folks who also built successful businesses from the ground up.
Bauer: I also utilized my local library's media lab to help with learning how to edit and record.
Porterfield: I’m a digital course creator, and teach others how to create digital courses online in my program Digital Course Academy, so I may be biased here, but I will say that digital courses are the best way to learn about podcasting. If you are interested in investing in one, I would suggest the following three: Podcaster’s Paradise by John Lee Dumas, Power Up Podcasting by Pat Flynn or The Podcast Lab by Jenna Kutcher.