Podcasting is a steadily growing medium. According to research by Buzzsprout, the number of podcast listeners increased by 29.5 percent between 2018 and 2021. Podcasts are expected to continue this upward trajectory in 2022 and beyond. As such, it’s no surprise that so many business owners and content creators are looking to start podcasts of their own.
The good news is that starting a podcast is not as hard as it seems. With a good idea and the right equipment, anyone can create a podcast and build an audience.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
Podcast recording tools
It’s important to pick the right tools to record your podcast. Capturing high-quality sound during the recording process makes editing the audio files easier and ultimately creates a better listening experience for your subscribers.
Microphones for podcasting
A good microphone is likely going to be your first major podcast investment. While some of the equipment on this list can be purchased or upgraded later as your podcast grows, you want to start out with a decent-quality microphone. Before you start shopping for a podcasting microphone, though, there are some important terms that will help you pick the right one for your needs.
- XLR microphones are meant to connect to a mixer.
- USB microphones connect to your computer’s USB port.
The latter is usually the easiest option for beginner podcasters. Some mics can be connected via either method, which offers more flexibility in case you decide to upgrade your recording setup down the line.
You will also see the terms condenser/condensing and dynamic as you shop for microphones. Condenser mics are well-suited for vocals and higher frequencies. Dynamic mics are better for lower frequencies, loud sounds, and instruments like drums. Most podcasters choose a condenser microphone, but podcasts that include live music may prefer to use dynamic microphones.
Best budget USB mic: Blue Snowball iCE
If you’re looking to start a podcast on a budget, the Blue Snowball iCE is a great starter microphone. It’s a compact and affordable USB microphone with an adjustable desktop stand. This microphone is designed for podcasting or streaming and will allow you to create clear voice recordings.
This is a very beginner-friendly option, not only due to the low cost but also because of how easy it is to set up and use. It’s essentially a plug-and-play system with minimal setup required. Connect it to your computer by plugging it into a USB port, then adjust the stand to the right position for wherever you plan to record. If you’re new to audio equipment, this is an easy introductory option.
Best premium USB mic: HyperX QuadCast S
If you are looking for something a bit more high-end, check out the HyperX QuadCast S. It’s a great premium option that won’t break the bank.
This microphone is a USB condenser mic that will give you a crisp recording. It has a built-in anti-vibration shock mount that will isolate the mic and suppress any distracting noises that come from bumping the microphone or the table on which it sits. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the microphone with its gain control feature.
It also has a customizable aesthetic design with RGB lights. This is a nice extra touch if you want to record video podcasts or stream your podcasts on YouTube or Twitch. The lights give the microphone a very trendy and modern look.
Best budget dynamic mic: Rode PodMic Cardioid Dynamic Podcasting Microphone
The Rode PodMic Cardioid Dynamic Podcasting Microphone is a broadcast-quality dynamic microphone that offers a rich, balanced sound that is ideal for podcasting. It includes an internal pop filter and shock mount to minimize vibration and excess noise. The Rode PodMic is designed specifically for podcasters and has received rave reviews from established podcast hosts.
You will need to buy a studio boom arm to connect with the Rode PodMic, as it does not have a desk stand. It is often advertised with the Rode PSA1 Studio Boom Arm. However, more budget-friendly alternatives such as the InnoGear Microphone Arm Stand should also do the trick.
Best XLR mic set: XLR Condenser Microphone, TONOR Professional Cardioid Studio Mic Kit
The TONOR Professional Cardioid Studio Mic Kit is an excellent starter kit if you are looking for an XLR microphone setup. It comes with a microphone, boom arm, shock mount, XLR cables, mic cover, and pop filter, so you have everything you need to create a high-quality recording system without splurging. These types of kits can be super helpful for beginners who want an all-in-one solution for their recording needs.
Best premium XLR dynamic mic: Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone
If you’re looking to go all out and invest in a premium XLR microphone, the Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone is a great choice. This dynamic microphone produces incredibly clean audio, so your listeners can hear every word and none of the background noise. The Shure SM7B air suspension shock isolation and pop filter allow you to capture audio clearly while eliminating mechanical noise, static, and breathiness.
You’ll also likely need to do a little soundproofing to ensure your microphone doesn’t pick up outside noises. You can fix some static or background noise in post-production with editing software, but for the best audio quality, it’s best to invest a bit extra in soundproofing your recording space.
Best microphone isolation shield: Aokeo Studio Recording Microphone Isolation Shield
Many of the above-mentioned microphones come with filters and shields to help eliminate background noise. However, if you choose a microphone without a pop filter, or want to upgrade the soundproofing of your microphone, the Aokeo Studio Recording Microphone Isolation Shield will cut out all the excess noise. This multi-layer isolation shield absorbs, filters out, and deflects outside noise before it reaches your microphone, so it records your voice clearly and without any background noise.
Best wall foam panels: DEKIRU Acoustic Foam Panels
Wall foam panels are a popular soundproofing option. New podcasters tend to record out of a home office or a makeshift studio as opposed to a professional recording booth. As such, you’ll want to do a little bit of soundproofing to make sure your mic isn’t picking up noise from dogs barking outside or your laundry machine running down the hall.
These DEKIRU Acoustic Foam Panels are an affordable and easy-to-install option for turning your spare bedroom into a soundproofed studio. They even come in a variety of colors and designs so your studio can reflect your personal style.
You may already have headphones you use to listen to music while working, exercising, or walking the dog. Those headphones are probably great and might suffice for podcast recording in the beginning.
However, studio headphones allow you to hear the finer details of your audio recordings, so you can make adjustments that have a big impact on the overall sound quality. They also prevent echos or feedback from ending up in your recordings if you’re podcasting with guests or co-hosts. Wired headphones are preferred for podcasting—wireless headphones can have a slight delay, tend to be noisier, and come with the risk of dying in the middle of a recording session.
Best premium headphones: beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones
The beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO over-ear headphones are Amazon’s best-selling studio headphones and for good reason. These over-ear headphones have a closed design that is ideal for studio recording and monitoring. They’re also very comfortable to wear for extended periods while recording, mixing, or editing thanks to the soft velour ear pads.
Best budget headphones: OneOdio Wired Over-Ear Headphones
These highly-rated wired headphones are budget-friendly and durable. They also come in a couple of color options: black, light blue, and pink. The OneOdio Wired Over-Ear Headphones are designed for recording, mixing, and studio monitoring for musicians, podcasters, film producers, and others with advanced sound needs.
Not every podcaster needs a mixer when they’re starting out, but investing in a mixer can help you improve your sound quality. Plus, mixers are particularly helpful for podcasts with multiple guests or hosts. Mixers can help you adjust individual channels so that all recordings are at an equal volume—your podcast will sound odd if one person sounds significantly quieter than the others. They also offer enhanced recording and sound effects features to create a more polished recording.
Using a mixer can also help you avoid losing recorded content due to technical difficulties. Mixers typically won’t crash or lose your recording, whereas computers are more likely to crash. Many laptops get overwhelmed when recording multiple channels or working with large files.
Best premium mixer: Rode RODECaster Pro Podcast Production Studio
This professional-quality mixer will definitely elevate your podcasting setup, but it is a bit costly. The RODECaster Pro Podcast Production Studio works with studio condenser mics and conventional dynamic mics, though you may want to revisit the Rode PodMic Cardioid Dynamic Podcasting Microphone if you’re considering this mixer.
This mixer includes 8 programmable sound effects pads you can use to instantly trigger SFX, music, and more. You can record audio directly to the pads or add files from your computer. This is a great feature if you want to incorporate music or soundbites in your podcast.
Best budget mixer: Pyle Professional Audio Mixer Sound Board
This 8-channel mixer includes an impressive range of features at a fairly affordable price that makes it perfect for new podcasters. It supports XLR input as well as USB, giving you more flexibility in how you record. The Pyle Professional Audio Mixer Sound Board also features built-in digital effects to improve your production quality and create a polished and engaging podcast.
Best portable mixer: Zoom PodTrak P4 Portable Podcast Recorder
Many mixers are quite bulky, so if you want a more portable option, check out the Zoom PodTrak P4 Portable Podcast Recorder. This is a great option if you plan to do interviews over the phone or on location rather than exclusively in-studio.
Recording with guests over the phone or via videoconferencing software is a popular and convenient way to conduct interviews, but it doesn’t always produce the best audio quality. This mixer makes it easy to incorporate remote interviews by connecting to your phone or computer directly. Then, its built-in mix-minus feature filters out distracting echoes and feedback from the phone or video connection as it records.
Podcast editing tools
Once you’ve recorded audio files for your podcast, you’ll need software for post-production editing. The right solution will enable you to cut clips, adjust sound levels, and work with multiple clips to create a polished final product.
If you want to start out with a free beginner-friendly editing program, check out Audacity. It’s worth noting that many podcasters start on Audacity, then upgrade later as their podcasting needs become more advanced.
- No cost
- Very easy to use and beginner-friendly
- Includes all basic audio mixing needs including equalization and normalization
- UI looks dated and clunky to many people
- You won’t get all the fancy features offered by paid services like Adobe Audition
If you plan to record on a Mac, GarageBand is a great option that is probably already on your computer. GarageBand comes pre-installed on macOS, iPad OS, and iOS devices.
- No cost
- Good for podcasters that want to be able to record or edit on the go with their iPhones or iPads
- Has robust editing, mixing, and exporting options
- Not available on PCs
- Slightly higher learning curve than Audacity
If you want a more advanced option, take a look at Adobe Audition. This software starts at $20.99 USD per month, though discounts are available for students or users who want to bundle Audition with other Adobe products.
- Ideal for podcasters working with multiple files or tracks
- Strong equalization, normalization, and noise reduction features
- Steeper learning curve
- No free option
If you want access to advanced editing options, Pro Tools may be right for you. It’s the most expensive audio editing software on this list, but it’s the tool of choice for most industry professionals. Pro Tools starts at $29.99 USD per month, with discounts available for students and teachers.
- Good for sound layering and adding audio effects
- Advanced features
- Good collaboration tools if multiple hosts want editing access
- More expensive than alternative solutions
- Can be overwhelming for beginners
- Some features may be unnecessary
Podcast audience engagement and marketing tools
Before you start recording your podcast, it’s important to think about how you’ll engage and grow your audience. Marketing a podcast is a lot like marketing any other product—you’ll want to create a strategy that will enable you to build a strong online community across all the major digital marketing channels. The two biggest channels to consider include social media and email marketing.
Social media marketing
Your first step should be to create social media pages for your new podcast. Depending on your target audience, you may want to promote your podcast on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.
If you’re just starting out, it may be best to create and manage these pages natively on each social media platform. However, if you want to streamline your social media efforts, consider using a social media management tool. Solutions like Hootsuite and Buffer can help you schedule posts, keep up with messages from your audience, and measure your social media performance.
As you build your social media channels, start experimenting with design tools such as Canva or Photoshop to create graphics for your podcast. Simple graphics with quotes from your podcast for Instagram or LinkedIn posts can be a great way to market your podcast.
There are also plenty of email marketing platforms to choose from if you want to create a newsletter for your podcast audience. You may want to include show notes for your podcast episodes, reminders for upcoming events, links to relevant products or services, or messages from your sponsors.
Having a newsletter will also come in handy down the road if you choose to create merchandise for your podcast. Selling merch is a common avenue for monetizing your podcast along with sponsorships and advertisements. For a podcast, you likely won’t need a full CRM system, so consider basic email-oriented solutions such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Read more: Best Email Marketing Software & Platforms
Building a podcast marketing strategy
Building a digital marketing strategy may seem overwhelming, but it’s one of the best things you can do—in addition to buying the right equipment—to make your podcast a success. Leveraging the right digital marketing tools can help you stay organized and create professional-looking marketing content.
Read next: Best Digital Marketing Tools for Small Businesses