Podcasting for free. Now there’s a thought! Is it possible to escape the financial burden of getting a domain, paying for hosting every month, buying an expensive microphone…?
Well, YES there is!
Typically there’s 5 categories of items that can cost you money in podcasting:
If you can figure out your way around these things, you can podcast for free. Let me show you how.
Microphones, mixers, recorders and all the cables that go with them, will cost you a pretty penny if you’ve gotta catch ’em all. Thing is, you don’t. For a podcast to happen, you need sound. To get sound onto your computer, you just need to record your voice.
You’ve got 2 options readily available to you no matter where you’re at.
These mics are on pretty much any laptop, and even some desktops. You just need to find a way to record (via software, which we’ll cover just now), and you’re good to go. No purchase necessary
You could also use your phone, however you will do yourself well to get an app that records to the .WAV format at least. That will make life a lot easier for you.
Just make sure you record when it’s quiet.
There’s one stone that will kill all your software needs. Available on Windows and Mac computers. It’s called Audacity. It’s a very solid, very free solution to recording and editing your podcast! It will do everything you need it to. Just make sure you do some tutorials on Youtube so that you can learn how to tame this beast!
FREE!! (well, you’re gonna use data…but heck.. FREE!)
This one is a bit technical. Media hosting is a way of keeping your files online, so that they can be downloaded when requested (by your RSS feed). Here, you can use cloud storage you already have (eg Dropbox or Google Drive) to host your files for download, but you need to be careful because of bandwidth limits.
The other option is Archive.org, which offers permanent and free storage of your files.
This is easy. WordPress is by far the most popular free solution for building a website. Head there and you could have a pretty looking site in less than an hour. And the plugins available are quite plenty too. All for…
(Oh yes, email… Get a Gmail account. And please let go of your Hotmail. Just…let it go.)
Youtube and Google will find almost anything for you. In fact, Youtube alone is probably best because of the visual approach to most things you’ll need to figure out in building your podcast. For more detailed articles, obviously Google Search is the way to go.
For even better information (because not all free stuff is good), you can join mailing lists that offer good freebies. You can find yourself receiving entire ebooks just for giving up your email address. Heck… Unsubscribe after you’ve got your stuff if you don’t want to be bugged anymore… Just know that’s kinda douche-like.
So here’s my follow-up:
Just because it’s possible, does it mean its advisable? Is going free going to guarantee your success as a podcaster? Can you grow and maintain your podcast without paying a cent? Could you take your podcast and make it into something that even gets you an income (regardless of amount) for free?
Going the free route will present many challenges that will need to be consistently overcome, or outright lived with. On top of that, some of the shortcomings of shortchanging your podcast actually work against you.
So you may be saving money, but you won’t be saving your podcast.
Let me show you why.
You’ll suffer here from low quality sound. Now, good software can fix some of that, but not all of it. So you’ll want to be careful how long you tough this one out.
The work it takes to get these methods to produce good sound for a podcast, is very draining. It will kill your energy if you aren’t careful.
Here, I’ll actually say you can use Audacity exclusively and be totally fine. It’s a brilliant free alternative to some of the expensive apps out there. I’ll repeat that you need to do the work of learning the software though, if it’s going to help improve sound quality.
Audacity for the win!
This one can also be done for free, but the impact isn’t in the lack of hosting ability, it’s bandwidth.
You want your episodes to be downloaded at any time from now into the future. While cloud storage can offer that, there’s a limit to how much can be downloaded per day. What this means for you is that you can’t go viral without it costing you. You’ll either have your link disabled or get a bill you weren’t expecting.
Now that’s with Drive or Dropbox. With Archive.org however, you have another kind of problem: speed.
Archive.org is notoriously slow. With good reason though, as it’s role is to “archive the internet”, not to make files available at blistering speeds to whoever desires.
That slow speed download can kill the experience for the listener and eventually put them off your podcast. They could say “why is this podcast so slow, but the others are quick?” That moment of doubt alone is enough to make someone unsubscribe, or stop trying.
***Archive.org also has safety issues. This may only affect people who go to the site (which isn’t necessary for any of your listeners), but is a potential risk for you especially.***
One word here: CREDIBILITY
It’s tough to sell a serious image if you don’t even own the space you’re using. You can’t put superiorcoaching.wordpress.com on a business card. The same goes with firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is especially if you want to build this into a real online brand at some point.
Otherwise, you’ll also have limitations on what you can do with the website. Not owning the space means you play by the rules of the platform. And even now, WordPress.com is putting advertisements on people’s pages, and you have very little control over what they are. Such things can be a distraction to the experience, even more on mobile!
You may be wondering why this is even here in the first place. The truth is, once you’re in the online platform-building space, you’ll need to learn a lot. This means course, books, videos, webinars, the whole shabang.
You can get some of it for free. Even a lot of it. The problem is that it won’t be organised that well. You can find 3 articles on a topic, but nothing tells you which aspect of which article is the most important thing to worry about, or which order you should execute your actions (especially on things like building a mailing list).
Generally, you won’t find the level of detail and support you find in a paid course. Support alone can be the main thing a course offers (questions being answered on group coaching calls or Facebook groups), and that won’t easily be found for free.
Try sending any one of the big podcasters an email, you’ll usually get a very straightforward response, or none at all.
While you can podcast for free, I wouldn’t recommend it. At least not permanently, and even then, there’s some things I’d suggest you be willing to budget for before you put out an episode.
In the end though, what matters is starting, not perfection. So next time, I’ll break down what things need to be in place, and what kind of money you can expect to spend on podcasting early on.
Don’t just think about it…