Money, money, money (and podcasting)

Podcasting should feature as many voices as possible, including, maybe, yours! But if you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast, you’ve probably also been scared by the unknown costs.

We asked festival artists Ben Riley, co-host of the Queers podcasts, and Areej Nur, producer of ReReaders, as well as our festival director and podcasting gun Izzy Roberts-Orr, and Freya Logan, co-host of Follow Sports Like a Girl, to write about how money has factored into their podcasting hopes, dreams and realities.

Firstly, why podcasting?

Areej: “I got into podcasting accidentally after producing pre-recorded programs on community radio that were often listened to as podcasts…I got into community radio because I knew the conversations I was having with friends in person and online were important…but I rarely heard them on radio or in the podcast space, especially coming from Australia”.

Ben: “I listen to a lot of podcasts, but I couldn’t find a show on queer politics and culture that had the kind of critical perspective I was looking for”.

Izzy: “One of the works that’s had a really significant impact on me and my writing is Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood…Tiny, 4-year-old Izzy would refuse to go to sleep until Mum put on the BBC Welsh cast recording of the play and I could be lulled to sleep – the opening is burnt into my memory.”

Freya: “At the start of 2016 we saw a huge gap in the podcasting sphere for women to talk about sport.”

The bare essentials

Mics, recorders and headphones

Ben: “We recorded with cheap headset mics that set us back less than $50 a pair”

Areej: “I wouldn’t spend more than $100 on each mic.” She uses her second hand Zoom recorder.

Izzy writes that you should make sure your recorder is right for the space you’re using.  The Zoom h4n is good for field recording, and a USB mic such as the Rode NT-USB is great for recording at home. She also recommends getting a good set of headphones and “investing in a recorder that has external mic inputs, because this means you can easily plug into a sound desk and record at live events, or plug in different quality mics for different purposes.”

Follow Sports Like a Girl was originally recorded on smartphones.

Editing Software

Izzy: “I use Audition, which is part of the Adobe suite, and so a little bit spenny. It works really well for me though”. She also recommends Reaper and Audacity.

Ben: “We still use the free software Audacity to produce the show.”

Money isn’t everything

Areej: “There are hyper-produced and well-funded podcasts that are boring, and there are podcasts with two people in a room talking about their feelings on $40 mics that are some of my favourites”.

Freya: “…at the beginning of Follow Sports Like a Girl the sound quality wasn’t great but it was acceptable enough for us to grow an audience”.

It’s time that’ll make the real difference

Izzy: “Ideally most of the money [spent on your podcast] goes toward paying the makers for their time… the most expensive thing [is] the amount of time it takes to make really beautifully produced audio that is critical, rigorous and intelligent”.

Areej: “…if you intend to make money out of your podcast it is worth investing time into it more than anything”.

Freya: “Spend time talking to fans, invest time into the podcasting community and you will gain listeners who may convert into crowdfunding donors.”

Your investment of time also includes spending time learning about podcasting.

Izzy: “Transom is an incredible resource for finding out how other audio producers work. Howsound is a bi-weekly podcast that covers all the nitty gritty minutiae of audio storytelling.” She also suggests “doing a training course at your local community radio station. “ Try  3CR’s studios, Library at the Dock, or Kathleen Syme.

Avoid spending big too soon

Ben: “I’d suggest avoiding spending much money until you’ve really had a crack at recording and producing a few episodes, even releasing some”.

Making money (or just breaking even) is tricky, particularly in Australia.

“Sponsorship is rare on podcasts here”, says Areej, but if you do want to be sponsored, you should: “know your audience and their interests [and] have audience statistics ready. If you can convince a potential sponsor your audience would love their product and that your audience consists of enough people, you would be on your way to negotiating some sort of arrangement with them.”

Follow Sports Like A Girl makes money from Patreon supporters. Freya says that “investing time through social media can be very valuable to making a financial return.”

How much should you be paid?

Areej: “I would recommend working out how long it takes you to record and edit as well as how long you spend writing emails and researching. Once you have done that pay yourself what you think you deserve per hour of admin/research and production…when it comes to production, your experience and training should be taken into account.”

ReReaders is a podcast about culture and literature. 

Queers is a podcast by Simon Copland and Benjamin Riley, looking at queer politics and culture.

Follow Sports Like A Girl Podcast is a podcast co-hosted by Freya and Jocelyn that is just two girls talking all about sports.

Sisteria, a podcast about women’s experiences as creators and consumers of arts and culture, is produced by Izzy Roberts-Orr

You can see Ben and Areej talk diversity in podcasting with Leona Hameed on Friday.