Start a podcasting business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your podcasting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a podcasting business?
A podcast owner will need to purchase a portable XLR recorder, which costs between $100 and $500. An audio interface, meanwhile, will cost between $30 and $300. A basic laptop will be needed, too, which will cost about $700. Good audio editing software can be purchased for as little as $300. Publishing software is available for about $20. All in all, basic start-up costs amount to a little under $1,000 if the business is being start as a low-budget one.
What are the ongoing expenses for a podcasting business?
Technology maintenance and upgrades are inexpensive; normally, they’re about $500 per year. Much of your ongoing expenses will be directed towards information gathering and real-life experiences, which can include variable travel costs.
Who is the target market?
A podcaster’s target market is large. Because a podcast can be about anything, it’s up to the podcaster to determine their niche. In general, however, a podcaster’s market is anyone who listens to podcasts. People who drive often, go for walks, or simply download smartphone podcasts. Listeners who are prone to e-commerce purchases are particularly lucrative.
How does a podcasting business make money?
A podcaster can make money in several ways. First, they can have sponsors. Every time a sponsor is used, a podcaster is paid. A podcaster can also ask for donations. Some podcasters give away free episodes, charging listeners for other episodes. Others, meanwhile, might offer free partial shows while offering entire shows for a fee. Social media advertisement can also generate money, as can a podcast’s website.
Successful podcasters often build an entire brand around their services, becoming product providers and even consultants. If a podcaster is well-connected in the mobile app world, they might sell an iPhone app alongside their podcast.
How much can you charge customers?
Podcast memberships are usually between $1.99 and $9.99 per month. If you’re selling an app, consider pricing it at about 99 cents for a download.
How much profit can a podcasting business make?
A highly successful podcast can make as much as $50,000 per episode. Small podcasts, however, make as little as $2,000 per year. Typically, average podcast owners make about $12,000 per year as a side job. Expect to make about $30,000 as a moderately successful podcaster.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Start out with general knowledge, even in your niche. As you develop an audience, become more specific. The more specific your podcast is, the more attention you’ll attract.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Podcasting Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your podcasting business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a podcasting business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Trademark & Copyright Protection
If you are developing a unique product, concept, brand, or design, it is prudent to protect your rights by registering for the appropriate trademarks and copyrights.
The nature of legal requirements in distance education is ever changing, especially in regards to copyright laws. Here is a frequently updated resource, which can help keep you aware of the legal requirements.
Love a product or idea owned by another company or individual? You can contact the rights owner or manufacturer and negotiate a sublicense to use the product or idea under a royalty or fixed fee arrangement. It is never smart to use content without authorization from the rights holder as this could have serious legal ramifications for your business.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a podcasting business
Be recognizable on a small scale. By representing your podcast’s unique value, you’ll be able to promote it effectively. As for marketing, contact well-known podcast owners. Ask them to promote your podcast on their podcast, and offer to do the same in return. A lot of successful podcast owners promote one another. Different than radio stations, podcasts rely on direct word-of-mouth promotion, rather than physical advertisements. Where advertisements are considered, social media ads tend to work.
How to keep customers coming back
Attract customers by having content which crosses into other podcasts. Retain customers by offering rewards programs, membership discounts and—of course—great content. Your podcast should constantly be updated. It should also feature newsworthy material.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Podcasting Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The podcasting business is perfect for those who enjoy public entertainment. Podcast creators can join a slew of commercial and public networks, connecting with listeners, celebrities, and industry specialists. A good podcast business owner will have a niche subject to discuss, be tech-savvy, and understand modern entertainment.
A good podcast host can also focus on being clear, not clever. Those with pre-existing businesses often make great podcast hosts. They’re also skilled with artwork, news gathering, and equipment management. On every level, a podcast host needs to be a capable interviewer. Those who’re great at networking are often great at hosting podcasts.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a podcasting business?
At the start of every podcaster’s day, they plan their content. A podcast’s popularity is spawned by its relevance, uniqueness, and attention to detail. For this reason, it’s mostly a creative endeavor. A podcaster needs to conduct research, plan their episodes and commit them to paper.
A podcaster usually spends time narrowing their topics, too, finding their best niche. More time is spent handling the podcasting software, microphone, headset, portable XLR recorder, audio interface, and computer. Audio is recorded, edited, and exported. During this time, a podcaster normally edits their content to assure accuracy, coherence, and a high entertainment factor.
A podcaster’s time can also be spent dividing podcasts into different chapters, finding good music and listening to fan feedback. Often, a podcaster will finish their day by promoting themselves on social media.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful podcasting business?
As a podcast owner, an individual should be able to build their brand, sell their services and promote an iPhone app. For this reason, they should be knowledgeable about marketing, management, and promotion.
A podcast owner should similarly be good at integrating sponsorship with a show’s different editorials. Shows should be seamless, and they should have exciting, memorable content. On every level, a podcast owner should be able to expand their audience, build a deep connection with visitors, and promote themselves. As a general rule, podcast episodes should have a “low barrier to entry.” They should be easily accessible and relevant.
What is the growth potential for a podcasting business?
A podcast can become pretty popular. If the podcaster extends their episodes across Stitcher, iTunes and BlueBrry, they can catch a large audience. A successful podcaster should, however, have a plan to scale effectively in the online world. Because a podcasting business primarily relies on e-Commerce, the podcast’s owner will need to make sure their buying portals are organized. Eventually, a podcast’s owner can do live events. If this is the case, the live events will be hosted in large cities.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a podcasting business?
Narrow your podcast’s topics. Find a niche, and stick to it. Similar to blogs, podcasts need to be relevant while targeting specific audiences. A lot of broad topics are already covered, so niche topics can make a lot of money.
It’s also a good idea to invite podcast guests. These guests can garner a lot of exposure, and bigger names can promote your podcast across the industry. To get podcast guests, make a list of industry leaders. Then, prepare an email list. Set up some interviews, and be sure to compensate any guests for their time.
How and when to build a team
A podcast can be operated alone, but having a team of two to three others can assure consistency and adaptability. To save money, operate a podcast alone for the first year. Consider adding a partner as you become established.