Finding a podcast production company is like finding a mechanic for your car. You know why you need your car, and you know where you want your car to go. But, you either don’t have the time or the expertise to maintain the thing yourself.
In this post, we want to help you make a more informed choice when choosing a podcast production company. We’re going to answer some key questions about what to look for, how much to pay, and where to find alternatives.
What is a Podcast Production Company?
“Production” is such an ambiguous word. It could mean anything from chopping out some mistakes to organising a recording session. Most podcast production companies exist to help folks with their editing and audio processing, though.
A common scenario is that the podcaster will plan their content, and arrange and carry out the recordings. Then, they’ll send the audio off to their production company who’ll turn it into a finished podcast episode.
What to Look for When Hiring Your Own Podcast Production Company or PCC
PPC’s come in all shapes and sizes and can offer all sorts of additional ‘podcast production services’. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider when you’re looking at hiring one.
What’s the Difference Between a Podcast Production Company and a Podcast Producer?
It’s entirely possible for a “company” to be made up of one person. But, for clarity, let’s say that podcast production companies are businesses with more than one employee. Podcast producers, on the other hand, we could refer to as sole traders or freelancers.
This matters for two reasons. Firstly, it can impact the cost. A company with staff will typically charge more than a producer working alone. There are obviously exceptions to this, but it’s common.
Secondly, if you work with one single producer your show is more likely to be impacted at some point by that person’s health or holidays.
A lone producer may offer a more bespoke service or package and an intimate working relationship, but a multi-staff production company will have the backup of someone always being available to take care of your show.
There are no right or wrong options here, though – only the route that works best for you.
What Will They Do With My Audio?
There are a few things to be clear about here – even if you’re clueless about audio production.
You need to know what the deal is with how your PCC will edit your show. By “edit” I’m talking about the chopping out mistakes, tightening up the conversation, and possibly even moving segments around so they flow better.
So will you be signposting where edits need to take place, or will they take responsibility themselves? And are they cutting out big obvious things like the phone ringing mid-chat, or are they doing a full surgical removal of every “uhm” and “erm”?
The audio processing side of things is something you’re more likely to leave up to them – especially if you’re clueless about that side of things. This is where a producer or audio engineer, sometimes referred to as “Podcast Engineer,” cleans up your audio as best they can, then make sure all volume levels are consistent and to a set standard.
Looking For “Above and Beyond” Production Services?
As I mentioned before, the term “production” is ambiguous. A PCC may help you with your podcast in ways beyond cutting out mistakes and making your episodes loud enough.
Podcast production companies might also offer to help you arrange and manage your recording sessions. If you lack confidence in the tech and just want to concentrate 100% on the content then this can be a big help. Here, a producer can set up and sit in on your remote recording session and all you need to do is turn up and have an engaging conversation with your guest.
A podcast production company might also offer to write up your show notes, organise episode transcripts, and even promote your episodes on social media. Naturally, all extra services will mean extra costs, but for those lacking in time or know-how, these can be more than worth it.
Can Hiring a Podcast Production Company Guarantee Success?
The short answer here is “no”. But they can certainly help your show have a better chance of success if they’re offering guidance, advice, and mentorship.
Be wary of anyone who promises X amount of downloads, though. Average podcast download numbers have many variables, and it’s impossible to guarantee anything when it comes to audience size.
Be wary, too, of generic “I will promote your podcast” claims. These are more common amongst sketchy freelance “promoters” than they are amongst legit production companies, though. There are effective ways to promote and advertise a podcast, and there are more dubious ways. You’ll find online communities with thousands of “podcast promoters” all firing links at one another without one single listener present to witness it. Don’t hire someone like that.
How to Source a Podcast Production Company
The Google search method that potentially led you to this guide will also throw up thousands of podcast production options. Often, though, too much choice is as bad as none at all.
Word of mouth is a great way to choose any type of service. As a starting point, do you know any podcasters who outsource their production? And if so, would they recommend their PCC to you?
You might also fancy a look at our Hire a Podcast Producer guide where we outline our own favourite options. These cover a wide variety of offerings for all needs and budgets, so check it out and see if there’s anything there that jumps out.
Finally, rather than you going out looking for someone, you could post a job ad and have candidates come to you. This might find you the perfect podcast producer in the long run, but it can be a costly and time-consuming process. To be honest, it’s a bit unnecessary, unless you’re creating a show that has some very unusual criteria.
How Much Do Podcast Production Companies Cost?
I’ve come across podcasters paying $30 per episode whilst others are forking out more than $1500 a month for a retainer. This doesn’t mean much on its own. Episode lengths can vary from a few minutes to several hours, whilst release frequency can be daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. And then, there’s the type or level of editing and production you’ll be getting, too…
$50 or less, per episode?
If you pay the bare minimum you’ll likely be able to get a quick ‘top and tail’, along with a bit of volume levelling, but that’s really about it. This is total bare bones.
$50 to $100, per episode?
If you’re looking for more detailed editing, then the cost is obviously going to rise. In this range, you’d be able to signpost a limited number mistakes you’d want cut out and tidied up. The production process would typically include a few more treatments too (Compression, EQ, etc).
$100+ per episode?
Here, you’ll start getting into the boutique territory. Some producers in this bracket will make the editing decisions for you, rather than being told what to remove.
As fees rise, you’ll have options for larger, more detailed projects with sound design. You’ll also find “Podcast Manager” services where companies will take care of your admin and marketing, too.
As we’ve learned, there are a lot of moving parts to production, and a lot of variables from episode to episode, show to show. That means it’s impossible to say “this is how much podcast production companies cost”, but a very rough starting point could be around $75 per episode.
You might be able to keep your overall costs down by buying in bulk, too. If you commit to having a company produce 50 episodes, chances are, it’ll be cheaper than if you’re just paying as and when you need them.
For a list of our favourite podcast production companies and their costs, head on over to our Hire a Podcast Producer guide.
Best Three Comprehensive Podcast Production Companies & Agencies
Undoubtedly, there are loads of brilliant podcast production companies out there. The three we’ve worked with closely over the past few years though are Lower Street, Castos Productions, and Pod Paste.
These are high-end services ideal for businesses or brands looking to get into podcasting and create something professional right out of the gate.
If your podcast is more of a hobby or solo effort though, then you can find cheaper podcast production on Fiverr. We’ve tried out adamglinder and radioorg for smaller test projects in the past and were happy with the results.
Top Three Podcast Agencies for Scheduling and Booking Guests
If you run an interview show, one of the main reasons you’re thinking about hiring a podcast production company could be finding and booking a steady stream of guests.
There’s no shortage of services out there who can help on this front. Three popular options are Podcast Guests, Podchaser Connect, and MatchMaker.fm. You can learn more about each of these, as well as their costs, in our guide to finding podcast guests.
If you already know who you’d like to get on your show, but struggle to nail down suitable days and times, then an alternative to hiring someone is to use scheduling software like Calendly or Book Like a Boss.
Alternatives to Hiring a PPC
You might not actually need to hire a fully-fledged podcast production company. If you’re on a tight budget, there are other options available to you.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Some podcasters will prefer to work with one single podcast production company that does everything, whilst others might find they can keep costs down by using a Virtual Assistant (or VA) for certain tasks. A VA might not know podcasting, (though some may specialise in it) but they can easily arrange interviews, write show notes, and organise transcriptions for you. Typically, VAs are hired on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
Using a Software Alternative
If it’s the editing and audio quality you’re focussed on, but equally clueless about, then an alternative to hiring a podcast production company is Alitu.
Alitu is a “podcast maker” software that makes it ridiculously easy to record, edit, and publish a podcast. It does a lot of the heavy lifting for you automatically, too, so you don’t need to know anything about volume levels, noise reduction, compression, or EQ. You can try Alitu out for yourself, free for seven days, to see what you think.
Back to the car analogy, then. Your vehicle might just need a quick oil change, or it might need to be built from scratch. Podcasts are similar, and there are podcast production companies out there for every need, want, and budget. We’ve picked out our favourites in our guide to hiring a podcast producer, so be sure to check that out when exploring your range of options.