Having worked with a whole lot of people over the years in starting up their podcasts, I've been asked this question a lot:
How much should I be paying for podcast production?
Well, I'm going to tell you right off the bat, it depends!
I hope this article gives you an idea where you fit on the scale, though, and makes sure you don't waste your hard earned cash on something way beyond what you need. Let's take a look!
How Do I Find a Podcast Production Provider?
The reason that it's an “it depends” answer is that there are as many prices as there are types of producers. And there are plenty of kinds producers in the world! So, how are we going to find them in the first place?
The obvious place to start is to search Google for “Podcast producer”. In doing that, you'll discover legions of podcasters who have turned producer, perhaps even in your local area. This doesn't give you much background, though, on which to judge them.
A nice alternative is to post a job on an online recruitment site like Upwork. This will wing its way out to a world of potential podcasting virtual assistants, and you can simply wait for the offers to roll in. The benefit of Upwork and it's kin is that it provides ratings and references. Upworkers often have quite a long history, including a slew of clients. They can be pretty valuable in separating the wheat from the chaff.
Or, you can take a browse through our recommendations. We've worked with a range of producers over the years, and we've collated a list of some of the best podcast producers here.
How Do I Choose a good One?
Once you have a list of potentials, and have weeded out the bad references, here's what you should be considering:
Each of these elements affect the cost of production, and the variation depends a lot on what type of producer you go for.
What Types of Producer Are There?
I'm gonna be an ass and start by stating the obvious. In my experience, if you're working with any service, the more they charge, the better it's likely to be. That counts for each of reliability, quality and experience. But, what form do these services take?
As an example, you’ll find decent individual producers offering episode production around the £25 to £30 per episode mark. Below that, I've found that you’re getting into pretty unreliable territory.
That £25/$40 per episode mark seems to bring you into the ‘average' freelance producer range. They normally work on their own, and probably run their own show, having learned their production skills through that experience.
First, quality – that can be pretty variable with producers at this level. You don't know where they've been trained, what vetting processes they have in place, or even that they have dedicated time to work on your show. You do get some great quality producers, working on their own, but they can be hard to find.
Next, it's likely they do have experience in podcasting, and can help you based on that experience. The downside is that it's limited experience, probably based on their own show and just a handful others. It's likely too that, at this level, those shows may only have had average success. So you're not getting much breadth in that case. Again, you can find freelance producers who have worked on really successful shows, but they're hard to track down. Plus, if they have that on their CV, it's likely their rate will be a lot higher than £25 per episode…
Finally, because they work on their own and have very low overheads, the costs are kept down. But, that comes at a big cost in reliability. The downside is that, if they're on holiday, or become sick, then your podcast process is halted.
The next level up is a production team. This means a company which produces podcasts by trade.
Costs for this, again, vary, but a good approximation is around £50/$75 per episode, and upwards. The cost rises at this level because a production team negates both of the downsides I discussed earlier around individual producers, and it costs money to do so!
Firstly, a team has a much higher breadth of experience, giving you much wider insight into how to run and grow your show. It's also likely that a team will have worked with bigger and more successful shows, making this experience even more valuable.
Secondly, a team doesn't rely on just one person. Therefore, redundancy and reliability is built into the package. That means your podcasting process is rock solid, no matter who's sick or on holiday. Your show can go out regularly, no matter what.
Finally, quality will usually be very high at this level. A team should have a good level of training, and processes in place to make sure every show is vetted and released perfectly every time.
So, that's the two types of producer. Let's look at how you'll choose between them.
Do You Need Your Show to Go Out Same Time, Every Week?
Reliability is probably the first and foremost characteristic for me. If my podcast goes out on Monday each week, I don't want to be missing that deadline just because my podcast assistant has a dose of the sniffles.
When working with individual producers, you may experience short delays during busy times, or long delays during holidays or sickness.
Many of us don’t need our shows up every week, though, or to hit a particular time. If that sounds like you – a reliable and regular schedule isn't important – then an individual producer could be a perfect option, and save you some money.
If, however, you want to make money from your show and you need it reliably produced, then you might want to consider a production company. The benefits of working with a production team, as opposed to the aforementioned freelancers, is that reliability and experience suddenly skyrocket.
When working with a production team, your schedule becomes much more reliable – sickness, busyness and holidays are no longer an issue. On top of that, a company will hold a lot more experience within it’s staff, and have worked with many more shows. That means advice on growing and improving your show will be much more forthcoming, and far more wide ranging.
Do You Need More than Production? You need Mentoring?
If you simply need someone to edit up your show, to post it when it’s ready and your posting schedules are relatively flexible, then individual producers are great.
They’ll normally be able to offer some advice on content, promotion or presenting skills, but it's often based on limited experience with a small show. Saying that, a lot of you wont need that advice – you just need produced. If you don't need any more than production, then this level may be for you.
But, if you want advice on how to grow your show, how to improve your presentation skills, how to design great, engaging content, then a production team might offer you the breadth of experience you need. A team can offer you much more insight into how to use a podcast to power a real business.
Is Consistent Quality Paramount?
Most hobby podcasts will get on just fine with lower quality audio and a little inconsistency. Your listeners know the situation, and they love the content enough to stay the course. They also know they're not really trusting you for anything other than entertainment, so it's not a big issue.
At the end of the day, if you lose a few listeners due to quality, it's not a big deal. It's not like you're making money from it. If that's the case, then a low cost individual producer is perfect for you.
On the other hand, if your podcast is a lead generator for your business, or is designed to build credibility and authority around what you do, then quality is paramount. You want to show high attention to detail, high trustworthiness and an eye for quality. Only then will people trust you enough to be interested in your products and services.
If your podcast is designed to make money in future, or related to a business in any way, then a production team is your easiest way to reliable quality.
Can You Sacrifice a Little Quality & Reliability for a Lower Cost?
In essence, production is a get-what-you-pay-for situation, as with many things.
In many cases, the low cost version is more than adequate. After all, how many podcasters manage to get an episode out every week anyway! In that case, a little un-reliability might be fine, in exchange for a cheaper service.
Same with quality. It's content that counts, so a few little glitches in the sound might not put off too many people. Again, sometimes it might be worth sacrificing a little quality for a cheaper service.
Overall, if you don't plan to earn from your show, or those earnings aren't likely to be high, then a low cost producer could suit you well.
Do you Want to Build a Loyal, Trusting Audience?
On the other hand, if you want to build a loyal trusting audience, that expects your content each and every week, high quality every time, then a production team may well be the way forward.
As I've mentioned, you will, of course, find some individual producers who can deliver great experience and high quality. The problem is, because of the background and the credentials required for this, it's pretty likely they'll charge as much as a production team. In that case, think about the reliability question. Do you want to put all your eggs in one basket, or put your trust in a team?
Who Should You Choose?
It's up to you. But, make sure to check out our directory of podcast producers here. We know and trust them all, so you'll definitely get a good service.
Remember, too, that we do take on some client work. If you're working on a big project, or you're looking to put together a really highly produce product, have a look here for some more details.
But whichever way you go, I wish you luck with the search. Employing someone to help is the best thing you can do for your podcast. With assistance, you can let them take care of the tech. You simply do what you do best – speak!
Oh, and if you decide not to hire a podcast producer and instead, learn and do everything yourself, then be sure to check out The Podcast Host Academy. That's where you can get access to our live mentorship sessions, community forums, and video courses – including how to edit in both Audacity and Adobe Audition!
What if you've never used editing software before? Maybe you're concerned that you don't have the budget to outsource your production, but don't have the time to learn it all.
If that's the case, you might want to check out our “podcast making” tool Alitu, which practically builds your episode for you.
Alitu is really simple to use, and will take care of the processing, editing, and publishing of your podcast, without the need for any actual editing software.
So whether you're a complete beginner, or an experienced podcaster looking to drastically cut down on your production time, Alitu could be the answer you're looking for!