Is there really any need to pay for a podcasting course? Isn’t there enough free stuff online?

This depends on you, your podcast, and your aims. And today, I’m going to try to help you decide.

For some, it’s a no-brainer, but for others it’s perhaps an unnecessary expense. Let’s find out where you fit in.

Information Overload

When you make the decision to start podcasting it’s fair to say that the whole process can seem a bit overwhelming. It could be that the only microphone you’ve ever seen until now was for bad karaoke. But suddenly, here you are browsing the web trying to decide what’s the best audio equipment for your needs.

There’s a choice of seemingly infinite products, such as preamps, headphones, mixers, and boom stands. You need to figure out how you’re going to record your show. How you’re going to edit, produce, and upload it. And that’s before we’ve even considered the most important thing; what is your show about, and who is it for?

Podcast Courses

Podcast training courses – such as our own here at The Podcast Host, or others such as Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcasting A to Z, and Dave Jackson’s School of Podcasting, offer you the chance to be led by the hand, however.

They will walk you through the initial stages of deciding on a topic and show format, right up to hitting publish and spotting your episodes available for download in iTunes.

But podcasting courses cost money, and making a podcast is already potentially stretching your slim-to-non-existent budget. So you might look at training as an area you can save on. After all, you could use the massive amount of free resources and tutorials you’ll find online to pick up the skills you need.

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Am I Saving Money by Not Taking a Podcast Course?

At face value, yes.

Initially, you’ve still got the money you could’ve spent on doing a course. But let’s look at some potential scenarios of what might follow.

Scenario 1

You decide on a media host to upload your podcast to. Someone on a Youtube video recommended them and they are very cheap. In fact, you only pay one small fee up front when you open the account with them.

All is well until four months later. Your podcast is getting more and more popular, and you wake up to an email from your host telling you that you have exceeded your bandwidth for this month. They explain that you need to pay a hefty fee to buy more bandwidth until the end of the month. If you don’t, nobody will be able to download your podcast until next month, where the same thing is going to happen, again and again.

Scenario 2

You’ve bought a microphone which has great reviews online. It cost nearly 100% of your budget but you want your podcast to have great audio quality. When it arrives, you realise it won’t plug into your computer because it isn’t a USB microphone.

You’re now going to have to spend the same amount again buying a mixer or preamp, and an XLR cable to make it work. That’s not to mention the time it’ll take to learn this pretty complex setup. Your launch is put back by weeks, if not months.

Scenario 3

Having spent nearly double your initial budget, you finally have your microphone up and running. When you listen back to your first recording, you’re not too impressed. It’s picking up all sorts of sounds from around your house, and even noise from outside.

You read into this and learn that you’ve bought a condenser mic, which is excellent for recording in sound treated or ultra-quiet environments. But for your needs, a dynamic mic – which picks up only the noise directly in front of it (ie; your voice) – would’ve been much more suitable.

We’ve worked with people from each of these scenarios, as well as many more who have made costly mistakes along the way. In some cases, this experimentation is part of the fun. I’m a bit of an equipment geek, for example, so I enjoyed playing around and figuring it out. I also didn’t mind spending a bit more whilst I was doing so.

But, for some, the podcast isn’t the purpose – it’s the means to an end: getting your message out into the world. And when it’s just a means, you want to get it working as quickly and simply as possible.

Four Reasons to Pay For a Podcasting Course

1. Learn from Their Experience

The person who created your podcast course has encountered hundreds of problems before. They’ve then had to work out ways around them, often taking weeks or months to do so. You’re paying to jump the queue here, and avoid spending years making the same mistakes.

2. Do What You Do Best

How much is your time worth, and what would you be best spending it on? Do you want to spend hours one night searching for a tutorial that tells you how to record a Skype interview, set up a mixer, or fix a broken plugin on your new website? Or would you rather be doing what you do best, and growing your project as you do so?

3. Find Information You Can Trust

With all the free information out there, how do you know what’s credible, and what isn’t? Anyone can upload a video to Youtube claiming they know how to do something, and no one’s going to veto them.

Many free tutorials are created by helpful, knowledgeable people. But there are many that will lead you down the wrong path, costing you more time, and money.

4. Curated, Organised Advice, Right When You Need It

When you’re doing a course, 100% of your time is learning and improving, step by step. You don’t need to spend half your time searching for content, before deciding if it’s qualified or legitimate advice.

If you’ve set an hour aside to work on podcasting, then that will be a full hour of progress and learning, rather than potentially an hour of searches and distractions. Again, how much do you value your time?

Think About Your Aims

You Enjoy the Experimentation & Tinkering

What do you want from your podcast, and how quickly do you want it? Do you have plenty free time, and enjoy the trial and error of tinkering?  Are you okay with gradually learning through mistakes, and slowly but surely building a great podcast series?

If so, then there’s no need to spend money on a course. You’ll be able to teach yourself the craft, and find resources out there to help.

Your Time is Valuable

But maybe you have limited time and resources and want to spend all of them on creating valuable content that will have an impact on your listener. If this is you then you then it would be beneficial to consider paying for a course.

Remember, every hour spent trying to work out a solution to a problem is an hour you’ve taken away from your content. And this, above all else, is what will hold your show back.

You Thrive Under Coaching

It’s also worth mentioning that some people prefer to work with others. This means that hiring a mentor might be more beneficial to them than buying a course. A course won’t hold you accountable if you don’t actually do it.

If you struggle to discipline yourself then maybe you’d prefer to have someone holding you accountable. This is another scenario where a course might not be for you.

So there is no one size fits all answer here. Like I said at the beginning, it really depends on you, your podcast, and your aims.

What Are You Struggling With?

I mentioned a number of potential issues podcasters face when getting started. Has there been something getting in your way that you just can’t seem to move past? If so, leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can help you out