One of the most important things to understand in order to produce a successful show is your budget and the return on investment you are seeking. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often hosts skip over this in their excitement to get their show going. The difference between a thriving and sustainable show and an expensive hobby that flames out is managing your budget and making a show that gives you a return on investment that you value.
In this episode Tiff and Christine break down how to estimate a proper budget for your podcast and how to get a good return on investment.
“Without commitment, you’ll never start. But more importantly, without consistency you’ll never finish.”Denzel Washington
- (1:30) Budget options starting at DIY and going up to in-house team production
- (3:40) How to estimate a budget based on your desired return on investment
- (6:08) How to practice a sustainable output of resources
- (10:15) How to manage your podcast’s budget
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- Tiff Tyler
- Christine Baird
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Transcription of this episode:
(auto-generated, please forgive typos)
Welcome to Think Like a Producer podcast. I’m your co-host Christine Baird.
And I’m your co-host Tiff Tyler. Being in the podcast industry, being in the content creation industry. This is what we learned, and this is how you can get out of your own way and get started.
You name it. We’ve probably done it. This podcast is about bringing all the wisdom to you. Tune in weekly, to learn how to think like a producer.
Okay. Welcome to this episode of think like a producer, you’re probably going to love this episode. If you think about numbers and spreadsheets and money and budgets, and how to actually fund a show, because we are talking about budgets and getting a return on your investment. This is as producery as it gets. And we of course wanted to cover this topic this season, because this whole season is about attracting your dream customers through your media and making the business side of your podcast work for your brand. So we’re gonna talk about money and we want this to be really helpful because we’re going to give you some things to think about no matter what budget level you’re at, and hopefully this will help you kind of avoid some easy pitfalls and give you a really confident structure to think about how to get a return on investment for your show.
So, first off, we’re gonna talk to you about some key principles. We’ve seen work very well on a budget and production side. No matter if your budget is like a couple hundred dollars a month and you’re just doing audio and really all you’re paying for is like an editor to do some very light audio editing all the way to, if you’re willing to spend a few thousand dollars a month, you’re filming everything you’re doing full on video on YouTube and audio. And you’ve got multiple editors. These principles we’re going to talk about should apply on all different budget scales. But just to recap, we’ve talked about this in past episodes. You could start a podcast and it could just be you and you could do everything yourself. That would literally be the cheapest way to handle it. You’re still going to pay a little bit just in like hosting service fees and maybe software fees, but like sub a hundred dollars.
So that would be kind of absolute DIY bare bones. Then if you’re willing to pay a little bit, let’s say you do an episode every month, every week, you maybe hire an audio editor to do some very minimal editing for you, free up some of your time. And so you might end up spending a few hundred dollars a month just for audio editing. You know, like a hundred bucks, an episode would be like an entry-level spot. Then if you’re doing video, you might decide no, actually I really see the power of this for my brand. I’m going to go ahead and invest in comprehensive audio editing as well as video editing. And obviously that was where you can bump into like a thousand to 2000 to $3,000 a month. And of course you can spend a lot more if you have multiple videographers, multiple editors, multiple episodes a week.
Obviously if you’re filming your show in person, uh, is going to add quite a bit more to the budget because you’re paying shooters to come and shoot and light and all the things. So don’t feel like just because we’re talking to you about businesses and production schedules and return on investment and budgets. This doesn’t apply to you. If you’re still kind of in a hobby phase, we want you to understand, you can start here and scale and you can still be making a return on your investment and keeping within your budget no matter what level you’re at. So the most important thing when you’re setting your budget for this show and figuring out how much does it make sense to invest in this show is you want to understand what the return on investment you’re looking for actually is for some people who have an existing business or brand where you already have a product you’re selling, it might be that you need the show to sell a certain number of your product.
Let’s say you have a coaching program, or maybe you’re you have books that you sell or some kind of digital product. You need to sell X amount to cover your budget, right? That’s pretty clear, like, okay, the return on investment for my show needs to be that I need to sell this many gigs spots, courses, subscriptions, books, whatever. So then you would set your budget kind of dependent on how much you could bring in from the product sales. Let’s say, that’s not your goal really at all. You’re like, no, I have cash in my marketing budget to put towards this show. I really just need it to be like a brand ambassador. And I just needed it to drive awareness of me as either like the face of the company or a media personality or a thought leader in my space or whatever your goal is.
So maybe your return on investment is booking more speaking gigs or getting more followers or subscribers to your email list. Maybe it’s, you’re doing this as partly like a social proof project where you’re trying to build your credibility as an expert in your space. And so the return on investment is purely the tagline in your bio that you’re a podcast host. And like that is actually really significant for you. So you get to decide what the return on investment is that makes sense for you and your brand and your goals. But that’s how to think about your budget in relation to your return on investment. And we see this all the time with awesome clients and friends and people in our industry who come to us and are so excited about their show. And when we ask them, okay, what’s the return on investment you’re looking for?
Or like, um, you know, just, I just want to make it. And so that’s where we have a real conversation. We’re like, okay, awesome. Also to make this show sustainable, to keep the lights on, to make sure that this is nourishing you and the business, we need to get clear on a return on investment and doesn’t have to be monetary, but let’s make sure everyone who’s working on this show understands what the return on investment needs to be. So that all the decisions about growing and making the show better funnel and to making that return on investment, come back. Okay. Pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how often this gets like skipped over and as professional producers, we want to give you the goods. So that’s how to think about a budget and a return on investment. And obviously it’s different for everyone. Now. I kind of hinted at the second thing. That’s really important to think about with a budget and a return on investment. So Tiff, tell us about this idea of sustainability.
I will. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that it had such a big flashback and Christine said, so what’s your return on investments, your ROI when you add, and we ask clients this it’s just so interesting because we know that it’s not a bad thing. No one’s ever asked some that’s our jobs as producers, the acts, these questions, because I think everyone’s first thought, which you talked about is just money financials. And it’s not always that we’ve been a part of brands that podcasts are growing their entire company and awareness and brand, and the money is coming from a totally different place because they have so much audience because they have so many subscribers, so many numbers. So I just had a quick little chill go through my body when you asked that question. So what’s the ROI. And that just like, look of, I’m not really sure from people, but yes, this is what we want you to think about.
And when you’re thinking about your ROI, Christine mentioned a lot of great examples of what an ROI for your particular business or podcast or media company can be. I really, and we really want to make sure that you were thinking about consistency over everything else. Sustainability, being able to set a goal and not just hit it in the first three months, but be able to sustain it for the next six months, the next 12 months, what is your podcast look like? Can it grow by 5% over the next five years consistently? These are the kinds of things we want you to think about because I come from a very motivational, inspirational background. So does Christine working on these podcasts? And I think that setting really big goals and reaching far beyond what you think you’re capable, capable of is always a good thing. And also, uh, you want to be able to celebrate.
You want to be able to actually mark that when in your calendar. And if you have a team you want to be able to celebrate together when you’ve hit that big goal, not that you set this big goal that you guys can accomplish for a decade. What are we looking forward to you as a team, you know, soon that we can see now we can kind of feel the rewards that we have. Um, uh, I think that commitment, actually, I’m not going to say this, this isn’t me. This is Denzel Washington. And I saw this on a speech that he had. I wanted to make sure I read this quote for everyone. “Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish.” Um, and I just think goals that you can obtain, that you can finish, that you can complete and then set more goals is going to be great when you’re thinking about this budget ROI.
And if we’re talking on a money sense to me, capital is always king. You know, I’ve been learning a lot more about money as I’ve been, been my own business and producing and supporting other people, working as a freelancer for other companies. I realized that I’ve had to understand money a lot more. And if I don’t have double or triple in my bank account, I’m not spending it on a camera, right. There’s just certain things I have to think about. So if you want to have, you know, hire five employees to take your podcast to another level, my question is, do you have enough when your big count right now to cover those salaries and then is your podcast and your income enough that that’s going to be able to you not only have that now, but you’ll have three times that in the next year or two years.
So again, this is something I’m learning just as my own business, but anyone else is starting their podcasts financially, or trying to have certain goals you really want to think about and research certain like, like obtainable money goals for yourself to be sustainable, to be consistent and to be able to celebrate with you and your team. Um, and what we talked about with the non financials too, if you’re saying that you want to have a certain amount of guests on, you know, I want to be able to actually do a unique interview. Uh, every week we’ll have 52 unique guests, no repeats for an entire year. That’s a very big goal, but you can do it. You know what I mean? But it’s gotta be small and consistent. It gives your team something to look forward to a sustainable, and it gives you a chance to actually challenge yourself in a way of meeting a whole bunch of brand new people that you’ve never met before.
So just think about these things, set yourself up with obtainable goals, be sustainable. There’s no need to burn out. You know, we talk about emotional intelligence as much as we talk about anything else. And we want everyone to be happy as they’re growing their podcasts, but getting more into the line items, if you don’t know, there’s different kinds of producers. And one of my favorite kinds of producers are called line producers. Those are the ones who actually are in charge of the budgets. And those are the ones that are line item by line item, setting, how much money we can spend, what we’re spending things on, collecting receipts, logging those receipts. There’s a lot of fun things that go into it. But Christine, um, I’d love for us to talk a little bit more about how to manage a budget, uh, whether you’re aligned producer or not. Even though big productions, you’d have a separate person just handling this. Uh, but for people who are listening right now, who are starting out, what is a good way to manage a budget?
Yeah. Well, it obviously starts with equipment because you need some equipment to get going. So if you’re starting out, you’re going to need to figure out how much you can spend on a microphone at the bare minimum. Um, but obviously if you’re going to do filming, if you’re going to get a camera, this is what Tiffany do. We use actual cameras, not our laptop cameras to do this production, even though we’re remote. So if you’re like, oh, I really want to elevate the quality of my video. I’m going to invest in camera. Um, if you want to do lights because you’re filming, look at the difference you guys, I’m just going to say, look at the difference between the quality of lighting on Tiff right now. And the quality of lighting on me, Tiff has like really beautiful light set up in her place. I have not.
I am sitting in front of like a window. That’s the difference right there between having natural lighting and having professional lighting. Uh, and then of course like if there’s all these accessories, you could get like fancy headphones and windscreens and boom setups, and you could invest in as much equipment as you want, but at a minimum, you’re going to want a good microphone. So that’s going to be the start. And the cool thing is that’s like a one-time investment. So you have a separate budget kind of for your launch, including your equipment purchases. Um, and that should serve you for a good long while. Obviously you can upgrade your equipment as time passes. If the show’s really going where you want it to go, and you’re getting the return on investment, but typically you’re only going to buy equipment every so often. So that’s budget item.
Number one, we’ve talked about this on past episodes, you can spend $50 on a mic and go to town, or you could spend thousands on multiple pieces of equipment. So if you’re interested in some of our like recommended equipment resources, check out the worthfullmedia.com resources page, that’s where we have listed tons of our best recommendations for equipment and software and all kinds of things. We’ll link that in the show notes for you. Now, you’re also going to want to consider software, whether it’s recording software editing software, we use a remote recording platform called Squadcast to record this show cause Tiff lives in LA and I live in Salt Lake City. Um, but you could maybe use Riverside or Zencastr. Maybe you decide you don’t want to use those. You like zoom because it’s easy and familiar. Um, so maybe you have to upgrade your zoom account.
So you have more storage. Uh, if you are recording in person, you may very well use software like Adobe audition or pro tools or any of the other great recording softwares. Now none of these are going to break the bank. Most of these are around like 15, $20 a month on a subscription. So that’s the good news, but you want to think about that because little things are going to start adding up. Um, then you’re going to think about storage, right? We’ve talked about this in past episodes, files start to accumulate and you’re pretty soon, especially if you’re filming your show, you’re going to just start buying more storage for a cloud or an actual hard drive. Um, you’re not going to, it’s not crazy expensive, but think about it $20 here, $20 there, $50 here, like it’s starting to add up, right? And then obviously, depending on how you edit your show, you’re going to need to probably pay for some kind of editing software or editing service.
So whether you have an editor on your team, you outsource to an agency, restful media, that’s my company. That’s what we do. Um, whether or not you decide to pay for a professional audio editing software, like Adobe Audition. That’s my personal favorite little things starting to add up. And then outside of that, obviously video, if you need to hire a video editor, then you need to hire a video editor, that software as well. Um, but then the last part that I think oftentimes it’s easy to kind of forget is marketing because unless you’re doing all the marketing for your show yourself, meaning you’re making all the assets to market, you’re cutting all the clips. You’re making all the social media posts and graphics. It’s very likely you’re going to want to outsource that as well. So that’s another piece. If you have a social media manager on your team, if you want to hire someone to kind of help you build and promote the show out in the world, then I would definitely consider that as a budget item, kind of a marketing budget.
I’m not saying buying ad space to promote your podcast. Like, yes, you can do that down the line for some people. It makes sense. But I’m saying like down the line for most people that does not make sense at the beginning or the first long while. But I am saying like having someone that you actually pay to help you market the show, because it turns out this is like a pretty big engine and it is hard to run it with one person it’s super helpful to have at least one other person helping you manage and market and share the show, whether that’s copywriter, a social media manager, somewhere, someone in that realm. Okay, now you may think we’re done. And we are, if you have an audio only show, like those would be the main budget items to consider, and you could sustainably go with those things covered for a very long time. But if you were filming your show in person, let’s say you have some kind of like home studio or you have studio space, part of like commercial space that you own or rent, and you really want to do in person productions, whether that’s you just straight to the camera or you have interviews with guests, you’re going to want to consider some other expenses that are often overlooked. So Tiff, tell us about those.
The very first one that, uh, I think it’s overlooked a little too much food and refreshments, um, that could be in the form of coffee that could be in the form of just water bottles or just an us source for people to fill up or refill water. I don’t know if he ever noticed, like on a talk show you at the two mugs, usually they’re labeled, you know, what the name of the show or something doesn’t have to be, but usually, you know, it’s got something in their guests, especially for long shows, talking for 60 minutes, 90 minutes would love to have just have something to drink, also snacks and things that you can offer them. But not only them, their team, a lot of interviews that I’ve done. Most people come with somebody else, whether it’s their agent or another, a whole other set of video, people that are following them into your interview, um, that usually most guests have teams or people that are there with them.
And then of course your own team and making sure that they are happy and fed and hydrated, especially if you’re someone like people I’ve worked with who we might record two or three podcasts in a row, I’ve even done four podcasts in one day, two hour long podcasts in one day. I don’t quite recommend it, but it’s possible. It’s possible for some people, I guess who liked to do it. A lot of storage, so much storage, someone standing so many lights, uh, but overall definitely would or regimens very, very important. Another thing to consider if you’re going to do something which we talked about, you know, in this particular season, we’ve talked about way more than we had in the first season. If you’re going to do a campaign or some sort of mini series or something, that’s more documentary style and you’re going to be out and about on the streets blogging today can sort of get away with a lot of things, but there’s permits that cost money that are involved.
And that requires, you know, sometimes even blocking off parts of the streets for parking for your crew that are going to be there. Um, sometimes if people have parking in one area and they need to be shuttled to a different area where you’re actually shooting. That’s van rentals, that’s gas money, there’s like so many things that go into it and it’s not to scare you it’s once you’re. So to think about the little things that you’ll just show up on set with your two camera guys or camera women, which I prefer, but camera people and, uh, you know, and you’re just like, what do we do now if a cop, if an officer stops you, or if someone asks you, what are you guys filming? You know, the bigger cameras draw way more attention. And that’s when permits and things really start to become super important.
Especially here in Los Angeles. I would say something people don’t think about is security. If you’re going to go to certain areas where maybe you’re not familiar with, or if you’re documenting, you know, the homeless or something like that around skid row, having an actual paid security guard there to protect you and your people. And you know that everyone is safe. There’s just things that come along with being in person, come along with the video side of things. And, um, you know, this isn’t necessarily financial, but it’s something more so on the documenting side of like having releases, you know, I think we are so used to a blogging world where we record anything that we want and we post it, but for things that are going to be possibly sold to streaming services or things you may want to use, um, in a more professional sense, when they’re released, you need to actually get people’s permission to use their face.
You need a photo, video release podcasts. You should have that to you. I would recommend that for you, as people are, you know, seeing that it’s very important to have someone actually give that permission, not just verbal permission, not just email permission, but Hey, we recorded this podcast. You and are releasing your image to us and allowing us to do what we want with. It sounds scary, but it’s legally needs to actually be signed. So these are things that just to think about, um, and to just save yourself, because I’ll say it probably for the fifth time in a row, but like with this YouTube world, with this sort of like, you know, we kind of do what we want and we post on social media. We don’t think about other people as you get bigger, as you grow legal documents, all he sees is going to be very, very important to have.
Um, or you could spend years recording footage that you’re not allowed to use anywhere else, but YouTube, which may not be beneficial for you and your team. We talked about a lot today. There’s a lot for you to digest. I really highly recommend that you go back and watch them or older episodes and listen to where we talk about podcast equipment. We break it down even more about money. Um, but overall, like we said, season two, this podcast in general, it’s all about giving you these bite-able, bite-able? Mini sized versions. Bite-size thank you. Bite size versions of, uh, things that we do when we talk to clients, when we meet with people and, um, we do have more resources and more ways that you can work with us. If that’s something that you’re interested in so that you can get more of a custom, uh, recommendation when it comes to these things.
But overall, we’d love for you to subscribe to the podcast, leave a review on iTunes. It really helps us learn what you’re learning helps us kind of create what we’re going to continue to create for the rest of the show. And like I said, it’s just great to hear your feedback. We just kind of, we love talking to ourselves to be honest. I mean, I love talking to you, Christine, truly, but also we’d love to hear your feedback, see you and know what you think. You can also watch us on YouTube. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel, leave a comment. If you have any up questions, let us know. This podcast was birthed from just answering questions. So we love to do it. And until next time we will see you on think like a producer.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Think Like a Producer. This has been a Worthfull Media production. Massive thanks to our team who makes the show possible. Worthfull Media for audio editing, Jorge and Veronica from Mosaico Productions for video effects and Amela Subasic for our amazing artwork and graphics.