The Profitable Podcaster

2022 Podcaster’s Gift Guide

It’s that time of year! The 2022 Podcast Liftoff Gift Guide is here, fully updated with new gear and a section for video podcasting. We’ll go through the what and why of it all, and I’ll highlight some other great gifts for podcasters.

View the whole gift guide here: https://podcastliftoff.com/gift-guide/

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Show Notes

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Hey, everybody. It is that time of year. Everybody, you know, every podcast, every blog, every YouTube channel is creating their gift guide. And well, I’m no different. See, I created a couple of gift guides a few years ago, and they’ve done really well. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on them. And so this year, I have fully updated my Podcasters Gift Guide. And I also have a Work-From-Home Gift Guide that’s what I want to talk about in this episode. If you want some visuals, you can catch this episode over on YouTube. It’ll be in the show notes. And if you’re watching on YouTube, well, you can listen to this episode over on [makemoneypod.com] if you so desire.

So today, we are going to be talking through my Podcaster’s Gift Guide, and I’ll be doing some highlights from the Work From Home Gift Guide because I think there’s a lot of relevant stuff in there. So, Without further ado, let’s get started.

Hello, and welcome to Make Money Podcasting where I teach you how to make your first $10,000 with your podcast. On this show, you’ll learn tried and true methods to increase your revenue and turn your podcast from a money pit into a moneymaker. 

Joe Casabona: Hi, I’m your host, Joe Casabona. And my podcasts have been making money from day one without a lot of downloads. I’ll share everything I know with you here on Make Money Podcasting. 

Okay. So here we go. We’ve got the Podcast Gift Guide up here. 

The first thing I wanna start with always is a microphone, right? So, a lot of people starting podcasting, they’re not sure what podcasts mic to get. Do they need to spend $400? Absolutely not. For a long time, I’ve actually recommended the Audio-Technica ATR2100x,  or 2100 before that. And this year, I have a new champion for the starter mic. That’s the Samson Q2U. This microphone, the big winner here, I think is basically everybody I’ve talked to has loved it for a long time. It’s versatile. It’s compatible via USB or XLR.  It comes with all of the cables that you need, and it’s a little bit cheaper than the ATR2100. So, it’s got good quality starting out. It comes with, again, everything that you need to record with, and it’s less than a hundred dollars which is a great price for a solid microphone.

So, Samson Q2U is the mic I recommend. Now that said, the ATR2100x is still a great mic. I still have that mic, and that’s what I use for travel. But by and large, from a lot of podcasters I’ve talked to, the Samson Q2U has become the better microphone. 

A lot of people ask me about the Blue Yeti. So I’ll just say here, like, I think the Blue Yeti is a fine microphone.  But you need to get it dialed in correctly. So, you can kind of change the pickup pattern, so like how much sound it picks up. And you can change the gain, how sensitive it is. And if you don’t have those dialed in correctly, then you’re gonna end up with bad sound quality. It’s also really big and like has to sit on your desk like in front of you. You can get a really strong Boom Arm. But, By and large, if you’re just looking to plug and play, the Samson Q2U, that’s S-A-M-S-O-N by the way, it’s not Samsung. It’s Samson  Q2U is gonna be your best bet.

Other Recording Accessories

So, the other thing I like about the Samson Q2U is that it comes with a Pop Filter or a windscreen, something that covers the microphone. If you don’t have that, this is gonna prevent those hard P sounds. They’re called Plosives. So when you hit like a pop filter, you get like this gust of air that makes listening to you really hard. And so it’s a pop filter, which is an absolute must for me. If you don’t have the coverage that goes directly over the microphone, you can get a windscreen. It’s just kind of like a circle that sits in front of the microphone and I link to that in the gift guide. It’ll be in the…I’m gonna try really hard to put the show, like all the links in the show notes too, so you don’t have to click through to the gift guide. But I’ll link to the gift guide as well If you want more context. 

A Shock Mount. So, if you hit your desk a lot, if you don’t have a shock mount, then those shakes, those like hits are gonna come through in the recording. So I recommend a shock mic, and shock mounts too. It’s basically just a bunch of rubber bands that like hold the microphone in place. it’s not, I mean, that’s like the cheaper ones. But, a shock mount will prevent shakes from hitting your desks and all other small vibrations from making it into the recording.

And then finally a Boom Arm. You know, if you’ve watched me at all, you know that I can move my microphone out of the way. And again, you don’t want your microphone directly on your desk because if you hit your desk, right, the shakes, the small vibrations are gonna come through. Or if you’re really close to your keyboard and you’re typing, that’s gonna come through.

A Boom Arm keeps the mic out of your way especially, I talk with my hands a lot. I’m Italian, so I talk with my hands a lot. The fact that I can keep my boom arm or my microphone exactly where I want it to be is hugely helpful. And I have like an expensive boom arm because I got it when I had the Blue Yeti, and I wanted a very strong boom arm. But if you’re using the Q2U, you can pick up one of the Neewer (N-E-E-W-E-R) boom arms for like $13-14. So not a big amount of money. The microphone and the boom arm, they’re still gonna come. They should still come under a hundred bucks. 

Headphones. You need headphones when you record a podcast. No ifs, ands, or buts there. You need headphones. If somebody gets on a podcast with you and they don’t have headphones and they say they’ve never needed headphones, they’re lying, or they don’t care about sound quality. So you need headphones to sound good. Your guest needs headphones to sound good. I think the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x’s are great. They’re a great price. They sound amazing. Those are not the ones I use today, but those are on my electric drum set. So I still use them every day.  

I have the… Let’s see the DT 770 Pros, they may be a little bit better. If you’re not like a huge audio file, you’re probably not gonna notice a difference. But they’re both kind of like studio monitor quality headphones without costing like a thousand dollars. So I think the ATH-M50x’s are fantastic. I strongly recommend them. 

If you’re going…and so both headphones I just mentioned are wired and they’re only headphones. If you’re going to use headphones like AirPods or AirPod Maxes or whatever, you run a little bit of a risk because they’re wireless, right? So you’re gonna lose sound quality there as far as like things you might pick up, that’s like, maybe not entirely the case. But those headphones also have a microphone on them. So you gotta make sure that the microphone is not on and you’re not recording with that microphone. So, I think, have dedicated headphones (studio monitor headphones), and the ATH-MX50x’s are great.

The last thing under other recording accessories is Acoustic Foam. The name of the game with sound quality here is you wanna reduce echo, and you wanna do that by absorbing and deflecting. So I recommend, right, or most sound people will recommend, like, have like a bookshelf behind you, right? Because the sound is gonna bounce off the wall and then behind you. And that’s what causes the echo. The sound is just bouncing around your room, not getting deflected at all. A bookshelf will deflect, but acoustic foam can really help. I have these hexagonal pieces of acoustic foam. I like this cuz they came in like blue and orange and those are like kind of my colors. So they’re by Dekiru, D-E-K-I-R-U. And they’re really affordable. They’re not the best, but they get the job done right? They do a pretty good job. And again, I have like carpeting, I have a really good setup. So these were partially for aesthetics, but partially for the sound absorption and deflection.

if you want really good acoustic foam, Auralex is considered like the industry standard as far as I last checked at least. And this is like the more traditional, like super thick foam that’s like cut into triangles.  They have bass traps to go into like the corners. And actually, I do have Auralex bass traps in the corners, right, because that sound is gonna get the most trapped, like bounce around in the corners and then head back to your microphone.

So, they have a bunch of things. I used to have these panels that like were on stands that I would put behind me, or in front of me. I still use those when I record for LinkedIn learning. But now my setup is good enough and I’m away like the outside noises. Mostly I do have an egress window right in front of me, and I will fill that when I’m recording, I will put Aurarelx phone panels in that egress and that helps. So, you wanna have some of these panels to help reduce the echo and sound quality.

Okay. So that’s recording and sound quality there. Let’s talk about video podcasting. This is a brand new section in the gift guide this year, and it’s because so many people have thrown their hats into Podcasting that is related to video most notably YouTube, right? So I used to say, “Uh, you don’t really need a video for your podcast. It’s fine. It’s okay.” But now it’s an absolute yes. You need to…I think that you need a video for your podcast. 

Now, if you or your loved one is just starting out, don’t make that the requirement. Maybe like if just recording audio is good for them, great. But if you’re ready to take the podcast to the next level or your loved one’s ready to get to take their podcast to the next level, recording video is where it’s at. That’s why I’m recording this video along with the audio. 

So camera is the first thing. You need a decent camera. If you have a Mac and an iPhone, use the iPhone like there’s just, you’re not gonna get a better camera than that. I think starting in like the iPhone 7 or something like that, it has a 4K camera on it. So that’s absolutely gonna be the best camera that you can get. 

if you prefer a dedicated webcam, I recommend the Elgato Facecam. It’s affordable. it’s not 4k but most people aren’t watching it 4K or they’re not gonna expect you to have 4k.  And especially if you’re recording in Zoom or Riverside, you’re probably not gonna have that 4K quality anyway. So I think the Elgato Facecam is really good. The Opal C one I have that. It’s just some people say it’s great. It just hasn’t measured up for me. So, I’m not a big fan of that. 

Now, if you want to go all out in the gifts guide, I link to my live stream kit, and there I’m using like an $800 camera with a $300 lens. Like this is what you see for this. And I’m recording locally, so it’s capturing 4k. I don’t think you need that for your podcast. I have that because I’ve been doing a lot of live streams and videos and I create courses. 

And so videos, are a really important part of my content creation process. But again, if you want this kind of quality and you have the budget,  that’s what I recommend. Otherwise, I think that the Elgato Facecam is great. They just came out with the Facecam Pro. This is a 4K 60 frames per second webcam. This is $300 bucks. I haven’t tested this. But if it’s as good as the regular face cam, then I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that. Maybe I’ll pick this up, or Elgato if you wanna send me the camera to review on this channel, I’ll check it out. But then, the Facecam Pro is a 4K camera. I love everything Elgato makes, so I’m going to strongly recommend their stuff. 

As a matter of fact, I think that a good camera is important. But even more important is lighting. Lighting is crucial because if you have good lighting, your camera doesn’t need to work as hard to generate a good picture. So there are lots of lighting setups. I have the Phillips Hue Lights behind me. You can see those. But I’ve got the Elgato Key Lights on either side of me. That’s what’s creating the good lighting on my person. 

There’s another one in the back that’s like the backlight. That’s a Key Light Air. I think those are really good solutions for lighting because you can easily change the color temperature and the brightness and adjust based on like time of day if you have natural lighting and things like that. They are expensive. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Neewer has a two-pack of lights-on stands that you can just set up for $40. As I record this, it’s $40. And they have like little buttons to, you know, adjust the brightness and things like that. Less flexible. But if you just need simple lighting, then they’re great.

And then the Lume Cube for Video Conferencing is another thing that’s like kind of sticks right onto your computer and creates a spotlight for you as you’re looking at your camera. So that’s another option. I think any improvement to lighting is really gonna help. But I strongly recommend the Elgato Key Lights because they’re well-made and powerful. They can be controlled by an app on your computer or by your stream deck, and I really love that. 

All right. So let’s talk about uploading your podcast. 

Now, this is…I include this for completeness. I don’t expect anybody to like, get hosting as a gift for somebody. But, you know, if you want to, if they’re like, I really can’t afford hosting and I wanna start a podcast, there are two audio hosts I recommend. BuzzSprout. Increasingly, I think BuzzSprout is the best audio host for most podcasters. It has a generous free plan and a lot of really good features. So, you know, if you wanna pick up like six months for somebody, I think BuzzSprout is great. 

Castos is good if you want a more robust website for your podcast. Or, you need like private podcasting, right? So if you or somebody you know wants to start a private member-only podcast, I think Castos is a really good audio host for that. They also allow you to easily create multiple shows inside of an account. So, like podcast network style. So if you have like three related shows and you don’t wanna pay for separate hosting for all of them, Castos is going to be your best bet here. That’s what I use for How I Built It, my longer show, my longest-running show. And that’s because I have How I Built It. I have How I Built Bits, which is a clip show and I have my members-only show, which is how I Built It Pro. 

So Castos, if you want flexibility. I think BuzzSprout is if you want simplicity with modern features.

And then there’s website hosting. So like most audio hosts at this point including the ones I’ve recommended include good websites at this point. But if you want something better, WordPress is super flexible. I recommend Pressable hosting nowadays. PodPage is a service that is purpose-built for podcast websites. And Carrd is just super simple, super cheap, and allows you to create a really nice landing page for your podcast.

Okay. Now, let’s get into upgrading your setup. Right? So maybe you know somebody, or you are somebody who has all of the basic stuff I just talked about and you’re ready to upgrade. For the mic, I know it’s been done to death, but the Shure SM7B, I’ve tested a lot of microphones and this one has stuck with me the longest. It’s the one I’m currently using. It sounds amazing. And it’s in the $400-500 price range. So, it’s not cheap. But it’s not like a tele-funkin or whatever, like for a thousand dollars. And it’s a really good microphone, especially for spoken word. You see a bunch of podcasters using it, and they all use it for a reason. So it’s really good and flexible. 

Alternatives include the Rode Podmic. This one was okay, and the Stellar X2, which is about $200 bucks. I reviewed this. They sent. Full disclosure. They sent me that microphone for free and I tested it out and I was pretty impressed with the price versus the quality.  if you do use the SM7B, you’ll need a little power boost depending on your interface. So the Cloudlifter CL-1 is perfect for that task. 

And if you are upgrading your microphone from a USB microphone, you will need an interface. The interface I’ve recommended for a long time is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It’s really simple. It has some simple controls. It’s very affordable. It’s easy to use. So that’s what I recommend if you just need to plug an XLR into your computer. 

If you’re looking for something beefier, I recommend the Rodecater Pro II that came out this year. I have it. I love it. It’s a full board and mixer. It was around $600. But it’s made specifically for podcasters. It accepts multiple inputs. So if you’re recording with more than one person, you can use it. It also has a soundboard built right in. So if you have like sound effects or music, you can connect phone calls and Bluetooth, and there’s a whole lot more. And it has because it’s built for podcasters, if you press on one of your mic inputs, there are some pre-configurations for certain mics, including all of the big road microphones. 

But the only non-road microphone they have, as far as I can tell, is the SM7B. So they have pre-configured settings to make your SM7B sound good without you having to mess around with it. And I don’t need the Cloudlifter when using the Rodecaster Pro II because it already has phantom power and really good gain. So, if you’re really ready to take your podcast to the next level,  and you’re not like a sound engineer, right? like there’s the Apollo duo or whatever, that’s definitely for sound engineers and can get really expensive. The Roder Pro II is such a great interface like I can’t recommend it enough. 

Okay. So that’s interfaces. Let’s talk about some other helpful gear and then other helpful software to close this out.  And then I’ll quickly touch on the Work From Home Gift Guide and just point out some things out there. 

So other helpful gear. Wire management is really important. You can find like $14 like wire management packages. I’lI link to one in the gift guide that has a bunch of different options. But you are gonna have a lot of wires with all of this. And just having them strew about is my nightmare. So wire management is really important.  

The Elgato Stream Deck is a powerhouse of automation and workspace setup. I use it for my live streams and also my podcast if I’m recording through Ecamm Live. I will use that to record these podcasts. But I also have automation set up on it so I can control shortcuts and lighting and I can set up my podcast workspace on my computer. So I push a button, it opens up the apps that I use for recording and it arranges them in a specific way, which is really cool. So I love the Elgato Stream Deck. I strongly recommend it. I have the 32-button one because I have a bunch of stuff here. 

If you are recording on the go, Zoom Digital Field Recorders are… there’s nothing better than Zoom. I have the Zoom H5. I link to just a page on Adorama where there’s a bunch of them because the Zoom H5 is on backorder right now. But that’s the one I love. It’s like a mini Roder Pro. I’m gonna say it’s got like four inputs and you can record directly to the device. You can also use it as an interface connected to your computer.

And then finally, USBC hubs. Especially if you have like a MacBook Air, or, I mean, I have the Mac studio and I still need a hub, right? So, there are a couple I recommend. There’s the 8-in-1 USB-C Hub by Anker. But if you need something really heavy-duty, check out the CalDigit Element Hub. It’s got extra USB and extra USB-C ports. It’s like it’s powered itself. So it’s gonna act like it’s going to be as if you’ve added extra ports directly to your computer. So, especially if you’re doing like travel podcasting or you’re working off of a laptop or an iPad, you’re gonna need stuff like that. 

The last thing in this Podcaster Gift Guide is helpful and crucial software. So I’m just gonna mention these really quick because you’re probably not getting somebody like software for a gift. 

Calendly for scheduling.

Riverside.fm for recording.

Descript for editing.

Ecamm Live for video. 

So I will link…this is all gonna be on [podcastliftoff.com/giftguide]. I’ll link it in the show notes over at [makemoneypodd.com] or in your app of choice.

Full disclosure, there are affiliate links on this page, but this is all stuff I’ve used and recommended. 

So let’s run through the Work-From-Home Gift Guide really quick. I’ve already talked about webcam and microphone. So those features, there are a few extra recommendations there. I talked about lighting. There are productivity tools. I’m gonna skip over that, right? Productivity is a very personal thing, but I will mention the Analog-To-Do System by UgMonk. People say this is too expensive, but I love it. It’s real. It looks really nice on my desk. And filling out the card every morning is a ritual of mine.

if you’re looking for ideas, coffee. right? So I’ve got lots of different coffee. I need to include on this though, Cormier Coffee. That is coffee that’s brewed and then flash-frozen and sent to you. And so you let coffee defrost, or you run it under hot water and you have perfectly brewed coffee in minutes.  it’s also great for iced coffee. so I love Cormier here. That is getting a nice section on the Work-From-Home Gift Guide. You know, I have the AeroPress link tier too. I have an espresso maker which I really love. I don’t know if like people are gonna like, lambast me for that. 

And then for beans, I love RU Coffee. There’s RU coffee. And then there’s Redding Coffee Company here in Pennsylvania. Their Jazzy Java is so good.

As far as office ergonomics go, I think a good chair is so super important. I have the Steelcase Gesture,  that’s very expensive, but it’s the best.  

And then I got rollerblade wheels for office chairs. This is wild. I think I saw West Boss tweet about this a couple of years ago, but the wheels on office chairs suck, and rollerblade chairs, like give it a little bit more sturdiness. And it rolls a lot easier, especially on the carpet.

Standing desks. I have the Fully by Jarvis.  But I also have the E7 by Flexis Spot. Full disclosure, they’ve provided me with this desk for free as part of like a sponsor spot and video.  But I love this desk. It looks great. It’s super sturdy. And the thing that it has that fully Jarvis doesn’t, at least mine, is a child lock. So my children cannot play with this desk and like kill the motor by just pressing up and down on it. So I really love that. But it’s this beautiful black, and it’s really sturdy and very spacious, and I really like it. 

As far as desk gear goes, now this is gonna change totally next year because there’s a lot of really cool desk gear coming out next year including like UgMonk’s new Gather and Sarah DCI’s new stuff.

But something to elevate your laptop or monitor, I think Twelve South makes the best stuff here. An ergonomic key…I don’t use an ergonomic keyboard. I use the Apple standard stuff. But an ergonomic keyboard if somebody’s using their keyboard and mouse all the time, the Logitech MX Master 3 is a really nice mouse. Again, I’m just using the standard apple mouse, which is not good but I like that there are a few things that the Logic MX Master doesn’t do. Especially with sidecar and universal control yet, and that’s why I’m using Apple.

Okay. So this is really important for any podcast or any content creator. Backups and storage. I think you should have an external hard drive, and then a cloud or offsite backup. Western Digital My Book’s, those are like an industry standard. Those are amazing. I have a couple connected to my computer. And I use them for time machine backups and manual backups, and then back plays. There’s only one service for cloud offsite backups as far as I’m concerned, and it’s Back Blaze. Super affordable, really great. It has saved me multiple times. 

If you’re looking for something more advanced, there’s network area storage. I have a Synology 2-bay storage NAS behind me that I use for cold storage. So this is just, again, network storage, and extra hard drives. That’s where I move old projects that I want to keep over. 

And then there are portable hard drives. Western Digital makes the elements, which is a portable hard drive. I recommend the Samson T7 portable SSD. It is tiny. They are pricey, but they’re tiny. I’m using one specifically for my photo library. So it’s this tiny like almost credit card-sized hard drive that just houses my photos library. So if the rest of my computer goes up in flames, that hard drive is the sole place for my full photos library. 

We’ve already talked about headphones. But if we’re just talking about listening, I recommend the AirPods Pro II or the AirPods Max. I love both of those. the Bose QuietComfort 45 noise-canceling headphones if you’re not looking to spend AirPods Max money are really good.

And then there’s another helpful tech. This is just miscellaneous stuff that I’m gonna mention here (I need to fix this). But Anchor Twelve South and Saachi all make really good like interesting grab-bag things. So like charging bricks, wall chargers, everything I use for power, I get from Anchor Twelve South for basically anything that goes on my desk at this point that’s going to change soon. But I love Twelve South for that stuff. The HoverBar Duo especially is really good for my iPad. 

And so TECHi for miscellaneous like industrial design stuff. I really like some of their stuff. So definitely check that out.

If you’re looking for like an extra special gift, I love my iPad Mini. I strongly recommend the iPad Mini for a lot of stuff. Reading, writing, and note-taking stuff like that.

And then the rest is like comforts of home. So we’ll skip over that. You know, I think that clothes are one thing I need to update because UgMonk is no longer making clothing.  

So that’s the Gift Guide. The 2022 Gift Guide. I hope you enjoyed it. You can find links to everything in the show notes or over at [makemoneypod.com].  

if you have any questions, feel free to write in. I’m @jcasabona on Twitter or joe@casabona.org.

Thanks so much for listening. And until next time. I can’t wait to see what you make.

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