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Why Gear Matters Least When You’re Starting a Podcast

I’ll just get this out of the way now: I love me some gear. I’m an early adopter when it comes to tech, I like trying out new stuff, and A/V gear has become a bit of a hobby for me. However, when I first started my podcast, I was less concerned with the perfect mic, and more interested in a decent mic.

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, but you’re worried you don’t sound perfect, STOP. Gear should be the least of your worries when you’re starting a podcast. Here’s why.

It’s Easier to Talk About Gear Than Almost Anything Else

You might think as you look at podcast resources, videos, and advice columns, that the pursuit for the perfect mic is tantamount to the success of your podcast. That’s because it’s easy for a lot of people to talk about gear. It’s a concrete concept – perhaps the most concrete concept when it comes to starting your show.

That content isn’t necessarily just for beginners either. I upgraded my mic 3 or 4 times1 before settling on what will be my “very long time” mic, the Shure SM7b.

Constantly recommending gear also allows content creators to make money off of affiliate links. Take it from me: I made $3,000 from Amazon affiliate links alone last year, after they reduced commission percentages. Most of that came from people buying gear I recommended. There are even affiliate links in this post.

Talking About Gear Isn’t Bad

I’ll just say right here that talking about gear isn’t bad. I do it and plan to continue doing it for some of the reasons above. It makes money, it’s fun to talk about, and honestly, it’s content that does well. People are curious to get a peek on the other side of the camera or mic.

They like to see how things are done, and I’m very willing to share. That sharing helps them get ideas, and it helps me improve. Thanks to some YouTube comments, I was able to improve my mic technique and fix a slight frame rate issue that offset the audio from the video ever-so-slightly.

BUT there’s too much of an emphasis on that for beginner podcasters.

Does it seem like there are too many steps to starting a podcast?

From pre-show planning to hitting publish on each episode, it’s easy to get lost in the process. With these checklists you’re ready to start podcasting without missing anything important!

    “You Have to Sound Perfect” is Terrible Advice

    Recently I was having a conversation with someone that got the impression from professional podcasters that even starting out, you need to sound perfect.

    This is terrible advice.

    First of all, most of us are never going to sound “perfect.” We aren’t in a sound booth, with a producer, and a team of audio engineers. But I know that’s not what people mean when they say that.

    They mean you need to spend a lot of money on a mic, interface, and good recording software. You don’t. If you feel this way, you’ll never launch your podcast.

    If you're worried about sounding perfect, you'll never launch your podcast. Click To Tweet

    Start off Simple

    Here’s what you should know about gear and sound:

    1. Don’t sound like you’re recording in a bathroom stall.
    2. Try to reduce echo and don’t use the built-in mic.
    3. Use headphones when you record so the sound from your speakers doesn’t go back into your mic.

    If you absolutely need a mic recommendation, I have 2 depending on budget:

    1. The ATR-2100x if you can spend around $100
    2. The Shure SM47-LC if you’re looking for sub-$50.

    These are both USB mics, so they’re the only gear you’ll need assuming you already have a pair of headphones. They are also both dynamic mics, making them more forgiving of your recording environment.

    A simple, dynamic USB mic will go a long way in helping you sound good enough to podcast. Click To Tweet

    What Should You Focus On?

    So if gear matters least, what matters most? Content. The perfect mic can’t make you podcast consistently just like the perfect task manager won’t make you more productive. They help you do. They don’t do.

    If you don't focus on content first, your podcast will not succeed. Click To Tweet

    When you’re starting a podcast, your main focus should be content. Come up with 20-30 episode ideas. Record a couple of demos. Figure out a schedule that works for you.

    Fight Podfade2 by getting ahead of your schedule and having a bunch of episodes ready to go before you launch. Then batch your content so you’re not constantly struggling to keep up.

    Buy a basic dynamic mic, then record your content. I mean, how upset would you be if you spent $1,000 on audio gear just to use it a few times and then give up?

    Improve as You Go Along

    One of the problems with “sounding perfect” right off the bat is you don’t know what perfect is for you. Sure, you know what professional podcasters sound like. But they aren’t you.

    I’m no Paul O’Neill

    My favorite baseball player growing up was Paul O’Neill. He was on my favorite team (The Yankees), we both played Right Field, and we both played the drums. I loved his swing. In my efforts to become a great baseball player, I wanted to perfect my home run swing. But I couldn’t just emulate his.

    For one, he’s a lefty and I’m a righty. He’s tall and skinny. I’m short and portly. My perfect swing is different from his. My perfect pitch to hit is different from his.

    Knowing how you can make yourself better comes with experience. Click To Tweet

    Similarly, sounding “perfect” is something you’ll need to work at over time. Your voice is different from other voices. Your environment is different. Your content, confidence, and cadence are different.

    You won’t know what to work on unless you start doing.

    Done is Better Than Perfect

    If you wait until your podcast is 100% perfect, you’ll never launch. So instead, launch, and then work on getting better. Focus on creating good content, have a bunch of episodes recorded in advanced.

    With podcasting, done is better than perfect. Click To Tweet

    Worry about your gear once you have a good process for being consistent under your belt.

    Footnotes

    1. Samson, Blue Yeti, Rode Procaster, Shure SM7B
    2. According to AmplifiMedia, 75% of podcasts become inactive. Most don’t make it past 7 episodes.

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