As I’ve been watching Instagram Stories and the occasional Instagram TV (IGTV?) video, I see a lot of videos that could be improved and made more watchable and enjoyable with better audio. So I thought I’d record a video showing some options for upping your audio game for social media without breaking the bank.

Before You Buy Anything

One of the benefits of Instagram Stories is that you can do it quickly and without having a lot of production or planning involved. Which is great and you should definitely keep doing off-the-cuff, behind the scenes kinds of videos for social media. What I’m proposing is that for videos where you have the time to do a bit of planning and prep, take along a bit of gear to help make sure it all looks and sounds as good as possible. People will watch something with lower video quality – but if the audio is frustrating to hear, they’ll swipe away pretty quickly.

Video: How to Improve Your Instagram Story or IGTV Audio

Direct link to video

Gear in the Video

Here’s a list of the items I mention in the video which you can buy at Amazon or a local music gear shop should also be able to order them in if you can’t find them locally. A lot of these items are also included in my Gift Guide for Someone Who Wants to Get Into Podcasting blog post as well.

ATR2100 USB / XLR Handheld Mic

Rode smartLav+

Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter

In Summary

I think adding the ATR2100 mic to your Instagram Stories alone would improve a lot of the videos. I didn’t show it in the video, but it also comes with a little tripod that’s handy to use for recording handsfree with it. On that note, the Rode smartLav+ is handy for having your hands free to hold your phone or whatever else you might be needing to do while you’re filming.

Whichever route you go, they’ll both help improve the audio you record with your phone for under $100. Pretty good investment to win over potential customers on social media I’d say.

Here’s my 2018 holiday gift guide for podcasters or folks who hope Santa will help them become a podcasters.

So feel free to print this out, circle the toys you want, and leave it somewhere for Santa to find.

I’ll give you different price ranges for the podcaster gift ideas so it’ll be easy for you to figure out how much you really like that podcaster friend.

(Note: Wherever possible, I’ll include affiliate links so I can get a bit of that Amazon money if you decide to buy something.)

$100 or Less

App Store & iTunes Gift Card

  • Watch Costco for discounted packages. i.e.

If your podcaster is also an Apple nerd, an App Store gift card will never go out of style. I’ll be including apps at various levels for Mac podcasters to consider picking up, so an App Store gift card makes it all that much easier to do.

Music for Their Podcast’s Soundtrack

Almost as important as what a podcaster says on their show is the music they use to draw you in. There are a ton of places to get music online, but I love hitting up Chris at Sounds Like An Earful Music Supply because (a) he’s got a cool name, (b) he’s a fellow indie creator, and (c) the music he creates has an earthy tone, despite having lots of electronic sounds.

Bonus: For all the readers of my blog, Chris has offered $5/off for your first month if you use coupon code 👉 lemon5bucksoff 👈 when you sign up for a membership.

I’ve used songs from SoundsLikeAnEarful for Goodstuff projects as well as clients I edit podcasts for.

Acoustic Foam Panels

Foam panels like these are a significant upgrade from egg carton packaging – or nothing at all. It’s important to note that these won’t keep sound out of your recording space. But they will help prevent sound from bouncing around your recording space. Less echo, less reverb. If the recording space you’re in has a lot of flat, hard walls, floors, or ceiling – then getting some of these foam panels can help deaden the sound in your space.

Ferrite Recording Studio for iOS

  • App Store Free with in-app purchase of $39.99USD to unlock everything

On iOS, Ferrite is one of the best audio editing apps. There are a lot of podcasters making use of it to edit on their iPad on the go. Earlier this year I tried picking up an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil but couldn’t find a good workflow that was better than sitting in front of a Mac with a keyboard and mouse.

Logitech c922x Webcam

Podcasting doesn’t necessarily mean live streaming or video, but even on a Skype call it’s nice to have a clear webcam. And just about every podcaster I’ve watched come along is tempted to try live streaming in some form, even if for a short time.

25” Flexible Desktop Tabletop Clamp

If you’ve got your new webcam, rather than just mounting it on top of your computer screen why not put it at an interesting angle so you can show what you’re doing on your keyboard or with your camera or whatever your YouTube channel is showing off?

This little clamp is handy for putting a camera or a mic in a weird, out of the way spot. You won’t need it until you absolutely do.

Ecamm Live

Ecamm Live

If you’re getting them a Logitech C992x webcam, convince someone else to get them the essential piece of software for live streaming on a Mac: Ecamm Live.

I’ve blogged / recorded videos about Ecamm Live a fair bit here so I won’t go into it further here – but it makes live streaming so easy it makes 2013 me cry at all the hoops I had to jump through just to get audio out to the internet, never mind 1080p video!

ATR2100 USB / XLR mic

This is one of the best deals for anyone looking to get into podcasting OR wanting to add a second mic to their gear collection. It has both a USB connection for quickly plugging into any computer and a XLR connection to allow it to be used with a fancier mixer/pre-amp.

I keep one in my laptop bag at all times just in case a random podcast breaks out wherever I happen to be. IT HAPPENS.

An Hour of Consulting with Me

While you can’t wrap me up and put me under the tree, getting an hour to pick my brain might help you or your podcaster friend get unstuck on their podcasting journey.

Book a consulting call with me here and we’ll arrange a time that works best for you (or your podcasting friend).

A Month (or more) of Podcast Hosting

Back when I first got into podcasting, the thing that held me back from just trying it out was the monthly hosting costs. I honestly stressed so much about signing up for something that was going to add more fees to our bank account every month.

Transistorfm

Give someone the gift of a few months of runway to try their podcasting adventure without having to worry about whether they’re throwing money away if it doesn’t work out. The great part about Transistor’s pricing is that it allows you to have as many podcasts as you want while you experiment and try things out. Many podcast hosts charge per show – Transistor.fm’s plans are based on download numbers. And when you’re just starting out, you may obsess over download numbers but chances are they won’t be high enough to go over the base plan with Transistor.

I use Transistor for all the podcasts we host on Goodstuff and have loved it.

$100 – $200

Triton Fethead Preamp

If the mic you’re using (like the Shure SM7B or Heil PR40 for example) is a quiet and you find you have to constantly crank the gain/volume knob to hear anything, you may need a preamp. The Fethead just plugs into your existing XLR cable chain from your mic and adds 22dB of clean boost.

Hidenburg Journalist

@Clew_less responded on Twitter recommending Hidenburg, a digital editing software solution built for podcasters and news journalists. It’s a step up from the free software like Audacity but not as expensive as Logic Pro X or Adobe Audition. Worth trying out.

Zoom H1N Portable Recorder

Zoom H1n

The Zoom H1N portable recorder is great as a field recorder when you need to record somewhere besides your home studio. But it also functions as a great back up recorder for a computer recording set up. Send a line out from your USB mixer or computer to the H1N and have an always there backup of the audio in case your recording software decides to randomly stop on you.

Which never happens. Ever. Right?

Headphone Upgrade w/Audio Technica ATH-M50X

I recently picked up a pair of these after my previous headphones fell apart. I love the look and feel of the ATH-M50’s. I’ve got a larger head and these fit me just fine. I do get a bit of what I call “headphone headache” after a full day of editing or recording with them on, but I think that’s the nature of the business.

If you’ve been recording and editing with your iPhone earbuds up to this point, get Santa to give you some love for your ears this Xmas.

📺 You can check out my unboxing video on my YouTube channel if you’re curious how they look/feel.

Elgato Green Screen

This is for the podcaster who also wants to do some video and be cool like those Twitch kids with their green screen background. Frivolous, perhaps. But still tons of fun and would be a nice surprise under the tree for your podcasting friend.

$200 +

DBX 286s Microphone Preamp Processor

This has been the go to preamp for hobby and pro podcasters for a long time and it continues to be the recommended preamp for folks who don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in their audio gear. I’m still waiting for it to be available for a decent price here in Canada otherwise I’d have one sitting on my desk already.

Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X

I like Apple’s Logic Pro X for editing podcasts. Other folks like Adobe Audition. Still others like Audacity. But Logic Pro X is the one that works well for me. Plus, having bought it 5+ years ago I’ve gotten free updates for it ever since.

Zoom H6

Zoom H6

This is the big brother to the Zoom H1N mentioned earlier and functions as a great multi-input field recorder OR a great multi-input USB preamp for your computer. Or both. With lots of accessories and mic options, the Zoom H6 is an awesome device to have in your portable podcaster backpack… say it with me… just in case a random podcast breaks out wherever you happen to be.

RX7 Standard

Izotope RX7

This is the secret sauce for cleaning up bad audio for podcasters, videographers, or anyone who works with audio. You don’t know you need it until suddenly you do, and then Izotope’s RX suite saves you hours of headache.


What Did I Miss?

What’s on your podcaster wish list that I missed? I keep an Amazon wishlist of anything I come across that I think I might want someday for my own podcasting gear – whether I really need it or not.

Leave a comment below if you’ve got something on your wish list that I missed. Even better – record an episode talking about your gear and your gear wish list and leave a link to your episode in the comments! I’d love to hear it in your words and voice.

Whether you’re wanting to start a podcast for your business/brand or just as something to do with friends, it’s daunting to try and figure it all out.

Just off the top of my head, here’s a few things you need to consider in no particular order:

An Overwhelming But Not Exhaustive List of Things You Probably Have to Do To Launch a Podcast

  • Topic / theme
  • Style of podcast (unedited discussion, scripted storytelling, news reporting, etc.)
  • Release schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, whenever you feel like it?)
  • Seasonal or ongoing?
  • Name of your podcast
  • How you plan to record (in person, over the internet, rent studio space)
  • What kind of mics or recording devices you want to use, and can afford.
  • Overall budget
  • Are you going to market it at all?
  • Where to host your podcast’s website?
  • Where to host your podcast’s audio files?
  • Seek out sponsors before you launch, after, or at all?
  • Register social media accounts for the name you picked – if they’re available.
  • Design show artwork.
  • Software for recording.
  • Software for editing – or do you want to hire someone to take care of that? 👋🏽 👉 🍋
  • Goals for the podcast or just do it for fun, regardless of whether anyone listens.
  • Are you doing it alone or with others? Are you going to divide up the tasks or do it all your self and just have co-hosts on air?
  • I’m sure there’s plenty of things I’m forgetting – feel free to throw your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this post – but that’s a lot as it is. And if you’re like me, you might listen to podcasts you enjoy and think:

    That doesn’t sound too hard – just talk into a mic, add some music, and you’ve got yourself a Heavyweight, Serial, or Under the Influence.

    Easy peasy.

    It Takes a Village to Raise a Podcast

    The great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. The terrible thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. The great shows make it seem so easy and while technically it is easy – record into a mic, export as MP3, upload, and share on social to much fame and riches – it’s far more difficult to just record a good podcast, never mind a great one.

    If you listen to the end of many of the popular podcast these days, you often hear a list of people who helped in the production, recording, editing, and marketing of a podcast.

    Just for example, here’s what it takes for one 27 minute episode of Under the Influence to go from an idea to published MP3:

    • 12 hours to record and mix.
    • Each episode requires 30-40 hours of research.
    • There are four researchers on the team. One researcher is assigned per episode. The research for each show is split between Terry and that researcher.
    • It takes Terry (the host) three days to write an episode.
    • One episode is being researched, one is being written, one is being recorded, and one is being revised for air.

    Gimlet Media's about page

    If you look at Gimlet Media, home of shows like Heavyweight, Reply All, StartUp, and more, they have over 100 people working on the podcasts and the business of podcasting.

    100 people. All drawing a salary, benefits, etc. from podcasting related work at one company that produces 24 podcasts.

    Don’t Throw Out That Microphone!

    That may make you feel like it’s not even worth trying to start a podcast. But that wasn’t my intention in writing this. Despite the competition and work required, I still think podcasting is one of the best things you can do with your business’ marketing budget. I also think it’s a ton of fun to do.

    I just want to make sure your expectations of what your first few podcast episodes might sound like when you’re comparing them to what you might be listening to. And to think very clearly about what you hope to get out of starting a podcast before you order microphones and design artwork – especially if it’s for a business or marketing effort beyond just a fun thing to do with friends.

    On a recent episode of a podcast I edit, Justin and Jon talked about what the most important metric is for their web app Transistor.fm, a podcast hosting company. Similarly, you need to figure out what the most important metric is for your podcast to decide if it’s worth the time, effort, and budget to continue. Download numbers? Interaction with listeners? Apple Podcasts chart position? Patreon support level? Working backwards from your goal for the podcast can help you determine the right answer to all the steps required to start a podcast I listed at the beginning of this blog post.

    You Can Do It. And I Can Help

    If all of this is overwhelming, please reach out and get in touch. Whether just for an hour or two of consulting to figure out next steps, or if you’re at the stage where you’re ready to outsource your production or editing work, I’d love to work with you on your podcasting dream.

    The tutorial video this time is a bit on the silly side – but could be something fun to add to a webinar or livestream in the future. Snapchat recently released a desktop app called Snap Camera that allows you to use some of the same lenses that Snapchat offers on their mobile app, but on your computer:

    Bring the magic of Lenses to your live streams and video chats.

    In the video tutorial I demo Snap Camera inside of Ecamm’s Ecamm Live for macOS, but you should be able to do something similar inside other video streaming apps like OBS. For example, I tested it out and Skype is able to see the Snap Camera app as a video source whereas FaceTime for macOS doesn’t (yet). It could make for fun calls with friends or family.

    Direct link to the video

    Software demo’d in the video:

    Want More Tutorials Like This?

    There’s a couple ways:

    Leave a comment below if you’ve got a suggestion for the next video tutorial I should make!