Today, there’s no shortage of online platforms to tap on with diverse social media apps connecting you directly to potential customers. Another way to up your digital game is to consider live streaming or podcasts.
This also creates another avenue to increase awareness and potentially boost revenue for your business, rather than solely utilising social media ads or Google ads. It can also be (slowly but surely) building up content around relevant niches and cultivating active participation among your customer base instead of only relying on passive approaches like advertising or SEO.
Live streaming, as the term suggests, refers to a live transmission of an event over the Internet. You can promote your products, carry out live contests, host auctions and create more touchpoints between you and your customers.
Podcasting refers to the practice of creating and distributing digital recordings of broadcasts available for download onto a computer or mobile device. As of April 2021, there are over 2,000,000 shows globally available for download and over 48,000,000 episodes. To put some perspective into the numbers, there were only 550,000 recorded episodes in early June 2018.
If you are considering creating a live streaming or podcasting experience for your customers, you don’t have to spend thousands on professional gear either. In fact, you can start sharing polished content for your audiences from just a few hundred dollars. Here are some of the key beginner equipment you can look at.
#1 USB Microphone
Equipment: Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic — Amazon
Sound quality is arguably more important when recording podcasts compared to videos as listeners only have the sound of your voice to tune to instead of a video. This makes it even more important for you to have good sound quality when recording your podcasts. For live streaming, it is also important for your audience to hear crisp details of your products and services, so investing in a good USB microphone is a sound business decision.
Condenser mics like the Snowball iCE series are great in keeping the sound of your voice crisp and clear while you’re speaking directly to your audience and reducing background noise which can be distracting.
#2 Closed-Back Headphones
Equipment: Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones — Amazon
You might be tempted to record your live streams and podcasts using Airpods or regular earphones, but the sound quality might surprise you (and not in a good way). Having good quality headphones ensure that you can record your voice and sounds accurately without white noise and interference causing your transmission to get fuzzy.
Using closed-back headphones will ensure that you will not mix background noise with the sound coming from your headphones and your voice.
#3 Shock Mount
Equipment: Rycote 44901 Invision Microphone Shock Mount — Amazon
This set of equipment might feel a little excessive but sound can travel through solid matter including your table. Shock mounts prevent white noise (like a glass of Coke hitting the tabletop or ruffling papers) from being picked up by the microphone.
You might want to consider investing in a shock mount or two if you have regular guests on your podcast or live stream.
Equipment: Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam — Amazon
You will need a good webcam to record your live streams in high definition as your laptop camera probably does not give you a good resolution and image customisation. Even Apple’s Macbook cameras do not support 4K HD recordings which are necessary for crisp video recording. This is important if you are going to be promoting smaller and/or more high-end products where viewers want to see more details.
Alternatively, you could also use your phone camera to do live streaming while you manage enquiries or messages through your laptop or other handheld mobile devices. However, if you are recording your podcast with a remote guest via video conferencing, you may also wish to record the video. This can be used for marketing/promotional or to release a video version on your social media platforms too.
#5 Portable Lighting Set-Ups
Equipment: Emart 60 LED Continuous Portable Photography Lighting Kit — Amazon
If you’ve ever participated in a video conferencing session, you’ll know the difference lighting can make. Artificial lighting in the form of overhead lightbulbs are usually insufficient for you to record high-quality live streams.
With a light-weight and portable lighting kit, you can shoot indoors at multiple locations and adjust the brightness of the set-up to ensure that you can capture details from all angles and get rid of unflattering shadows.
You will also probably need to have 2 or more sources of lighting set up on top of your indoor lighting system. One of these lights can be placed near the video source and the other placed at an adjacent angle to get rid of unnecessary shadows.
Live Streaming And Podcasting Equipment Adds To Your Content
High quality and effective live streaming videos and podcast are not created by high quality equipment alone. You still need to ensure that your content is valuable and engaging to people.
Similarly, one might argue that it is not necessary to buy additional equipment to start a podcast or live stream. However, business owners need to consider if the cost savings are worth it. Firstly, it doesn’t have to cost you much – with all five pieces of equipment on the list adding up to less than $400. Furthermore, poor video or sound quality may be an unnecessary distraction for your audience/customers. You want the main highlight to be your content, not the poor sound or video quality.
Nevertheless, since you are at the beginning of your journey into such content, it is still prudent to invest in entry-level equipment. If it becomes something you really want to pivot your business focus into, then you can progress to higher quality (and definitely more costly) equipment.
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