When it comes to podcasting and producing videos (or really any kind of equipment for your work), there’s always going to be a range of prices and a range of quality. You’ll have inexpensive, entry-level devices that get the job done, all the way up to really high-end gear that’s a lot more expensive. Obviously, the more expensive the gear, the more likely the results will be higher quality but you’re left in the middle wondering:
How much do I spend?
- Is there a minimum amount you have to invest in order to be serious?
- Is there a hard-and-fast number for each industry you should spend if you want to make something of quality?
There’s No Objective Number
It really depends on how you approach it. Imagine a graph with the vertical axis being a scale from zero to high quality in terms of how much money gear costs. Now, you probably have a number in your head right now—a maximum amount that you’re willing to spend.
The question is, should you spend the maximum amount you can afford?
I say: invest 90% of what you can afford.
This is because you don’t want to deplete all of your resources. There’s 2 reason for this:
- It gives you a buffer with your resources. You might find that you need another accessory and this way, you have the funds for it.
- It ensures you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the amount you spend on gear is what will make your content great.
Once you’ve decided to spend 90% of the maximum amount you can afford, the question becomes: Is that amount enough? Will this amount be good enough for your brand or the quality precedent you want to set for people?
Minimum Quality Threshold
The minimum quality threshold will be different for every individual, every brand, every industry. Let’s say you determine-for your brand, industry, or situation—that your minimum quality threshold is about 50% of what you can afford. This is a good thing. This allows you to invest in much higher quality gear than the bare minimum of quality production allows.
This scale has no absolute values on the vertical axis because of the variance in dollar amounts among industries but your minimum quality threshold should not exceed the maximum amount you’re about to spend. If it does, you’re not ready. You need to wait to invest until the amount you can spend at least meets your quality threshold. Keep in mind: there’s not an objective number or an objective quality level.
Example: An iPhone is Simultaneously “Good Enough” and “Not Good Enough” for Video
For instance, say all you have is an iPhone and you wonder if the video quality it can produce is good enough. I don’t think the answer is, “An iPhone is not good enough,” or “An iPhone is good enough.” It really just depends. It depends on your situation and how you’re approaching it.
Because I’ve set a certain precedent, people expect a certain quality from me. They expect me to use high quality microphones; they expect good sound on my videos and podcasts. If I were to suddenly start using my iPhone for selfie-style, shaky videos with on-board audio, that’s not going to be good quality.
I could use the excuse of, “I want to connect with my audience and I can do more than 1 video a day,” but for me personally, it would actually harm my brand. I’ve already stepped up the quality so high that would actually be a bad image for me.
Now, while it doesn’t work for me, does that mean the use of iPhones isn’t be a good idea for anyone? No, certainly not. It could be a good idea for you. If 90% for you means buying an iPhone, it can be a good thing if approached it the right way.
For instance, if you’re making an effort and using a tripod, lights from a hardware store, and an external microphone for better than on-board audio, then an iPhone may be a good fit for you!
Quality Content vs. Quality Production
If you’re not ready to purchase gear yet, I recommend focusing on your content.
There are 2 things you need:
1. Quality content.
2. Quality production.
If you’re in a period of saving for quality gear, focus on building quality content during this time.
A lot of people want to believe that if you have quality content, then you don’t need quality production. It’s the belief that if you talk into the built-in microphone on your computer, people will still listen to your podcast. It’s simply not the case. Most people will not suffer through a poor quality production—no matter how good the content is. They certainly will not do it consistently.
One Shot at a First Impression
The problem is, once you establish your production as being low quality, the impression has been made. People won’t stick around long enough to know that you upgraded your equipment. They’re not going to know because they’re not going to come back!
You need to hit whatever the minimum quality threshold is for you. Look at your favorite TV shows, podcasts, and YouTube channels—the majority of these are a combination of quality content and quality production.
While people typically won’t suffer through a low-quality production even if the content is high-quality, they will watch something with garbage content if it’s well-produced. People will sit through anything that is produced well because it looks good, it’s entertaining, it sounds good, and it fills all their senses.
You need to invest in quality production just as much as you invest in quality content.
P.S., If you’re interested in the gear I use, you can find more informations on my Resources page.