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Why You Should Never Trust Social Media

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, famously proclaimed in his 2013 testimony before Congress that Facebook “doesn’t sell your data.” He was right, for a time. But every day, Facebook peddles information about its users and the users of other social media platforms. All manner of digital schemes seek to use your social media data to target ads. And Facebook’s recent admission that a for-profit company, Cambridge Analytica, misused that data shows just how vulnerable we all are to that risk.

We no longer think of the Internet as we did when it was mostly free. People spend so much time on social media that it doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe they could be tracked. The moral case for privacy and data protection was a sound one back then.

Now, not so much.

Things have changed

The platform space has become crowded and competitive. Websites and apps push out new features every day. Social media companies know more about us than the general public. And they are able to compete on user loyalty — provided users can still trust them. If social media products can crack that code, they may become the magnets by which they draw other platforms. That means the value of the user is increasingly dependent on how well they can anticipate and manipulate users.

As a result, users have become tremendously vulnerable to hacks. The recently acknowledged Cambridge Analytica breaches were only the most obvious of many recent examples. Consider more generally what happened to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service. It was hacked in 2016, and the breached personal data of over 600 million users was published online. That data included private photographs, family relationship histories, medical information, and all sorts of other information.

What could it take to breach that database?

Here’s what it looks like: Unless an individual is extremely cautious about what she posts and with whom she communicates, experts say, social media could suddenly record a lot of people’s pictures. Every time her Instagram feed is searched, her browsing history is logged, and every time a post on Facebook is shared, personal data is stolen. And so forth.

Yet Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to supply us with more information about ourselves than ever. They already know so much about our spending habits, our online interactions, and what we think about the world that, combined with just about everything else they have on file, they can decide whether to market us as we actually are, or to bombard us with ads that conform to a pre-defined ideal.

But why is it that the algorithms now being used are so invasive and unfair? The reasons are technical. What you do online can be hacked and analyzed. Everything you post (much of it controlled by a social network itself) is based on a graph of your interests and that of your friends. And algorithms such as Facebook’s constantly develop new metrics about how you interact with other users.

The trigger for social media algorithms is the way we interact. We mostly use them — make or unfollow friends, express outrage, repost photos, read other posts, donate money, send texts, or check with friends — in a set of “micro-interactions.” That kind of activity represents only a tiny fraction of what we do online, but that is all that’s required for algorithms to “learn” about us.

That’s why you could be attacked online by an algorithm designed to target users who feel outrage over an issue, or to target them in a variety of ways: to suggest in-game challenges for spending money, to recommend prospective advertisers, to create a segue to a TV ad.

We are exploitable

Hackers, and non-hackers, can exploit this naturally constant state of online interaction to manipulate us to do — or not do — something.

It’s possible that users will learn to adapt to the intense prying. Perhaps they will find a way to respond to hackers without revealing their identities. But if they don’t, then we face a potential future of steady degradation and abuse.

Millions of people are now vulnerable to the vast data accumulations of their friends and associates. If and when data sellers like Cambridge Analytica gain even more access to our data, it will open up new ways for outsiders to manipulate, and for more easily to exploit, us. And that will mean that very few people are really in control of their own online identity. That’s already the case when it comes to media consumption. The stakes are now much higher.

Featured

Bitcoin hackers are back on their sextortion scams

They’re back! Whoever thought Bitcoin sextortion hackers were a thing of the past: Residents of Kansas are being targeted once again by these “hackers”.

The scam is quite easy. The hackers claims to have material on you, and publish it if you don’t pay up.

Bitcoin, sextortion, hack, cryptocurrency
The hacker email

Luckily, the wallet is still empty. If you receive an email like this, just ignore it.

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?

“People say that entrepreneurs are geniuses who are wonderful at finding new ways to make money. When you look at a list of successful entrepreneurs, you often find only people who were able to exploit their wisdom to beat the market,” wrote economist Tyler Cowen.

By “wisdom,” Cowen seems to be referring to epigrammatic imagery, which is in effect his own definition of genius. But if innovation is driving economies as radically as we believe, then ingenuity should qualify as wisdom, too.

Elemements of success

So it can be relevant to think about the various forms of genius that go into building companies. Whatever their specialties, most entrepreneurs are of at least average intelligence. And a lot of their success, even without the considerable advantage of going to Harvard, can be explained by the same elements that account for the success of most successful students.

Here are five common traits of brilliant individuals that venture capitalists and private equity and venture firms can usefully help achieve in their contacts and the introductions they make.

It has been demonstrated repeatedly in literature and empirical work that a successful entrepreneur is above average (meaning above average marketable) in the following ways:

  • First, he or she does not obsess over the details of issues but rather sets out to create value and solve problems.
  • Second, he or she has robust intuition.
  • Third, he or she systematically uses rather than inserts exogenous information.
  • Fourth, he or she communicates his or her vision to others, including those outside the organization.
  • Fifth, he or she responds to customers and rivals; and sixth, he or she follows his or her market opportunities and responds to their particular needs.

In aggregate, these are all complementary traits; they help determine how much potential can be exploited in markets and submarkets in which the company wants to play.

Become the customer, just like Bezos

In contrast, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, is thought to be exceptionally talented. But this is almost irrelevant to understanding why he has remained so successful. The main difference is that Bezos seeks to influence what customers want. Bezos wants to help them become customers, a decision-making process that adds nuance to his intuition and makes it intellectually more reliable.

Talent is unrelated to success

The prevailing wisdom is that talent, except in the case of some highly successful writers, is unrelated to culture and non-elite talent is far more attractive to the kind of investors who seek to make money on high-octane companies that are disruptive to their competitors. But a competitor in the sense that Amazon is relevant in such a way is a not a superior executor. To the contrary, compared with Amazon, a regular business such as Wal-Mart is much more likely to succeed as a firm because its competitors have, by definition, already solved the real problems customers have raised in their need for low prices and convenience. Amazon is doing very well, partly because it is driving all the competition away from those concerns, but also because its market behavior is not driven by those concerns. Customers are going where their customers are going.

This all adds up to a common set of traits, even if you think they are all unrelated. In other words, wisdom is sometimes easier to find than you might think.

Short-term winners — and losers — in the digital currency boom

I went into this column expecting a rather different response to a Bitcoin story. The story, which I am sure other prominent financial writers will advance in the coming weeks, concerns three former top Wall Street executives who attempted to invest in Bitcoin with the promise of a big return. That kind of story used to be commonplace, but it’s pretty rare these days. And it’s even rarer still if the story is accurately reported. I stand by my belief that they were duped. And I stand by my concern that, just like the financial crisis of 2008, this stuff will be coming back. But I am not going to pursue that angle. What I do intend to pursue is the investing method for speculating on the virtual currency: over the short term.

This is not to say that some people have a long-term investment plan with Bitcoin. But that’s not really how the experience should be measured. It’s not, for example, like buying a stock when you expect the company’s fortunes to be much better in 10 years’ time, or when you think its prospects look somewhat better now. Instead, people should be measuring what kind of opportunity they think is available: Is the price of Bitcoin increasing? If so, do they expect the price to go up at an increasing rate? How is that happening? And if the answer is yes, is it because the value of Bitcoin is increasing and scarcity is spurring demand — or is it because people are short-selling Bitcoins and are desperate to get their hands on them?

Here’s how it works.

Generally, you want to make a speculative play, not a shrewd long-term investment. So here’s the appropriate technique: You want to speculate on Bitcoin, and to do that, you have to figure out whether the price is rising quickly or (because the product is increasing in popularity) falling. Any systematic approach for buying Bitcoin is to bet on it to go up. For most purposes, that’s fine. But some people invest because they think it will go up sharply over the next few months, but I don’t see what that can achieve for these three investors in their particular case. The analysts I’ve interviewed understand this. So what is the value of speculation? Well, once you have a theory, you can set a target. That target is the price that you think Bitcoin should be worth, and you compare that price with the price. Over time, if you do well, you’ll end up with some nice profits — if you do badly, you’ll learn to live with a couple thousand bucks. What would those losers do if you had taken the long view, and hadn’t been too quick on the trigger? Maybe they’d still turn out to be fools — but you would have paid them attention as a novice who happened to make a mistake, and they might get their lesson. Some of them could be visionary investors who pick up Bitcoins at favorable prices, and one or two could be competitors who plot to corner the market. The other might be folks who invested because they were convinced they understood the shape of the bitcoin future — I’m thinking of people like Ray Dalio, who has long argued that the next big internet theme is blockchain and virtual currencies. If you were simply a speculator who thought Bitcoin was the next big thing, Dalio would certainly be your target. He is probably the one of the smartest people around; yet he has thrown away more than $30 million of people’s money. So investors who invest over the short term tend to do better, if the data support their ideas. Two years ago, for example, the average price of Bitcoin jumped from about $400 to around $1,100 within weeks. That’s huge. More recently, the price has been trending downward, and that’s understandable, given that the physical Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere, and nobody knows much about the cryptocurrency’s valuation. The more likely prospect is that people have chosen to forgo all of this attention and instead focus on things such as currency. That’s a convenient way to choose not to engage in speculation over the short term, but I still think it’s a horrible investment strategy for most people.

What should you do?

What you want to do is discover the relative attractiveness of Bitcoin with respect to other currencies. If the price of Bitcoin is rising or falling, you have an idea as to what it might be in five years’ time, and the price will reflect that knowledge. But if the price of Bitcoin is rising, you might be a fool. The traders who are profiting from their sense of speculator’s luck are the ones who made their big decisions with contrarian logic.

Best podcasting microphone on the market (USB and iPhone)

We did a deepdive into how to start a podcast recently, as podcasting is getting more and more popular. But just an idea won’t get you anywhere, you’ll need the right tools. And there’s nothing more important in podcasting than making sure your voice is clear and channel out other sounds. In this article, you will find the best (USB) microphones to make sure your podcasts sound amazing. 

The top 5 podcasting microphones currently on the market for every budget and need:

1. NEWHAODI Lavalier Lapel Microphone Kit
Low budget and easy to use 

Price: $17.99

If you’ll be recording from your phone and looking for a budget solution, this is one of the best mics you can get. And it’s a full kit too. The Lavalier Lapel Kit has a noise cancelling microphone which works everywhere. It’s a plug and play system, so there’s no need for batteries or apps. How? Just plug it into your device of choice and use your own audio recording app to start recording. The Lavalier Lapel Microphone kit comes with plugs for multiple devices like an iPhone,  iPhone X, GoPro, MacBook and many more. It’s not the heaviest build, as you can expect from a 17 dollar kit, but it does the job quite well. 

PRO’s:

  • Low budget
  • Connectors for most devices

CON’s:

  • Overall build quality
  • Not a USB microphone

Lavalier Lapel Microphone Kit - Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Lav Mic for iPhone, iPad, Go Pro, DSLR, Camcorder, Zoom/Tascam Recorder, PC, Macbook, Samsung Android, Smartphones
  • NOISE CANCELLING FOR FLAWLESS RECORDINGS -Lavalier Lapel Microphones record clear sound for professional results, no static noise, works well outside when it's windy or you are walking, makes your...
  • COMPATIBLE WITH MOST DEVICES - NEWHAODI Lapel microphone is lightweight and durable .Compatible with iPhone,iphone X, iPad, Android/GALAXY Phones,Sony, LG,Blackberry & Windows Smartphones, Retina...
  • PROFESSIONAL 5 IN 1 PACK-3.5mm Lav mic, 3.5mm TRRS to TRS adapter, Gopro microphone adapter, 20ft extension cord, 1/4 inch audio adapter.By the "lightning to 3.5mm" adapter that come with your iphone,...
  • 20 FEET (6m) EXTENSION CORD - Each lavalier microphone includes 1PCS 20ft TRRS Female to TRRS Male extension cable, so you can move around the room without unplugging lapel mic. The cord is 24K...
  • 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED - 12 months warranty.We believe that you will like our products. If you are not satisfied with our lavalier microphone or you have any question, please contact us. We will...


2. Audio-Technica AT2020USBi Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Price: $199.00

Looking for something a bit more serious? Want REALLY high quality audio and more features? Then this is the one for you. The Cardioid Condenser has great recording quality. Or, as they call it: “high-resolution” recording. The microphone has input-level control, making it possible to adjust input level on the microphone itself. Besides that, it has a extended frequency response which is perfect for podcasting. The Cardioid Condenser USB microphone is compatible with Windows, Mac and iOS. With the specs of this microphone, you could be doing music recording and podcasting at the same time.

PRO’s: 

  • Top quality sounds
  • Good build quality
  • Lagless

CON’s:

  • Blue intrusive led light

Sale
Audio-Technica AT2020USBi Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
  • CONNECTS STRAIGHT TO A TABLET OR PC - The Audio-Technica AT2020USBi is compatible with Windows 7/8/Vista/XP/2000, Mac OS 10.6+, and iOS 7.02+. You can record directly to a DAW program on your iPhone,...
  • REPRODUCES HI-RES AUDIO - The USB microphone is equipped with a high-quality A/D converter that delivers 24bit/96kHz sound reproduction resolution.
  • PROVIDES RECORDING CONVENIENCE - The integrated mic gain controls enable you to adjust the input level on the microphone. No need for mixers or extra gear!
  • IDEAL FOR MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS - The smooth 20~20,000 Hz frequency response of AT2020USBi makes it great for voice and instrument recording. You can use it for podcasting, voiceover work, studio, and...
  • COMES STOCKED FOR MOBILE AND STUDIO RECORDING - AT2020USBi includes all the accessories you need for recording, including a desk stand, travel pouch, pivoting stand mount, threaded microphone adapter,...
  • The micro-HDMI to Lightning/USB allows you to connect the mic straight to a PC or iOS device.
 

3. Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout Edition

Price: $129

Now this is a good looking microphone. The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is perfect for recording your podcasts but can also be used for vocals, instruments and field recordings. It’s has 3 condenser capsules that can record pretty much in every situation, without any latency. And with it’s four different pattern settings so you can record vocals, instrumental music, podcasts, or interviews in ways that would normally require multiple microphones. This mid-level and reasonably priced microphone is one of Amazon’s best selling USB microphones, and for a reason: It doesn’t only look great, it’s a professional level microphone for a budget price. Works on any (recent) WIndows and Mac laptop. 

PRO’s:

  • Looks amazing
  • Multiple pattern selection

CON’s:

  • Can pick up background sounds without pop-filter

Sale
Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming on PC and Mac, 3 Condenser Capsules, 4 Pickup Patterns, Headphone Output and Volume Control, Mic Gain Control, Adjustable Stand, Plug & Play - Blackout
  • Tri-capsule array - 3 condenser capsules can record almost any situation.
  • Multiple pattern selection - cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo.Frequency Response- 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output. Power output (RMS): 130mW
  • Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls.
  • Compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8 (including 8.1), Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP (Home and Professional), and Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher), and requires a minimum of 64 MB of RAM(remove...
 

4. Blue Snowball USB Microphone

Price: 69$

We’ve already seen Blue makes really cool microphones. The Snowball is another one from Blue. It doesn’t only look pretty awesome, it works pretty awesome as well. The plug and play microphone works without software, and is capable of recording vocals as well as instrumentals professionally.  Just like the Blue Yeti, you can switch between various settings like recording vocals, instrumental music, podcasts and music. Proper microphone for a very reasonable price. 

Pro’s: 

  • Good sound quality 
  • Very reasonable priced
  • Easy to set up

Con’s: 

  • Top screws off a bit easily
  • Stand can be a little flaky 

5. FIFINE K670 USB Microphone

Price: 47.99 

The next one in line is the FIFINE K670 microphone, another budget solution but this time a USB-microphone. It’s a pretty cool looking mic with a touch of retro. The K670 is made for podcasting and streaming and has a plug-and-play USB connectivity. It comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can listen to what you’re recording in real time. The microphone has volume control that allows easy input level adjustment. Particularly good for video voice overs; podcasts;YouTube video; skype conferences; VOIP calls and so on. It’s actually a really nice microphone for a very reasonable price, but 20 bucks more gets you the next one, the Blue Snowball. It’s a matter of budget. 

PRO’s:

  • Design looks cool
  • Made for podcasting, good quality sound
  • Comes with long cable 

CON’s: 

  • Absorbs shocks due to holder 
  • Not ideal for use with PC without an audio interface

“Buying habits need to change”: Kind Socks is here to stay.

With trends pushing towards sustainable clothing, Kind Socks is making its way into a niche that people tend to forget, but put on every morning: socks. Kind Socks is an organic sock wear brand with one aim: to develop fun and beautiful socks in sustainable materials.

Stephen Steele, founder of Kind Socks, started the company about a year ago after working for several years on digital communications. “I decided it was time to stop doing what I was doing at that moment, and start working on fulfilling my creative needs” says Stephen.

“I talked about starting a sock company several times before, but it always stayed at the idea stage, never really moving any further than that.” After Stephen and his wife moved to Stockholm (Sweden), he decided to take the jump.

Kind Socks started in summer of 2017, where Steele had the idea to create a sustainable brand and well-designed socks using sustainable materials. The simplicity of kind to your feet and kind to the planet and people that make them, was what really triggered Stephen to keep going. His “obsession with socks” didn’t hurt either. “It’s a boring, everyday essential that easily can be forgotten”, Steele says.

Taking an idea to production phase is hard. Making production sustainable is even harder, as Stephen found out: “The production process can be very complex because once you have a design to give to the manufacturer the general process to the final product would normally involve yarn preparation, knitting socks and linking and sewing and pair and labelling and that’s just for a prototype. All this needs reviewing by before I give the okay for final production.”

Kind Socks also follows (GOTs) Global Organic Textile Standards. The manufacturer has to follow high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria.

Production means costs, which can vary depending on the number of socks; designs and type materials being used i.e. bamboo, cotton, and wool. In addition as Kind Socks uses GOTS certified cotton, the prices are higher to make sure the workers are paid a fair wage. To make sure this can happen, Kind Socks is currently on Kickstarter, trying to raise a bit over $5000.

When it comes to design, it’s clear Stephens personality shows in his product. Currently, half the collection of his socks are designed by Berlin-based Illustrator Queenbe Moneyi. Keeping up with trends is something Steele is very aware of. “We survey our supporters on social media, look at the latest trends in the fashion and creative industries. These give us a clear idea what will sell and not.” In an ideal world Kind Socks would be collaborating with a broad range of designers, Steele says. “The idea is to collaborate with as many designers and brands as possible moving forward that are inline with our values of being a sustainable brand. In the future Kind Socks goal is to be a transparent company right through the supply chain to the consumer.”

When asked where the market of sustainable clothing is heading, it’s clear Stephen is a firm believer in sustainable materials, education, awareness and transparency. “Transparency is needed from companies so the consumer can know who made their clothes. Buying habits need to change. People need to think more long-term when they purchase clothes. They should be thinking could I get these jeans repaired; I am going to wear this dress more than 30 times. These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.”

You can support and buy a pair of beautiful sustainable socks from Kind Socks on Kickstarter.

Facebook suspends around 200 suspicious apps of “thousands investigated”

You might recall the Facebook hearing after the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit. In light of that, Mark Zuckerberg promised Facebook would review all existing apps with access to large amounts of data to see if there was any “suspicious activity”.

Well, Facebook just announced they have suspended over 200 apps after investigation of their usage.

In an update on the topic, VP of Product Partnerships Ime Archibong states “the investigation is in full swing” and that they have “large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible. To date thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended — pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data.” The thorough investigation will consist of interviews, requests for information and performing audits that may include on-site inspections. It’s clear Facebook is trying to show a zero-tolerance approach after the Cambridge Analytica breach.

Even though Facebook is trying to look transparent, it’s not clear how many apps will be investigated in what period of time. Techcrunch also reports it’s unclear what benchmark is used to define a “large amount of data”, after receiving no answer from Facebook on the question.

Archibong does state that “there is a lot more work to be done” and that Facebook will keep you updated on any progress. There’s that.

How To Start A Podcast And Develop An Audio-Content Strategy

With podcasts on the rise and Google investing in doubling the amount of listeners worldwide, it’s a pretty great time to invest in starting a podcast. But, how to start a podcast? It comes in handy when you have something to say about your niche, but that’s something you have to figure out for yourself.

Starting a podcast is actually quite simple. Costs are relatively low – so low anyone could start recording podcasts at home – but doing it the right way might take some time to find out. We have gathered the best tools to start your own podcast and develop an audio-content strategy that will keep your audience coming back for more.

TL;DR:

  • Podcasts are on the rise, and it’s the best moment to start creating one
  • You don’t need much to start, try Anchor to get set up quickly
  • We’ve created a free podcast content doc for you to get you started
  • Make sure your podcasts can be found by Google by implementing Google’s Podcast requirements

First things first: what is a podcast exactly?

The word ‘podcast’ was first mentioned in an article on the Guardian about online radio, where the combination of iPods, cheap audio software and weblogs (it’s from 2004) were said to be responsible for an audio revolution. “But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?”, questioned the author back then. Now, 14 years later, it’s clear that podcast is the term that stuck around. Podcast being pod from iPod’s and cast from broadcasting. Not all that complicated, luckily. But what are they exactly?
Podcasts can be many things. Some would define it as ‘on demand radio’, whereas Wikipedia defines podcasts as “podcast, or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.” This definition shows some important characteristic of podcasts:

  • Podcasts are episodes
  • You can download and listen to them (or stream, which makes more sense nowadays)
  • It’s often subscription based

To me, this is what makes a podcast a podcast; I would consider it an audio-Netflix show with different seasons that users can subscribe to. Without the fiction though, that’d be audiobooks.

Curious to listen to some successful podcasts? Check out an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience or the Crypto Street Podcast on YouTube.

Nowadays, you can find podcasts pretty much anywhere, but mostly on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music. You can even find them on YouTube. But, dedicated podcasting apps like Overcast are on the rise, making it extremely simple to listen to podcasts and even speed up podcasts so you can listen to them faster. Really.

Why start a podcast?

The numbers don’t lie. According to Nielsen, over 44% of US households have listened to a podcast – half of them at home and 22% while driving. Podcast listeners are very loyal, 80% listens to the whole episode and listen to more than 5 podcasts a week. Podcast listeners are educated, interested and will listen to the advice they hear in a podcast.

It’s an extremely effective channel that does not require visual attention. Therefore, cars and offices can become places where you can reach people who you normally can’t reach at that time.

If you’re not convinced by these numbers, read the piece Pacific Content did on Google’s mission to make everyone an ‘audio citizen’. By integrating podcasts into their products, podcast discovery will be much more widespread and effective than it is now.

And that’s noticable too by interest in “how to start a podcast”, if you look at the Google Trends interest over the past five years:

how to start a podcast trend
Source: Google Trends

Before you get started: Time and perseverance

Now it’s clear what defines a podcast, it’s essential to understand that starting one is easy, but getting an audience is hard. Even with Google making it much easier to discover podcasts.

As with anything that involves creating content, time and perseverance are of the utmost importance. Creating takes time, and results are never instant. You might publish, and publish, and publish and publish until you finally get some listeners. It’s like any form of content marketing, you invest time and energy to create something others would enjoy ‘consuming’. In blogging, for example, this is where most people fail: regularity. Once you feel like your content is not getting the traction you think it deserves, it’s likely you stop producing. But where 99% stops, 1% keeps going and growing.

If you’re dedicated to starting a podcast and really put time in, you’ll see the results when they’re there. Luckily, if you plan ahead and keep in mind that podcasts are episodes, you’re more likely to continue producing and less likely to quit.

Things you’ll need to start a podcast

As you can imagine, you’ll need a couple of things to get started.

Concept/theme and episode(s)

This is a major key, if the most important one: You’ll need to think of a topic for your podcast. Let’s take NicheHunt as an example:

Creating a theme and episodes within the theme really help you to organize stuff, and result in a better outcome due to preparation. Plus, it makes you think of some basics: Do I want a weekly podcast? Of monthly? And do I want guests or just talk to myself? It’s the basics of how to start a podcast. We have made the outline as pictured above available on Google Sheets (for free).

Microphones

Even though your standard Apple earbuds will do fine to record your voice, we would suggest you start by using what you already have laying around, like the standard microphone on your laptop or your earphones. If you enjoy what you’re doing and looking for more professional podcasting setup, you might want to invest in better audio.
And that’s relatively cheap as well. The Neewer NW-800 is a microphone under $20 bucks that does great noise-free recording, as does the Fifine USB microphone that’s only $21,99 – our favorite. If you’re a bit more serious, the Audio Technica AT2020 is an absolute steal at $108 dollar. The Amazon bestseller list is a good reference:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming on PC and Mac, 3 Condenser Capsules, 4 Pickup Patterns, Headphone Output and Volume Control, Mic Gain Control, Adjustable Stand, Plug & Play - Blackout
  • Tri-capsule array - 3 condenser capsules can record almost any situation.
  • Multiple pattern selection - cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo.Frequency Response- 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output. Power output (RMS): 130mW
  • Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls.
  • Compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8 (including 8.1), Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP (Home and Professional), and Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher), and requires a minimum of 64 MB of RAM(remove...
SaleBestseller No. 2
ZINGYOU Condenser Microphone Bundle, BM-800 Mic Kit with Adjustable Mic Suspension Scissor Arm, Shock Mount and Double-Layer Pop Filter for Studio Recording & Brocasting (BM-800 Microphone Bundle)
  • Professional Recording Studio Equipment: Equipped with Zingyou BM-800 microphone, Shock mount, Pop filter, Mic adjustable suspension scissor arm stand, Anti-wind foam Cap, Power cable, Sound card
  • Sensitive Capture: The Zingyou BM-800 features thin material diaphragm or "capsule" which vibrates and sends a signal to the output when engaged and is hit by sound waves, it provides an extremely...
  • Great in both Vocal and Instruments: Wide frequency response makes it an ideal mic to capture vocals, acoustic guitars, acoustic pianos and even strings as the condenser is able to take an accurate...
  • Low Noise: It features high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) that means less distortion to be caused on the process of recording, Unique 3-layer protection system prevents unwanted pop noises-providing...
  • With detailed assemble video and Instruction document, 7 days no reason to refund, 30-day replacement service, 1 year warranty
Bestseller No. 3
USB Microphone,Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone for Laptop MAC or Windows Cardioid Studio Recording Vocals, Voice Overs,Streaming Broadcast and YouTube Videos-K669B
  • Plug and play Usb recording microphone with 5.9-Foot USB Cable included for computer PC laptop that connects directly to USB port for record music,computer singing or podcast. Easy to use and install...
  • Solid sturdy metal construction design computer microphone with stable tripod stand is convenient when you are doing voice overs or livestreams on YouTube.
  • Recording microphone with additional volume knob itself has a louder output and is more sensitive,your voice would be heard well enough when gaming ,skyping or voice recording.
  • USB-powered design condenser microphone for recording no need the 48v Phantom power supply, work well with Cortana,Discord,voice chat and voice recognition.
  • Cardioid polar pattern condenser microphone for computer captures your voice properly,produce clear smooth and crisp sound without static noise.Great for gamers/streamers at isolating the sounds from...

Software

Anchor
Anchor is a New York based company that launched a platform to enable people to podcast in the easiest way possible. And it works really well. Within Anchor you have the possibility to easily start you own podcast by either uploading your existing audio or recording and editing new audio:

Anchor has an app available making it possible to easily record on your phone instead of your laptop.

Besides publishing your podcast content on Anchor, the tool automatically makes the connection for you to publish content on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Overcast and Pocket Casts.

Not interested in an all-in-one solution? Check out some other tools:

Audacity
Audacity is probably the best and free audio recording + editing tool out there. It’s easily usable and available for Windows and Mac

Garageband
Garageband is free Mac software, and really works well to record and edit audio quickly. Garageband is not available for Windows.

Adobe Audition
Adobe Audition is ideal if you have an Adobe Cloud subscription. Similar to Garageband, but also available for Windows.

Distributing your podcast

There are a couple of different ways to distribute your podcasts:

If you’re just starting out, start with iTunes or Anchor – you can focus on other platforms later or use Anchor to reach them all.

Podcasting as part of your content marketing strategy

Now you’re all ready to start a podcast, how does it fit into you content marketing strategy? To some, podcasting may sound like something people could only do from a personal branding point of view. But, with Google integrating podcasts into their search results and Google assistant, think of the possibilities companies have to create good podcasts.

My approach on fitting podcasts into your content marketing strategy would be: What are people looking for and can I create a valuable answer to their question? Approach it as you would any form of content marketing. Now the format of your answer can always be different, being blog posts, video or – yes – a podcast.

You could even try using other popular podcasts to advertise your own product or service. From this angle you can approach other podcasters and try to have them talking about you.

And, as with any form of content, try filling out our podcast calendar overview to see if podcasting really works for you or your brand. It’s an easy start.

How to have your podcasts indexed in Google

If you want to make your podcast appear in the Google Search results, you can. It works on the Google Search app for now, or on Google home, but Chrome and Android will follow soon.

To get these results, you’ll have to:

  • Expose a valid RSS feed describing the podcast
  • The feed must contain at least one episode
  • The podcast must have a dedicated homepage
  • The homepage, the RSS feed, and any non-blocked audio files must be crawlable by a Googlebot

Read the full source on how to have your podcasts indexed in Google in the Google Podcast Guidelines.

The future is podcasting?

You can take our word for it: Podcasting will be bigger than ever in the years to come. Look at all the signs: Anchor apps, Google investing in podcasts, assistance-devices that need to understand language.

Starting a podcast now is an ideal moment, you’ll be right before the hype.

Why You Should Care About Podcasts

Podcasts are back, and they’re big business. As interest in audio-content keeps growing, Google opened up about investing heavily in podcasts and integrating them into their services in an interview with Pacific Content. The goal? To double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple of years (and have A.I. learn from actual language). And they’re not taking half measures.

According to Pacific Content, a Google team lead by Zack Reneau-Wedeen is currently working on getting the amount of podcasts listeners worldwide doubled by doing some interesting stuff. The biggest growth opportunity will be on the Android-side, which is an untapped market due to availability of apps. Therefore, better integration with Android is seems like a logical step. But Zack’s team is not just working on a dedicated Google podcast app, they’re integrating it into Google’s services. That means Google Search and Google Assistant will be optimized for podcasts. And that’s a major one: Podcasts will show up in search results, which could have a huge effect on the amount of people trying a podcast for the first time. There’s no need for users to download, no need to subscribe, no need to search for a particular podcast-show, once podcasts are fully embedded in Google’s search results. As Zack states in the interview, Google wants to be there with audio where you are: “You might be researching Watergate for a school paper and stumble on Slow Burn, or maybe you’re toying with starting a company and you discover Sara Blakely’s amazing story of Spanx. This understanding of content, plus connecting people to it at the right moment, is where our team thinks we could go from helping double the industry to potentially helping multiply it by three or four or ten times.” A huge opportunity for marketers who aren’t doing anything with podcasts yet, as an audio-content strategy makes much more sense now than it ever did.

Don’t think all this development will take years to finally be shown to end users: Google is already showing podcasts result in Google, as can be seen in this screenshot for a “hackable podcast” search on Android:

If you want to know how to get search results like that, you can use Google’s guidelines for Podcast to find out how.

Interesting times for podcasts and audio-content, we’re already planning on focussing on audio-content. Will you? We’ve written a guide on how to start a podcast.

Instagram adds native payment options to app (for some users)

Exciting news: Instagram just added native payment features for some users, making it possible to make payments for services on Instagram without leaving the app.

The feature isn’t available for all users (yet). According to Techcrunch, Instagram is allowing some UK and US business accounts to test the feature by accepting payments for booking restaurant tables and salon bookings:

For now, only a small group of people can use the functionality, and it’s not known when Instagram will roll out the functionality to a broader group of users.

In the future, Instagram expects to provide direct payments for other products like movie tickets and tickets for events. Even though the company has never spoken about direct e-commerce shopping on the platform, one can imagine combining the current ‘shoppable’-tags and direct payments.

Having the option to buy products directly from Instagram would bring the social networking app into a whole new spectrum of shopping online, something e-commerce players should really be ready for. There’s no excuse for not building a proper Instagram base if you have something to sell.