For those lucky enough to own your own equipment, you know it’s an investment. For anywhere between $500 and $5000 you can purchase a couple of headsets, a mixer and related cabling and open up a new world of freelance opportunities in your career.
However that investment is only so good depending on how well you take care of that equipment. Like any tools, the better you take care of them the longer they’ll last and the better they’ll perform.
I’ve owned by own gear since 2010 and it’s been invaluable in my career. I bought budget gear (a Behringer mixer, a couple of Audio Technica headsets and cables) and it’s done probably close to 600 games across Western Canada and the US.
Here are three tips that I’ve taken to heart in order to protect my career investment.
1. Learn the inside-outside coil method
When I went to college, I studied broadcast television. It was a two year diploma course focused on the technical side of television production and we couldn’t pass our first year studio exam without properly coiling a 100ft XLR cable.
The inside-outside cable coil method is how I’ve kept my power, audio and headset cables in top shape over the years. The problem that most people run into is kinked and degraded cables. They’ll wrap it around their hand or worse, between their elbow and wrist. This just kinks the cable over and over and over.
The inside-outside method kinks it in one way, then un-kinks it the other. Done properly and your cables will be ruler-straight when laid out for years to come.
2. Get a good carrying case for your investment
When I got my first sportscasting job, I inherited team kit which…quite frankly, sucked. It was an old JK remote audio mixer and two headsets that both had serious faults. They were kept in a budget black suitcase with some foam and cables just thrown in there.
I wasn’t going to put my investment in there so I knew I needed a bag to carry everything. I tried a few different versions but eventually settled on a rolling overnight bag. The main compartment, meant for clothes, is deep enough for my headset ear muffs, and the bag comfortably but snugly fit two headsets, my mixer, power supply and cables. It had room for my laptop, connected paperwork and all my accessories.
I padded out the bottom with some foam (from the old suitcase) and I was set. Over 500 games later and it’s still going strong (although could maybe use some new wheels).
3. Treat your investment with respect
This is the most important one, but you need to make sure you treat your gear with respect. Don’t throw your gear around, pack it well. Don’t slam your mixer on the desk or wrap your headsets at a weird angle.
If you’re able to treat your gear with respect, it will be so much easier to take care of over the years and the sizable investment you make in your own career will last many many many seasons.
Having your own gear is a huge boost to a career. Instead of having to rely on a team or tournament having their own equipment, you can come in and produce a great show with equipment you’re familiar with. It makes you look good and makes your employer look good, which is fantastic for future job prospects.