Curating a gift list is hard work, and to be frank, I don't think I've ever read one where the gifts suggested (for men! for mom! for kids! for teachers!) aligned with the personal interests of the people in my life. That said, I am an indie podcaster and I know a lot of other indie podcasters, and I pay attention to the conversations that fly around all year long. In that spirit, after reflecting on both my own feelings and those I've seen expressed by others, I've drawn up a list of things podcasters might want for the holidays -- and yes, they cover a variety of levels of financial investment, so there should be something for everyone's budget (especially since some of these suggestions are free!).
Promotion, Reviews, and Ratings
One thing every podcaster wants is for their podcast to grow. For indie podcasters it has become more difficult to increase their audiences in recent years due to the constant influx of new, commercially-backed and/or celebrity-driven podcasts. These podcasts come in with a ton of marketing money and often a built-in audience that independent podcasts simply can't compete with, which makes word-of-mouth support so important. If you love a podcast (or the podcaster behind it) one of the best things you can do for is to bop around to the different sites and apps where that podcast appears and leave it positive reviews. Whether they admit it or not, most hosts do check their reviews and ratings, and the more people who share that they like it, the more likely others will do the same. Want to take it a step further? Post about your love of that podcast (with a link to it!) on your social media accounts and tag that podcast in it. The host is bound to love it and feel appreciated, which makes for a happy holiday indeed.
It's very difficult to run a podcast without any money at all. More often than not hosting fees and website fees and buying equipment to improve production and a barrel of other unanticipated expenses will occur. If you want to help your favorite podcaster, donating to them is always a good idea. Many podcasts now have Patreon (continued donations which usually come with perks!) or Ko-Fi (one-time donations) and contributing even $1 to that can make a podcaster's day easier and their wallet breathe a sigh of relief.
Do you know people who do interviews on the topic your podcaster covers? Or places that review podcasts? Or need guest writers? Lots of podcasters would love opportunities to speak to new audiences. Don't be afraid to request or suggest the podcasters you love whenever an opportunity arises! It makes them look popular and the hosts are bound to appreciate your efforts.
I cannot tell you how much it meant to me the day I learned some of my cousins had purchased Footnoting History merchandise. Having friends, family, and listeners sport a podcast's gear not only benefits the podcast financially, but also serves as advertising when others see you with it, and makes the podcaster feel pretty great.
Does someone in your life want to start a podcast? They can do so using their phone, but a microphone would help. So would headphones. Maybe you know someone who has been podcasting for a long time. They could be looking for an upgrade or a new pop filter. If you want to help a podcaster with their production, engage them in a talk about their process. Surely at some point the aspect they're struggling with will come up, or you will hear something they are saving toward buying. It's not always financially possible to upgrade your tech on your own, so outside help is usually a welcome thing, whether it's actually providing the upgrade or giving a contribution toward it. (But given that tech can get expensive quickly, don't buy anything that you aren't sure is wanted or can be returned - some folks are very particular about their brands and designs.)
Being a podcaster can be both lonely and overwhelming at times, especially if the podcaster in your life is doing things solo. Although, understandably, you might not have unlimited time to give to help them, any offer would surely be appreciated -- they might want you to give a script a read before it is recorded or help them brainstorm new ideas. You never know what tasks that host has been afraid, or unable, to ask for assistance doing. The smallest offer to help lighten their load, even for just one afternoon, might be the best gift they could receive.
When in doubt, and I absolutely mean this, actually listening to the podcast the person in your life creates, and then telling them you did do and actually having a conversation about it is a good choice. Many creators find the people closest to them are the least likely to listen to their podcasts or even take them seriously. A show of sincere interest - and investing the time to actually listen - would make any host's heart happy.
Many independent podcasters record at home (me included) and it isn't always a convenient situation for anyone, as quiet surroundings make the best recording spaces. If you know a podcaster who records at home and are in any way capable of ensuring they get some quiet, peaceful recording time by all means do it. Sometimes the gift of carefree time to get good recordings done is all a podcaster's heart desires.