There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to editing your episodes. Some podcasters don't edit their content at all, and others spend hours on production for every episode.
But for most, some amount of editing is usually necessary to create engaging, high-quality episodes. The question is, how can you consistently edit content without spending hours of your time?
In this blog, we'll cover the tools you need to get started, best practices for cleaning up audio files, and tips for adding music and sound effects to make your podcast stand out. Let's dive in!
The foundational steps of easy podcast editing
Recording and editing go hand in hand, and the secret to spending less time editing is to start off with a quality recording. By investing time and effort into capturing clear, professional audio from the start, you can significantly reduce the corrections needed later on.
Consider using a good microphone in a quiet, echo-free room and testing sound levels before starting your recording.
These simple steps help minimize background noises and ensure a consistent audio level, reducing the need for noise reduction and volume adjustments in your digital audio workstation later.
Resource: How to Start a Podcast in 2023
What if you record audio and video?
When podcasters record audio and video of their podcast, they can minimize editing time by following a few strategies.
- Strategy #1: Consider using software that offers both audio and video editing features, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. This enables the simultaneous editing of audio and video, saving considerable time.
- Strategy #2. Aim for a "one-take" recording as much as possible. The less you stop and start, the less editing you'll need to do.
- Strategy #3. Make use of automatic transcription and editing services. Tools like Descript can transcribe your podcast, allowing you to edit the text and have those changes reflected in the audio. This method can drastically reduce editing time, especially for lengthy episodes.
Other tips to set you up for straightforward editing:
- Use simple software: Leveraging podcast editing software can make a big difference in the amount of time you spend on edits. We think it's best to stick to simple tools like Audacity or GarageBand. They will have more than enough features for most podcasters and will help reduce overwhelm.
- Create an editing template: If your podcasts have a similar format for each episode, consider creating an editing template. This can save time by having your intro music, outro music, and segments prearranged.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts: Learning and using keyboard shortcuts can make your editing process much faster and more efficient.
- Use non-destructive editing techniques: This means editing without making permanent changes to your audio files. Editing software like Audacity allows you to undo or redo changes if needed
And perhaps most importantly: don't stress over edits or feel like your episodes need to be perfect. Just focus on the big picture! Listeners care far more about the quality of your content than your audio.
So what exactly should you focus on? Let's break it down.
What to focus on in post-production (and in what order)
When editing your podcast audio, it's crucial to follow a methodical approach that ensures a high-quality end product. Here are the five steps that you should follow to minimize any make editing formulaic. And while that might sound dull and not creative, having some parameters around can actually help your creativity come to life.
- Cleaning up audio: Start with the raw audio file and remove any unwanted noises, awkward pauses, or irrelevant content. This step will ensure that your listeners can focus on the content without distractions.
- Noise reduction: After the initial cleanup, use your editing software's noise reduction features to minimize background noise, hums, and other audio artifacts. This step can significantly enhance the clarity of your recording.
- Volume leveling: Pay attention to the volume levels of your audio. You want to ensure a consistent sound across the entire podcast episode, so adjust the volume levels to ensure there are no drastic changes.
- Adding music and sound effects: Once your vocal audio is clean and balanced, it's time to add music and sound effects. You might only use these elements in your intro and outro or incorporate them throughout to provide depth and texture to your content.
- Formatting and exporting: Ensure your podcast episodes are correctly formatted for all the different podcast platforms (typically, this is a WAV or MP3 for audio and MP4 for video). Export your finished audio file in the appropriate format, ready for uploading to your chosen podcast hosting platform.
Pro tip: Always save and backup your work. It saves time in case of any software crash or accidental deletion!
Three stats that indicate effective podcast editing
Your editing is a big factor in maximizing engagement with your content. It's important to use your analytics to see how your episodes are performing and where you can make changes.
Here are three metrics to keep track of:
- Listener retention rate: This metric indicates the percentage of your podcast that listeners are staying through. If your retention rate is high, it means your audience is engaged and likely appreciates your editing. Alternatively, a sharp drop in listeners at certain points in your episode could suggest an issue with your audio quality or pacing, requiring a revisit to your editing process.
- Episode downloads: A consistent or increasing number of episode downloads can be a positive signal that your podcast editing is well-received. If your downloads are decreasing, this may be due to numerous factors, one of which could be poor audio editing.
- Listener feedback: While not necessarily a 'stat', listener feedback is invaluable. Positive comments about audio quality, pacing, and the overall listening experience indicate successful editing. Constructive criticism can also guide your editing improvements. Regular reviews and feedback on platforms like Apple Podcasts or social media channels provide insight into listeners' perceptions of your podcast's audio quality.
Having objective markers is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your episodes. Of course, these stats might also reflect things outside of editing, such as content, topic changes, etc. But it can be one way to see how structure and production affect listener behavior and patterns.
Staying organized is another often crucial part of ensuring an efficient editing workflow. Simple things like keeping track of files, organizing your sound effects library, or labeling audio clips will help you to stay on top of your process and save time in the long run.
Creating a resource folder can be helpful if you do sound design using music, voice recordings, sound effects, etc. This way, you can easily find what you're looking for without having to search through multiple files or folders every time.
Finally, if you're working with a team of podcast editors, it's important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Establishing a shared editing schedule helps keep everyone on track and in sync.
Editing your podcast is part of the production process, and it's important to take a methodical approach to ensure the best possible results. Investing time into preparing high-quality audio recordings from the start saves you time in post-production, enabling efficient editing.
Getting familiar with good workflow practices, understanding what to focus on in the editing process, and tracking your metrics are all key habits to ensure your podcast is a success.