Updated: Jan 24
You've recorded your podcast, and now you're ready for editing. The process should be smooth and simple; after all, that's the reason why you paid good money for an editor in the first place! Some folks prefer to edit themselves, which is a totally valid option. However, I'd argue (naturally, I run a podcast production business!) that your time and money might be better spent doing other things (running your business, seeing your children, hucking sick jumps on your bicycle...) giving your podcast to a professional. And I think you'll probably get a better result, too.
So let's take a look at the process of editing a podcast here at Jet Streamer, although the process will be roughly the same no matter what editor you go with.
How do I choose a podcast editor?
There are plenty of podcast editors out there, from big podcasting studios with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, right down to virtual assistants who offer podcasting as part of a suite of services including writing meeting minutes and handling your emails. So how do you decide what's right for you?
What are your needs?
The needs of a small business podcaster are different from the needs of a hobbyist, or a marketing agency working on behalf of a million dollar client. Find a podcast editor who understands your needs and goals, and can work with you to achieve them.
Additionally, you might need an editor who can provide services over and above just the editing. Do you need help with your interview technique, for example, or help with setting up remote recording? You might like to look for editors who also offer consultancy or tech support.
How experienced are they?
I've seen quite a few podcast "experts" online who claim to be able to increase your listenership three-fold, and yet the entirety of their broadcasting or audio experience is running a Star Trek fan podcast with their mates for six weeks. Luckily this happens to be the exception rather than the rule, but as with a lot of things, there's no certification process for podcast editors. Any monkey can edit a podcast, but it takes skill, experience and training to do a good job of it. So ask questions and ask to hear some previous work.
How does podcast editing work?
It's a pretty simple process once you're used to it, but let's break it down:
First things first, recording!
Although it's not strictly part of the editing process, a good edit starts with a good recording. A good recording not only ensures you get a good result from the editing process, but it also frees your editor up to do more with your recording. For example, if your editor allots 3 hours to edit your 60-minute episode, and has to do two hours' worth of noise removal... you get the picture.
Although the recording's ultimately up to you, a good editor will be available to answer any questions you might have about the recording process and provide suggestions on how to go about it. A good editor will set aside some time with you to help you set up your gear; time invested now will save you time, money, frustration and embarrassment later on.
Supplying your files.
Once your recording is done and dusted, it's time to get those files over to your editor so they can start work. Because you'll generally be recording in uncompressed WAV files (ask your editor how to do this if you're unsure), they'll usually be quite large, so regular email won't cut it in this case. A cloud file service like Dropbox or Google Drive will work well if you already have it. If not, we use WeTransfer to send large files. You don't need an account and it costs you nothing, and the links automatically delete themselves after a week or so, which is good for security. But double check with your editor about how they'd like this to happen.
This is where the magic happens. What goes on here will generally depend on what needs doing (and what you've paid for!) but a common workflow for the editing stage looks like this:
Checking Your editor will download your files, load them up into their editing program, and make sure everything's there, audible, and ready to go. If there's any problems, they'll contact you at this point to resolve the issue.
Noise Reduction Uh oh... there's an air conditioner in the background, humming away! This is the point where your editor should be taking out all that nasty stuff. At Jet Streamer we use professional audio-reduction software: basically the same stuff they use on the dialogue tracks in Hollywood films. This is the norm rather than the exception these days, so it's a worthwhile thing for you to check your editor is capable of doing.
Placement All the major elements get placed in the editing software in the rough spot they belong. If the program is an interview or has multiple tracks (concurrent audio recordings) then each file will get loaded into a different track and "synched" up with each other.
Major editing The editor will take a listen to your recording, and start to make any decisions about any major edits that might be required. Maybe you've repeated yourself unnecessarily, or there's some chat with your guest that's not really relevant to the topic- your editor may decide to remove those to keep the show flowing. This is where it's really important for the editor to take the time to understand your goals, and the goals of the show, and if they haven't then that's a bit of an alarm bell. Ultimately an editor works for you, so if you don't mind a tangent every now and then in your show then they should respect that! Make sure to have this chat before you start so neither too much, nor too little, ends up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
Dialogue editing Now we're really getting down into the nitty-gritty here. And yes, here's where we take out all the "umms" and "aahs" to get you sounding your best! Your editor will go through the now finalised show and start to remove filler words, stumbles, heavy breathing, knocks on the table... you get the picture.
Everything else Music, ads, intros and pre-produced elements are put in the right spot, and your podcast is ready to be mixed together!
From here, it's about making sure that everything is audible, clear, and smooth. Some editors refer to this as "volume matching", but it's so much more than just making sure everything's at the same volume. A good editor will balance each of the tracks and make sure nothing "clashes". They'll use tools like compressors and equalisers to balance the loudness of each individual word and give your voice a pleasing clarity over the speakers. They'll even use equalisers to balance different frequencies and make sure all the "t"s (like at the end of 'act') and "p"s (at the start of 'pick') don't clash with the cymbals in your music tracks, for example. This is key to making sure your speech is understood, even if your listener is listening on their phone on crappy $3 airline headphones, on the bus, while riding past a fireworks testing range. Next to a motocross track.
If mixing is putting all the ingredients together, then mastering is baking the cake. Your editor will further control the overall sound and loudness of your podcast. This is both to make it sound nice, cohesive and "professional", and to make sure it meets the standards of your podcast distributors (usually iTunes- as they're the biggest, they get to set the standard). As insomnia cures go, loudness standards work a treat, so for your own sake I won't bore you with the details, but all you need to know is that this stops your ears being blown to smithereens when you flip from one podcast to another, to a song, and then back to a podcast. The editor you choose should know how to do this.
From there, your files will be on their way back to you, ready to plug into your favourite podcast host and get it out to the world! Some editors do offer publishing services if you need help with this (we do too).
Choosing the right editor is important.
Heaps of podcasters tell horror stories about finding an editor to try and save some time, only to spend even more time trying to get a good result with their editor! It makes sense to put some time and some questions into finding the right editor, who can work with your creative vision and help you produce a show that you're truly proud of- whilst saving you some time in the process! Good luck!
As you can probably guess by now, Jet Streamer offers editing services and podcast production services! If you think that might be the right one for you, you can get more information about what we offer here.