When I started my podcast, I thought doing as little editing as possible was the right way to go. The idea was to maintain the "authenticity" of the conversation while increasing my productivity and output. After all, that's how Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan do it, so why can't I? In reality, I was lazy and didn't want to put in the work.
That's not to say I didn't try. I purchased editing software, and it wasn't easy to use. Not only did the editing process take hours, learning how to use the software better would have taken many more hours. At that point in my podcast journey, I wasn't willing to outsource the work to someone who knew what they were doing because I thought it would be too expensive.
Instead, I trimmed the beginning of the recording when the conversation started, removed anything that wasn't needed at the end, slapped on an intro and outro and voila! Episode completed.
I thought I had created a well-oiled production machine, but all I was doing was putting out low-quality junk. As you can tell, I'm not a fan of my old episodes.
Editing is an absolute must, with no exceptions. Even if you're doing an interview-based podcast and want to keep editing to a minimum. Here's what I consider the minimum amount of editing.
- Remove filler words (e.g. um, er, uh, like, right)
- Remove prolonged silences
- Remove ramblings and interruptions
Filler words are incredibly annoying to listen to as a passive listener and add no value to the conversation, so why would you keep them in?
Some silence can be valuable. It can build suspense or increase the impact of what's said. However, if someone needs a moment to think, does your listener need to "hear" all of it?
Thinking on your feet while carrying an engaging conversation is hard for most and leads to rambling. We're all guilty of rambling because it's us thinking about what to say, as we're trying to say it. The added benefit of cleaning up ramblings is it makes you and your guest sound well-spoken and articulate.
And no matter how hard you and your guest try, you're going to interrupt each other. Usually, interruptions happen because someone didn't finish what they wanted to say, and the other person didn't pick up on that. It happens.
When it comes to editing, the golden rule is this. If it doesn't add value to your listener, get rid of it.
Here are the options I propose so you can produce a better podcast while keeping your workload as low as possible.
Outsource the work
It won't cost you a lot of money to have someone else do these kinds of edits. You can get this done for $40-$75 per episode, from what I've seen, possibly even cheaper. If you want more work done (show notes, transcriptions, social content, etc.), the cost will increase.
Do it yourself
Yes, I know that's one of the common mistakes, but I'll explain how and why.
The best discovery I made from fellow podcasters is Descript. I've been using Descript for the last couple of months, and it's the greatest tool for podcasters.
For $24/month, you get their Pro package, which includes a function that automatically detects and removes filler words and prolonged silences. Editing in Descript is so easy because you don't edit an audio track. You're editing the audio transcription. You can select an entire paragraph or single word, hit delete, and it's gone! Not really gone, but removed from your audio track. Descript has made those basic editing tasks take less than 30 minutes to do.
This isn't a sales pitch, as I'm not affiliated with Descript. They don't even offer an affiliate program, which is super disappointing for many podcasters out there. Either way, I would highly recommend you check them out.
My NEW Process
As I'm gearing up to relaunch my podcast, my new editing process is under development too. I start by using Descript to do the minimum editing, and then I do more.
Instead of doing as little as possible, I now want to put more production behind my podcast. What this means is writing scripts and recording voiceovers. An example of what I'm talking about is This American Life. Though I'm not going to the exact level of production there, it should give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
Once I've written my scripts and recorded my voiceovers, I'll send all the files to a company that will do the audio engineering, transcripts, social content and show notes.
I know this will take a lot more time, but I feel like the final product will be much better. And once I have my style figured out, I'll be outsourcing the scriptwriting too.
Why The Shift
I've made the big change because I don't see this as me simply putting out a podcast. I'm building a business. And if I want my business to succeed, I need to deliver the best service and experience to my listeners. The better the experience is for my listeners and the easier it will be to find ways to earn revenue for the business, which will be a subject for another article.
If you want to follow my journey and learn more about building a podcast as a business, be sure to subscribe to this blog.