How To Start A Podcast If You’ve Never Edited Before

You’ve baked sourdough bread, cleaned out the hall closet, and video-chatted everyone in your contacts. The next logical thing to do during this quarantine is to start a podcast. Whether you decide to add value to the 1,400 episodes discussing COVID-19 or join Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon in the sub-genre lovingly called couples in quarantine, podcasting is a creative (and promotional!) outlet you can really dig into.

I mean, hey, you’re good at talking! You have interesting things to say! You have a couple of bucks to spare on a microphone now that you’re cooking all your meals!

To be totally honest, you wanted to start a podcast anyway but never had the time to dedicate to it.

With your idea set, your makeshift studio put together, and your partner further quarantined to the living room to reduce sound, the only thing standing between you and this treasure-trove of creativity is editing.

Audio editing is a critical component of the audience experience. As a solo producer, it can seem daunting to learn a brand new technical skill. The lingo! The time! The intricacy! The time and complexity of editing depend on the makeup of your specific podcast. Maybe it’s just you and a co-host chatting, or perhaps you want to create a new fictional world with characters and atmosphere. Do you have transferable skills, or are you brand new to the audio editing world? Should you learn to edit yourself? If not, what are your options? Let’s take a closer look.

Is podcast audio editing a good use of your current skills?

There are a lot of elements that go into the production of a show, From flow and strategy to researching topics and conducting interviews — even editing and promoting. A lot goes into the final product! Your professional background may lend more to one aspect of producing than another. For instance, someone with a full-time publicity job will likely be stellar at promoting her show.

When it comes to editing, ask yourself, am I the type of person who enjoys learning a new technical skill? Do you dabble or work in tech? Do you quickly pick up video games or computer programs? Do you enjoy repetitive yet rewarding projects? Are you comfortable concentrating on a computer screen? If yes, editing may be in your wheelhouse. If not, read on.

Would you enjoy learning a totally new skill?

Becoming a great audio editor can lead to lots of fun possibilities. Think of all the entertainment we interact with that involves sound — movies, T.V. shows, radio programs, music, and video games! By learning how to edit and mix audio, not only will your podcast sound fantastic, you might consider helping others edit their shows for a small fee. Perhaps you’ll find a natural skill you didn’t know you had!

To be a great podcast editor, here are some topics you’ll want to become familiar with:

  • Terminology: You will come across lots of new terms and definitions when editing like pan, clip, and gain, to name a few. Learning them will make your experience smoother. Here’s a handy guide.
  • Software: There are many versions of Digital Audio Workstations out there (DAW for short). These audio editing programs allow you to record right into them using your microphone. Audacity and Garage Band are great free options. Pop open a program and play around to see if it’s something you want to pick up.
  • Podcast editing tools: With all the free and simple tools these days, you may not even need a whole program. Experts recommend apps like Aluti, which are do-it-for-you editing.
  • Music licensing: Jingles help give a podcast a polished feel, and music helps make a show memorable. But to use a specific piece of music for your podcast, you’ll have to determine whether you can license it for use. Here’s a good overview of the process.

While editing isn’t hard to master with dedication and practice, you’ll need to have a bit of patience. It will take a bit of time to get proficient at it. It can also be a timely process that requires stopping and starting a new episode multiple times to edit. Some people enjoy that kind of work. Others find it menial. But it’s a challenging and useful skill to learn, as you can always apply audio editing in other areas of your professional life or personal hobbies.

What to do if you answered “no” to both questions

If editing still doesn’t sound like a skill you’d like to learn, you still have several options that can leave you with a great sounding podcast. Below are a few options.

1. Don’t edit

It may sound counterintuitive, but not every podcast requires hours of editing. If you and your guest or co-host have a solid conversational flow, you may not need to edit. Writer Tim Ferriss has a podcast with more than 60 million downloads, and he champions the fact that he performs minimal editing. He removes obvious errors from the broadcast, but for the most part, the episodes represent the original conversation. Meaning minimal editing can leave your podcast with a more authentic style.

In fact, The Podcast Host has dubbed this the “Minimum Effective Editing” approach. They lay out several ways to make mistakes easier to catch in the editing process, eliminating the amount of time it will take you to edit. They also advocate doing plenty of planning and preparation for your guest or subject BEFORE you record. That way, whether you’re conducting an interview or discussing a topic, you’ll be less likely to make a mistake that needs to be edited out.

2. Outsource

You can also outsource your editing. Prices range from $10 to a couple hundred, depending on the length and complexity of your episodes. Browse around Fiverr’s podcast editing section to get a feel for the potential cost.

When choosing, ask for clips from past projects, and have a thorough conversation so you can get to know them and make your expectations/needs crystal clear. What exactly do you want an editor to do for you? Volume leveling? Noise-minimizing? Make a list before your initial call. It’s best to find an editor who has a personal interest in your show.

3. Select a co-host that enjoys editing

We mentioned earlier that your professional background might lend more to one aspect of producing than another. Why not sit down with your potential co-host and list your natural skills? You may be great at research, and she may be amazing at tech. Since there are many duties involved with podcasting, you two can split duties evenly. If you’re on the hunt for a co-host, make editing a clear part of the package.

Don’t let a lack of editing knowledge stop you from podcasting

If you find yourself in the position of wanting to start a podcast, don’t let your lack of editing knowledge intimidate you. There are multiple ways for you to either A) learn how to edit or B) find someone to assist you with the process. Podcasting is too rewarding and fun to let it stand in your way!

Once your show is edited and ready to broadcast to the world, it’s time to choose a podcast hosting platform. With Sounder, you can receive a whole host of great perks, like free hosting, free transcription, Pinpoint Audio Share, and a caring team. For more information about Sounder, check out our website or visit our Podcast Mastermind Group Facebook page.

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