Editing is a savior to some, and hell to others. But do you really need to edit your podcasts? Or should you be editing when you don't?
For the sake of example, this podcast episode has no additional editing, and will have my comments on what I would have edited at the end.
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Challenging the Podcasting Assumptions
This is a special miniseries to challenge the ideas podcasters have accepted as truth for years. Some will stand up against the challenge while others crumble, and some will reveal new options you may have never considered.
- Are you really a “podcaster” and should you really be podcasting?
- Does your podcast NEED interaction or an email list?
- Is iTunes really THE place for podcasts? Do you NEED a mobile app?
- Does SEO really matter in podcasting?
- Do you REALLY need to edit your podcasts? What about authenticity?
- Do you REALLY need audio/visual branding or promos for your podcast?
- Should you launch your podcast with Episode 0? Does iTunes New and Noteworthy REALLY matter?
- Are Episode Numbers REALLY Necessary?
- Does audio/video quality ACTUALLY matter? Is a dynamic mic REALLY the best?
- Do you REALLY need passion? Is consistency THAT important?
What is editing?
Editing doesn't always mean removing stuff. Sometimes, it means improving your content by moving sections, updating information, or adding new stuff. Editing is anything you do that changes the recording from its raw version.
Why edit podcasts?
There are many reasons to consider editing your podcast before you publish.
- Insert intro, outro, segues, backgrounds, and other sound clips or visual aids
- Fix problem areas, such as static, overly loud, or overly quiet places
- Relieve some pressure by knowing that you can pause and repeat what didn't come out right
- Tighten flow by removing gaps between thoughts or conversation passes (such as waiting for the other person to respond)
- Remove mistakes, such as coughs, mic bumps, and other unwanted noises
- Refine communication, such as removing verbal crutches, clean up dialog, cut irrelevant parts
- Adding information, such as commercials, segments, corrections, or other extras you missed before
Generally, we do (or have someone else do) all this editing to give a better, smooth, more understandable, and more professional presentation.
Depending on your editing skills with your software of choice, you may believe that you can turn any bad podcast into a great episode—with enough time.
Why not edit podcasts?
Many podcasters hate editing for a variety of reasons.
- It takes too much time (usually 3 minutes of editing for every 1 minute of audio, double for video)
- They don't have the skills
- It costs too much to have someone else do it
- They want to get the episode out quickly
- They don't care about how they sound
- They want to sound “authentic”
Generally, time and expense are the biggest reasons to not edit. If you try to be perfect, you'll never podcast. (I struggled with that during the first two years of my podcasting!)
Does editing remove authenticity?
Some podcasters will be so confident in themselves that they will refuse to edit anything. You may even hear something another podcaster would normally edit out left in and even focused on with, “I'm not going to edit that out.”
Authenticity is a two-sided issue. On one side, editing will seem like a lack of authenticity. It's like you don't want people to hear the truth and so you cover it up with editing.
On the other side, editing can improve authenticity by allowing the viewer or listener to focus on your content, presentation, and personality.
It all depends on what level of editing you attempt.
How much should you edit?
The answer to this question is entirely up to you. For some, the answer is, “more than you do now”; for others, it's, “less than you do now.”
The beauty of podcasting is that you can do it however you want. But all choices have consequences. So over-editing your show may kill your drive, and under-editing your show may make your audience want to kill you!
Like many things, I generally recommend a middle-ground that combines the best of both sides. My 3 golden rules of podcast-editing are simple.
Golden rule #1: Improve your presentation first
Most people prefer to edit because they're not good presenters. Just like with noise removal, it's always best to fix the problems before you press record.
If you want to edit every “um,” “uh,” “ya know,” and other verbal crutch from your podcast, try it once and count how many you removed. Then work to remove them from your regular language.
The easiest way to overcome verbal crutches is to replace them with silence. If you feel unsure of something, pause instead of saying, “um.” Depending on your software, you may be able to truncate these silences easily with a simple tool and sound smarter.
Golden rule #2: Remove distractions
Listen closely to everyone around you and you'll notice we all have things we could edit, but they're not distracting (until you have now focused on them!).
I recommend keeping a pad of paper to jot down timestamps for when something catastrophic or overly distracting happens that you know you'll want to edit later. Alternatively, use an external record that can place markers, or learn how to use your recording software to place markers as you go (Audacity calls this the Label Track).
Keep these notes or markers simple. Just knowing the time is enough for you to jump to that spot and recognize what need to be edited.
If you're working off timestamps you wrote down, work from the end to the beginning so you don't shift any of your points in ways that they no longer align with your notes.
What you consider a distraction is up to you, but be objective and consider your audience. A few pauses or some verbal crutches may not be very distracting, but a loud sniffle or dog bark in your room would be distracting.
If you have a guest in your podcast, focus on making them look and sound great!
Also make sure your editing doesn't cause distractions. This is easy with video where you can see edit points. That's why multiple camera angles and B-roll footage can be great. In audio, a sharply cut or or sound clip can also be just as distracting.
Golden rule #3: Keep authenticity
Don't edit yourself so much that you no longer sound like you. If you say “um” in every sentence and edit all of them out, then people will be surprised if they meet you in person and hear you use “um” so much.
Is a dark bark in the background part of your authenticity? No, it was a mistake.
Is your little stumble over a word and quick repeat part of your authenticity? Maybe.
Is your random change of mental direction part of your authenticity? Probably.
But in everything you consider editing, think back to how you can improve your personal communication first.
Conclusion: Is editing necessary? It depends
There's no clear answer on this one. Some people are really good at presenting that they don't need any editing. Other people understand editing well enough that they can present with mistakes, but they are easy to edit (like Michael Hyatt). Other people may be starting out and may struggle with presenting well and can use some editing to help them make a good first impression.
And sometimes we all have little mistakes that could be removed without distraction.
What if you need editing but don't have the time?
First, go back to Golden Rule #1 and improve your presentation.
If you still need help, then consider finding a volunteer or hiring someone. Think about how much else you could accomplish if you didn't have to spend the time you do to edit.
Editing expenses range from $10 per labor hour to $50 and sometimes more. If you'd like to hire my editor (he handles many of my videos, the Ramen Noodle, and ONCE podcast), contact John Bukenas (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What do you think about podcast editing and authenticity? Comment on the show notes and share your perspective.
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Great episode DJL, because as many of you in the podcast space explain, podfading when you don’t stick to a consistent schedule is almost imminent. One thing with the podcasts I’ve hosted in the past were being consistent. In a news-based niche, trying to capitalize on the news can be great, until other things get in the way. With my current podcast, I’m setting consistent release times and I’m starting to see consistent numbers and some steady (slow, but steady) growth. I find I was initially doing the podcast (at first) the same day as a release and there was no rhyme or reason to it. Now that I’ve found a good MWF (two of the shows I produce and host myself) format, listeners are starting to become aware they are released on certain days and they’re already downloading the episodes before I even hit the social media blast on Twitter, Facebook and G+. This series has been fantastic. For some reason, I feel like I’m coming off as a fanboy with listening live and incessant commenting, but this series REALLY is helpful, even to those like me who think they’ve got some of the timing stuff figured out.
With a MWF schedule like that, what do you do when you travel?
I always travel with a computer in case news breaks. I’m generally internet connected when I need to be. But I’m starting to make sure I have content in the hopper ready to go. An example is this coming week. I’m going to North Carolina for a wedding for about 5 days. During that time, I’ll have two shows to release. They’re already done. Just plug them into wordpress and auto post when the time comes and hit social media the days they auto post. It’s something I actually did when I traveled on my old show long before I’d ever heard of the John Lee Dumas, who I’ve actually only listened to once.
So I have Friday (of this week), and Monday (of next) already loaded and ready. Wednesday is the only show that’s recorded and released the same day, but that’s actually another show within my podcast. We record that show from a radio station in Iowa as part of our podcast, so that’s the Wednesday show. The only problem that can come up there is little tech knowledge at the station, so I use Audio Hijack to get the audio off the live stream (which can be risky at times, no the studio doesn’t seem to want to record the show for us unless they absolutely have to).
I’m trying to build up non-timely shows (since my offseason is interview based) to have ready to drop in within a two week period and then have the ability to move shows based on relevance. On Monday, I’d already released a podcast and was waiting for Friday to release a big name interview. Then there was a hire at a Division I wrestling program (new head coach). So I’ve got that person as Friday and bumping the previous guest show to Monday. I don’t actually publish the show on blubrry until I know my order, so I’m not saying “Episode 61” when it’s actually 62 or 60.
I also have the Roland ready to roll if I need to do things on the road. I always travel with my computer, even though I might not turn it on.
Hi, I am new to podcasting and would like to launch at the end of the summer.
I am familiar with WP and would use it to create a website as a place to house my podcast episodes etc.
I am thinking of going with Buzzsprout as a podcast host and I know they have a plugin with WP. So that’s good.
So my question is: do I need a site that will host WP? And if yes, what might work?
Buzzsprout is a good host (in fact, you can get a handy bonus if you sign up through my link at https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/buzzsprout), but I’m not familiar enough with their WP plugin in order to know whether to recommend it.
My favorite way to manage your podcast through WordPress is with Blubrry (https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/blubrry) and the free PowerPress plugin.
You could also look at Captivate (https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/captivate), where they also offer a good WordPress plugin that separates your podcast episodes from your blog posts, which some site owners prefer.
Thanks for this great mini series. Are you aware that all these episodes (from 170 to 181) aren’t available via the rss feed” ?
Does this serie use it’s own feed?