Happy Labor Day! In celebration of this USA holiday, I'll share how much you should expect podcasting to take, how to speed up your workflow, and how I work with my podcasts.

Audio podcasting is a 4:1 work ratio

Audio podcasting is easier than video on multiple levels.

  • Audio equipment costs less.
  • It's easy to get high quality for a low price.
  • Audio is easier and cheaper to edit.
  • Audio costs less to host and distribute.
  • Audio is more consumable.
  • Audio-editing is more seamless.

Despite being easier, audio podcasting does still take time. The average goal is about a 4:1 ratio—four minutes of work for every one minute of content. The means a well-presented one-hour episode could take five hours in total (four hours of preparation or post-production, one hour of presenting).

Video podcasting is an 8+:1 work ratio

Video is a much bigger beast than audio in podcasting.

  • Video equipment costs more (you need good audio and video gear).
  • It's harder to get high quality for a low price.
  • Effective video editing often requires more expensive software.
  • Video costs more to host and distribute (especially if you publish in HD).
  • Video is less consumable.
  • Video-editing takes a lot of work and extra footage to look seamless.
  • Video has more layers that could require editing (lower thirds, transitions, B-roll footage, etc.).

Because of this, it can take a lot longer to edit a video. At least an 8:1 ratio—eight minutes of work for every one minute of content. So a well-produced fifteen-minute video, without getting fancy, could take an additional two hours to prepare and produce.

How to complicate your podcasting work

The more perfectionist you are, the more work the content will take. For example, scripting your podcast could double your time, due to editing your script, trying to perform it exactly, and then editing out any mistakes.

  1. Try to be perfect.
  2. Don't plan ahead.
  3. Edit out every mistake.
  4. Edit in sound clips.
  5. Do everything yourself.

How to simplify your podcasting work

  1. Plan and prepare. Know what you're going to say and how you'll transition between points. Have everything you'll need ready. Get my checklist of 20 things you should do before every episode.
  2. Look for patterns you can create and then automate them. Make templates, follow regular outlines, or use tools to handle the mundane tasks for you.
  3. Use equipment to simplify your workflow. Use a mixer to live-mix your sounds. Add a compressor/limiter/gate to handle audio processing. Keep everything setup in your space. Use multiple cameras instead of re-recording. Use quality microphones to reduce the need for post-processing.
  4. Don't try to be perfect. Edit out only the major distractions, let the rest of your presentation be authentic. If that's not good enough, then improve your presentation.
  5. Delegate some things. Get some help! This can be paid or volunteer. It can also mean getting content ideas from your community instead of inventing them yourself.

How I work

Because September 30 is National Podcast Day, I'll spend some time in each episode to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I podcast. Each podcast I host has a different workflow and different time requirements.

The Audacity to Podcast

  1. Every day, I collect and sometimes develop ideas in Evernote.
  2. 11:00 Monday mornings, I stop whatever I'm doing and switch to working on The Audacity to Podcast.
  3. I decide on my topic and then outline what I want to share.
  4. I send or schedule messages for my social networks (with Buffer) to announce the topic and encourage an audience to listen live.
  5. In WordPress, I start a draft post from a Simple Content Template and start writing my notes.
  6. While I write, I add necessary hyperlinks and formatting (quickly with Markdown), plus collect any information I need from research.
  7. I arrange my notes and outline in the most logical flow.
  8. I re-read my notes and add additional thoughts or resources.
  9. At 2:00 pm, I present and record live.
  10. While I present, I hit the Record button on my Zoom H4n to place a marker on spots I want to be edited.
  11. By about 3:00, I finish recording and copy the audio files to my computer.
  12. I use Adobe Audition to convert the two stereo recordings (voice + soundtrack from my Zoom H4n) into two mono recordings while maintaining my H4n's markers.
  13. I place the recordings in a new episode folder on Dropbox to share with my audio-editor, John Bukenas.
  14. By about 3:15, I work on finalizing my show notes with relevant tags, search-engine optimization (SEO), links, and images (especially a featured image).
  15. Around 4:00, I either move on to engaging in podcasting social-media communities, or I write or finish my email to my exclusive email list for podcasters. I use MailChimp for my email list and schedule the message to send the following day at 11:00 am.
  16. Around 5:30 or 6:00, John finishes editing the episode. I give it a quick glance to ensure the opening, closing, and problem areas were handled appropriately.
  17. I export an MP3 from Adobe Audition then use ID3 Editor to add the ID3 tags.
  18. I upload the MP3 to LibSyn, link it in my show notes on WordPress and click publish.
  19. Lastly, I share the post to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Sometimes, I'll also share it with specific individuals or podcasting communities.

The next few podcast examples will be more simplified, now that you know the details.

ONCE – Once Upon a Time podcast

Assuming it's during the TV season, this is how the week's workflow goes.

  1. Sunday morning and afternoon, I schedule several social message with Buffer to tease for the upcoming One Upon a Time episode, our live chat, and the live “initial reactions” podcast episode.
  2. At 7:45 pm, I sit at the TV with my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard and start chatting with others watching at the same time in our chat room.
  3. The show starts at 8:00, and I start noting major discussion points into WorkFlowy on my iPad.
  4. The show finishes at 9:00, and I sent out another message to encourage live viewers of our podcast.
  5. At 9:15, we go live and share our initial, incomplete thoughts on what we just saw.
  6. While we're recording, I have a virtual assistant (Jhack) writing show notes on what we say, and directly entering them into a WordPress draft post.
  7. We finish by about 9:45 and I pass the recordings to John Bukenas for his quick editing.
  8. By about 10:30, the show notes are complete (or I may have to add some links or photo), and I have the completed, tagged, and uploaded episode.
  9. I publish the podcast episode and share it on social networks.
  10. Monday morning, I download the episode from iTunes and use M4VGear to convert the video into a format I can use for screenshots and sound clips.
  11. In the following days, volunteers collect interesting forum posts, sort the feedback, and place in our WorkFlowy document for the next podcast episode.
  12. Wednesday, at 1:00 pm, I rewatch the episode while I list and arrange the scenes in the most logical discussion order, I take notes on what I want to discuss, I sort the feedback, and I capture and edit sound clips.
  13. I'm finish with ONCE preparations by about 4:00.
  14. At 7:00, my cohost and I rewatch the episode (my third or fourth time) and take additional notes.
  15. At 8:00, we connect with our cohost(s) and go live while one of my assistants takes the show notes.
  16. At about 10:00, we finish recording and I share the files with John. My cohosts record their sides, too, so they share the recordings with John, too.
  17. John edits the everything either late at night or early the next day.
  18. Before noon on Thursday, I look over the show notes and the podcast editing before I export, tag, upload, and publish.
  19. Then I share the episode on social networks.

the Ramen Noodle – clean comedy podcast

This is the simplest show to prepare for, but I can always see that less preparation means less actually funny content in the episode.

  1. Throughout the week, I collect or note funny things, stories, stuff I find, and feedback.
  2. On Wednesday, after I prepare for ONCE, I prepare for the Ramen Noodle and usually have about 30 to 60 minutes to do this. I draft these things in WordPress on my template.
  3. At 5:00, my cohost, Jeremy, comes over for dinner, which helps break the ice and get us in the mood for comedy.
  4. We go live at 6:00 and finish by 7:00.
  5. I try to immediately share the files with John so I can move on to rewatching Once Upon a Time.
  6. The next morning, I look over John's edits, finish my show notes, and publish the episode.
  7. I share the episode to my social accounts and then move on to publishing ONCE.


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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Jeff Roney
Jeff Roney
9 years ago

Great info. I totally agree with the preparation and pre-thinking through the notes before you record. I even include links and info in my full show notes, so I never take a left turn in a discussion and wonder, “Was I right about that fact/point?” Without pre-thinking and what I call “Over noting” saves me time in having the freedom and comfort level to have all the info in front of me without having to search in Wikipedia, etc while you record or try and remember where to edit out a portion of the podcast when you aren’t sure of a statement’s validity. It’s a pain, but it saves you more pain down the road.

John Wilkerson
9 years ago

Great thoughts overall about streamlining the workflow. New podcasters will find that as they get more experience their time to create will get shorter. I can sometimes sit down, write show notes, and produce a 30-minute podcast in about 90 minutes if I’m feeling really motivated but it usually takes about 2 hours. Interviews take around 3 hours to produce because they generally involve a lot more editing.

9 years ago

My workflow timing is just about exactly what you describe. Your suggestions are pretty solid. Part of my podcast is a 5-6 way discussion amongst colleagues, so my planning is a little bit less intensive than you describe and so I likely have more post production editing to do. It’s been working for me, though. I really appreciate the tip on the Simple Content Template and Markdown. I haven’t used either before and I look forward to trying them out. Thanks a ton, Daniel!

Jeff Aman
Jeff Aman
9 years ago

Daniel, this is one of the most helpful podcasts on podcasting I have ever listened to. Thank you!

Frank Howard
9 years ago

Thanks for some great tips Daniel. It’s great getting insight on what some of the more prominent podcasters are doing in their workflow.

Frank Howard
9 years ago

Thanks for asking. In one word: Workflow. I’m about 13 one hour episodes into a new podcast I started (Totally Hooked Podcast on iTunes). For me getting the detailed workflow organized the way you did in this podcast gave me ideas for improving my show. The 4:1 ratio I hope allows me to put more time in as right now I am so into podcasting I sort of jump in there. Taking that extra time, and having a process I think will help as my podcast grows.


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