Download: MP3 (32.5 MB)

My goal for this episode is to answer two questions.

  1. Is editing really worth the time?
  2. If so, what kind of things should I edit out of my podcast?

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Don’t wait till your podcast is popular before you start editing your show. Do the editing now for all your future listeners.
  • Editing shows your listener that you respect their most valuable asset, which is their time.
  • Everyone is fighting in the attention war. You have to keep your audience’s attention by giving them what they want.
  • If you prepare more, you’ll end up having to do less editing.
  • Raw recordings are ok if all the people on the show are great speakers. If they’re not, then you need to do some editing.
  • If your guest is funny or providing a lot of value, a few filler words won’t ruin the experience.

Show Notes

  • 2:04 When people think about podcast editing, a topic that comes up is audio quality. Audio quality is important, but I’m not going to talk about it in this episode too much. Just think about this: The top shows in iTunes all sound good. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now. This episode isn’t about sound quality although you know that’s something I’m passionate about.

Think About the Long Game

  • 2:51 One of the reasons editing is so important is that your show (depending on your content and dedication) might be around for a very long time. Your audience might be small when you’re just starting out, but it will grow over time, and some people will go back and start from the beginning. You might think that your show will never be that popular, but you can’t know for sure.
  • 4:09 Is it worth putting your future podcast listeners through a bunch of mistakes just so you can save a couple hours every week? I don’t think it is. Spend the time doing a little bit of cleaning up and your future listeners will thank you.

Don’t wait till your podcast is popular before you start editing your show. Do the editing now for all your future listeners.

Editing Shows You Respect Your Audience’s Time

  • 4:34 Editing shows your listener that you respect their most valuable asset; their time.
  • 4:57 You might spend two hours cleaning up and polishing your audio, but think about how many people are in your audience and how much time you’ll be saving them collectively.
  • 5:06 Let’s say you have an audience of 1,000 people who download and listen to your podcast. You spend 2 hours editing your podcast and cut 5 minutes of junk and mistakes from the total running time.
  • 5:24 You just saved each of your 1000 audience members 5 minutes of time, but collectively you saved them 83 hours (1000 x 5 min = 5000 mins / 60 = 83 hours) . You invested 2 hours and freed up 83 hours of time for other people.

Editing shows your listener that you respect their most valuable asset, which is their time.

If You Are a Podcast Creator, You Are Participating in the Attention War

  • 6:00 I first heard this term (attention war) in an audio book I was listening to called Ted Talks. As someone producing content, you’re competing with so many other forms of entertainment, including:
    1. Every other podcast
    2. Every music album created ever
    3. Audiobooks (Audible)

Everyone is fighting in the attention war. You have to keep your audience’s attention by giving them what they want.

  • 7:17 Don’t freak out. You can do a good job. You just have to focus on delivering value. You’re thinking, “Ok Aaron, so there’s an attention war. How do I make sure I create something great for my audience?”

Prepare More, Edit Less

  • 7:46 Benjamin Franklin (smart dude) said, “An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” Note: The quote is actually, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Thanks to Daniel Glaze for pointing out my mistake! I still think it works though.
  • 8:14 If you want to make a great podcast, preparation is essential. Prepare an outline, know the point of your episode. Think about the journey that you want to take your listener on. Think about the main takeaways that you want people to remember when they’re done listening to your podcast.
  • 8:29 To prepare effectively, you need to know what your audience and what they’re interested in. You need to know what they want to hear and you need to be paying attention to what kinds of questions they’re asking.

If you prepare more, you’ll end up having to do less editing.

What About “Live to Tape” or “Raw” Conversations?

  • 8:59 There’s nothing wrong with “doing it live”, but live listeners will put up with stuff that podcast listeners won’t. They understand that it’s a live experience and whatever happens, happens. That’s part of the fun.
  • 9:42 But if you’re new to podcasting, chances are your “live to tape” recordings are going to be pretty shaky. Over time, with practice, you’ll get more natural and you’ll need to do less editing in post, but even the pros edit their podcasts. I’ve gotten way better at podcasting in the past year, but I’m going to continue editing my podcast because I’ll never be 100% perfect.

Raw recordings are ok if all the people on the show are great speakers. If they’re not, then you need to do some editing.

Ok, What Do I Need to Edit Out of My Podcast?

  • 10:22 Think about what gets on your nerves in a podcast. The most obvious things to edit out are filler words. Ummms, long pauses and other “mistakes”.
  • 10:57 This is especially important if you or your guest use a lot of filler words. People will get annoyed if there are a ton of ummms and not much “meat” or good content.
  • 11:17 You (as the editor) have to make the call about what to cut and what to leave. As the editor for all the podcasts on the seanwes network, I have the final say about what stays in and what gets cut. I have a pretty simple rule about what gets cut; if it makes me laugh, it will probably stay. If it doesn’t serve the purpose of the episode, or if it’s not interesting, then it gets cut.
  • 11:51 Does this mean that you have to edit out every single pause or ummm or filler word? Not necessarily.

If your guest is funny or providing a lot of value, a few filler words won’t ruin the experience.

  • 12:39 However, if your guest is not very good at speaking and it takes a long time for them to get to or make a point and if they’re using a ton of filler words and pausing a lot, you’ve got some editing to do. Otherwise, you’re going to lose listeners. They will turn the show off.
  • 13:29 Imagine if I left a 5 second pause after every few sentences. How long would you put up with that? Not long, I’d guess. Also, how many of you skip ads or long, extended intros? You don’t care about that stuff, you just want the value. Your listeners feel the same way.

What If I Don’t Know How to Edit?

  • 15:21 There are free and affordable editing programs like Audacity and Garageband. Get familiar with them.
  • 16:03 Guys. It’s 2016. There are video tutorials for almost everything. If you can’t find a free tutorial on Google or Youtube, buy a Lynda.com subscription or look on a tutorial site like Udemy.
  • 16:30 Of course, you could also just try to figure it out for yourself. That’s not always the fastest way to learn new software, but it works for some people.
  • 16:40 If your time is just too valuable to spend an hour or three every week polishing/editing your podcast, hire a podcast editor. And I talked about this more in episode 8: Ten Things to Know Before You Hire a Podcast Editor.
  • 17:10 If you have to edit a show with multiple co-hosts every week, I suggest investing in professional editing software that allows you to do multi-track editing. I love Logic Pro X because I can quickly highlight and edit sections out of multiple tracks at the same time, and also because there are some great keyboard shortcuts and features that make the editing process much quicker than a program like Garageband. If you’re on a Windows PC, check out Adobe Audition.

Recap

  • 18:34 In closing, editing your podcast is important, but preparing the message or story or key points of your podcast episode is even more important.
  • 18:54 Remember, you are participating in the attention war. You’re competing against a ton of other people for your listeners attention. Bring your A game.
  • 19:05 If you don’t have time to invest in editing your podcast, hire a podcast editor for you. A good editor will know what to cut out and what to leave in.

Q&A:

  • 22:56 Jordan Newhouse asked: I’m curious: On average, how much time do you cut from the podcasts you edit? How much shorter is the finished product than the original recording?
  • 23:07 Depends on the show, but for the seanwes network podcasts, it’s usually between two and five minutes. Occasionally there will be longer sections that need to be cut.
  • 26:45 Fillippe asked: How long does it take you to edit podcasts?
  • 26:50 It depends on the length of the show, how many people are on it, and how good they are at talking. In general, it usually takes me 2-3 times as long as the episode it. So if the episode is an hour long and there are two tracks, it’ll take me two to three hours to edit it. If there are very few mistakes, sometimes I can get a show edited in 1.5x the length of the show. You also have to remember that I’ve been editing podcast professionally for three years now, so I’m really fast. It’ll take longer when you’re just starting out, but hang in there and you’ll get faster.
  • 27:37 Scotty Russell asked: When just starting off, is making sure you’re editing a lot and polishing important or is just getting started and putting it out there best? Perfectionism is holding me back.
  • 27:59 Scotty: Start your podcast already, man. I know you’re going to do a great job. Just think about your podcast episodes as mini talks; prepare an outline, hit a couple of points, record it, clean up any huge mistakes, and get it published. You’re going to make some small mistakes, that’s fine. Get started and iterate as you go.
  • 29:23 Jordan asked: I’ve been thinking about interview-type podcasts, as that’s what dominates my niche. I’ve read that for some of these an informally formatted interview chat is recorded in advance, then afterward the highlights and best stories are edited and a narrative is crafted to pull it all together. The narration is recorded after the fact. I guess my question is: What are your thoughts on this type of highly-edited podcast? (highly edited shows (like NPR) versus conversational shows)
  • 30:08 This is a question that comes up a lot. I did a poll on Twitter, asking if people preferred listening to highly edited podcasts, raw conversations, or somewhere in between. The majority voted for somewhere in between. I think people do like listening to conversations, but having structure helps the show stay valuable. I love raw conversations but I appreciate when podcasters edit out filler words or tangents.
  • 32:44 I also think the highly edited shows feel a little less personal, but they can still be very valuable if you take the time to craft a great story. They do take more time to produce, though. Keep that in mind when deciding what kind of show you want to make.