Podcast Editing Summary: How does it work?
- There are many different approaches and many different tools out there when it comes to podcast editing.
- Some podcasters thoroughly comb through their content, cutting out every little mistake and stumble.
- Others do absolutely no editing and release their content as raw as when it was recorded.
- Plenty of options are available for those who’d like to do some editing on their show. These range from software programs and apps to freelancers and production companies who’ll take care of it for you.
- Here, we’ll help you navigate the choppy waters of podcast editing and find the best approach and tools. So let’s get started!
Podcast editing. For complete beginners, it can be an intimidating barrier to launching a show. Many aspiring podcasters procrastinate, worrying about how they’ll actually edit their podcast episodes before publishing them.
But it’s never been easier to edit audio yourself or find someone (or something) else to do it for you.
What’s more, there’s nothing to say that you absolutely need to edit your podcast. Or, exactly how you should do it. It all depends on your own approach, content, and audience.
Here, I’d like to run through the various podcast editing options available.
These will depend on your budget, time constraints, and whether or not you prefer to learn new skills or outsource the stuff you’ve no interest in doing yourself.
Just before we jump into part one, a quick heads up. We use the odd affiliate link in this article, which we’d earn a small commission from if you were to buy through it. This is never at any extra cost to you, though – and we only use affiliate links for stuff we recommend and use ourselves!
Alright, let’s get on with this whirlwind tour of podcast editing…
How to Edit a Podcast
At its most basic level, podcast editing is cutting out unwanted bits from your recordings.
In almost all podcast editing software programs, this is done by showing you a visual representation of your audio, known as a waveform. You then find the parts you want to chop, highlight them, and delete them like you’d delete text in a Word document.
Podcast editing can also be done on what’s known as a multitrack. As the name suggests, you’re working with multiple audio tracks here. In a multitrack editor, you’ll drag your clips, trim them, and arrange them into a fully-fledged podcast episode. This is a common way of mixing in different segments, clips, and podcast music.
Then, there’s the production side of podcast editing. This is where you can run effects and processes designed to reduce background noise, boost volume, and gently enhance your audio. This can be done with pre-set effects or plugins. Some audio editing software (like Alitu) will take care of this automatically, so you don’t need to spend time learning it all.
How Long Does it Take to Edit a Podcast?
Unsurprisingly, there’s a big “it depends” answer to this one. Let’s use two different podcasters as an example.
Quick & Dirty Podcast Editing
In the first instance, our podcaster opts for a “Minimum Effective Editing” approach. Here, they’ll build this into their recording process – any time they make a mistake or get interrupted, they’ll click their fingers three times in front of the mic. This creates a very obvious visual marker in the waveform, so it’s quick and easy to chop out later on.
They’ll do a “top and tail”, chop off the unwanted stuff at the beginning and end of the recording, and use pre-sets or automation to add some music and do the production and processing work. If this show is about 30 minutes long, it’ll take no longer than 15 minutes to edit. That’s pretty fast.
Thorough Podcast Editing & Production
In our second example, our podcaster records lengthy interviews where finger-clicking isn’t really an option. They can use a notepad to jot down potential edit timecodes, but they prefer to focus 100% on the conversation. Later on, this lengthy interview will need a full listen-through, which can take double its time. As a ballpark, a one-hour recording will need two hours of editing.
Not only that, but our podcaster likes to go for the “highly produced” approach, layering in music beds for mood and effect. Picking out music from a Royalty Free source and then working it into your content can easily add another hour to your podcast editing.
Production-wise, they might be interested in the granular control and maximum optimisation here, too. This would mean taking each separate recording and manually applying things like Compression and EQ. Again, this can add another hour to your workflow if you really get into the weeds.
Overall, our second podcaster could expect to spend three to five hours editing their hour-long episode.
A Rough Average Podcast Editing Time: One Hour
Both examples are on the extreme ends of the spectrum, and for most podcasters, the reality lies somewhere in the middle. If you wanted the ultimate stab in the dark figure, let’s say that podcast editing takes, on average, around an hour. But there are so many variables, caveats, and exceptions.
What Are the Podcast Editing “Rules”?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’ll realise that there’s no single way you “should” be editing your podcast. Indeed, there are good and bad practices, but it’s entirely up to you if you even edit your show at all.
But if you’re recording yourself talking into a mic, and don’t even feel the need for any intro music, then you can get away with no editing at all.
So how do you decide on your own approach? Here are a couple of resources to help guide you.
For solo, co-hosted, or interview podcasts, you can get away with very little editing.
Documentary and drama-style shows take a lot more podcast editing work. They work brilliantly when done well, but for most podcasters, they are overkill.
- Creating a ‘Highly Produced’ Podcast – full Season of the Podcraft Podcast
- How Do You Edit and Produce an Audio Drama Podcast?
Should I Use a DAW for My Podcast Editing?
The most common podcast editing tool is what’s known as a DAW – which stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It’s just a posh way of saying “audio editing programme”.
DAWs also let you record into them, so it’s basically like having a full recording studio on your computer – providing you have a microphone to plug into it.
The most popular beginner DAW is one called Audacity. It’s popular because it’s absolutely free. And it’s still more than good enough to build your podcast episode with.
Below, you’ll find our complete comparison between Audacity and Audition, which will hopefully help you decide which one (if any) you’d prefer to use.
Just looking to choose the best fit for you and your show?
- Best Podcast Editing Software for Podcasters of All Levels
- Audacity vs Adobe Audition – Which DAW Should I Use?
- Reaper Review – a Collaborative Option for Recording and Editing Podcasts
Want to learn more about DAW-based audio terms, tools, and techniques?
- Destructive Vs Non Destructive Editing for Podcast Production
- The Audacity Compressor – Fix Your Podcast & Audio Volume Issues
- Audacity Noise Reduction – How to Remove Background Noise
- Adobe Audition Review – Plus My Favourite Audition Tools for Podcasting
What About Podcast Editing Apps & Tools?
Podcast editing is the most common thing we’re asked about here at The Podcast Host.
That led to us developing a tool called Alitu, which practically builds your episode for you. It can take care of the processing, editing, and publishing of your podcast without the need for a DAW. You can also record your show inside Alitu (call recording or solo), and it has extra features like music, transcription, and hosting built-in. That means you can start publishing to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and 100 other places the minute you hit ‘save’ on your first episode.
Alitu has a lot of features, but it excels as a standalone podcast editing tool. You can even edit via text, or at double speed, so it’ll cut hours off of your production workload. The latest feature to be added is the ability to create or edit podcast cover art, too. This means you have everything you need to podcast, all under one roof.
In short, Alitu is a simple-to-use tool aimed at “non-techy” people, complete beginners, and podcasters who simply don’t have the time to spend editing their podcasts in the more traditional way.
Of course, there are some other great apps out there, too. The bottom line is that these days, you don’t need a DAW to edit your podcast. In fact, you can podcast without ever having opened one in your life.
Looking for some simple podcast editing tools?
- Alitu: The Podcast Maker App
- Best Podcast-Making Apps: Simplify Your Podcasting Process
- EditPoint – Take a Walk & Produce Your Podcast
Or maybe you DO prefer more of a DIY approach. In which case…
Is Text-Based Podcast Editing a Thing?
Yes! One of the simplest ways to edit audio is to take a written transcript of your audio, highlight the words, sentences, or sections you’d like to remove, and delete them. Text-based editing will then delete the corresponding audio, so if you can compose a text message to your best pal, you can edit a podcast.
You won’t find text-based editing in many podcast editing software programs right now, but it’ll undoubtedly become much more popular in the next year or two. That said, the tech is already here, and Alitu, Descript, and Riverside are three places you can get started editing by text today.
Should I Hire a Producer to Do My Podcast Editing?
Still got no interest in having anything to do with your podcast editing? That’s perfectly normal. It just means you’ll probably need to hire someone to do it for you.
There is an ever-growing number of producers out there who make themselves available for podcast editing work. These range from freelancers with day jobs to fully-fledged companies employing teams of podcast producers on their staff.
The route you go down will, as ever, depend on your budget. You’ll find loads of excellent freelancers doing great work at a low cost. But, like any other service, there will undoubtedly be a few unreliable folks in the marketplace, too.
If you are looking for a producer, then here are some options for you.
Hiring a Producer: Options
- Music Radio Creative will give you an instant quote based on your average episode length and the number of episodes you’d like to commit to.
- There are plenty of podcast editors available for hire on Fiverr. Check out adamglinder and radioorg if you want to go down this route.
- You might also want to see our full guides on what to look for in a podcast production company and how to hire a podcast producer.
Hardware for Podcast Editing
It almost goes without saying, but a capable computer is an essential part of the podcast editor’s toolkit. There are a few considerations when buying a laptop or computer for podcasting, which we cover in our dedicated guides. If you plan to run Pro Tools on your ZX Spectrum, be prepared to drink many cups of tea whilst you wait.
If you’re using a laptop or computer, then it’s an assumption that you’ll be using a mouse, too. But there are much more intuitive and comfortable ways to edit podcasts, especially if you spend a lot of time on production.
Two of our podcast editing experts, Sarah and Dev, have drawn from the gaming world to give them more tangible control over their software and protect themselves from nasty conditions like RSI. Sarah uses the Stream Deck, whilst Dev uses an Xbox controller. And, as you’ll see from our reviews, they like these setups a lot!
Podcast Editing Summary: Your Content. Your Audience
No two podcasts are alike (that’s actually a lie, there are at least 500 “entrepreneur” shows with the words “On Fire” in their title, but we’ll brush past that!), so this all comes down to your own unique approach and aims.
Podcast Editing for the Hobbyist or “Toe-Dipper”
If you’re a hobbyist just looking to chat about a topic close to your heart, taking some time to learn the basics of Audacity is probably the best option for you. Remember, if you’d like to take a course on Audacity (or Audition), you can do that inside the IndiePod Community.
Podcast Editing for the Small Business or Side-Hustle
If you’re someone currently working a day job, but launching your show as part of a side business that you’re serious about growing, then you might be prepared to spend a little money to save a lot of time. In that case, using the “podcast making” app Alitu is likely your best option.
Podcast Editing for the Company or Brand Podcast
Or, if you’re an established business looking to get a highly polished and professional-sounding show right out the gate, hiring a producer will be your best option. Just remember that great-sounding audio is more to do with the source material than the editing, though, so hire someone who can advise you on your recording setup and work with you on that front, too. Check out our Podcast Producer Directory for a list of options and prices!