Podcasting is one of the most effective and easily accessible ways to share informative and entertaining content with the world. However, with millions of podcast creators out there the competition is brutal and it can be very difficult to stand out from the crowd.
In order to create the best possible content, podcast creators are increasingly recruiting professional assistance with different aspects of podcast creation. One of the most effective ways to boost the quality of your podcast, ease the pressure, and give you the confidence to persevere is to outsource the more time-consuming, laborious and technical elements of creating a podcast. Outsourcing tasks like audio editing and show notes writing is a great way to save loads of time and give your podcast a more professional and competitive edge.
Before jumping in and hiring the podcasting service you find online it is important to do your research and develop a clear vision of what you hope to achieve by hiring help so that you can find the right service for you. The variety of services, skills and prices offered by podcast services seems as vast as the number of actual podcasts. This article is intended to act as a guide to help you sift through the options by outlining the key factors you should consider when outsourcing podcast services so you can make an informed decision. The article primarily focuses on hiring an Audio Editor though many of the principles discussed relate to hiring any kind of podcast service.
Benefits of Hiring an Audio Editor
There are many reasons why podcast creators decide to hire Audio Editors and many ways in which an Audio Editor can help improve your podcasting experience and take things to the next level. Some of the most notable ways an Audio Editor can help you are:
- Save time! Depending on the complexity of your podcast, the quality of your audio and your current audio editing skills you could save yourself many hours per episode by hiring a professional Audio Editor. Not having to do all that editing each time you produce a podcast will give you loads more time to focus on other important tasks like marketing, content creation, guest recruitment, networking, research and so on.
- Consistency! Having a consistent standard and quality to the sound of your podcast is an important factor that will create a more professional and enjoyable listening experience for your audience. If you record in a variety of locations or your guests are recorded via Skype, there will be a lot of variation in the quality of the audio that you end up with. An Audio Editor can help to create and maintain a more consistent quality to the sound of your podcast across episodes, especially if you commonly record different people in different environments.
- Sound professional! Unless you are an Audio Engineer, it is safe to say that hiring a professional to mix and edit your audio will result in a higher quality finished product than you could produce, which will help to boost the credibility and professionalism of your podcast.
- Less stress, more fun! Hiring an Audio Editor will reduce the stress and mental effort you need to excerpt each time you create a podcast. Reducing the stress and effort associated with producing your podcast will make the whole endeavour feel less like work and more like fun!
- Increase your chances of success and reduce the likelihood that you will quit! Outsourcing one of the most time consuming aspects of producing a podcast makes the whole pursuit easier and more enjoyable, thus increasing the chances that you will keep making your show; which in turn will increase the chances that the show will be successful.
Things to Consider Before Hiring an Audio Editor
Establish your WHY
When deciding whether to hire help with your podcast you should carefully consider what you hope to get out of the service. Establishing exactly WHY you want to hire an Audio Editor will help guide you to the right person or service who can best meet your needs.
Some common answers people give when asked why they decided to hire an Audio Editor include…
- “Audio Editing is super time consuming!”
- “I want my podcast to sound professional.”
- “I don’t have the time”
- “I just don’t want to learn to edit audio.”
- “I want more time to focus on other aspects of podcasting such as content creation, marketing, research, networking and so on.”
- “Audio Editing is tedious and it saps the fun out of podcasting.”
- “My podcast would be much better if it had background music, sound effects and atmosphere throughout, to create a more immersive listening experience.”
- “My podcast is growing in popularity and I want to make sure I’m making the best show I possibly can.”
- “I’d like to have customized theme music for my podcast.”
See if you can distill your reasons for wanting to hire an audio editor into a few key points as this will help you find what you are looking for.
Cost Vs Quality
The massive range in cost for podcast services makes it difficult to determine how much you should spend and what standard of work you should expect in return. The cost of podcast services ranges from people willing to work for $2 per hour on sites like Freelancer and Upwork, to professional Audio Engineers with decades of experience charging upwards of $150 per hour. Given this massive variation, it is worth considering what you can afford to pay and what the standard of the finished product will be.
This may be controversial but while there are many up and coming Audio Editors out there who are trying to get started on freelancer websites like Upwork and Fivrr, generally, you get what you pay for. While it is theoretically possible that you will find the next Rick Rubin or Quincy Jones who has not yet gotten their big break and is willing to work for next to nothing, your chances are very slim. Typically, if you pay someone $2 per hour to do anything, they will not work very hard and the result will not be of a high standard. Why would anyone with the same skill as someone who can justify charging $50 per hour or more work for $2 per hour?
Try to find the balance between what you can afford and the standard of work you hope to achieve. Generally the more you pay the better the standard of work will be though this is not always the case so it is important to shop around. If you can only afford a few dollars per episode then your only option may be the Freelancers or Upworkers of the world, which will still benefit you as you will save time not having to edit yourself. If you are committed to creating the best possible product you can then it may be worth spending a little more to hire someone who can make your audio sound as good as it possibly can.
Most Audio Editors will have their basic prices and a portfolio online outlining the standard of work they can produce. If not, shoot them an email requesting an example of their work and a run down of their prices. Sometimes Audio Editors will even edit a small segment of your podcast for free as a way of showing you what they can do so be sure to inquire about that also. Do this for a few different service providers who seem like they might suite your needs and build a short list of people whose work and prices are favourable to you.
Cost vs Time
Figure out how much your time is worth. If you need help or clarification on this check out this amazing article put together by James Clear. It details how to think about and calculate the monetary value of your time.
Consider the relationship between the monetary value of your time, hour-to-hour, and the approximate number of hours you will save by outsourcing a given task, such as audio editing. For a typical podcast of 30-45 minutes an amateur podcaster will spend around 3-5 hours per episode on audio editing alone. Even if you enjoy audio editing, it is still a lot of time that might be better spent elsewhere.
Think about that for a second, just by outsourcing one aspect of your podcast you could free up 3-5 hours worth of time - per episode. Having an additional 3-5 hours per episode to work on essential tasks like marketing, research, content creation, finding guests and networking will have a massive cumulative impact on the success of your podcast over time.
What services do you wish to outsource for? Audio Editors are not all created equal and there is no one Audio Editor who will suit everybody's needs. Each Audio Editor will have their own working style, schedule, rates, skill-set and services so it is important to think about what YOU want before you make a decision. Some Editors just do audio editing, others will also do show notes and ID3 tagging, while some can even compose theme music or create customized sound effects and transitions for each episode. It all depends on your particular requirements, your goals and of course, your budget. So be sure to think about what kind of services you require beyond just audio editing before you commit to hiring someone who might not be able to do everything you were hoping for.
Working Style and Professional Compatibility
Each Podcast Service provider is going to have their own approach to their work and how they interact with clients. Ideally, once you decide on someone it will be a long-term professional relationship, so it is important to choose someone who’s work-style and personality are compatible with your own.
Some people are only reachable during strict hours, while others can be reached almost anytime day or night. What are your requirements? Are you ok with only being able to communicate with your Audio Editor once a week or would you prefer a more open dialogue? Do you want to communicate via a free-flowing Slack chat thread or via a more formal email schedule?
Do you want a completely automated experience where you simply upload audio files and a note to dropbox and a week later your finished episode is live on Spotify? Or do you want to be able to communicate and work with your Audio Editor throughout the process to discuss the progress of projects, give feedback, make adjustments and generally create a more interactive professional relationship?
It is important to find an Audio Editor who’s work style is compatible with your own if you are to form a lasting professional relationship. Consider what is important to you when it comes to this aspect of working with someone on your podcast because incompatible working styles can create a lot of stress and waste time.
It is also important to consider the ideal format for your podcast as this will dictate the level of audio production your podcast will require. Is your podcast a solo endeavour? Will you have guests? Or are you making something a little more complex like an audio drama or immersive journalistic show like Radiolab? Each of these podcast formats require different audio mixing, editing and production skills and techniques. Some podcasts require only basic editing and can be completed relatively quickly, while others take much more effort and require extensive audio production to produce.
Having a clear vision for the ideal format of your podcast will allow you to more accurately communicate what you are hoping to achieve when you approach prospective Audio Editors. So consider what type of podcast you want to create and use this in addition the previously mentioned points to help you decide which direction to go in.
If your podcast is an interview style podcast you probably want to retain the natural conversation-like flow that seemingly unedited podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience utilize. Interview-style podcasts may not need much editing if you are able to record with good quality equipment in a nice sounding room and speak clearly and coherently for each episode. However, interview-style podcasts can still benefit from mixing - equalization, compression, noise reduction, de-essing, reverb removal etc to clean up poor recordings and maintain a consistent standard across episodes. This is especially true if you are recording in different environments or do not have access to quality recording equipment. Many interview-style podcasts also utilize Audio Editors to clean up a conversation that may have a lot of cross talk, mistakes, unwanted swearing/references, rambling, pops and clicks, and so on, or to insert theme music and advertisements.
Perhaps your podcast is just a solo job, just little old you by your lonesome :(
Well again, you could do it without any editing if you are ok with whatever inconsistencies or issues may arise in terms of sound quality, dialogue flow and so on. Alternatively you may opt for a cleaner, more professional and consistent listening experience, in which case hiring an Audio Editor to mix your audio and tighten up your recordings might be worthwhile. Keep in mind that practically all popular podcasts that have only one host reciting dialogue still require some editing. Even if they record every episode in a professional vocal booth with an audio engineer, somebody still needs to insert the intro/outro themes, transitions, adds and trim the excess audio.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your aim is to create a podcast like Freakonomics, This American Life or Radiolab then you will most definitely need an Audio Editor, unless of course you are one. If your goal is to create an immersive listening experience complete with sound effects, field recordings from different environments and times, customized theme music, transitions and so on, then you cannot do this without extensive pre-production, editing and mixing. This kind of podcast generally takes a great deal of effort and time to produce even one episode but it can be done on a small budget with a small group of organized and skilled people. Websites such as Elements.envato or Epidemicsound allow you to use pre-recorded sound effects and music in your productions. However you will still need to put it all together and mix your recorded dialogue with the sound effects and music so that everything sits nicely in the sonic spectrum. This can be a very intricate and time-consuming process and the cost of subscriptions or purchasing sound effects and music tracks can rack up quickly.
An alternative option is to hire an Audio Editor or podcast production company to compose music specifically for your podcast and to utilize sound libraries that they own or have access to. This can be a simpler and more efficient route to take as you would pay one fee and have all of the audio production taken care of under one roof. Again, shop around, do you research and ask questions to be sure that the people you are reaching out to are capable of doing the job that you require.
Hopefully this post has helped you form a clearer vision and given you some useful information that will help you find the right Audio Editor for you. Now it is time to start exploring your options. Look around the web and as you go create a shortlist of promising prospects that you find. Create a pros and cons list for each potential service provider according to each element discussed in this post (cost, skill-set, quality, communication, work style, professionalism, services).
As you reach out to each prospect be clear about your expectations and goals. Ask about free sample edits before you commit to anything so you can know what to expect if you decide to commit.
Finally, if someone seems like a good fit but their packages or prices listed online do not suit you, ask them about alternatives and see if you can agree on a customized arrangement that suits your needs and budget. Good luck!
Scott Stronach - Audio Editor/Musician