Podcasting is much more than just hitting the record button and speaking into a microphone.
You’ll find lots of know-it-all podcasting types with terrible sounding shows and no success whatsoever pontificating the opposite in many of the podcasting Facebook groups, particularly this one. Ugh.
They’ll give you ridiculously ill-informed advice like, “Nobody cares what it sounds like. Keep it authentic!” and “I just record and publish and nobody’s complained yet!”
These people are talking absolute fart fumes.
The post-production process, including podcast editing, is what transforms your raw audio into an engaging, professional-sounding episode.
Podcast editing involves refining the recorded audio by removing mistakes, unnecessary pauses, and irrelevant content.
It’s the process of shaping your audio content into a cohesive narrative that keeps your listeners engaged.
It’s a blend of technical proficiency and creative judgement, both of which are vital for producing podcast episodes that resonate with your audience.
The Wizardry of Podcast Editing
Alright, let’s roll our sleeves up and get in to the topic of how to edit a podcast! This is where you get to be the unseen wizard behind the curtain, making everyone and everything sound slick and smart. Editing a podcast episode is much more than a bit of cutting here and there; it’s an art form that can make or break your podcast.
Alright, get this scene in your head.
You’re listening to a podcast, and it’s all over the place – awkward pauses, sudden jumps, volume levels going up and down more than newly acquainted lovers in a secluded car park. It’s like trying to follow a story while someone randomly flicks through the pages. Not the best experience, right? That, my delightful reader, is a poorly edited podcast.
It’s like serving a gourmet meal with a shovel. Sure, it might taste good, but the contents are splashed all over the place. A total turn-off.
Now, let’s flip the metaphorical podcast script. A well-edited podcast? Oh, my.
It flows smoother than a Barry White tune.
The conversation moves from point A to point B with a clear intention and direction. No jarring jumps, no awkward silences that feel like they linger for a century (and we’ll talk about the difference between awkward and impactful silences in a moment!) and definitely no sudden volume spikes that have you fumbling for the volume control on your in car system.
It’s a seamless journey that keeps your listeners glued, making your content not just digestible, but downright delightful.
And let’s not forget about the technical spit and shine.
Good editing polishes your audio, giving it that professional gleam.
You know the kind, that if in visual format, would be emphasised with someone clinking a musical triangle!
Consistent volume, crisp sound, and the background noise?
Disappeared, quicker than you after that bad date with the weird person who kept laughing like Beavis.
Good editing is like putting a snazzy form fitting suit on an already handsome podcast – it just elevates the whole thing.
In short, podcast editing is your secret weapon.
Done right, it turns your podcast from just another voice in the crowd to a standout show that has listeners coming back for more.
And this is probably as good a time as any to walk you through what I mean.
If you read my other article, “Podcast Guest Tips” where I explained how to be a better podcast guest interviewer, you probably saw my point about the impact of the pregnant pause Howard Stern used when interviewing Ben Affleck.
I praised him for asking the question and then shutting the hell up.
But here’s where we’re getting deeper.
He posted what went out on the live radio show, on his podcast, as is with no editing.
But we can massively improve that audio.
I know! Arrogant right?
Me here claiming I can improve something the 90s and 2000s US radio GOD Howard Stern has created.
But it’s true.
In case you hadn’t yet read the article, here’s the clip I shared.
As you can hear, there’s a lot of Zoom ‘junk’ fading in and out during the silence, and Howard takes a while to get into his point and pose the question.
This whole sequence can be cleaned up and improved with a little editing.
Here’s a clip of me showing you how.
I mentioned in this clip how I’d also share an editing run through on Audacity.
Here’s where you can watch that!
The Different Stages of Podcast Post-Production
You bloody loved that, didn’t you?
Even despite the fact I forgot to hit the mix minus button and so there was a slightly annoying echo on Howard and Ben’s voice. You still got the jist, and now you want to get started with applying the knowledge of how to edit a podcast properly.
I figured you might find it useful to take the same clip I edited in the above video, and have a go at emulating it yourself. Hit the dots and click download.
Editing: The podcast makeover
Editing isn’t just about snipping out the “umms” and “ahhs” or that bit where your cat decided to contribute its opinion on the benefits of business coaching.
It’s about sculpting your audio chaos into a masterpiece.
Think of it like a hairdresser for your podcast – trimming the split ends, tidying up the fringes, and sometimes going for a full restyle. It’s where you take your rambling and turn it into riveting.
Sound design: setting the sonic stage
Oooh sound design. One of my favourite aspects of podcast production.
This is where your podcast goes from a monologue in a void to a full-on audio experience.
It’s about choosing the right tunes and sound effects that make your listeners feel like they’re right there with you. Whether it’s a jazzy intro tune or the subtle sound of running water for a wellbeing-themed segment, sound design is like the spice in your podcast curry – it needs to be just right!
Don’t add it, and you’ll be lost in the audio soup.
Overdo it, and you’ll get filed under cheese.
Mixing and mastering
Mixing and mastering is where the 1% gains are had.
You’ll be balancing levels so that your voice isn’t drowned out by your intro music or ensuring that your guest doesn’t sound like they’re calling in from the bottom of the ocean.
It’s all about tweaking, refining, and sometimes wrestling with equalizers and compressors.
To make sure your podcast doesn’t just sound good, but sounds professional.
The Gear You Absolutely Need to Nail Podcast Editing
Now on to the gizmos and gadgets you’ll need for podcast editing. I mean, let’s face it, without the right kit, it’s a bit like trying to mow your lawn with a pair of scissors. Don’t use free video editing software to edit audio. It’s not precise enough.
But it’s really easy to get carried away with this and try everything. And I have. So here’s a rundown of what’s available for you to get involved with.
The Mighty DAW – Your audio wizard’s wand
First up, the Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW, as the cool kids call it. This isn’t just software; it’s your magic wand. It’s where you’ll record, slice, dice, and polish your audio until it shines brighter than a freshly polished diamond.
Microphone – that make-or-break deal
A crappy microphone, or even the wrong choice of microphone, is like a blunt knife in a chef’s kitchen – utterly useless. Invest in a decent mic, and you’re halfway to sounding like the podcasting pro you are. It’s the difference between sounding like you’re broadcasting from a tin can and being the smooth talker you’re meant to be.
In short, ditch any ideas of buying a Blue Yeti, and hop straight over to this article.
Noise-cancelling headphones – our secret superpower
These bad boys let you hear EVERYTHING – and I mean, every little hiss, pop, or awkward gulp. They’re like having superhero podcasting powers, minus the red ‘P’ on your tight fetishy suit.
A quiet recording nook
Last but not least, find yourself a quiet spot. Echoes and background noise are the arch-nemesis of good podcasting. It’s like trying to have a deep conversation at a rock concert – not happening. A quiet, echo-free zone is your sanctuary, the place where audio magic happens.
So do consider buying some acoustic tiling if it’s not gonna send your other half towards stabbing you in the face in rage over your ruining the walls.
You can also get some nice stylish acoustic panels these days.
If you’re really in the market for some acoustic joy, this could be a game changer if you can’t do much else.
Don’t buy one or you’ll make me jealous,
Picking Your DAW: Like Choosing Your Podcasting Superpower
Let’s talk more about Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).
Now these are much like podcast hosting companies.
They pretty much all do the same thing, but some excel at certain aspects.
Your choice here is important though, because it’s going to become the backbone of all your podcast editing.
So, let’s break down the top contenders:
Audacity: ‘The People’s Champion’
First up, we’ve got Audacity.
It’s free, it’s open-source, and it’s like that trusty old hatchback that never lets you down.
Ideal for beginners or if your wallet’s feeling a bit light.
It’s straightforward but don’t underestimate it – this little gem can pack a punch with the right moves.
Do take time to learn what the various tools do, and explore the plugins.
GarageBand: The MacDaddy of DAWs
GarageBand is like Audacity’s cooler cousin, but only if you’re part of the Apple family.
Sorry, Windows users.
Yep, that’s me included.
One day I’ll be able to afford a shiny Macintosh.
Just kidding. I love my super-fast, purpose-built editing computer.
Back to the DaddyMac – it’s easy on the eyes and ears, perfect for those who want to start simple but still sound like they’ve got their act together.
And the price tag?
A big fat zero.
It comes with your computer.
Adobe Audition: the flashy pro
Now, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and have some ‘quidz’ to spare, Adobe Audition is editing BFF.
It’s like stepping into a Ferrari after driving a Fiat.
Yes, it’s got bells and whistles, but remember, with great power comes a great subscription fee.
And a bit of a learning curve, but hey, nothing a bit of elbow grease can’t sort.
Although that elbow grease might take you a couple of decades to rub down.
I started using it in 1997 when it was still called “Cool Edit Pro” and I’m still learning new things with it, even today.
Pro Tools: For studio ‘headz’
Last but not least, Pro Tools.
This one’s beloved.
The industry darling.
If Audition is a Ferrari, Pro Tools is a spaceship.
If these tools were celebrities, ProTools is Taylor Swift.
Used by pros in broadcasting and music, it’s the heavyweight champion of the DAW world.
But it’s like laying a red carpet for your Auntie Joan’s visit for Sunday Roast.
Feels a bit like overkill, you know?
The Nuts and Bolts of Podcast Editing
So, you’ve picked your DAW, and you’re chomping at the bit to get editing.
But before you get started, let’s cover some podcast editing basics.
It’s like making a good cup of English tea (or mud water if you’re one of my American visitors) – you’ve got to do it in the right order.
Here we go:
Cutting the crap
First things first, trim the fat.
Get rid of the ums, ahs, those weirdly long pauses where you wonder if someone’s fallen asleep, and any other bits that make your listeners’ minds wander.
Like we said before, if the pause is impactful and indicates deep thought, let it breathe.
But if the pause is just because your guest is a dullard and struggles to remember their own name, then save them from themselves.
This is where you turn that rambling chat into a tight, compelling story.
Keeping it all level
Nobody likes riding the volume control like they’re nurpling a lover.
Make sure your volume levels are as flat as a Twilight actress.
Keep the loud bits from bursting ear drums and the whispers from being lost under the sound of your laptop fan.
Consistency is key – it’s what separates the pros from the amateurs.
Sprinkle in the musical magic
Music and sound effects – they’re like the seasoning to your podcast steak.
I know I said it before but it bears repeating, a little can elevate the whole experience!
But overdo it, and you’ll ruin the main dish.
Use them to set the mood, cue transitions, or just add a bit of sparkle.
Crafting your signature tune
Intros and outros – they’re like the cover of your podcast book.
They set the scene and leave a lasting impression.
Craft these carefully.
They should be catchy, memorable, and scream ‘you’.
This is your chance to brand your sound and make sure your podcast is instantly recognisable.
Podcast Editing: The Quick and Dirty Guide
Let’s make your editing process as painless as plucking an eyebrow hair, shall we?
Here are some of my top-notch tips to make sure your podcast editing doesn’t turn into a dull, overwhelming task:
Dodge the bloopers
Let’s start at the beginning.
The best way to cut down on editing?
Don’t muck up in the first place.
Try to keep background noise to a minimum (we’re not making an ASMR channel here).
And give your script a good once-over before hitting record.
It’s like checking your mirrors before driving – basic but crucial.
I ‘Stan’ a decent plan
Winging it might work for jazz musicians, but in podcasting, a plan is your best mate.
Knowing where you’re headed keeps you from meandering down rabbit holes.
Less rambling equals less chopping later on.
The click-edit trick
Here’s a clever one for you.
If you cock up a line, just pause, snap your fingers near the mic, or count to three then carry on.
It’ll stand out like a sore thumb on your waveform, making it dead easy to find when editing.
It’s like giving Wally a neon light over his head so you never miss him again.
Keep it real (speed)
Resist the urge to speed-listen during editing.
You might miss subtle mistakes, and your editing could become seriously off pace.
Keep it real, keep it regular.
The Final Listen
Before publishing your podcast, always give it a final listen to ensure all edits have been correctly made and the audio flows smoothly.
Here’s my trick to ensure a flawless editing workflow.
- Listen back to the audio before you commit the edits.
- Edit, and listen as you go.
- Have another listen once you’re done editing. Then leave the audio to rest.
- Have one more final listen just before you click publish.
Choosing the Right Music for Your Podcast
Seriously, the music you choose for your podcast is crucial as it sets the tone and creates a first impression.
It should fit with the theme of your podcast and appeal to your target audience.
Although I create a lot of my own music for clients using my background in music production, I also source some library music from reputable sources.
Among these are:
Where To Get Sound Effects For Your Podcast Editing
When it comes to sound effects, all of the above websites also feature sound libraries.
But if you’re on a tight budget, you can always do what I do when I’m struggling to find that perfect sound… make it!
Ask The Weeniecast‘s Katie McManus about the time I flushed my toilet for one of her episodes.
Outsourcing Podcast Editing
If you find podcast editing to be too time-consuming or challenging, you can always outsource it to a professional podcast editing service.
Oh, hai!! 👋
This can free up your time to focus on creating content and growing your podcast.
To conclude, learning how to edit a podcast can seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a rewarding skill.
Remember, the aim is to create a podcast that sounds professional, engages your audience, and delivers your message effectively.
Best of luck!