Editing is one of the more mysterious parts of producing a podcast. Lots of people worry about the time involved, how to do it and whether they should do it at all.
Here are the facts: podcast editing is different for everyone, and it certainly isn’t the be all and end all of producing a successful show.
Some podcasters edit thoroughly and couldn’t release an episode without it, some record in one shot and never edit at all. Some even release ‘uncut’ versions of their episodes as bonus content!
In the end, how much or how little you edit comes down to:
- How much time and money you can afford to invest
- What you’re trying to achieve with your podcast
- What the format of your show is
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll talk you through what podcast editing is and how to approach it. We’ll also share our 3 golden rules and top 4 recommendations (both paid and free) for quick and simple editing.
What is Podcast Editing and Why Should You Do It?
Podcast editing is the process of trimming down and optimizing the quality of recorded audio so it flows or tells a story and sounds polished, clean & high-quality. That can include taking out long pauses, unnecessary background noise and interruptions, as well as adding in sound effects, music, transitions or even drop in guest interviews.
The main reason people edit is to provide structure or strengthen the narrative of an episode. Whether you use a script to record or just talk into the microphone, editing will help you carve out your different segments and break your episode into more understandable chunks.
For this reason, editing can make a difference to your overall audio quality and listening experience. If your episode has a recognizable beginning, middle and end, it’s easier for audiences to navigate and engage with. For example, a podcast with a clear flow, rhythm or story is more enjoyable to follow than an hour of raw, free-flowing conversation.
How Much Editing Do You Need to Do to Your Podcast?
Depending on the format and content of your podcast, editing can be as easy or as complex as you like. As a rule, solo, interview or co-hosted shows will generally take less time to edit or need no editing at all, whilst narrative, fiction or story-driven podcasts are going to take more time and resources to produce well.
Whether you edit yourself or hire someone to help you out, there are a few things you can do to make the whole process easier right from the beginning.
Here are 3 our golden rules for a simple, pain-free podcast editing:
- Make life easier for yourself by drawing up episode plans ahead of time or preparing scripts. Having all the information available to you whilst recording will allow you to speak clearly and reduce mistakes. Going into the edit with a set structure and reference points will also save you a lot of time when it comes to tidying up the audio.
Pro tip: You can then repurpose your scripts into long-form content or offer them as bonus content to paid subscribers.
- If you’re co-hosting or featuring guests, record on multiple tracks. It’s much easier to fix mistakes and cut together dialogue this way, as if there’s a dropped connection or interruption on one track, it won’t mess up your whole audio.
Pro tip: Software like SquadCast and Alitu makes editing multi-track recordings very simple by allowing you to split and export individual tracks. For hardware, we can recommend the Zoom PodTrak P4.
- Create templates or presets for your edits. These can include your intro music, ad reads, calls-to-action and signoffs, and will significantly speed up your workflow as well as easily create consistency across your episodes.
Pro tip: Alitu has a simple drag-and-drop episode building tool and allows you to set your default intro and outro music. Other popular apps, like Audacity, Reaper and Garageband will let you set up custom templates.
What is the Best Podcast Editing Software?
You have a ton of options nowadays when it comes to podcast editing software. There’s an app or program for every level of podcaster, from simple drag-and-drop builders to highly technical audio tools.
Which one you choose depends on how hands-on you’d like to be with your editing and whether you’ve got time enough to pick up a few new skills along the way. We’d be lying if we said podcast editing wasn’t a learning curve, but there are plenty of free tutorials and courses out there to help you get to grips with it.
Here are 3 of the best free and paid apps and software to suit podcast editing beginners!
Audacity – Features and Review
Free – available on Mac or PC
Audacity is a very popular choice for podcasters of all shapes, sizes and abilities. It’s free to use, easy to learn and you can record with it, too, making it a highly functional option for beginners.
Because it’s so popular, there is a lot of help and support available if you’re looking to learn the ropes. Users of Audacity cite a lot of reasons why they prefer it, but some of the most useful features include:
- Audacity is cross-platform, so no matter if you use Apple OS, Windows, or even Linux, there’s a version of Audacity for you to download.
- Audacity is perfect for new and experienced podcasters alike! Whether you just need something to adjust volume settings and improve your overall sound, or you want to edit multiple tracks with a bunch of effects, Audacity does this and more.
- It has a very clean user interface. While you can have multiple displays running if you want to, the core Audacity editing screen is very clean and perfect for viewing what and where you need to edit.
GarageBand – Features and Review
Free – only available on Apple devices
Garageband is a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) exclusive to Apple devices. While recent updates by Apple have seen some podcast-specific features removed, it remains a great editor with very useful features.
- Smart Controls keeps the user interface clean, while opening up a host of features to use in your editing, like Equalizer settings (EQ), plugins you can add, and choosing whether to use a default preset for your editing, or a new one.
- You can open a separate editing screen to the default one, offering a larger, simpler display to make any changes easier to apply.
- There’s an awesome shortcut called Delete & Move, that makes editing multiple audio tracks simple by keeping all tracks in sync after an edit.
Alitu – Features and Review
Starts at $28/month
Alitu is a very hands-off podcast editing tool that allows you to build your episodes using its simple, drag-and-drop interface. Alitu has a great deal of features built in that allows you to automate a great deal of your production workflow, which makes it a simple, time-saving option for podcasters who are short on time or don’t want to outsource.
Alitu will handle all aspects of podcast production for you, from editing to mixing and compression. This includes levelling your audio, adding in intro/outro music, transitions and ad reads – all things you’d need to do manually with software like Audacity and Garageband.
Alitu also integrates with Captivate so you can even set it to publish your podcast once your episode is finished, saving you an extra step!
If you have episodes recorded already, you can try Alitu out for free with their 7 day trial. As a paid option, we think it’s well worth the monthly cost if you want to handle your podcast editing yourself without having to get to grips with any new software or pay a professional to do it for you.
Hire A Professional Podcast Editor/Producer
Rates vary depending on audio duration and requirements
Ok, ok, so this option isn’t software, and it’s definitely not free – but it might be the best option. Like any professional service, podcast editing varies in price and might not be on your radar if you’re just starting out.
However, if you’re podcasting for a hobby or juggling a full time job and a family, outsourcing your podcast editing to a professional can be a lifesaver. Not many podcasters have a production team or a network behind them, and it can be useful to have a professional on hand to help you interpret your ideas, fix any audio mistakes and give you feedback on editing decisions.
Cutting out the editing process altogether will save you time and allow you to focus on producing content, marketing and growing your show, and will most likely give you high quality results from the very beginning.
If you want to go down this route, here are a few options:
- Head to Music Radio Creative. They can produce entire episodes, teasers and trailers on your behalf. (P.S. you can get up to 30 minutes of free episode production with our code!)
- Find a freelancer to do it for you. You can find a professional on Fiverr, hire a Virtual Assistant or ask in one of the many podcasting Facebook groups for personal recommendations! Again, rates and costs will vary from person to person.
Recap: Should You Edit Your Podcast?
Podcast editing is a bit like Christmas dinner: everyone has their own recipe and ways of doing it. How much or if you need to edit at all is down to a few factors:
- How much time and effort you’d like to spend on editing
- The format and content of your podcast
Regardless of your technical ability and resources, there are lots of options available when it comes to podcast editing, from the very hands-on (Audacity, Garageband) to the more (or very!) hands-off (Alitu, outsourcing).
That said, it’s hard to know which route is right for you, your podcast and your pocket. Our advice is to try out different options and see which one fits in best with your existing workflow.
Places like our Facebook group are also useful resources for getting personal recommendations, first-hand experiences and feedback on your editing.
Check out our other podcasting guides: