Why You Shouldn't Hire an Editor for Podcast (Yet)

I spend a lot of time in Podcasting Facebook groups, and occasionally the topic will come up of whether or not to hire an editor. And if so, how much you should pay for it.

I'll leave the second question for another day, but I do have some thoughts on why hiring an editor might NOT be right for you.

  1. If cost is your foremost consideration. - If your podcast is a purely hobby enterprise at this point, coming out of your free time and funds. And if you're cutting corners already on media hosting, stats packages, or your website itself, then hiring an editor is likely going to cause you more grief than it saves you. You're better off researching software solutions you could buy or subscribe to that would give you some final audio polish automagically without actually employing a human producer.
  2. If your "unfair advantage" is your production skills. - If you are (or aspire to be) the next Roman Mars, then an editor isn't what you need to hire. You're much better off hiring a personal assistant, or as (Aaron Mahnke did not too long ago) a research assistant. Spend the money there, or upgrade your gear for recording and mixing.
  3. If it's all just for fun. - Unless you've got loads of expendable cash, if your podcast is anything other than a short or long term part of your business plans, then you probably shouldn't hire an editor. If you podcast about your favorite video game (but work in the legal field), if you and your best friend riff on the days events (but neither one of you have media aspirations), if want to discuss the history of quilting (but you don't have a quilting business, or have any plans for one) then you're better off learning how to better capture your audio and perform it clearly and coherently the first time so that there's no editing needed.


In each of these cases, a company like mine won't do you much good (or at least will cost you more than we likely earn you).

BUT,

  • If your podcast is part of the strategy you use to promote and grow your own business.
  • If you are an artist, executive or expert whose message is valuable, but so is your time
  • If you don't have a background in or the time to learn the basics of audio production
  • If you want to have a "podcast guy" just like you have a lawyer, a general MD, a dentist and an insurance agent.

    Then maybe you'd like to set up a call with us at ProPodcastingServices. Summer specials for all new clients OR NEW SHOWS booked until August 31st, 2017.

 

Pro Pod Tip of the Week: First Impressions Matter

While people sharing podcast engagements stats that show listeners drop out within minutes of even seconds are suspect at best since they're all based on streaming users only as opposed to the downloads that serve the vast majority of your audience, I do think it's important to start your show off with a bang.

The episode number, name of the show and a high quality informative and descriptive intro should all be within the first thirty seconds of your show. If you wait longer than that you run the risk of new listeners wandering away from your content before they even know whether or not it's for them.

Pro Pod Tip of the Week: Backups are Not Optional

Everyone knows to save their work. It's something that we're taught from our earliest days doing projects for school. Podcasters especially think about this when it comes to recordings, sometimes making double backup recordings in case their different systems fail.

But do you provide the same level of security for your editing work? As you're editing, mixing or mastering your project, make sure you're saving multiple times, and (for extra security) ensure that your edited files live in a folder that is being backed up to cloud storage (whether that's Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's One Drive or using a full drive backup like BackBlaze.

There's no perfect plan, and the right sequence of catastrophes can leave anyone stranded with lost work. But a proper backup system and set of procedures will ensure that you're never more than an hour or two away from restored.

Pro Pod Tip of the Week: Podcast Distribution

Distribution is key for podcasters. Make sure that your show is in the major directories (and updating properly with each new show). There are new directories every day, but the four that every podcaster should submit their show to first are:

iTunes: PodcastsConnect.Apple.com
Google Play Music App: Play.google.com/music/podcasts/
Stitcher Radio: Partners.Stitcher.com
Blubrry Directory: Blubrry.com

There's so much confusion for many new podcasters, that one or all of these above are where your podcast IS. Your media host is the heart and soul of your podcast, the RSS feed it's central nervous system, but one of those directories are how the VAST majority of your listeners will actually interact with you. Make sure you're in front of listeners in all of them.

Pro Pod Tip of the Week: Capturing Family Memories in Audio

This past week I found myself with family and friends celebrating the life of my Aunt Mable. She was 89 and had been suffering for a few years now. We all miss her and will for the rest of our lives, but this was an opportunity to honor her and share time with loved ones we too rarely get to see. It also offered me the opportunity to capture audio from those family members about my aunt and our family history in general.

No need to break the mood or disturb the peace with lots of recording gear. Download an app to your smartphone like the Auphonic Recorder for Androidor the Ferrite Recorder and editor for iPhone. Your smartphone's mic is better than you might imagine. Just find a small room or hallway away from the main gathering and set the phone between the two of you. It's not ideal, and NPR might wish for a little bit better, but for family movies, memorial podcast episodes or just personal memories, your phone will work wonders. With those recording apps, you can even edit and upload to services like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Pro Pod Tip of the Week: Remote Recording with Earbuds

When recording an interview remotely, if your guest doesn't have a microphone, the iPhone or Android earbuds with built in mic work better than you might expect. Remind your guest to be aware of the mic dragging against facial hair, jewelry or their sweater and you'll get close to professional audio without the hassle or headache of rescheduling and supplying your guest gear yourself.

Why and How to Create Your Own Podcast Network

I was recently asked by a friend for the “go-to” industry resource on the pros and cons of creating a podcast network, as well as a good tutorial on how to go about setting one up. There isn’t such a document that I’m aware of, so I just spoke from my own experience, as well as the research I’ve done on the industry at large. I also steered her towards this episode of Podcasters Group Therapy featuring yours truly and my Always Listening cohost Josh.

Satisfied, and with a plan in mind, my friend suggested perhaps I could save myself some time in the future by writing such a document. I’d hesitate to call anything I write a “Go-To Industry Resource” but, I’ve been doing this a while, I’ve talked to hundreds of podcasters big and small and here’s what I know about podcast networks.

“Real” Podcast networks are largely just about ad sales. - While there are the obvious exceptions like Gimlet media that are about hands on production, regional networks that are geographically convenient and many themed networks that focus on a specific kind of content. But most networks are about creating and taking advantage of economies of scale, primarily in the creation and sale of advertising. They provide those services (as well as some cross promotion and possibly group crowdfunding) and take a cut of all the proceeds.

If you're a member of a major corporation, or already have an advertising apparatus, this is likely not the tutorial for you.

WHY "NORMAL" PODCASTERS MIGHT BUILD A NETWORK

1. Ad sales - Turns out, the big guys have a pretty good idea. By pooling the combined audiences of a couple or several shows together you can easily become a more attractive target for ad buyers. You could also isolate the workload and remove redundancies having one member of the network actually "work" as an ad sales office.

2. Vanity - Just like it's a little presumptive to say your ideas are worth other people subscribing and listening to each week, it takes a certain amount of ego to say, "I need to build my own media empire!" Frankly, if you are capable of producing multiple quality shows on an ongoing basis (or, as mentioned below, in rotation) then you HAVE built a media empire. Don't be a jerk about it, but don't be ashamed if you just want one.

3. Cross Promotion - This is going to come up again in my next post about why you might join a network, but it's applicable here too. One of the toughest things for beginning podcasters (or even experienced ones) is promotion. If you had five or a dozen shows mentioning and suggesting one another, surely we'd all explode together!

4. Expand Your Podcasting Circle - I'm based in Ruston, Louisiana. To say Podcasting has only recently arrived here would be an overstatement of its current arrival status. But even here, I'm not all alone. Maybe you've got friends who are into the idea of Podcasting, but wouldn't go through with all the effort. You provide them a "turn-key" solution and you get local Podcasting buddies.

5. Network as Service Industry - In some ways, this is the best way to describe Podcast Websites from JLD and Mark Asquith. They become your "podcast buddy" with the gear and know how to get you started and keep you going, but they charge you for the service instead of just asking you to help them move every few years (I say it's a good trade off). There are likely other great examples of this business model and I think there are opportunities for small business owners to do this all over the world.

ON SECOND THOUGHT...

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T CREATE A NETWORK

1. Ad sales - You never said you wanted to start an ad agency. You want to run your own podcast network. And if it's the ad dollars you're chasing you're still better focusing on traditional radio. Roughly $16.5 billion better.

2. Vanity - Yes, it's swell to put that Network creation on your Linked In page or your About Me section of your site. It's even cooler hearing your Audio ID on someone else's show, I won't even lie. But, without the editorial oversight of a Gimlet, there's always the chance some one else puts something you don't necessarily want your name on out into the world. Pride, goeth before a fall, remember?

3. Cross Promotion - statistics tell us that while many podcast listeners regularly listen to 11 or more podcasts weekly (8% of listeners according to Edison's latest reports), most only listen to a couple and the vast majority of Americans don't listen to any. The real opportunities to grow are among people who don't listen to podcasts today. Network promotion doesn't help that.

4. Expand Your Podcasting Circle - I'm not gonna try to talk you out of this. I'll just say having more podcasts under your purview is like having more babies. They're adorable, but expensive and time consuming. Tread carefully.

5. Network as Service - For the right person or persons, this might be perfect. I'd hesitate to say this is a "proven" moneymaker but I think there are opportunities in the market that you might be perfect for if your passion lay in podcast middle management!

Okay. You've weighed the good, you've weighed the bad and you're jumping anyway.

WHAT DOES MY NETWORK NEED?

1. A logo

2. An Audio ID

3. A Website

4. An agreement for hosts

THE FIRST AND THIRD ARE SELF EXPLANATORY, BUT I WANT TO SPEND SOME TIME ON 2 AND 4.

AUDIO ID

In radio, we call this "imaging". Think about the heavy guitar and the big booming voice says "your favorite station for the drive time drive by!" Or whatever local flair they add. This is that unique and recognizable piece of sound that listeners can expect across all your shows. Whether your hosts run it before the show, after or both, it will be one of the best pieces or cross-promotion in my opinion. These little "sticky" bits of audio have helped me fall in love with more than one show.

AN AGREEMENT FOR HOSTS

Obviously the size of your fledgeling Network will determine how thorough and how official these agreements should be. But bare minimum you should know the answers to the following questions before you invite any other podcasters along for the ride.

WHO OWNS THE FEED?

Surely, your podcast network will last for a thousand years and no one will ever leave, but let's say they did? What happens to that show and its audience?

WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM?

Do you (network) provide the media hosting? Website design and maintenance? Ad sales? Cross Promotion? Joint fundraising? Whatever it is, no one is joining on just because you built it. This isn't the field or dreams.

WHAT DO EXPECT FROM THEM?

Is there a madatory number of episodes the host must produce yearly? Mandatory network promotion? Again, it's a partnership. Make clear what you want from your partner.

If there aren't dollars involved, maybe no one needs a legal document (or even to have it in writing) but if you don't have answers to all of those questions and make them clear to your hosts you are setting yourself up for serious issues.

HAVE YOU CHECKED ALL THOSE BOXES? CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'VE JUST CREATED A PODCAST NETWORK.

Josh and I launched our "network" in August of 2015 with Always Listening and What Makes Me Weird? We've now added the very cool Smash/Cut as a member and are open to helping others launch their show in the future. Personally, I just added the new Articulate Coven about Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat and the Vampire Chronicles.

If you've found this helpful, I'd love if you'd share with other podcasters you think might benefit too, and if you're ever in the market for a professional voice over or need an audio editor, check out our services page.