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Welcome back to the Creative Studio, where we conduct experiments with podcasting. In this fourth season, we are talking about narrative podcasting. This is episode 6, and we’ll be discussing the editing process. In the previous episodes, we discussed various things regarding planning, preparation, and recording for a narrative podcast. If you missed those, you’ll definitely want to go back and listen to those.

In this episode, we’ll be hearing from:

  • Bryan Orr
  • Corey Coates
  • Doc Kennedy
  • Dave Jackson
  • Erik K. Johnson
  • Rye Taylor
  • Elsie Escobar
There are three PDF documents available for you that show you what I’m doing regarding the written aspect of the editing process. This includes:

  1. The transcript that has been marked up
  2. An organized list of the clips
  3. The final written narration

To get these documents (along with the other resources), enter your name and e-mail below:

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audio book concept with headphones and booksThere is a lot involved in the editing process. As we discussed in episode 402, editing shows up many times throughout the narrative workflow. Here’s a quick review of that workflow or roadmap:

  1. Idea
  2. Research enough to pitch idea to group
  3. Research more
  4. Conduct pre-interviews
  5. Adjust story concept
  6. Pick interview subjects
  7. Interview
  8. Transcribe
  9. Write first draft of script
  10. Edit
  11. Second draft
  12. Edit
  13. Third draft
  14. Full cuts
  15. “Read to tape” as group
  16. Group edits
  17. Fourth draft
  18. Tracking
  19. Rough mix
  20. Listen to the rough as a group
  21. Another group edit
  22. Rough sound design
  23. Listen as a group
  24. Edit
  25. Fix sound design
  26. Pass off your final master
  27. Final mix
  28. Send out
  29. Get notes
  30. Fix based on notes
  31. Review again
  32. Green light
  33. Publish

This workflow is roughly based on the process that Roman Mars shared during his keynote presentation at Podcast Movement 2015. There are at least 5 edits mentioned in this process – some are individual and others are group edits.

There are a couple ways that editing can be approached. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and I think that each one is helpful, if not needed, in the workflow. One way to edit is in written form and the other is in audio form. There may be other approaches and various combinations of these forms, but these are the two that I will focus on for this episode.

It is good to start by getting a transcript of the tape you recorded. I didn’t do this for the first several episodes of this series because it costs either time or money – and I didn’t want to give up either at first. I finally gave in and paid someone on to transcribe some for me.

Here’s what I did.

I had already listened to all of the audio after the interviews and separated the clips based on the overall topic of the section. There were some sections that I copied and put into a couple topics. In the end, I had anywhere between 10 minutes to 60 minutes of audio for each topic.

I put the clips for one topic together on one track and mixed it down to a single mp3 file. I sent that off to the person on Fiverr. There were one or two episodes where I trimmed out my side of the conversation to made the file shorter because I was paying by the minute. I also wasn’t using any of my side of the conversation in the end.

When I got the transcript back five or six days later, I would read through it and mark out things that I knew I wanted to cut out. This would include my side of the conversation if I didn’t already take it out. Sometimes the guest would cover a couple topics together, so I would take out parts of the guests’ answers that didn’t pertain to that particular topic. Sometimes the guest would go into stories that were related to the topic, but weren’t necessary to make the episode work.

There were also several times when multiple guests would basically give the same answer or perspective, so I would usually cut someone’s answer. The decision could have been made depending on clear they gave the answer or even how much I was already using from that particular guest. I don’t try to give equal time, per se, but I do like incorporating different voices.

I would also look for short clips that I could use in a teaser or opener for the episode and highlight the different spots.

So, I would end up with a document that had a bunch of stuff crossed out. I would usually do some of this on my break at work, so I would actually print out the transcript and mark it with a pen and highlighter. I would then translate that to the document in Microsoft Word and save it as a new file. I would do this so I could make changes but still have the original work.

Here’s a quick side note. If I was working on this with a team, I would probably have been using Google Docs instead of Word to make it easier to collaborate.

I know I haven’t gotten to any of the guests yet, but be’ll get to our guests after I finish explaining this writing part.

So I would take the edited document and then I would try to organize the remaining clips into a logical order. I would look through each guests answers and label it as a certain subtopic. I would then be able to create a form of an outline. In a couple cases, I actually numbered each clip so I could rearrange them using just numbers instead of copying and pasting a bunch of text.

After I had the order of the clips, I would look at what I needed to do to create the narration in between the clips. Sometimes the guests’ answers could stand alone without much introduction or transition, but other times I needed to set it up a little more. In some cases, I would summarize a 2-minute explanation the guest gives in 20 seconds to make it more concise, and then let them finish with the pertinent details. We’ll actually be talking more about transitions in a couple episodes, but it is part of the editing process.

Then I would be able to record the narration part. I would often find places where it didn’t sound right, so I would have to rephrase and rerecord. This is another editing step.

I would then take my narration clips and the guests’ clips and move onto the audio editing part of the process. I personally use Adobe Audition, but before that I used Audacity. Bryan Orr, host of the Podcast Movement Sessions podcast has his own workflow.

Bryan Orr – his workflow

Doc Kennedy, host of the Filmmakers Focus podcast, continues to share his perspective from video creation. He also makes reference back to an old program that we can learn from.

Doc – War of the Worlds

Doc – take notes, what works

Doc – hire someone

And if you’re looking to hire someone, Corey Coates is the co-founder of Podfly Productions and is an excellent editor. But I wouldn’t be opposed to talking with you about working with my company, Podcast Guy Media, LLC, especially if you’re interested in creating a narrative podcast.

Erik – Let the guest tell the story

That was Erik K. Johnson, who has some great resources at Podcast Talent Coach.

Erik – only use what you need

Dave Jackson has been podcasting since 2005 and has helped a lot of people with their podcasts, everything from getting started to growing the podcast. Over the years, he has seen a lot of things and has developed some pet peeves in the mean time.

Dave – answer the question

Rye Taylor joins us again to share some thoughts about the difficulty that podcasters can have cutting things out, especially when there is something more personal involved.

Rye – cut the extras, even when it’s personal

Rye – one central character

Corey Coates also talks about the difficulty podcasters can have trying to edit their own show.

Corey – perspective and objectivity

One suggestion from Elsie Escobar is to reach out to your audience for some perspective.

Elsie – mini-focus group

In the discussion with Elsie, I realized a connection between editing and our brain. The right side of our brain is the hub for creativity while the left side is the more logical side. When it comes to creating a podcast, we are using both sides of our brain, but it’s difficult to keep switching back and forth between creating and editing. Because of this issue, I’ve heard many people recommend batching your work so that you focus solely on creating, and then you focus solely on editing. If you have a team, this process can be improved. You can have some people on the team work on the creative aspect while others focus on the editing.

Elsie – creating vs. editing

I’ve mentioned the book, ‘Out on the Wire,” by Jessica Abel several times throughout this series. It really is a great book to help with many of these aspects of creating a narrative. In the section about editing, she speaks with several different companies that create narrative audio, such as This American Life. An edit was revealed to be a single session of basically tearing apart the script to make it better. It was brought out that sometimes a single edit could take several hours to a full day of work. And this would be with a team of people. And that would be just one of the several edits on a single piece.

Did we mention that creating a narrative takes a lot of work?

Dave Jackson actually talks about his experience of working on a project in his podcast, The School of Podcasting. He actually gave a shout out to me and this podcast. Thanks, Dave. Yes, I did a little happy dance when I heard that. Anyway, he said that a 20-minute piece he worked on for took 4 hours. That’s a ratio of 12 minutes of work for 1 minute of audio. No, Dave is not slow. This just takes a lot of work, and the editing portion is a large part of that.

Rye talked earlier about focusing on one central character and have this as a guide during the editing process. When you’re reading the script or listening to the audio, ask yourself if it is vital to build the story around that central character. Now, the character could be a person. It could be an animal. It could be a place. It could be a topic or idea. Whatever that central character is, try to keep the story centered on that.

As was also mentioned, make sure to keep your audience in mind. Where are they coming from? What is their experience or knowledge? What do they need to know? What do they need to feel? How can you help them?

One last thing to consider when editing and cutting your audio, consider your overall purpose and goal. What is it that you are aiming for? What is the call to action that you want your listener to take? How will this move the podcast forward? Maybe the podcast is designed to move your business forward. Whatever it is, ask yourself if it contributes to this overarching goal as well.

In the next episode, we are going to talk about how to entice your audience. This includes how to capture their attention at the beginning and keep them listening. After that we will look at another aspect of the editing process we haven’t really talked about, and that is making transitions between clips and narration. In other words how to make the narrative flow better.

I haven’t really assigned you anything so far in this series. I’ve mentioned resources to help you. I’ve mentioned the website and the email list you can join for additional information and notices. But I haven’t really given you an assignment for you to work on and take action on.

So here is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Go to CreativeStudio.Academy and sign up for the email list. If you’ve already done this, great! You’ll be sent some resources I’ve created. One thing is a guide on creating a website. Another is the roadmap for narrative podcasting that I created earlier in this series. You will also get a sample of my editing processes. I’m including copies of each stage in the written portion of the process. So you’ll see the transcript with parts crossed out. You’ll see how I organized the remaining clips. You’ll see the narration I wrote and put the script together. This will give you an example that you can see, as opposed to just listening to the process here.

The next step in your homework is to e-mail me, Or you can just reply to the e-mail with the resources. Let me know what your plan is for creating a narrative podcast, or at least what ideas you have. I would love to talk with you about this. I am also willing to have a Skype conversation with you to answer any questions you may have and share a little more of my process, including sharing my screen to show you what I did in the audio part of the editing.

So again, your mission is to go to CreativeStudio.Academy and join the email list to get started. This message will…well, no, it won’t self-destruct. I want this to reach more people as well.

There are three PDF documents available for you that show you what I’m doing regarding the written aspect of the editing process. This includes:

  1. The transcript that has been marked up
  2. An organized list of the clips
  3. The final written narration

To get these documents (along with the other resources), enter your name and e-mail below:

 * indicates required

The Creative Studio podcast is brought to you by Podcast Guy Media, LLC. Through this business, I help people with several aspects of their podcasts. I recently helped one podcasters launch his first podcast. I am the podcast manager for another podcast, where I help oversee all aspects of the podcast production from planning and scheduling guests to editing and publishing. What I do most of the time with clients, is the editing of their audio. If you need any help or have questions, please let me know at If you couldn’t tell, I’m really getting into narrative podcasting, so I’m especially interested in helping you if you want to dive into this awesome world. Again, the website is