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PodSchool Podcast | How long does it take to put together a podcast episode?

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How long does it take to put together a podcast episode?

How long’s a piece of string?

So you want to start a podcast but you’re wondering if you have enough time?

There are lots of things that go into getting an episode from your head into people’s ears.  And every step can impact how long it takes to put your show together.

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Podcasting is definitely going to take longer than you think

People are always surprised to hear how long podcasting takes so let me start by saying a 30-minute episode does not take 30-minutes to put together.

The truth is, depending on how involved your content is, if you’re dedicating 8-10 hours of your week to each episode you’re probably giving your show the attention it requires.

I know.  That’s a lot.

This time can include a bunch of things that vary depending on how involved your podcast is but it’s important to know (before you get started) that putting a show together is about more than just pressing record.

The steps to release a podcast episode

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Preparing and planning your show

If you’re doing this right it can take up a huge amount of time.

But it’s essential because the more prepared you are before you press record the quicker and easier your record will be.

Preparation can involve booking guests (wrangling other people’s calendars takes a frightening amount of time), planning the rollout of your episodes, researching your topic, putting together interview questions, designing your show rundown so you know what you want to cover in each show, the list goes on.

What’s involved in this step will vary from podcast to podcast but it’s certainly not going to take five minutes.

How to set yourself up for podcasting success

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Recording

Being as prepared as possible will help this part of the process run smoother and that includes making sure you’ve tested your equipment and ironed out any potential technical kinks.

The work you put in during your preparation stage is going to come in handy here too because if you don’t have a clear idea of where your episode is going it’s easy for record times to blow out.

You might think it’s fine to have an hour and a half worth of tape for a 20-minute episode but when it comes time to edit, you’ll be wishing you’d been more disciplined at this stage.

How to make editing easier when you’re recording a podcast

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Editing

Editing takes a long time to get good at and just like anything, the more experience you have, the quicker you’ll smash it out.

But even with years of experience, editing takes much longer than you’d expect and will depend on a number of factors…

The length of your podcast

Generally, the longer your show, the more time it takes to edit because…shock horror…you’ve got more audio to get through.

As a general rule, after personally overseeing the production of over 50 podcasts, I’d say a good average edit time for a 30-40 minute podcast is about 4-5 hours.

That’s a number that surprises most people so it’s a good idea to practice before you get started so you know how much time it’s going to take you.

Technically, the shorter the length of your recording, the less time you’ll need to have your head stuck in audio editing software but it’s still a long process (if you’re doing it right).

How long should your podcast be?

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How many people are on your podcast

The more people on your show the more complex the edit, so be mindful of this when you’re thinking about the kind of show you want to put together.

When you’re only editing one voice it still takes time but you don’t have to tackle things like overtalk or work out how to cut out random tangents while still ensuring the flow of the content still makes sense.

Things get a lot more complicated with more voices so that’s something to keep in mind.

How many people should you have on your podcast?

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Your penchant for “bells and whistles”

Are you adding complex intros and outros?  Is your show broken up into segments that require audio placed in between?  Are you using sound effects, callers or complicated audio imagery?

All these additional elements add time to your edit so be mindful of how fancy you can get with the time you’ve got available.

How to improve your podcast with segments

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Promoting your show

Sharing your show on social media is an important part of the process if you want to grow your audience.  But the more creative you get the more time it’s going to take.

Are you planning to create images that feature pull quotes of your interviews?  Do you want to use Soundcloud or Wavve to feature snippets of your episodes?  Are you going to have elaborate show notes pages that you’ve optimised for search?

Making all this takes time and that’s before you’ve scheduled a single thing to your social media platforms.

Pick the promotional strategies that are right for you and try to streamline them as much as possible.

And remember, you can always start simply and change things up as you go along.

How to promote your podcast

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Engaging with your fans on social media

If you’re looking to build an online community around your show, engaging with your audience can take a huge amount of time and effort.

Because of this, it’s important to work out what social media platforms are essential (choose the ones your audience are most likely to be on) and focus on those rather than trying to be everywhere.

Do you need social media accounts for your podcast?

Read

Practice so you know what you’re in for

Once you know what’s involved in your show practice putting everything together to get a realistic idea of how much time you’ll need to put aside each week.

The more you understand the realities BEFORE you get started, the more chance you’ve got of your show being a success.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. Today's episode is inspired by a question from Crystal. Crystal is thinking about starting her own podcast and she wants to know how long it's going to take her to put each episode together. Unfortunately, the answer to how long it takes to put each individual episode together is "how long's a piece of string?" It can vary depending on a bunch of things some of which I'll take you through today but it's probably going to take a lot more time than you expect. If you are thinking at this point in time that a half an hour conversation on a podcast is probably going to take you just a little over half an hour to put together then head for the hills. It's a fair bit more than just the length of the show and I'll explain why. Obviously, the first thing it's going to depend on is your experience. Editing requires a lot of time to get good at, not only in terms of your ear and your ability to cut things up so it doesn't sound cut up but also to do things quickly. Once you've done it over and over you'll be able to do it much quicker. But editing can be the most time-consuming part of the process, even when you are super experienced and know exactly what you're doing. That's important to note especially because I think you should always edit your episodes. The idea that you are going to smash it out of the park with zero faff and zero filler is almost impossible. Even as a professional you don't nail it first time every time. You still need editing after the fact so it's important to factor that in. Some of the other things that will make a difference is whether you're solo or a co-host. It is much easier to edit an episode when it is just one person talking into a microphone than it is two or three people because you've got things like overtalk and going off on tangents to worry about. Ditto if you have a guest. If you're doing an interview series and you're chatting with somebody the chances of you getting nothing but brilliant questions and brilliant answers that require no tweaking after the fact are pretty rare so it's really essential that you edit a show where you interviewing somebody. The time that will take will depend on what kind of mood your guest is in, whether they're good at delivering succinct answers, whether you're nervous and stumble your way through your questions. All of those factors can make a difference, even episode to episode and even if you are really experienced.

The other thing is whether you're doing a straight chat or you're doing segments and therefore need production inserted in between the talking. The more bells and whistles you're adding the longer the edit is going to take.

To give you an idea, I have another show called You've Gotta Start Somewhere. It's an interview series with media personalities about how they got into the business and I will often take around five or so hours to edit those episodes. I'll do a rough cut then I'll listen through to the audio again and do a final cut and I'll probably listen through a third time and because it's an hour-long episode it takes a long time to get through that content. Outside of that edit I also do a lot of additional stuff like cutting up promos to share on social media. I make Wavve.co videos to put on my Instagram profile. So sometimes it can take around 10 hours to do everything and that's a lot of additional time in my week. That doesn't mean you need to do all of those things but there are plenty of additional elements you can add to your list that can blow out the time it takes you to get it to air. As I said you can pick and choose which bits and pieces you like doing and some of the stuff that I do is very time consuming so you wouldn't need to do that in addition to the show. But it's important to be mindful of those kinds of additional things.

Show notes pages are another thing as well. Basically, there's a lot of little bits and pieces that, when you're just starting out, you don't think about.

I would advise that before you jump in the deep end you practice so you can work out how long it takes you to put together each episode. Record some sample episodes, practice editing and choose what assets you want to create around your show. Look at other shows you like and see what they're doing then add those things to your list of things to do with each episode. Practice putting together everything from start to finish so you'll have a realistic understanding of the time you'll need to set aside. You might be surprised at how long it is.

Remember the longer the show, the more work it will be to edit and put it all together so practice, practice, practice before you commit.

The last thing you want to do is drop your first episode, promise you'll be there week in week out and then realise "Holy crap! I've overcommitted myself" The more of a sense of the realities you can get before you get started, the more equipped you will be when you jump in the deep end.

I hope that's helped you understand how long it takes to put an episode together and hasn't terrified you too much. Apologies Crystal if that's what I've done! If you've got a question just head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and you can click on the contact page there. You can also find out more information about my online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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