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Good Morning, Podcasters!

Episode 34 · 5 months ago

Podcast Editing & Podcast Engineering Rates


Are you thinking about editing or engineering podcasts for a side hustle? Hopefully this helps you get your pricing right.


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To many of you, this episode may not be relevant because I'm going to be speaking directly to those of you who call themselves podcast editors or podcast engineers. I want to discuss the responsibility of those titles and roles and what a fair rate is for that work. That's up next housekeeping time. This podcast is brought to you by focus right, makers of the scarlet two, I two and other audio interface devices. They have decided to sponsor this podcast through November, so you're going to be hearing a lot about their gear and tools in the upcoming months, but mainly I'll be mentioning their votecaster one and votecast two audio interface devices. I've got the votecaster one, I love it, I use it every day and if you're in the market for a new audio interface device, you should check it out. There's a link in the show notes to learn more, and I hope you will and stick around to the end of this episode because I'm going to be telling you how you can get fifty dollars from me pretty easily. What is a fair rate of pay for...

...podcast editing? Either to pay someone or to charge someone? This is something that I am asked a lot when I owned my South Portland main studio, the Portland Pod I charged six hundred and forty dollars an episode to corporate clients and, if I remember correctly, roughly a hundred and thirty dollars an episode to podcasters who weren't corporate clients or large operations with sizeable budgets. But I wasn't a podcast editor, I was a podcast engineer. So let's start by defining our terms. A podcast editor doesn't touch an equalizer or a compressor or any piece of virtualized studio technology other than the DAW itself. And what they do nine nine point nine percent of the time is highlight things that shouldn't be there and then delete them. Breaths, words, out takes. That's it. There is no skill here that cannot be acquired in a day or two...

...of training. Then, with time, speed is developed in some sense of editorial rights and wrongs. This is how I define the role of a podcast editor. They delete things, they move things around a little and they drop in a few premastered audio elements or other static pieces like Intros, Outros and ads. In my opinion, the value of any position is dictated above all else by how difficult it is to find someone who can do it well the role of a podcast editor. The role of a podcast editor is not highly technical and training may take only a couple of days to get someone with absolutely no experience up and running. I don't value this position. As a business owner, I don't value this position very highly because I view it as a very entry level position. When I say value, I don't mean I don't value the person doing the work, I mean monetarily, I don't value it very highly. It's where someone starts to learn the ropes. It's the bottom...

...the ladder because it's the easiest job to do. If that's true, then when assessing the value of this position as an employer, I have to think about what I want my top earners to be making. What do I want my mastering engineers and producers to make? Those skill sets are not easy to find and take years to train and perfect. Certainly those are my most technically talented people. So how big of a gap does there need to be between my least talented people and my most talented people? I think it should be significant enough to make someone with no real skills eager to learn more so they can become more valuable and make more money, and it should be significant enough that when someone learns those skills and becomes the next mastering engineer I employ, that they feel like the time, energy, sweat, equity and tears that they put into getting there is adequately reflected in their pay. I wouldn't give the new guy twenty dollars an hour and then the most skilled woman on my team thirty dollars an hour in an environment where the skills spectrum is extreme,... it is in all manner of media production, because a ten dollar difference an hourly pay between your highest skilled, most critical employee and your lowest skilled, most easily replaced employee is not enough of a difference. A new podcast editor, first day on the job, no skills, is going to take maybe an entire day to edit a single podcast episode, and their first day is the slowest they'll ever be, which is good because it means they have an immense runway of improvement in front of them. I can't pay them hourly, they'll cost me a fortune at a rate of eight hours an episode, but I also can't pay them project wise because they'll increase the cost of my projects and thin the profit margins to nothing. So what do I do? I give them minimum wage while they learn and I give them low priority projects. And minimum wage to me, by the way, as fifteen dollars an hour. So I pay a day one, no experience, podcast editor. Again as described above, fifteen dollars an hour as is. They're proficient,...

...they'll get thirty dollars per build our. The job of editing is not worth more than that. In my opinion, and please keep in mind I'm not talking editorial type editing. I'm talking about straight content editing. US I've already defined. So if you're a podcast editor in the sense that I've just outlined, a fair rate for you to charge is thirty dollars an hour. And you really shouldn't be taking longer than two hours to edit a one hour podcast episode, not if you're offering your services in a professional sense. And Sixty dollars an episode for editing is a fair rate. Now, how about a podcast engineer? What does a podcast engineer do? Well, a podcast engineer does everything an editor does, but he or she also engineers. The engineering of audio includes the repairing of it. It does not include the mastering of it, because to have a mastering engineer on a podcast is currently laughably unnecessary, save high production value audio plays that are publishing for at most seven point one, point two. But the rest of podcasting doesn't need a mastering engineer.

Eq compression, side chaining, effects, gating, expanding, sibilant treatment, de clicking, any of this stuff, and all this stuff is what podcast engineers do. They also, if it's called for, act as records, so they run boards and they record sessions. This is a much higher skill set than a podcast editor and it cannot be taught or understood or perfected in a month. It takes years. If you're hiring a podcast engineer, you need to respect that. They did not get good at their job in a weekend. They've put a lot of work into becoming competent. It also means if you're training them, you have to understand how long it will take them to become self sufficient. So if you're bringing on someone who is a podcast engineer with no experience, you're training them to be a podcast engineer. I would start them at twenty dollars per build our and I would spend three months assessing their skill set. They'd be given non critical jobs and they'd be watched and helped and you would step them up from there as they grew.

If you're hiring a podcast engineer with experience, you've got to see what that experience has resulted in. That's a thirty to sixty day probationary period, probably at fifty dollars per build our. Ultimately, if you've got yourself a skilled podcast engineer that's proficient and fast, I value them at between a hundred dollars and a hundred and fifty dollars per build our. So here's my takeaway for this episode. It's straightforward. If you're thinking about hanging out your shingle and offering podcast editing or podcast engineering services, first, know which of these you are and be honest about it. Second, be honest with yourself and price yourself in a way that matches your competency and, third, be firm and self assured in the number you come up with. If you're a competent podcast editor, I think you're charging fifty to seventy dollars an episode. Remember, podcast editor, not podcast engineer. If you're competent, this range should find you making twenty to thirty five an hour, which is a good rate for...

...podcast editing. If you're a competent podcast engineer, I think you're charging a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars per episode. And again, if you're competent, this should find you making fifty to seventy five an hour. Can you charge more? Yes, you can charge more and the client might pay it, but your rates don't reflect what you think you're worth. That's some kind of millennial new age I'm worth whatever I say I'm worth. Bullshit that's imparted upon the inexperienced by the inexperienced and the entitled. Your rates reflect what you think you're worth, as tempered by what the market thinks is fair, what the client is willing to pay and what you require to generate enough profit to higher help when you can no longer take on additional work because you're at capacity. That's how you price yourself. I hope this helps a few of you. My Call to action. I'd like you to make fifty dollars and I'm happy to give that fifty dollars to you if you help me fill my upcoming sept member fourth podcast launch accelerator program the cost of it is five dollars...

...and if you refer a student to the program and they enroll, fifty of those dollars will go to you. You can learn more by checking the link in the show notes, and other than that I've got nothing else. I hope you've enjoyed today's episode and until next time, TAKE CARE OF H.

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