THE AUDIO QUALITY OF YOUR PODCAST REALLY, REALLY MATTERS
You’d expect to hear this from a guy who created and runs a podcast production company for a living, but I’m going to say it anyway — your audio quality matters.
Because it’s always been true that first impressions matter. And it still is.
Like it or not, people make quick estimations about the resources they find on the internet, which means that their first listen to a less-than-quality podcast might easily be their last. In my experience (and the experience of many people I speak with), it’s exactly that.
Podcasts are about LISTENING… not watching, not reading (primarily), not interacting… LISTENING.
So it makes logical, common sense for you to ENSURE that the listening experience of your audience is the VERY BEST it can be.
Quality audio is what makes that happen.
In this post, I provide…
- thoughts on the WHY behind quality audio for your podcast
- and then we’ll move to the HOW (and it’s about a LOT more than an expensive microphone… in fact, I’m not even going to address microphones at all).
IN MANY WAYS, YOUR PODCAST IS LIKE A MOVIE
Think about the last “C” grade movie you saw? Did you rush out to find more films by that producer or director? Doubtful.
Did you immediately begin gushing about the movie to your friends and family? Laughable.
You probably told everyone how terrible the movie was.
Think about THAT… your desire to share your miserable experience and how laughably awful the movie was, MOTIVATED YOU to share a negative review.
You intentionally, actively told people how BAD it was.
The same thing can happen to a podcast with less-than-great audio. That could be YOUR podcast if you don’t take steps to prevent it.
Your goal should be to make your podcast with a quality that…
- NOBODY is motivated to tell others about it because it’s TERRIBLE
- People eagerly rave about it in nothing but glowing terms because it’s so GOOD
Those are two sides of the same coin. You want your podcast episodes to be the best, the most accessible, and the most pleasant to listen to.
PODCAST SOUND QUALITY is one of the ingredients in that formula (but a VITAL one, all the same).
DON’T FORGET, PODCASTING IS A “LISTENING” MEDIUM FIRST AND FOREMOST…
That means somebody out there in the podcast-o-sphere is listening to YOUR audio episodes.
THOSE people are the ones you care out. It’s THEIR opinions about your audio that matter.
Not your own.
Did you hear that? YOUR opinion about how you want your show to be is NOT the most important thing.
Because you are not the one being SERVED by the podcast. You are not the one who needs to say, “This is good enough that I willingly choose to invest my time in it.“
Said another way…
The quality of your podcast audio is NOT about you
Don’t get stuck in the “I want it to be real and raw…” mindset that too many podcasters subscribe to these days. Why?
Because it doesn’t matter what YOU want, it matters what your audience wants.
If your audience wants entirely unedited episodes that have loud volume levels for you and quiet volume levels for your guest(s) and they agree with you that the value of it being that “real” is important to them, then, by all means, take the easiest road and give them what they want.
But NOBODY wants that.
Keeping your audience in the forefront of your mind at all times will drive your decisions about the quality of your podcast audio.
But if you stick to your guns about “not editing,” I’d say you’re way too self-absorbed. Get outside yourself. Think about your listener.
IT’S NEVER BEEN HARDER TO ATTRACT AND KEEP A PODCAST AUDIENCE
As of this writing (September 9, 2021), there are 2,339,765 individual podcasts in the Apple Podcasts directory. And that number grew by over 2,000 podcasts just since YESTERDAY.
(Those stats come from Daniel J. Lewis’ amazing site, Podcast Industry Insights. You should click-through that link to see what the number is TODAY, as you read this. But come back so we can finish up!)
OK, you’re back now? Let’s proceed.
THE POINT? There are so many podcasts to choose from, yours is drowning in a sea of audio.
But the problem is worse than that.
To attract and keep your audience, you’re not ONLY competing against other podcasts, you are also competing against every other form of media that’s being produced today.
Youtube — Netflix — Amazon Prime — Video Games — Radio — TV — Hulu — and the list goes on.
How are you going to make YOUR show STAND OUT in that sea of consumption options? How are you going to make your podcast one of those 5 to 10 audio podcasts that a person wants to listen to regularly?
Great audio quality is one of the main ways you can make your podcast stand out.
And if you’re too busy or too lazy to do what it takes to produce great-sounding audio, you’re communicating loud and clear to your audience that you don’t REALLY care about them (yes, I just said that).
Why am I so certain?
Because you are making the decision to put a wedge between you and a potential fan through poor-sounding audio.
You know as well as I do that the average podcast listener will not endure hissing, echo-y rooms, pops, and harsh “S” sounds for very long. Not only is it irritating, it can literally cause pain to the ears when headphones or earbuds are being used.
There are a FEW (very few) exceptions to this… if your show is the ONLY place niche listeners can get their niche content needs met, then they will hang around.
But the SECOND others produce similar content with BETTER audio, your audience will abandon ship in vast numbers.
Settling for poor-quality audio is unnecessary and honestly, inexcusable (or lazy).
There are FREE tools out there to help you address some of the more technical aspects of optimizing audio quality for your podcast (Auphonic comes to mind).
There are also simple editing tools like Descript — but be aware there will ALWAYS be a learning curve involved with these platforms (which means you have to invest the time to learn them well).
Please, don’t compromise when it comes to great-sounding podcast audio. It will help you be the STAND OUT in your niche.
IT’S ALSO NEVER BEEN EASIER TO ATTRACT AND NICHE PODCAST AUDIENCE
With all the entertainment options out there, you may feel that your humble, niche podcast has no chance of being noticed or found.
That’s probably not true… and a little illustration will help you understand why…
Imagine that Jolene P. Snudrucker just LOVES Matt Damon (the actor).
She’s president of the Matt Damon Fan Club. She owns physical and digital copies of every movie he’s ever been in.
She’s even the proud owner of 207 Matt Damon Bobble-heads.
And recently she’s taken up scrapbooking and is creating her first-ever Matt Damon scrapbook.
Does she have interests beyond Matt Damon?
Of course she does. In fact, she’s just come up with a new one — scrapbooking.
So she’s probably going to go searching for Youtube videos, articles, books, and PODCASTS that can help her with her new hobby.
If your podcast is THE BEST scrapbooking podcast out there (in content AND in audio quality) then you have a HUGE chance of picking up a new, super-engaged, superfan of your show.
But if your podcast is just so-so when it comes to audio content, you may have missed one of your most effective promotional opportunities: connecting with a potential superfan.
Don’t miss the Jolenes of YOUR niche or industry by settling for less-than-the-best audio.
WE’VE ALL HEARD THOSE PAINFULLY UNEDITED PODCASTS…
Imagine for a moment that it happened on YOUR podcast…
The guest is a brilliant subject-matter expert, but can’t string two sentences together in a coherent way to save his life!
In the 60-minute recording of the conversation, over 18 minutes are comprised of…
- false starts
- filler words
- lip smacks
- nervous verbal ticks
- long painful pauses
- repeating himself
18 minutes (No, that’s NOT an exaggeration. I hear this all the time — and on occasion, it’s even worse)
That’s 18 minutes of LOST TIME for your audience if you don’t do something to make the episode easier to listen to.
That’s 18 minutes of FRUSTRATION your audience may experience, trying to understand what your guest is trying to say.
That’s 18 more minutes of UNNECESSARY MOTIVATION TO DROP YOUR PODCAST AND FIND ANOTHER.
Editing is a GOOD thing, my friends. A GOOD thing.
2 things that make for GOOD editing (as opposed to just editing)
This might be easier to answer by saying a few things good editing is NOT…
Good editing is NOT cutting every single filler word.
Good editing is NOT making you or your guest sound perfect.
Good editing is NOT hitting a certain episode duration.
Truly good, professional editing aims at these TWO targets
1) Make the audio easy to understand (comprehension)
This will include things like removing excess repetition, false starts (where the person started to answer a question or make a comment, then paused and started over), removing unneeded or disconnected illustrations or explanations.
2) Make the audio pleasant to listen to (enjoyment)
This addresses the technical side of things. There are many things that go into this, like…
- Are the speaker volumes (levels) even and consistent?
- Is there clipping (recordings that are too intense or too high) that will hurt the ears?
- Are plosives (harsh “S”, “P” and “K” sounds) hurtful or distracting?
- Do mouth noises (clicks, smacks, throat clearing) make the audio gross or distracting?
None of this just happens.
None of it is simple to accomplish.
None of it is intuitive to a novice or beginner audio editor.
But ALL OF IT goes into making podcast audio quality what it needs to be.
A common misconception about podcast editing
And I know what some of you are thinking: “Doesn’t that level of editing make the conversation sound stilted or wooden?”
A good editor has the intuition and skill to create the right spacing and pacing to keep that from happening.
Her edits will be “invisible” to the ear and will make the listening experience better in every way.
For most podcasters, the problem with what I’m saying is that they don’t have the expertise to do their own professional-level audio editing (“Which of the thousand audio effects should I use?”) or the time it takes to develop the skill (“I’m busy enough already!”).
I get that. It’s a hard balance to achieve.
You’ve got to make the decision about your audio editing level-up based on your answers to TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:
1. Is this the right timing for ME to upgrade the sound of my show? (Do I have the time to learn how to do this RIGHT, for the sake of my audience?)
2. Do I have the budget to hire this out (because your time is better spent on other things you’re already good at)?
AND HERE’S A FREE OFFER TO HELP YOU MAKE THE DECISION
I’m willing to spend 30 minutes on a video call with you, to help you think through the options.
There will be NO hard push to sell you any of my company’s services. If that decision is made, it will be YOUR decision because YOU have decided it’s best.
Set an appointment now: https://pft-coaching.youcanbook.me