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How to Edit Your Podcast Like a Pro

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Podcasters, you’re in for a treat! Today, we have several top podcasters weighing in about a task that can be both time-consuming and frustrating: editing! The below advice comes from some of our NMX 2014 speakers who will be sharing their knowledge in the Podcasting Track and other NMX tracks.

Here are their best tips for editing your podcast:

jeremy frandsen “Hire a editor!  I used to waste 4 or more hours editing my show each week, because I was such a perfectionist.  Now, I send it to an editor.  It’s very inexpensive and you are much better off using that time to promote your podcast, schedule influential interviews, or plan future podcasts that will draw massive traffic.  There are many places you can hire an editor, but you can start by checking out elance.com” – Jeremy Frandsen, Internet Business Mastery
gary bembridge “Cut all the rambling and set up at the start of the podcast that you say when the microphone goes live. Start then from where you get into the meat of your topic. Think about radio shows and TV shows. They get into the plot or story from the start. We tend to share too much about ourselves, notices and off topic content before we start. Move that to the end. Even better, write a tight introduction or record it after you done the show.” – Gary Bembridge, Tips for Travellers and Marketing Mix Man
Chris Ducker “I record the podcast episode or video clip, dump it into Dropbox in all it’s raw, un-cut glory, and my VA’s handle the rest for me. They even upload the podcasts to my server, and the video clips to my YouTube channel, including a description, keywords, etc.” – Chris Ducker, ChrisDucker.com
john dumas “Adobe Audition is my best friend on editing days. You can assign hot keys, and my favorite hot key to assign is the marker. It allows me to press ‘m’ during the interview when I say something stupid, and go back and edit it out. I don’t have to listen to the WHOLE interview to find that one spot..I just go to the marker, edit, and move to the next one.” – John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire
mike russell “When editing audio for your podcast, such as an interview, if the speaker repeats a word or stumbles over a phrase it’s often better to make edits in the middle of a word than it is to edit from the start or end of a sentence. Here’s a video showing exactly what I mean and how to put my tip into practice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNPclgelLB4” – Mike Russell, Music Radio Creative
kenn blanchard “My best editing tip for a podcaster or blogger is to cultivate and listen to an inner circle of “super fans” that consume all of your content as soon as you put it out and will “quickly” tell you if there is a type-o, glitch or shortcoming in your content so you can fix it.  Unlike those that just like to find fault, these fans are easy on your ego, and seek to make you better.  It is like having your mother review your blog or podcast.  That is the kind of “love” you get when you identify your niche.  One of the benefits of identifying your niche is that you can grow this garden of super fans that help you succeed.” – Rev. Kenn Blanchard, Blanchard Media Group and Black Man with a Gun
Erik Fisher “As far as editing goes, if you can help it, don’t. If you must, don’t spend too much time on it and definitely don’t break up the rhythm of the conversation or your natural speaking voice.” – Erik Fisher, Beyond the To-Do List
david jackson “Best audio editing tip is if you make a mistake, pause 10 seconds and then continue. This makes it super easy to spot in the recording and will decrease your editing time.

Also some software titles (I use Sony Sound forge) let you play the file at a faster speed. I have found I can listen at 1.78 (almost double speed) and still catch the subtle things that may need edited.” – Dave Jackson, School of Podcasting

CC Chapman “I’d say not to edit at all. Hearing your authentic voice even with the background noise and interruptions makes it more authentic. People will come to appreciate it.” – C.C. Chapman, CC-Chapman.com

What is your best podcast editing tip? Leave a comment below!

How to Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro: 8 Top Bloggers Share Their Tips

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edit your blog posts Want to increase the quality of your blog posts significantly? Hire an editor. I don’t mean a proofreader who’s going to pick out your typos. I mean a real editor who will use their pen like a razor blade to cut your rough posts until what is left is a shining gem.

If you don’t have the means for that, though, all is not lost. Yes, you can self-edit. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

I spoke to several NMX speakers who shared some favorite tips for editing blog posts:

Improving Your Flow

In our own minds, the purpose of a post usually seems extremely clear. But if your post’s content isn’t organized well, it can be easy to lose sight of your ultimate goal with the piece. By improving your flow, you can carry your readers through the post so they better understand what you’re trying to say.

Here’s a great technique for improving your flow from Ric Dragon of DragonSearch:

If you feel your ideas are lacking a cohesive narrative, here’s a trick that can help you create a better flow of ideas: take a few paragraphs, their sentences, even phrases, and convert them into a bulleted lists. This is only for your own review – the idea here isn’t to actually publish your paragraph as a bulleted list!

Start by making the first sentence the main bulleted point. Then with each main idea, create a sub-bullet. In this following example, I’ve taken a paragraph from Malcolm Gladwell:

“In 1969, Ted Turner wanted to buy a television station. He was thirty years old. He had inherited a billboard business from his father, which was doing well. But he was bored, and television seemed exciting. “He knew absolutely nothing about it,” one of Turner’s many biographers, Christian Williams, writes in “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”. “It would be fun to risk everything he had built, scare the hell out of everybody, and get back in the front seat of the roller coaster.”

Now, let’s break down the flow of thoughts:

  • In 1969, Ted Turner wanted to buy a television station.
    • He was thirty years old.
    • He had inherited a billboard business from his father,
      • which was doing well.
    • But he was bored, and television seemed exciting.
      • “He knew absolutely nothing about it,” one of Turner’s many biographers, Christian Williams, writes
        • in “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” (1981).
      • “It would be fun to risk everything he had built,
        • scare the hell out of everybody, and
        • get back in the front seat of the roller coaster.”

You can see how each of Gladwell’s paragraphs extends the story, and carries the reader from one thought to another. In contrast to that, a paragraph that lacks narrative flow may have disjointed sentences that don’t follow one another. By bulleting your own work for a bit, you can see where you might be adding thoughts that are out of the flow, and improve your own writing quickly.

To Write Well, You Have to Cut

One of my personal best editing tips is to always try to cut your post down. What can you cut out and still get your point across? All writers are guilty of using too many words.

You can’t be afraid to cut your posts. Writes Chris Ducker (who will be presenting a super session at NMX), “My blog post editing ‘system’ is a simple one. I write and write and write until I feel as if I’ve covered everything I need to, to be able to get my point across and provide as much value as possible. Then I’ll go back and remove any unnecessary words, examples, etc. Finishing off with a spell check and some initial layout (usually just subtitles). This equates to around 20-30% of the original article being cut, and the final product being as polished as possible.”

A Final Critical Look

Before publishing, it helps to give your post one final look the next day. I like to let posts marinate a bit (at least 24 hours, but more if possible), and then do a final review. One of the best ways to do this is to read your post out loud.

This was actually one of the most common tips given to me when I polled NMX speakers, such as Gary Bembridge, who writes, “Sleep on the post and then the next day read it aloud to yourself. You will be surprised at the issues you pick up and how easy it is to improve the flow and messaging as your brain has been quietly editing and improving your post overnight.”

Dino Dogan agrees, writing, “My best editing tip is to wait, don’t hit the publish button. Come back in few hours and re-read what you wrote. As you’re re-reading your content, ask yourself these questions. Can it be said more clearly? Can it be shorter? Can I be more specific? Does it tell a story? And if you’re proofreading, try reading your content backwards word by word. It’s an old trick journalists use to check for typos. It works.”

Writes Rich Brooks, “I read my blog post–especially the beginning and the wrap up–out loud. I strive to have my blog posts sound like the way I speak in real life, so if it doesn’t sound like me, I know I need a rewrite. The beginning and end are most important to me because they help pull in a reader, and get them to take action, respectively.”

Aaron Hockley, who will presenting a workshop at NMX agrees, writing, “My biggest editing tip is to read the article out loud.  You’ll often pick up on misspellings, odd sentence flow, and other issues by articulating verbally that which you’ve previously written.  Our eyes and brains can skip past a written problem several times but when we engage a different part of the brain, the issue might become more visible.”

And I think Kristin Hines, creator of the course Blog Post Promotion, sums it up well, writing, “As a freelance writer and blogger, I have found that it’s easy to miss those things that spell check doesn’t catch after you’ve stared at a blog post for hours on end. Therefore, I have two options for editing – taking a few days away from the post and revisiting it with fresh eyes, or having someone else edit it. It’s the only want to make sure those “oopses” are taken care of come publishing time.”

Do You Need to Edit at All?

Finally, I think it’s important to note that some people over-edit. Sometimes, too much editing can cause you to strip you out of the post. So, I’ll leave you with a final thought, from C.C. Chapman:

“I’d say not to edit at all. Hearing your authentic voice even with the background noise and interruptions makes it more authentic. People will come to appreciate it.”

What is your best tip for blog post editing?

6 Steps to Becoming a Podcaster

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One year and some weeks ago, I wrote an article here at Blogw—well, at the time it was Blogworld—called A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting Basics. Thinking about what I wanted to write this week, I figured re-visiting that might be a good idea. More and more people are becoming interested in the medium all the time, after all. Does becoming a podcaster really come down to six steps? Well… not really. There’s a lot more steps once you start to break it down. Still, in the interest of not scaring people away, let’s just call it six.

Create a Show Overview

It would be cliché of me to say that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, right? So, I won’t say that. What I will say, is that planning and preparation begins long before you fire up the microphone and start making mouth noise. Start at the beginning. Open up Evernote, Word, Pages, Notepad, TextEdit—a pencil and paper will do. What I suggest is creating a document that will serve as your roadmap going forward.

  • What will your show be about? Knitting? Comedy? Baseball cards? The tragic rise and fall of the Turkish empire? Kangaroos? (It should totally be about kangaroos.)
  • Who will be hosting and/or co-hosting?
  • When will you record?
  • How long will the episodes be? Fifteen minutes? Half hour? More?
  • Who will the audience be? Where will you find them?
These questions should get you thinking broadly about the general direction of the show. You might also consider ideas for the artwork, how it will fit into your website (or if you need a new website), and how you might monetize the show (if at all).

Gear Up

You have many, many choices when it comes to podcasting equipment. Start cheap. If you’re a new podcaster and you don’t know if you’re going to enjoy it or not, there is no sense at all in spending a lot of money. Gearing up can mean simply buying a USB microphone headset if you don’t have one already, and a decent one can be found on Amazon, at Best Buy or at Walmart (to name just a few) for as little as $20-25.

Eventually, once you realize how awesome podcasting is and how much fun you’re totally having, you may want to upgrade to more professional equipment. A pro microphone, together with a mixer and a pair of pro headphones might set you back several hundred dollars, but you’ll sound like a million bucks.

Close enough.

Part of gearing up is considering your recording environment. You likely have a room you can record in. A bedroom or home office is good, but beware of room acoustics if the room is large. Too much echo, or reverb, can have an undesirable effect on your podcast. If you can’t find a room without a terrible echo… try a closet. Just remember to come out for air every now and then.

Record!

The fun part! You have your overview, you have a microphone and something to record your voice. You have Skype set up to bring in a co-host if necessary. Everything looks great, LET’S DO THIS THING! If you are hardware-based, you will likely have a dedicated digital audio recording device, but if you’re starting off with a USB headset and your computer, you’ll need software. The free Audacity app is a great choice for both PC and Mac users. Macs come with Garageband, which is also good, and if you have the budget, Adobe Audition is available for PCs and Macs.

Position your microphone correctly for best results: not too close to your mouth, not too far away. The key is to position it in such a way that you’re not breathing on it. Outside of a Star Wars podcast, nobody wants to hear Darth Vader on the mic. Test! Don’t press record for the first time and do your show for an hour—you need to test. Record a minute and play it back. See how it sounds. Once you’re happy, launch into your content.

Edit

If you want your show to sound professional, if you want to build an audience, you need to edit. This does not mean removing every second of dead air, nor does it mean removing every instance of “um” or “ah”. Aggressive editing of things like that can make your show sound stilted and unnatural. Twenty second pauses? Sure, cut those out. It’s about being reasonable.

More important though, is to take care of the most basic editing task: setting your levels. Your volume mustn’t be too loud. If it’s too low, listeners will have to crank their volume to hear you and then when they go to play a Justin Beiber song right afterward, their speakers will get blown out. And who will they blame?

His victims are innumerable, but you can’t pin this on him.

They’ll blame you for not setting your levels correctly, and then they’ll unsubscribe from your podcast. Every editor has a meter that shows you the levels. Aim for -6 dB to -1dB. That’s the range you want your levels to bounce in. Try for the sweet spot right in the middle of that and you’ll have it right.

Publish

Once you’ve recorded and edited, it’s time to give your show to the world. Although you don’t technically need your own website, you really should have one, and it really should be based on WordPress. While it is possible to be a podcaster using a different platform, it is not recommended unless you already have extensive knowledge of that platform. Podcasting support and resources for non-Wordpress platforms tends to be very thin.

Your show’s MP3 file needs a home, and it should not be on a shared web hosting environment. Shared web hosts will shut you down if you chew up too many system resources, and a popular show serving up 30-50 MB files to thousands of people is considered out-of-bounds. A dedicated media host like Libsyn or Blubrry is the way to go.

Get Feedback, Grow

Arguably the most important part of being a podcaster isn’t the equipment, isn’t the show, it’s the audience and the feedback they provide. Your show isn’t perfect. Your audience will tell you what needs fixing. If you fix it, you grow. If you don’t, you lose your audience and then it doesn’t matter that you spend $300 on a microphone because nobody is listening. Make feedback easy for them to send and for you to collect. A contact page on your site is vital. A listener call-in line (free through Google Voice) is awesome. Making yourself available on Twitter (and to a lesser extent in my opinion, Facebook) is a great idea.

That’s it, Right?

Nah, that’s not it. Like I said, there’s way more than six steps once you start breaking these things down into their components. My aim here is to outline the basics in such a way that people interested in podcasting will have a general overview of what the process is like. Thoughts? Questions? The comment section below is wide open, I’d love to hear from you.

How to be a Great Video Producer

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3 Tips to Get Started with Web Video
By Amani Channel

Do you want to create a video for your website or blog, but don’t know exactly how or where to start?  Video production can be a fun experience when things go right.  When things go wrong, it can be simply miserable.

The best way to make sure a video comes out exactly how you want is by hiring a producer.  A producer’s job is to carry out your vision, and s/he will manage every step along the way.

There are all sorts of situations that can affect a production: bad weather conditions, cable shorting out, operator error, unforeseen issues, but a great producer will work through whatever is thrown their way and get it done

With video production tools becoming more affordable by the day, you may be interested in creating a video for yourself, a friend or business associate.  If you’re just getting started, there are numerous pitfalls that could prevent you from reaching the finish line with a smile. But if you follow there three tips, you’ll be starting out on the right path.

1.  Master the three steps of video production. Pre-production is where you will plan, draft the script, find your talent, and find locations.  Production is the actual shoot.  It’s where the “Lights, camera, and action,” happens.  Post-production is where your editor will take all of the elements including: video, graphics, narration, photos, and make some video magic.  If you’re able to learn and complete each step exceptionally, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

2. Learn how to shoot and edit. Even professionals are having to wear many hats these days.  If you have a limited, or no, budget, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll be able to do yourself if you start learning the basics.  When you’re shooting, practice your framing, hold the camera still, and watch your audio and lighting.  As far as editing goes, learn how to use non linear editing software.  There are free programs for the Mac and PC to get started.  They key is practice, get critiques, and keep at it.

3.  Be a strong leader. As a producer, you’ll have to make decisions during a project that will affect the end product. You’ll need to come up with solutions to problems, make logistical and editing decisions.  It always helps to have a team to work with, but at the end of the day, the producer is responsible for everything, and regardless of what happens, the show must go on.

It will be a learning process.  Stand by your decisions, learn from your mistakes, and make an effort to get better.  Your goal should be to have fun (though it is work), and it should get more enjoyable each time you give it a shot.

Amani Channel, MA is an award-winning producer, and a former broadcast journalist who now works in broadcast PR.  You can learn more, at his video production tutorial site, Web Video Chefs. Follow @AmaniChannel

Is it Ethical to Edit Your Blog Posts?

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Yesterday, I wrote about the suspect “baiting” practices of a Gizmodo writer who offended nerds everywhere with her tell-all tales of online dating. One of the comments I found interesting was from a reader named Kelly, who wrote:

I don’t know if they are doing this on purpose or not, but if you have been following the comments on the original page you have probably noticed that as time passes the story is being edited and toned down slightly.

eg, the line ” This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile.” became “This is what happens, I thought, when you leave things out of your online profile.”  And bits where she calls him a ‘dweeb’ have been removed.

There are now comments appearing around the place where people are asking why people are so upset about the story because they can’t see anything that bad in it.  It made me wonder if the slow edits are being done on purpose for this reason.

It brings up an interesting question in my opinion – is it ethical to edit your posts well after they’ve been written?

In some cases, I think it is fine. I’m the self-proclaimed queen of typos, so I’ll often go back and edit a post to correct a spelling error or other mistake. I don’t think anyone is arguing that this practice is unethical. I’ve also seen blog posts edited after the fact to include more information – this is extremely common with breaking news stories. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that.

But in this case, a very emotionally-charged article was changed to be less offensive as the day went on, making her critics seem overly-critical. People who left comments earlier in the day read a much different article and, in most cases, were much more offended.

I think two things need to be said:

  1. It’s okay to change your mind.
  2. We all make mistakes.

Sometimes, after reading comments or others’ opinions elsewhere, I change my mind about what I’ve written. Shocking, I know! I think that’s a mark of maturity, though – to admit that the way you previously thought about something was perhaps incomplete or even incorrect. Even more shockingly, I also make mistakes. We all do. Sometimes, I write something that comes off in a way I did not intend or when I calm down and can see more clearly, I realize that I was too harsh in something I wrote.

So, yes, I think it is okay to edit your posts, updating them to reflect your true, current opinion.

I do not, however, think it is okay to do this in a sneaky way, where your readers are given no indication of the changes made since the first person left a comment.

If your post has no comments, I don’t see the harm in editing a post…but if you do so on such a popular post (hers has thousands of comments), you make your readers look stupid. As Kelly noted, a lot of the later readers were wondering why the first commenters were so upset. By editing the post throughout the day, the writer made it seem like people were ganging up on her in an unjustified way. I don’t think it was fair to the Gizmodo community.

If you’re going to edit your posts (beyond fixing typos and the like), make a note about it at the beginning or end. Explain why the post was edited and, if relevant, apologize to your readers. Don’t just ignore your first published draft. Instead, acknowledge your change of heart or mistakes or write a completely new post updating your opinion. After all, nothing can truly ever be erased online.

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