Steve Stewart is a professional podcast editor. On his site, he describes his job as “helping podcasters free up their time from editing, so they can focus on growing their business.”
He recently sent an email to his mailing list talking about “how the money works” in podcast editing, at least for him. I’m including some of that information here to help those who either want to hire an editor for their podcasts or are thinking about adding podcast editing to their list of production services.
This was the percentage of podcast editing clients who paid Steve a “per-episode” fee when he started editing podcasts for a living.
Today, this amount is closer to 40% as more of his clients pay per month to work with him. If you’re considering doing any kind of production/editing work, a monthly fee can be beneficial for a few reasons.
- more predictable revenue
- more predictable workload and schedule
- stronger client connection and understanding thanks to ongoing work and relationships
- higher customer value (i.e. you’ll make more money per customer)
- longer customer retention (which can cut down on marketing and advertising costs)
- increased opportunity to sell additional services
- “better” clients who take the projects you’re working on seriously, because they’re more committed to them
And buyers have similar benefits:
- more predictable costs
- a structured timeline/schedule for content creation and other podcasting work
- being able to work with an editor who better understands your needs thanks to ongoing work together
HOW TO DO IT: ThriveCart is great for these things. Not only will it handle recurring billing, it also allows for upsells and add-ons clients may wish to buy from you. The backend will analyze your sales to predict future sales, which is also helpful for planning ahead.
Steve’s"per-episode" fee has a base rate of $175 for up to 45-minutes of raw audio. Every 10 minutes of additional raw audio is $15.
Why price podcast editing services based on raw audio length rather than how long it takes him to do the job? Steve says, “I love the upfront transparency it provides my clients.”
In short, this pricing model allows Steve’s podcast editing clients to do the math before they hire him. They know ahead of time, exactly how much editing an episode will cost, and feel like they are in control of their money.
The benefit to Steve is: No matter how easy the edit is, the rate stays the same. The easier the edit, the more money he makes for his time.
The problem is, no matter how difficult the edit is, the rate stays the same. There is definitely a risk that you’ll make less than your “per-hour” rate if an edit is complicated.
Charging per-episode can be great for clients who record different lengths of episodes or want to release bonus episodes from time-to-time.
How to Charge for an Hourly Rate
There are plenty of people, including many podcast editors, who charge for their time and not by the project. They use tools like Toggl, or accounting software like FreshBooks or QuickBooks to keep track of the number of minutes/hours they spend on each project.
Steve tracks his work via RescueTime, which look at everything he does on his computer, letting him know where he’s spending his time as well as how he’s spending it.
Here’s an example of a weekly report:
The Premium version of RescueTime will also show you how much time you’re spending on specific clients and projects.
Here's one of Steve’s reports from the Premium version of RescueTime:
It’s a good tool that I use myself. And it may be a good option for you to automatically keep track of the hours you work and help you charge appropriately!
When to Get Paid
When (and how often) you want to invoice your clients is entirely up to you:
- Get paid before you begin
- Invoice the client for each episode
- Charge the client every week
- Invoice the client on a specific day of the month
Each has its pros and cons. Personally, I’ve found it best to get paid upfront, especially when working with people I don’t already have a relationship with. This will allow you to focus on the work you’re being paid for and not have to worry about billing and payments in the future. Also, there is a far greater incentive for somebody to pay to have the work done rather than after it’s been completed.
Steve does things differently. He says, “For me, I love getting paid for a job well done. Thus, I invoice clients after the production has been completed.”
Like me, he prefers to keep accounting work to a minimum. Because of this, he invoices clients just once per month, depending on the which type of service they’ve purchased.
“Per-episode” clients are sent an invoice on the 15th of each month. “Per-month” clients are sent an invoice on the last day of the month. Splitting invoicing in this way can help to make cash flow more consistent.
NOTE: This is another reason to automate your billing via something like ThriveCart or Pabbly Subscription Billing. Either will automatically charge clients at a specified time, making the invoicing and payment process easier on both you and them.
The Bottom Line
Beyond being skilled at making podcasts sound great, the success of any podcast post-production business is based on:
- Keeping good records
- Communicating well
- Staying productive
This takes time and energy. And if, like Steve said, you want to focus on growing your business, it may be something worth outsourcing to somebody else.
Do you like editing and want to offer it as a service for others? Charge appropriately.
To connect with Steve and other podcast editors, visit Podcast Editors Club.