How I Make $8k / Month as an Audio Editor [Interview]

Hi, I’m Charlie. An audio producer and editor. In the past I’ve worked with music, sound for picture, apps and podcasts. These days all my work is in the podcasting field.

I work with mission-driven projects that use media to make positive impacts in the world.

All my work is remote as I do a fair bit of digital nomading between the US and Europe.

I can see you graduated from MTSU in 2014 and started working at M3 Group one year later. How did that come about?

After I graduated from MTSU I was very focused on working in the music industry. I spent a few years in the Nashville studio world assisting, engineering, and mixing.

I had a lot of fun up there, got to work with Alison Krauss and some amazing artists in the bluegrass world but I wanted to be doing something more humanitarian, something that I could see was impacting the world.

So, I decided to take a sabbatical and move out to the Isha Center, which is a meditation center a few hours south of Nashville.

I spent 6 months there and it was an absolutely life-changing experience.

What did you do after those 6 months?

After I left the Ashram I was unsure of what my next step would be, I didn’t want to go back into the music industry so I started working for a company called M3 Technology group in Nashville.

I was a technician installing audio-visual systems. It certainly wasn’t glamorous but I learned a lot doing that work, about both the work and myself.

After a few years of that I decided to get back into the audio game. I realized that there was a way to use my skills in ways that did make an impact for the world, because media is such a powerful tool when it comes to disseminating important information today.

That’s how I started working with sound for film & podcasts.

Who inspired you to become an audio editor / producer?

When I was in highschool I had a band with some friends of mine and we went up to Nashville to record a few tracks with my cousin who was a music producer up there.

I was totally hooked. From that point on all I wanted to do was work with sound.

That was what started the journey, but since then it’s taken all kinds of twists and turns. Back then I would never have imagined being where I’m at now but, I’m thankful life led me to where I’m at.

How was the process moving from audio design & installations at M3 Group to lead editor at KUS of Zun?

The school of Zen was one of my first freelance clients. They brought me on to edit a meditation podcast for them and it was a simple interview podcast.

But, the producer gave me a lot of latitude to creatively shape the conversations and that taught me a lot about how to shape an interview as a conversation. A skill I use all the time in my work today.

How did you land your first client as a freelancer?

When I first started I was doing the Upwork thing. That’s how I found the first few gigs. 

Looking back I really dislike that model and I think they take advantage of workers by creating a bidding war that lowers the prices to rock bottom.

I understand that some people need that support in the beginning to find clients, but I’d recommend moving away from that as soon as possible to something more sustainable.

What’s your editing & mixing process once you have the files?

So, it really depends on the kind of job. I’m often working as a producer and I am managing an entire podcast season start to finish.

My workflow starts with getting all the interviews and tape for an episode. I then organize them inside Descript which is where I do my big picture edits, craft the flow of the episode and write scripts.

Once that’s done I send an AAF file over to Pro Tools so I can still have access to all the edit points.

I make my fine edits in Pro Tools then do a rough assemble to send over to our composer. Once I have music back I’ll do final tweaks before mixing.

Which platforms & tools do you use for editing?

Pro Tools is my main DAW where I will do editing and mixing. I use keyboard maestro to create macros or custom hot keys to speed up my workflow.

I’m constantly sending files to Izotope RX for cleanup using the RX connect audio suite plugin. I’m also a huge fan of Descript like I mentioned before.

I use Soundly for my SFX libraries. And audio-hijack / loopback is an amazing little tool that I find myself using for all kinds of signal routing.

Which project are you most proud of?

Right now I’m the lead producer for a narrative show called the Pulso Podcast. This has been a pretty complex project to pull together and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done over the last few seasons.

Where can someone see your rates, if they’re interested in working with you and are you available?

They can find me on my website. Since each project is so different I don’t post blanket rates on my website.

It usually takes a few conversations to figure out what each client needs and how it makes the most sense to charge for that.

What’s your advice to freelance editors moving to Nashville for work?

There’s a quote I love, I think it’s from Bill Gates that goes:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” 

I live by this. If you are willing to give time and stick with anything you will succeed. For anyone trying to get into the field the biggest piece of advice I’d give is just to stick with it.

Look really deep inside and take the time to figure out what you want and why you want it and then go at it 100%.

Constantly keep learning and reading. Scour forums like reddit and FB groups on the subject. Attend meetups and don’t be afraid to cold-call people as a way to make new contacts.

Not in a scammy way but, if you’re genuinely interested in what other people are doing and striking up a conversation can lead to great contacts.

Also I don’t believe in the concept of competitors.

I think there’s enough work for everyone. If there’s another great editor that a lot of clients are going to then go get to know them. Give them a call and you’ll probably end up having a great conversation.

Chances are you’ll end up throwing each other work down the road. 

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?  

I’m super fortunate to be doing really well right now, the pandemic hasn’t slowed down the podcast industry at all, quite the opposite actually.

I was really well positioned to enter the podcast field with this current boom going on. There’s a lot of work going around and I’m feeling great about the future.

”Look really deep inside & take the time to figure out what you want and why you want it and then go at it 100%”

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