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How Process, Seasons, and Partners Helped Refinery Ventures Create a Successful Show

Podcasts are super fun to listen to and even more fun to create. This is especially true for avid listeners who end up on the operational end of the spectrum. But if you’re not careful, you could end up with an overwhelming mess to manage, especially if you don’t have the right process and people around you.

That’s exactly what Abby Fittes, Director of Operations at Refinery Ventures, had to figure out along the way in developing her first podcast, Fast Frontiers.

Today, we’re going to take a look at how Abby, and the host, Tim Schigel, built their successful show.

Identify and Overcome Roadblocks

Like with any new project, starting a podcast was riddled with hurdles for Refinery Ventures. Luckily, they had a director who quickly found ways to vault over them. It took building a solid relay team to ensure each episode made it all the way to the end of the process seamlessly.

So what were the hurdles they had to overcome?

“I think when you’re approaching any project, you think of, what are the barriers to entry? What are the ways in which I have to jump over something, or things that I have to tackle in order to be successful at this? And Tim set it up perfectly... our barrier to entry sometimes is time. And then sometimes it’s resources or finances. And so you have to go through, if we want to do a podcast, how do we make it so those barriers to entry are easy to overcome?” Abby explained in an episode of season 6 of The Casted Podcast.

The key is getting your team involved and assigning them the tasks that they excel in. That way, the learning curve is minimal.

“The way I convinced him to do it was, if you record all of the interviews, I will do everything else. We need your storytelling; we need your connections to this to bring it to life. And I promise you, that’s the only part you’ll have to do. And I think I’ve kept pretty close to it,” Abby continued.

Figuring Out the Best Process Is a Process

Abby’s love of podcasts and processes made launching the show easier and faster. But it took a season of trials and errors to make the operation smooth sailing.

“For me, I love podcasts. I’m just a listener to all podcasts. Never thought I would be working on one, kind of a dream. Like, wow, I get to put out something that people can go on Apple Podcasts and hit play on their drive like I do? So that has been the coolest thing, to see how it gets made.

“And I think it takes someone that maybe really enjoys process, and is okay with that, and is really okay with figuring out how is then the best way to do that process. And I learned that the hard way, for sure. Season 1 was way harder than Season 2. Way harder. Because it was the first time I’m doing anything. And I think the best suggestion we give anyone is to surround yourself with people that know how to do this better than you do,” said Abby.

Rely on Your Partners

The end goal of any project is to win. Sure, you can do this without any ground rules in place. But if you ever wanted to repeat your success, you might struggle. This is what makes having a process essential. In a podcast, your process is your roadmap to achieving whatever goals you set. And to get to the end goal, you need the right people around you.

Everyone has a role to play in making the process seamless and efficient, and that includes the teams outside your company who can help you in the areas where you have limited resources or expertise.

“That’s where we have experts. So I don’t have the audio technology background to know how to slice and edit a podcast and make it sound really good. I also don’t have all of the marketing background to say, ‘What do we do with this now that we have it?’ And so for me, it was finding and learning from two partners in that aspect, which was Astronomic Audio, who does all of our audio engineering. They’re in Canada.

“And then Content Callout really helps us, then, also in Canada, with taking that content... We have the transcriptions of all of these great interviews, how do we use it to our advantage? And so we’re able to write articles about, just summaries of the episodes, which is great. To get it, not only in audio but also in text. And then, we can also slice and dice that into different social media posts, audiograms, and those became that much easier. When in Season 2, we added Casted into the mix. I think that really also helped in making it more my own. Casted really, quite frankly, allows you to have more control over the whole process,” Abby shared.

Use Seasons to Keep the Show Manageable

Having seasons also made the process easier for everyone involved. It helped organize what was needed, who would be doing what, and when everything had to be finished. In other words, less hair-pulling moments for management.

“I could not live without seasons. Again, for us, it doesn’t have a specific theme that we maybe thought it would, because sometimes the seasons come together close to the end. But in terms of how do you make this happen, it’s the recency. You have to have ideas right in front of you, of what do I need to do today or in the next week to get these things done?” Abby said.

Balance Team and Workflow

Your internal team is also just as important as your process. With everyone aligned and accountable, it creates a well-oiled machine for podcast production.

“I think, for me, this was one of the first times in a while where my work was impacting what everyone else’s workflow was. So when you have all these other partners that are helping you make this possible, you have to give them a final product for them to do something with in order to really amplify that episode. So just making sure that you’re scheduling time to get all these things done was really important for me.

“And that everyone understood what the workflow process was going to be like for each season. So I have onboarding calls before each season with the audio engineers, with Content Callout, to say, ‘This is when we think we’re going to have each of the guests roll out per season. This is when I’m going to get you the text edits. This is when you’re going to get me back the audio edits. And this is when we’re going to give you the article back,’ so that all of this can align and go out the day that we’ve said it’s going to, on all the streaming platforms. So making sure everyone’s on the same page, just like in any project, is really important,” Abby stated.

Creating a successful podcast is about establishing the right process, reaching out for partner expertise when necessary and relying on your own team to tell the stories that your audience wants to hear, and you do it one season at a time to keep things moving. This is how Refinery Ventures did it with Fast Frontiers, and it worked out well.

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