There are two kinds of future podcasters: Planners and The Impatient. Planners recognize the work—or at least that there is work—involved in starting a podcast, so they dive right into the planning phase of podcasting. The Impatient, however, just want to get the show in-market quickly without thought for the—or realization that there is—work required. So their shows often fail to launch. Or they engage with a podcast production firm like mine.
The fact that you’re reading these words means you are more planner than impatient. So yes, the rest of this article is for you, whether you approach podcast production more like an architect or as a gardener.
The Podcaster-As-Architect Producer
When I’m working with clients, especially those I’d classify as The Impatient), I usually adopt the role of architect. As the architect, it’s my job to understand their vision for their podcast and give it all the structure and materials necessary to bring it to life. No pre-fab constructs here. Instead, we’re starting with the very foundations and building up from there to craft the final product.
Like an architect working on a building, a large amount of up-front time is spent in the planning process. Depending on the size of the podcast (and the budget), planning stages can and often do take weeks and or months to ensure all the bases are covered.
Part of that time is spent detailing the arc the episodes will follow and sketching out the segments that will be used throughout the show. Every show has segments, even if the listener doesn’t notice them. Even if the segments in the episodes are as simple as open-content-close, each one of them is worthy of careful consideration and fine-tuning when an architect is in control.
I’m going to take that arc and script out episodes—sometimes a dozen or more—in detail, using the actual, real words said during certain segments, with placeholder copy for the rest to ensure each segment is bridged together with the rest to result in a cognizant, cohesive story that works through each episode and across the entire arc.
As the architect of the podcast, I’m also going to plan out and build a slate of templates for the podcast. Templatized episode artwork inspired by the primary show cover art. A meticulous template for in-app episode details. A template for the on-site episode webpage. Templates for the newsletter, social sharing cards, video assets, and more.
Yes, all of that is done well before a single episode is dropped. Being in architect mode can result in a great podcast that’s not just highly-produced, but gives the client the outcome they desire. Which, oftentimes, is making a podcast that is perfectly crafted for their targeted audience.
But as much as I enjoy (not kidding) the architect role, I recognize that it doesn’t leave a lot of room for serendipity. And I love serendipity much, much more.
The Podcaster-As-Gardener Producer
When I’m working on my own projects, or when clients have less-well-defined visions of their podcast, I much prefer to be a gardener.
No, a gardener isn’t the opposite of an architect. The gardener also is a planner who starts with the very foundations of podcast creation. If you think gardeners just scatter seeds to see what grows, you are mistaken. Producing a podcast as a gardener would produce a garden still requires a lot of planning. Maybe not quite as much planning as the architect, but still quite a bit.
Every good garden is designed to be good, and the same holds true for a podcast that isn’t left to chance. As a gardener of a podcast, I’ll still plot out the arc of the show so I know where it’s going, and I’ll still define each of the segments that will constitute the episodes. But things are a little less rigid, allowing me to rearrange those segments or episode order as needed without fear of the whole thing collapsing. I can also add in new segments or bits that work with the other segments already in the show, just like a gardener might do to keep their garden healthy and working.
When I’m making a podcast like a gardener, I still rely heavily on templates for artwork, episode details, the website, and more; but with a bit more fluidity built in to easily adapt to changes as they come. So long as those changes track back to the originally planned arc of the podcast, that is. No clashing!
Yes, I still write scripts for episodes when I’m in gardener-mode. But instead of writing a complete script verbatim, these scripts—or at least segments within—tend to more resemble an outline. Sometimes, if the foundational planning is extremely solid, we can skip the script and rely on a listing of topics and angles to explore for the next few episodes.
And yes, shows produced when taking the gardener path can also be great and result in a tightly-produced show that the audience loves, often shaped as it progresses to better meet the needs of the client and/or audience.
There Is No One Right Way
I’m able to slide between those archetypes depending on the needs (and budgets) of my clients. If you’re a professional podcast producer, you probably can too. But at your core, you’re probably more one than the other.
And that’s OK. As you can see, both are perfectly capable of making great podcasts. Better still, these two archetypes of podcast producers pair quite nicely with one another to make even better podcasts.
Think of the people in your podcasting inner-circle and share this article with them to see what they think which type of planner describes them better. When you find one that’s opposite of you, keep them in mind for when a new project comes your way. You'll get a good taste of how the two roles play together as you work together to bring a fun podcast project to life.
And if you love what I had to say, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and buy me a virtual coffee. That is always nice.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.