What are podcast show notes and why do you need to publish them on your website?
So you have a podcast or maybe you’re thinking about starting one. Hosting a podcast show is no small feat. The whole process of setting one up and then running a regular, high-quality show is definitely time-consuming. Week on week, you manage to get your episode out on time and breathe a sigh of relief. But your work isn’t over yet. Because once your episode is out, you’ve got all the post-production and promotion tasks to take care of. And one of these is writing and publishing your show notes. But what are podcast show notes exactly, and why do you need to publish them on your website?
What are podcast show notes?
‘Show notes’ is the umbrella term used to describe a written entry (or post) on your website that relates to the content covered in each of your podcast episodes. You can also use the same written content (or ‘set of show notes’) and publish it alongside your episodes on the podcasting platforms your show appears on (like Google Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, etc.). Doing this helps your audience find out a bit more about each episode.
If you’re a podcast fan yourself or have done some research into podcasting, you may have noticed that different podcasters or content marketers often use different terminology. So what some may choose to publish as ‘show notes’ for their podcast may differ from show to show. But what are some examples of different types of show notes you may have come across?
The three types of ‘show notes’ you can publish on your website
Over the years of listening to podcasts and working with podcasters, I’ve seen three main types of ‘show notes’:
- ‘Short’ or ‘detailed’ show notes. These follow a consistent format. It’s often one that the podcaster has chosen and is comfortable with. They include ‘teasers’ and information about the content of the episode, such as links and resources and key learning points or takeaways. Word count may vary. Plan for around 500-800 words, depending on how much information you decide to include and on how long your podcast episodes are.
- Podcast transcripts. These are word-by-word transcriptions of your podcast episode. Every single word that you (or your guests) recorded in your podcast episode is transcribed (often using by speech-recognition software tools) and published in written form on your website.
- Blog posts. Much like the one you’re reading, this written entry looks and reads just like a blog post. The content is the same as what you shared in the podcast episode, but it’s not transcribed word-by-word. Instead, it’s paraphrased and rendered in a much more user-friendly way. You can publish a blog post version of your podcast episode as an entry in the Blog section of your website or as ‘show notes’ under the Podcast section of your website if you have one. Blog posts tend to be much longer than ‘short show notes’, so you can expect anything between 1,000-2,000 words.
Based on my experience both as a listener and podcast content writer, I recommend you don’t publish your podcast transcripts on your website. While transcriptions are a great tool to help you write (or outsource the creation of) show notes or blog posts, they’re not the most user-friendly pieces of content you could offer your audience. If you want to find out more about why this is and what you can do instead, head over to my post: Why publishing your podcast transcripts on your website is BAD customer service.
And in case you’re looking for a tool to help you create transcripts for your podcast, have a look at my blog post: The best transcription tools for podcasters and video creators.
Why do you need to publish podcast show notes on your website?
Publishing podcast show notes on your website and on the podcasting platforms where your show is available can help you achieve different objectives:
- Give your listeners information about what the episode is about, so they can decide whether they want to tune in or skip that particular episode.
- Provide the listeners with any links or useful resources you mentioned in the episode.
- Give your audience a high-level overview of the content you covered in the episode so if they decide not to listen to this particular episode, they can get a brief summary of what you covered.
- Help you reach a wider audience by capturing search engine traffic.
So let’s look at each of these objectives in more detail.
1. Helping your audience decide whether they want to tune in
When you pick up a book (let’s say a non-fiction book), don’t you look at the blurb on the back cover or quickly scan through the preface or introduction before you buy? Why? Because you don’t want to get the book unless you know it’s right for you.
Your podcast listeners do the same. You might have some super-loyal fans who will listen to every single one of your podcast episodes, no matter what they’re all about. Your superfans love you and your show and just can’t wait for your next episode to come out.
But not all of your listeners are superfans. Some of them will dip in and out of your show, especially if they’ve only recently discovered your podcast. Because they don’t have time to listen to every single episode, they’ll use the title and your show notes to make an informed decision as to whether they want to tune in or not. So use your show notes to ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’, just like the author of a book would.
2. Providing links and useful resources
This is probably an obvious one. If you’ve mentioned any websites, articles, videos, books, PDFs, etc., you’ll want to include these in your show notes. And you’ll want to do that to make them easily accessible to your audience.
This saves you from having to break the flow of your podcast episode and spell out long links. Your listeners would need to stop and make a note of them, and you just don’t want that.
So just use your show notes to include all the relevant links. But make sure you don’t fall into the trap of saying: “I’ll put the link to this in the show notes” and then forgetting to actually do it! That’s frustrating for your listeners. Plus, it doesn’t say much about the customer service you offer. And you don’t want to give your prospective customers or clients the wrong impression.
3. Giving your listeners an overview of the content you’ve covered
In a way, this is similar to the first point. But instead of teasing the content of the episode to help your audience decide whether they want to tune in or not, you’re giving access to some of your content to those who’ve decided not to listen.
You can do this by listing the key takeaways and learning points you covered in the podcast episode. And you can do that, for example, through a series of bullet points. What you’re not doing is elaborating too much on the details. This allows you to make your audio content available in written form, which is great customer experience. And if you want to read more about why this is important for your users, head over to my blog post: 7 reasons why you should re-purpose your podcast episodes into blog posts.
4. Helping you to reach a wider audience
Having a written entry of your podcast episodes on your website allows you to add search-engine-friendly content to your website. You can add keywords:
- to the title,
- to the introduction of your show notes,
- and to other relevant sections of your show notes.
By doing this, you increase your chances of attracting new people to your show. Anyone who is searching for the terms your show notes are optimised for may stumble across your website. They might discover your show, and who knows? Maybe they’ll soon become superfans or customers or clients!
Do you need help writing show notes for your podcast?
If you want some tips on how to write great show notes for your podcast, you can find some handy tips in my post: How to write great show notes for you podcast. The bad news is that doing it yourself can be time-consuming. And the good news? It’s a task that you could easily outsource. Just share your transcriptions with a writer (like me!) and ask them to create the show notes for you. It’s as simple as that. Or, in the words of one of my clients…
“Before the end of the day, Sara had listened to my upcoming podcast episode, written show notes, and got it all uploaded into WordPress with the correct internal and external links and SEO settings. Amazing! All I had to do was to skim read and publish.
What this has allowed me to do is to do what I do well and get on with new clients meetings and free up my time to focus on the things that drive my business forward while Sara takes care of the things that she’s great at.” – Emmie Faust, The Business Greenhouse podcast.
So if you need some help writing your show notes or turning your transcripts into standalone, fully-optimised blog posts that can appear under the Blog section of your website, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in my contact form.