How to write great show notes for your podcast
You’ve started a podcast (or maybe you’ve had one for a while), and you know you need to write show notes. But with so many formats available, and so many podcasters doing different things and using different terminology, how can you know what makes good show notes? If you want some handy tips based on my experience as a content writer for podcasters on how to write great show notes, this blog post is for you!
And if you’re still wondering whether you should be publishing show notes on your website, you may want to take a few minutes to read this post first: What are podcast show notes and why do you need to publish them on your website?
1. Come up with the best possible title for your podcast episode
Your podcast episode title needs to work for your audience, but it needs to work for you too. Its main job is to communicate what the episode is all about in a way that encourages your listeners to tune it.
So make your title interesting, engaging, and compelling but also true to the content of your episode (i.e. informative). The last thing you want to do is to deliberately pick a clickbaity title to grab your listeners’ attention just for them to later find out that the topic you actually covered was completely different – that’s not cool to do!
As a podcast host, here are a few things you might want to look out for when it comes to picking your titles:
- If you use episode numbers, add the number at the end (rather than at the start of the episode) and don’t include the word ‘episode’ or ‘ep’. Why? Because you want to grab your readers’ attention as soon as possible. So use the space available at the start of your title to tell your audience what the episode is about.
- Similarly, unless your podcast guest is Oprah Winfrey (or someone who’ll get you thousands of downloads), if you’re going to include a guest name, add that at the end.
- Try and keep your podcast titles short – think 5-8 words or around 60-90 characters. Different podcasting platforms have different space requirements, and if your title is too long, it might be cut off.
- Make your podcast titles ‘searchable’. Be strategic and include keywords – this helps you reach more people by directing search engine traffic to your website.
2. Write an introduction for your podcast episode
If you want Apple Podcasts to display your show notes, bear in mind that they only allow up to 512 characters. And seeing that most podcast apps pull their data from Apple Podcasts, it’s worth sticking to those limits.
When you’re writing show notes for your website though, you have a bit more freedom. So use your the introduction of your show notes, to ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’.
If your listeners found the title interesting and enticing, they might want to read the introduction to find out a little more about what you cover in the episode. In other words, treat your introduction as a short summary of your content that helps your listeners decide whether they want to tune in or not. Don’t miss the chance to make it compelling and to-the-point.
Here are a few things to remember when writing your introduction:
- Open with one or two ‘qualifying questions’. This helps your audience to quickly decide whether the episode is for them and encourages them to find out more.
- Keep it to one paragraph or two shorter paragraphs. You don’t need to give everything away here.
- Think about your SEO – identify and include keywords in this section – this might help you drive some search engine traffic to your website.
- If you do want your listeners to tune it, try and tease the content, rather than disclosing every single detail. Tell them what they’re going to find out but do it in such a way that stimulates their curiosity and makes them want to listen.
3. Include the audio clip of your podcast episode
Not every podcaster does this on their website, but if you want to give your listeners a great customer experience, include the audio clip of your episode within your show notes.
Doing this means you’re giving your audience everything they need in one place. By keeping them on your website, you increase your chances of exposing them to more of your content, and that, in turn, might help you turn them into superfans.
When it comes to adding your podcast audio clips to the episode show notes on your website, you can do so in one of two ways:
- By using a standalone podcast player plugin. Examples include Fusebox Podcast Player, Simple Podcast Press, or Powerpress. But this is only an option if you have a self-hosted WordPress website.
- By adding code to your website to embed the podcast player of an external hosting platform into your website. You can do this whether you’re on WordPress or not.
4. Add a ‘You will learn’ section
You don’t need to call this section ‘You will learn’ if that doesn’t fit your style and tone, but I do recommend you include an additional section to your show notes to tease the key points or takeaways of your episode.
When writing show notes for my clients, I like to:
- Present the key learning points in a bulleted list.
- Stick to a maximum of three points.
- Write one sentence per point.
- Keep a similar sentence structure.
- Explain the topic without giving all the information away.
If you have a great introduction, adding this section isn’t necessary. But it can be helpful for a number of reasons:
- It might give your audience more reasons to listen to your episodes. If the show notes introduction didn’t convince them, this section might.
- It shows you’re not afraid of giving your content away. You’re not coming across as the podcast host who will only serve their listeners and not their readers. Adding more details shows you’re a true content creator who is keen to serve the whole of your audience, whether they like to listen or whether they prefer to read.
- And it also serves to remind someone who may want to go back to an episode or recommend it to someone else of what you covered in the episode. Titles and episode numbers aren’t always easy to remember, especially if someone regularly listens to your show and wants to go back to a particularly interesting episode they may have forgotten to make a note of.
5. Include links to other resources
If you’ve mentioned any links or resources in your podcast episode, it’s good practice to include them as clickable links (or hyperlinks) in your show notes. This helps you (the host) as it means you don’t have to interrupt the flow of your show by spelling out long links. But it also helps your listeners, who don’t have to stop what they’re doing to grab pen and paper (or the notes app on their phone) to catch those all-important links.
When including links, bear in mind that not all podcast apps make links clickable – on some platforms they may appear as read-only. So if you publish them as hyperlinks outside of your website, they might not work. A workaround is to ‘expand’ the link. So you may use: https://www.website.com/example. That way, your listeners can just copy and paste the link into their browser and still access the resource you mentioned.
6. Include details of your guests
If you invited a guest on your show, ensure you include their details in the show notes. You may have given a brief introduction about them at the start of your show notes, where you perhaps described who they are, and what topic they’re covering in the episode.
Further down in your show notes, it’s good practice to include any relevant links to their website, their social media handles, as well as other resources (including free giveaways) they may have been kind enough to offer to your listeners.
7. Always include a Call to Action at the end
What would you like your listeners to do after listening to your podcast episode? You may want to them to:
- Like and subscribe.
- Join your free community (for example, your Facebook group).
- Give you feedback on your episode.
- Suggest topics for further episodes.
- Get in touch with you to answer a specific question you asked them at the end of the episode.
The Call To Action doesn’t always have to be: “Get in touch and let’s work together” (or something along those lines). In fact, it’s helpful if you change things up from time to time. Otherwise, your audience might just gloss over it!
But don’t miss the opportunity to include details about:
- Where your audience can find you (i.e. your website, your social media handles, etc.).
- How they can get in touch with you (give them the best, easiest way to contact you – don’t make them look for it!).
- How they can work with you.
No time to write great show notes for your own podcast?
No problem! Writing show notes is a task that you can easily outsource. If you want to grow your business, serve your audience, and spend more time doing the things you do best, then why not hire an experienced show notes writer who can take this time-consuming post-production task off your to-do list? If this sounds like the type of help you might need, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use this contact form on my website and let’s talk about how I can help you with your show notes.