For the first time ever, podcast show notes display almost the SAME in all podcasting apps (thanks Apple).
That brings up the question... what ARE show notes anyway? And how can I best use them?
On this episode of Podcastification, I'm going to explain what show notes are, what they should contain, and how to create and use them in the MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS.
There are differing opinions or definitions out there for the term "show notes." Some people feel like it's a blog post length summary of a podcast episode, or maybe even a transcript of the audio.
Others feel the term should refer mainly to the brief description of an episode you might find in a podcast app.
Which is it?
From my perspective as the Founder of a company that creates show notes for podcasting clients, it's both.
Let me explain...
To make the most of every episode of your podcast, you really NEED BOTH the longer blog post content that goes on your website, AND the shorter, abbreviated content that pulls into the podcast apps from your media host.
Instead of creating a separate document or post for those two things, I suggest you create one MASTER post that you can use in a variety of ways to fulfill both needs... and social media elements while you're at it.
But before we get to that, there's one last thing I want to say...
You may follow the steps I'm about to give you and create the best show notes on the planet or within your industry or niche.
But if your audience doesn't know they are available, they won't use them.
It's YOUR job to ensure they know about the resources you create.
I suggest you figure out a way to remind yourself to TELL your audience about your show notes EVERY TIME you record a new episode.
WHERE DO YOU INCLUDE IT?
Your listeners will become aware of your show notes and become accustomed to looking at them when they need a resource... in time. Just be consistent.
The last stats I saw (early 2021) said that 85% of podcast listeners are listening on a mobile device. So think about that from a show notes perspective...
If you're saying, "Check out the website for the show notes to this episode," you're making it HARD for your listeners to find them.
Even if you refer to a specific short-link, you're still forcing them to open a web browser and find the show notes.
HERE'S A BETTER IDEA...
Since you know that the majority of your listeners are listening to your show on a mobile device, then point them to the description on their mobile device. I often say something like this...
"That resource can be found in the description for this episode, and you can find that in the listening app you're using to listen right now. Swipe right, left, up, down... something and the description section will be there."
First off, create a Google Doc that you can use as a template for your show notes. That way you don't have to recreate the structure every time you produce a new episode.
You'll simply copy the template document, rename it, and away you go.
What should your template include?
I'm going to give you my suggestions... and I'm going to do so in a specific order, for a specific reason. It will make your creation easier to repurpose and reuse.
Picture this intro paragraph section this way...
A new potential listener finds your show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Your cover art catches their eye and they decide to click through to see your description.
Then they see an episode title that's intriguing (we'll get to that in a moment). And they decide to click through to read the description of the episode.
THIS section is what they see when they do that. It needs to be compelling, interesting, and informative - in as few words as possible.
Start out with something catchy, something that introduces the topic or guest in an appealing way to the reader.
Make it short and to the point. Imagine each sentence tying into the next to lead the reader along.
Some folks include bios here but I find bios to be too boring and too hard to read. I tend to scan them and I think most internet readers do the same. So don't waste your time with long, all-inclusive bios. If you want to include them, do it later in a "guest" section of your notes.
To be honest, this section is optional — but I always include it if I can. Why?
Because it enables your reader (who tends to scan things) to easily see the main topics and issues covered in the audio. It's like bait, tempting them to listen.
And I include this in the media host (podcast players) because in most podcast players, the timestamps are clickable... meaning the person taps on them and the audio begins playing at that point in the episode.
This is where you provide links to resources you or your guest mention in the episode recording.
I don't include things like Google or Youtube because everyone knows about them and how to find them.
But I do include links to apps or software programs, online courses, people, books, and a variety of other things.
If you decide to link to resources that are affiliate relationships (you get paid if people buy using your link) then do the right thing and disclose that it's an affiliate relationship.
Include information about how your listeners can contact your guests. You can either include all social, websites, etc. - OR - you can ask the guest their preferred means of communication with listeners.
If your guest has written books or has an offer for your listeners, provide that link here as well (and refer to it being in the show notes for the episode, so listeners can go get it)
Podcast listeners build a one-sided relationship with you, the host of their favorite podcast. So make it easy for them to connect with you.
Include your preferred ways of being contacted... and perhaps even put it near the top of the post in your media host account (apps) so listeners can find it easily.
EVERYTHING TO THIS POINT IS WHAT I'D INCLUDE IN YOUR MEDIA HOST ACCOUNT - BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE APPS WILL GET THEIR DESCRIPTIONS FROM.
But for your website blog post, I'd add additional information...
If you want the blog post that accompanies your episodes to have any chance at all in getting Google's attention when people search for key phrases related to your episodes, you'll need more content on the page.
Google recommends 500 to 600 words minimum, so that's what we aim for AS a minimum.
It's going to include everything I've mentioned so far, so you're only going to need 2 to 3 more paragraphs of content to fill out the blog post.
This is where I place those paragraphs.
I'll include a catchy H2 level header, then write a brief paragraph or two about the topic mentioned in that header.
Make it informative, helpful, and true to the audio content. (NO CLICK BAIT)
Then I'll write a couple more headers and paragraphs following the same pattern.
The bullet points you've already created will probably give you great ideas for good headers and the content to follow.
For website posts, images are always optional. But if you're posting for the sake of SEO (which you should be) then you need to have images.
Google says the more "media-rich" your page is, the more likely it is to rank when people search for the topics covered on that page.
Images help you tick that box.
There are lots of free tools out there to help you create attractive images that highlight your content and promote your brand or your guest.
When you use images, be sure the title of the image includes keywords you hope to rank for... and fill out the image "alt" tag with a keyword-focused description for those who are visually impaired.
And don't put the same title and alt tag on every image you use on the page. Title them in relationship to what the images are.
Not only are you going to use the top section I described in your media host description to feed the apps (summary paragraph, bullet-point outline, contact info for you and the guest, and resources), you're also going to use the content for social media.
Headers and bullet-point outlines can make great tweets, if you reformat them slightly to be intriguing and appealing to Twitter users.
Don't forget to include relevant hashtags (but don't overdo it)
Your blog post paragraphs can make great social media posts — again, with some reworking and proper hashtag use.
And don't forget to include a link with your social media posts - to your podcast episode blog page (my recommendation)