How to write effective podcast show notes

5 reasons why you need show notes to grow your podcast

How to Write Effective Podcast Show Notes

Updated June 29, 2022 /

Posted June 11, 2018

/ Jon Street

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Simply put, show notes are a preview or an overview of your podcast episode for your listener. Like the commercial for a business or a trailer for a show or movie, they help the listener understand the point, the purpose & what to expect.

You have a great idea, you have great content or you even have a groundbreaking interview…but how are people supposed to pick you out from the crowd?

Well, there are a few ways, some of which we’ve already discussed. Things like how you market your podcast or how you go after gaining listeners when you release it, not to mention the design of your artwork to make it pop. These are all great ways to make yourself unique from others.

But outside of these, podcasters are always looking for ways to engage their listeners & differentiate themselves. A great way of doing this is by offering show notes and transcriptions for your episodes to engage your listeners on an entirely new level. Let’s quickly explain how you can do this.

What are podcast show notes?

Show notes are a preview or an overview of your podcast episode for your listener. Like a commercial for a business or a trailer for a show or movie, they help the listener understand the point, the purpose, and what to expect. It’s a quick summary of the content of your episode where you touch on the theme, offer insight about your guest, and give a quick access point to the content covered that you want your listener to have exposure to.

The difference between a podcast description vs show notes

Some make the mistake of thinking descriptions and show notes in a similar way. They are both parts of the same toolbox, but they are two different tools. A description is an overview of the episode, but show notes are much more. While you are required by most hosting platforms to provide a description to post your episode, show notes are something you have to decide to do. They are a little more involved than a simplified description; they are strategic and they offer tremendous value to both you and your listener. They are a way of offering more than just a word-bite about the content, but rather they become a platform for engaging your followers. Let’s help you create one.

Writing effective show notes

So how do you write them? These few simple principles will get you on the way to having great content for your listener, which will result in more dedicated listeners at higher numbers.

How to write effective show notes: 

  1. Keep them simple
  2. Keep them relevant
  3. Keep them engaging
  4. Timestamps
  5. Hyperlinks
  6. Format for Podcast Apps with HTML

1. Keep them simple

This is by far the most important to nail. All you are doing is offering your listener a preview of the episode. You don’t need to write a overwrite the context. Oppositely, you also don’t want to leave them without any idea of what they should expect. A few quick sentences are not enough.

So, what’s the sweet spot? A great guideline is about 200-400 words of content for them to digest and know what they are listening to. Anything less is simply a description. Anything more will bore your listeners and likely turn them away.

2. Keep them relevant

The content of your show notes should be relevant to the episode. Now obviously you are not going to include information about a different episode or something altogether unrelated, but the point is that it needs to be a clear synopsis of the main points and content of your episode. 

If you do go off on a tangent in the dialogue of your episode that’s not relevant to the main point, don’t spend much time harping on it in your show notes. Likewise, make sure you do include the highlights and main points of the conversation to help your listeners know what they have to look forward to and paint the picture in a clear way for them.

3. Keep them engaging

Think of ways to engage your listeners and get them to learn or do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise. A great way of doing this is by using your show notes to promote your guest, their company, organization, cause, and details for any ideas or topics you discuss. As well as offering biographical information.

4. Add timestamps

A timestamped summary of your episode can create a powerful boost for your readers to press play and download your episode. When scanning through your show notes, timestamps give people the opportunity to jump straight to the content that most interests them and gives them clues to find the information they need.

5. Add hyperlinks

Adding external links to any of the topics you discuss for people to read up about when they’re able to, is a great way to keep them engaged. You can also add external links in your show notes for your guest’s bio or website. This will help them promote their social media handles & hashtags.

6. Format for podcast show notes with HTML

If you’ve added show notes to your podcast description before, you’ve probably run into some hurdles around the formatting of the copy. The most common mistake we see is when all the paragraphs lose their spacing and run together. 

You solve this by using HTML formatting on your show notes. When you add them to your hosting platform, you can ensure your episode show notes will look beautiful on Apple, Spotify, Google, and all the other podcast directories. You can learn more about how to format your podcast show notes in this detailed guide by Buzzsprout.

Growing your podcast with show notes

Now that we know what they are and how to write them, we need to know why they work.

Well, there is a real benefit for them. Show notes are a way that you can boost the overall impact of your podcast both in the eyes of the current listener and also to prospective listeners who haven’t found you yet.

Here are 5 reasons why you should write podcast show notes: 

  1. Engage your audience
  2. Differentiate your podcast
  3. Boost your credibility
  4. Cross-promote your brand
  5. Improve SEO

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1. Engage your audience

Show notes are another level of engagement for your listener. They allow your listener to do more than just listen to your voice. It becomes another form to become a part of the interaction by clicking links, learning more & leaving comments with their thoughts. It’s your opportunity to give a call to action for them to support you, and your guest & engage in the things you’re discussing.

2. Differentiate your podcast

It’s no doubt that this is a fast-growing field. More and more podcasts appear by the day, yet not a lot of them offer show notes to the public. Those who do, are a differentiator. 

Even if other podcasts in your same genre offer them, yours will be unique because your conversations will be different. Show notes are a tailored encapsulation of your show for your listeners to consume.

3. Boost your credibility

When you read something from a company or a person that references a link from a legitimate source, it adds instant credibility. By offering credible show notes you’re telling your listener that you care about your podcast, but you also care about them & you’re looking for ways to be of value to them.

4. Cross-promote your brand

If you are cross-promoting your guests, their companies, or causes, it will instantly give you leverage to invite other similar guests onto your podcast with more favorability. Promoting them in your show notes is a simple gesture that shows them gratitude

5. Improve SEO on your podcast website

While all the other points are a great way to grow your podcast, this is where the greatest value is for you. In today’s digital world, everything you put out online will find its way onto Google and other search engines. 

In order to appear on the first page of those search engines, you must use target keywords in your show notes. The more relevant the information you put in your show notes, the more it will result in higher numbers of people having the opportunity to stumble across your podcast when looking up those target words in Google or other search engines.

Example of show notes

So, what should they look like? Well because they are an expression of your brand you can certainly adapt them to your own liking, but our previous work will help you understand and visualize what they should look like.

Conclusion

Show notes are an incredibly simple way to step up your podcasting game and show your listeners you are thinking about ways to engage them with relevant content. Even better, they are something you can easily adapt to doing yourself with minimal effort. Podcasting is about providing value to your audience, you can do that by implementing show notes.

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Jon Street

As the Operations Manager at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team and ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon and his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida and now live in Simpsonville, KY.

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