Podcasting is an amazing way to grow your audience, become an authority in your niche, and connect with great people along the way.
As any podcaster would attest, there’s a lot that goes into starting and running a podcast, like preparing, recording, and promoting each episode. These are the fun and creative elements of podcasting. Writing show notes can seem like a painful and time-consuming chore, but it’s really important that you write great show notes.
Why are podcast show notes important?
There are four main benefits to creating podcast show notes:
- They help hook busy listeners, resulting in increased engagement
- They help increase search engine ranking, resulting in more organic traffic
- They’re easily shareable, resulting in more exposure via social media and email
- They actively drive traffic to your site, resulting in more support for your business goals
Show notes help hook busy listeners
Podcasting is becoming a competitive market, so it’s absolutely critical to hook them into your show before they go with an alternative.
Well-written, skimmable show notes are a great tool to pique your listener’s interest. Think of show notes as movie-trailers. They’re condensed, action-packed bites designed to make people want to listen to the whole episode.
Show notes help with search engine ranking
Google rankings matter.
Obviously, there are many factors that play into ranking Top 10 on Google, but writing podcast show notes will increase your episode’s chances of showing up in a Google search.
Let’s look at an example.
The below image shows that the top results for a search for “Tim Ferris interview” are actually by podcasters who took the time to put show notes together.
With some effort, this could be you!
Show notes are easily shareable
You can’t ignore the power of social sharing. Enlisting the support of current fans to share your work is key to podcast growth.
You can make this much easier for fans by creating podcast show notes and putting them on social media and in your email newsletter. If your notes feature thought-provoking quotes or engaging highlights, your listeners will be more likely to share them with their own audiences.
Additionally, if you have guests on your podcast, show notes make it easy for them to share with their following. They may even include a link to your show notes on their site. This means more clicks back to your podcast and hopefully more long-term listeners.
Show notes will drive traffic back to your site
If written correctly, your show notes can be a really effective way to actively drive fans from their podcasting app back to your website.
Driving traffic to your website is critical to achieving any business goal whether it’s to grow your email list, sell more books, or increase your revenue.
Here’s an example of this in action:
- Throughout Amy Porterfield‘s podcast with Neil Patel, Amy repetitively guided her listeners back to her site to check out the show notes.
- The show notes included a special checklist based on the episode, which she knew her listeners would find incredibly valuable.
- Amy knows that she has a greater chance of turning site visitors into loyal fans and hopefully, loyal customers.
Now that we’ve discussed the main reasons to create podcast show notes, let’s talk about how to make them really effective.
How to write great show notes
Working with hundreds of podcasters at the Oscar Hamilton agency, I’ve found that the best show notes are the ones that are genuinely helpful and useful to the listener.
As such, there are 8 steps a podcaster must take to ensure that their show notes are of good quality and benefit their audience:
- Decide on the show notes format
- Hook them with the opening
- Include quotes
- Use images
- Link sources
- Make text skimmable
- Consider including a transcript
- Finish strong
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Step #1: Decide on the show notes format
Be sure to consider your audience when choosing a show notes format. Would they be more likely to scan through a 2,000+ word blog post, or a higher level overview?
It all starts with knowing your audience. If you already have an existing audience, you should have a pretty good idea what are they looking for. If you don’t have any audience, make educated guesses.
Pro tip: Send your show notes for your first episode to a dozen people for feedback.
Step #2: Hook them with the opening
Once a potential listener lands on your show notes page, you need to hook them fast with a strong opener or risk losing them.
There are several ways to quickly engage potential listeners with your show notes:
- Lead with a story
- Ask a thought-provoking question
- Share something personal
- Debunk conventional wisdom
- Be short and direct
- Use a cliffhanger
- Include a bio (if it’s an interview-style show)
These openers not only hook your listener, but provide a solid foundation for the remainder of the notes.
For my Online Hustle podcast, I interview people behind successful internet businesses, I try to include a few key metrics, such as revenue of the guest’s business in the opening paragraph.
Pro tip: Experiment with different types of openers and track which perform the best.
Step #3: Include quotes
Quotes are great highlights to include because they provoke thought, elicit emotion or prompt action.
They’re also very shareable on social media.
Pro tip: If you’re on WordPress, you can use the Social Warfare plugin to create simple tweetable quotes. It takes just a few minutes to set up and it will result in more social media traction.
Step #4: Use images
Using visuals is a simple way to make your show notes more engaging. They’re also a great way to break up blocks of text, which helps the reader’s eye.
You can include graphics with quotes, images of the guest, or behind-the-scenes photos. If done right, your audience will feel like they were there when you recorded!
Step #5: Link sources
Chances are good that you or your guest will mention resources like books, tools, websites or people to know during the course of the show.
It’s really important to include links to these resources in your show notes. It becomes a quick and easy reference point for your listeners so that they can benefit from everything you or your guest suggested for them.
Pro tip: Set up affiliate links for those resources that you mention often. You’ll be able to make some fairly easy revenue while providing a high level of value to your listener.
Step #6: Make text skimmable
Studies have shown that people rarely read every word on a page. Instead, they scan/skim and then dive into the areas that grab their attention.
Since people switch between skimming and actually reading, it’s crucial to include subheadings that catch their eye. These will serve as anchor points, causing the person to stay on the page longer.
You should make the subheadings simple, but descriptive, avoiding vague or clever headlines. These subheadings are intended to let readers quickly decide whether a particular piece of content is for them.
Additionally, you should break your content up by using short sentences and paragraphs. Big blocks of text can be daunting, so keeping your content to 4-5 lines per paragraph will ensure that your reader stays engaged.
Pro tip: Ideally, there should be less than 80 characters per line because it’s easier on the eye. This formatting consideration is especially important as the content will likely be accessed on a mobile device.
Step #7: Consider including transcripts
If you’re just starting to create show notes, including transcripts may be a bit much to take on.
However, there are several reasons to consider adding them in the future:
- Your content could be enjoyed by the deaf or hard of hearing
- English language learners can digest content at their own pace as their language skills improve
- You will see gains in search engine optimization (SEO) if the transcripts are publicly accessible
If hiring a full-time person or agency to handle transcription is out of the budget, you can always do it yourself.
Pro tip: If you have a more popular show, you might be able to coordinate crowdsourced transcription, where your listeners take on transcribing your episodes. One of my favorite examples of this is when listeners of The Adventure Zone transcribed 75+ hour-long episodes.
Step #8: Finish strong
There’s so many different ways you can end the show notes.
In general, your show notes should come full circle, summarizing the main points and reminding your audience of the key takeaways.
Additionally, you could end with a call-to-action for readers to check out show sponsors or your latest product.
Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to use a clear subheading to distinguish the ending from the rest of the show notes.
Examples of podcaster’s show notes
Now that you know the key steps to writing great show notes, let’s look at some examples in action:
Art of Charm Podcast Show Notes
Art of Charm follows a nice, traditional show notes model for every single episode. In their show notes, you’ll notice:
- Skimmable text
- Use of subheadings
- Use of bullet points
- List of resources
- Effective call-to-action
The most noticeable thing about their show notes is that they’ve included several calls-to-action at the end, urging listeners to head over to their social media profiles, subscribe to their email, or check out their courses.
Lisa Wang Show Notes
Lisa Wang has been leveraging the power of storytelling, which hooks the audience with the opening paragraph. Here are a few show notes successes that I saw:
- Use of quotes
- Highly skimmable text
- List of resources
- Good use of call-to-action for reviews & ratings
Lisa’s show notes are incredibly well structured, easy to skim and don’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Tim Ferriss Podcast Notes
Tim Ferris is known for diving deep into the stories of his guests, while deconstructing exact strategies and tools.
As you can see from the show notes above, they are very detailed. It feels like a lot to take in. Here are a few things Tim does well:
- Great use of timestamps
- List of resources
- List of names that came up during the show
- Effective featured image of the episode guest
Even though it might seem like there’s too much going on in his show notes, it’s important to remember that people who listen to Tim Ferriss’ podcast appreciate him going into so much detail.
His show notes work for his listeners, but they wouldn’t be as optimal for other shows, where the audience expects, wants or is accustomed to something different.
Write Notes for Your Audience
One of the key elements to building a successful podcast is knowing your listeners.
If you know what keeps them up at night, what they care about and what they struggle with, it’s easier to create content that truly resonates with them.
Not completely sure of what your audience needs or wants? They can provide you with incredible insight, so it’s never a waste of time to email, jump on a call or even meet up in person with them.
Writing show notes doesn’t have to be a struggle. By following the guidance in this article, you can turn it into an enjoyable process that adds value to your listeners and has the potential to massively grow your show.
If you liked this post, here are some other articles you might love:
- 15 Page-Turning Podcasts for Readers
- 121: How to Start a Podcast for Authors and Thought Leaders with Ben Krueger
- 051: How to Podcast Like a Pro and Reach Millions With Your Message with Daniel J. Lewis