Imagine you are driving down the road struggling to see through the rain on the windshield and wishing your commute wasn’t so long. The only saving grace of this “wasted” commute time is that you discovered a new podcast that not only entertains you in a fun way, but the host is dropping knowledge bombs left and right. You think to yourself, “I’ll never remember all of this, if only the traffic wasn’t so heavy, I could jot down a note or two.”
Conversely, you could be a very conscientious owner of a budding new business. You have spent countless hours hiring the right people and training them so that they are fined tuned versions of yourself. You found people who care about your business and your customers. You have also spent considerable time and effort implementing the systems and procedures to serve your client base.
You know your offering and customer service is far superior than your competitors. You even started a podcast to entertain and inform. It is even beginning to catch on, and you notice that your subscriber count is growing. You think to yourself, “if only there was a way to convert these new listeners into potential customers.”
These are two different people with two different “pain points”, but the answer to both of their problems intersects at podcast show notes. If you have thought of podcast show notes as added frills or an afterthought. Think again. Show notes serve a dual purpose. When your content is good and your information is useful, your listeners will actually want to go to your website and find out more.
If you are struggling to convert your listeners and new podcast audience into paying customers or get them to sign up to the beginning of your sales funnel, the answer is simple. Show notes. If your podcast content is compelling enough to get your listeners to click over to your website, you have an opportunity, an obligation even, to open the doors of communication.
If a listener likes your podcast, they usually like your information, voice, and delivery, so in essence, they like you. People trust people who they like. It is up to you to create an opportunity to further the relationship. This is why consistent quality show notes are important. They aren’t an afterthought, they are a doorway to future communication with a potential customer who already likes and listens to you.
The Dual Purpose of Podcast Show Notes
Your podcast show notes are either viewed before or after your show is listened to, so podcast show notes serve a dual function for your listener. If your potential listener discovers your notes before your podcast is listened to hopefully your show notes will be intriguing enough for the reader to give your show a listen.
If your show was so chocked full of information that your listener takes the time to visit your website, you don’t want them to be disappointed. This is an opportunity for you to reinforce that information and open the doors of communication with an appropriate call-to-action.
The perfect formula for show notes may not exist, but there is a show note that is perfect for your unique show. Your website and show notes should be an extension of your unique show and personality, so they should be a little different for everybody.
Still, there are basic formats and elements that you can use to get started. Most shows start with an introduction of the guest and why they are interesting or important. Then they go on to talk about the main topic of the show or what lesson the show will impart.
Then they may have a list of highlights using bullet points or time stamps. Then they move on to a list of resources and links mentioned in the show. Good show notes will end with some type of call-to-action. This is usually a free lead generation download for subscriber sign-ups or a request for comments, social shares, reviews, etc.
Elements of Good Show Notes
- Main topic of show or lesson learned
- Highlights or main points using bullet points or timestamps
- Links of websites, books, contact info, etc. mentioned in the show
- Call-to-action or opportunity to engage and continue the conversation
- Images, charts, graphs, or other illustrations
- Optional access to transcripts
- Access to the podcast from the website (functional podcast player)
- Easy access to download and subscribe to the podcast
- Easy way to share the page or podcast on social media
Depending on the nature of your show, you can use some or all of these elements to create a unique show note experience for your listeners. Things like whitespace, subtitles, bullet points, and images contribute to an easy to read layout.
I like to put myself in the place of the listener and ask what would make the show notes useful to me? Things like an easy to use podcast player with a fast forward button, useful information presented in a clear way, and easy access to resources like links, subscribe buttons, share buttons, and the podcast episode catalogue are all valuable elements.
Show Note Benefits for Podcasters
Show notes serve as a way for podcasters to reinforce their message and strengthen relationships with listeners. They also serve as a way to entice readers to become listeners. Having written show notes is also a good way to get more relevant keywords on your podcast page and improve search engine rankings possibly attracting new targeted listeners.
Not all show notes are the same or should be the same. A pure entertainment show may have a few teasers and links to websites or resources mentioned. A highly technical show may have clickable timestamps and a 16 page transcript. Show note content is dependent on the voice of the podcast.
Either way, try to keep it simple and remember that less is more. Amazing notes don’t have to be the longest. They just need quality information and a nice layout specific to your content.
Simplify Show Note Production
As a podcaster, you are busy. Show notes don’t have to be complex or a major production. Once you know what works, make a template and follow it for each episode. You could also use your podcast outline, add a few links, double check for accuracy and publish it as your notes.
You can also outsource your show notes to a service like Podcast Motor. We have created show notes for hundreds of shows and like to think of ourselves as experts. Because we create so many show notes, I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from my fellow show note writers. Here is what they had to say.
Show Note Perspectives from Podcast Show Note Writers
I talked with some of the Podcast Motor show note writers to get their perspective on content and creation of show notes. I asked about workflows, what would make their job easier, how they approach new show note creation, and if they listen to podcasts and view the subsequent notes.
Below is a sample of some of the information I received back. It was really interesting to get the perspective of other writers. I would like to thank Cara Meskar, Michelle Kulas, Laura Kuhl, Blair Urton, and Jayme Z. for taking the time to share such insightful answers.
Podcast Show Note Workflow & Productivity
“I generally type out notes on the main point and the guest in the beginning, then do the bullet points as I listen, rewinding as necessary to get the information and the names of the links that I need. I then go back and flesh out the introductory paragraphs, add the links, proofread, and submit!” Michelle Kulas
“I usually just download and power through the episode, pausing to get relevant links, make notes, re-listen and transcribe interesting quotes. The longest part is listening to the beginning, pausing a lot to get the guest’s information in the intro, find them online to add additional details, get their personal links, and write a nice intro paragraph for the beginning of the show. Sometimes the host gives a very brief intro and I have to dig around online to get a few more sentences about them.” Cara Meskar
“This seems basic, but I like to work in the actual format of the show notes. This means that I have “Topics”, “Quotes”, and “Resources” as sections and I fill them in as I go. I also make sure to note the host and any guests at the top of the document.” Jayme Z.
What Would Make Your Job Easier? From a Show Note Writing Perspective
- Hosts speaking clearly when saying names, businesses, books, etc.
- Providing a list of resources and links
- Feedback from the host
- Consistency from the host
- More time between audio editing and the due date
- Transcripts are useful for checking quotes and cross references
- Host show note preferences and guidelines for new shows would be helpful
- Let us know what aspect of the show is more important
- Do you want tweets, more bullets, paragraphs, timestamps, or other stylistic preferences
- If it is a multiple host show, having hosts occasionally state a name to keep who is speaking accurate
How do you approach show note creation?
“I follow the “usual” template of an introduction of the topic, introduction of the speaker, bullet points, links, and closing sentence, unless otherwise specified.”
“I usually check out the podcaster’s website and blog to get a feel for their writing style and language use.”
“I start by asking our manager if the client has any preferences. I listen to it all the way through once and take notes. Then I see if the topic lends itself to our traditional note format or I try to adjust it for preferences.” Blair Urton
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you ever go to the podcast website and read their show notes?
“Yes I listen to many podcasts. I’ve gone to podcast websites to get a link they discussed or downloadable content they refer to, or if I really like it and want to know more about the show and the hosts.” Cara Meskar
Your podcast show notes will be as unique as your podcast. Show notes can be a useful tool to advertise your show, engage with readers, or just to share further information.
A productive way to approach podcast show notes is to decide what you would like to accomplish with your show notes and then add the appropriate elements.
We would love to hear your show note ideas or observations, feel free to share in the comment section.