Podcast show notes might be one of the most underutilized tools in podcasts right now.
That’s good news for you! 😁
Once we walk you through how to write excellent show notes, you are going to have an advantage in getting your voice heard and growing your listener base.
To help you really understand how to create good show notes, first we’re going to do a brief overview of what they are and then dive into why they are so important. With this context, you will be able to better utilize our step-by-step instructions in the “how to” section. Plus, we will give examples so you can have something to compare your show notes too as you go.
Does that sound like a good lesson plan? Ok, cool, we try. 🤷
Let’s get after it! 😤
What are Podcast Show Notes
The key thing to keep in mind is that podcast show notes are written text companions for episodes. 🧑🤝🧑
They go beyond the limited “episode description” space generally allowed on directories like Apple Podcasts.
Instead they are usually hosted on a podcast’s website. Usually, the episode description in podcast directories have a link to the full show notes on the website so listeners can easily click over to them. 💻
Traditionally, it will have about a paragraph long summary and links to references where folks can learn more about the topics after they listen to the episode.
However in the ever evolving world of podcasts, show notes have become so much more. 😲
Now they often include time codes that outline the conversation. They may have a link to a full audio transcription of the episode. They sometimes have a full biography of the episode’s guest and add social media links for them.
And, as every marketer dreams of, they contain some kind of Call-to-Action (CTA, if you’re cool). The CTA might be to rate and review the show, sign up for the show’s newsletter, or start to follow the show’s social media accounts.
Like we said, this really is a written text companion for the episode. It isn’t just a summary or a list of links. It is a whole package. 📦
Seems like a lot, right? Honestly, if you prepare your show thoroughly, probably all you have to do is some copying and pasting and a tiny bit more writing. But even if you do have to put in a little more elbow grease, it is worth it.
Why? Well, we’re glad you asked. Hence the next section… ⬇️
Why Podcast Show Notes are Important
Podcast show notes are important because they boost your podcast in every leg of the listener journey: Find the show, follow the show, rate and review the show, share the show, love the show.
Let’s break it down.
Get Found 🔍
First and foremost, the main benefit of podcast show notes is they help you get found. Growing your audience is all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), baby!
Google bots will read through your text, identifying keywords. Then when someone is looking for certain podcast topics, they will search with keywords on Google, and your podcast’s website will rank high on their search result page. 🥳
A lot of times a person would rather read a summary of your show than sit through an episode. Show notes provide them exactly what they want in this situation. They can dip their toes into your content before committing.
In fact, if your show notes are great, there’s a decent chance they’ll follow your podcast before they even listen to one episode! 🤯
Get Interaction ✌️
Because you can include links in your show notes, it is fertile ground for listeners to take action. This includes actions like rating and reviewing your show, following your show on different social media platforms, and signing up for your email list. 💌
As social media platforms and Google see users interacting with your show and referencing it, they will prioritize with visibility.
Even more importantly, when a person interacts with your show, they are more likely to feel committed to the show. Loyal listeners are priceless! 😍
Get Love 💜
We talk a lot about growing your audience, but let’s take a second to just talk about the heart of podcasting- a quality product that enriches lives. Show notes really bring another level of quality for your listeners.
With show notes, your audience has the opportunity to engage more deeply with the topics you cover without having to do their own search. And folks really appreciate this! 🙏
You have done all kinds of research work on the topic and its surrounding community so why not share that with your listeners?
Plus, it will help you be seen as an authority on the topic which can present more non-podcast opportunities to you like paid speaking gigs! 🧑🏫
Also keep in mind that show notes can be critical for your audience that may have trouble otherwise accessing your content, whether they have trouble hearing or they just aren’t in a position where they can read more than they can listen.
How to Write Podcast Show Notes
To make this section easy to digest, we’re going to break down every section that podcast show notes should have. Note: If you are a member of a podcast network, they may have guidelines you have to follow, so be sure to check those first.
The heart of good podcast notes is a summary. Write it so it is comprehensive, but concise. It should be around one meaty paragraph long, but it can be longer or shorter depending on how much content is covered in the episode.
It needs to be simple and easy to read. Sometimes it is best to write it as mostly bullet points to help keep it looking clean and digestible. 📋
Remember, this isn’t a short description. This isn’t some sort of tease to get someone to click play. It is a full wrap-up of all the action in the episode. 🎁
When writing a this section, remember this is the space where you want to put keywords as well as content to help individuals who are searching for your topic (remember: SEO!).
For any episodes that feature guests, you should include at least their name and general title in the summary. 👑
Time Coded Outline
Think of this section like listing chapters in a book along with their page numbers.
You want to break down your episodes by main sections. If your podcast doesn’t really have separate sections, instead pick out key points. 🗝️
You can also use key quotes for this section.
If possible, hyperlink the time codes to the actual spot in the recording so someone doesn’t have to take the time to try to find it.
A good outline allows potential listeners to click to the best parts of the recording and get a real taste of what your podcast can provide. 🍨
For people who already listen to your show, this provides an easy way for them to share your episode with a friend and say “hey, check this part out!” It is a great way to grow your audience organically. 🌱
We mentioned that you should include any podcast guest names in the summary, but sometimes you want to highlight them a little more.
Consider writing a short bio for them, mainly centered on the reasons they are on your show. Include things like experiences and accomplishments. This is a great place to use keywords for SEO. 🌎
Many times professionals will already have a full bio for themselves written up, so feel free to ask them to provide it if they have one.
Also include links for your guests. Ask them what they prefer, but usually these links are to their social media or website. Sometimes it is a link to buy their book or read an article by them. If they are on your show to fundraise for something, include a link to their fundraising page. And of course if they have podcasts link to them! 🙌
By giving your guest a lot of visibility, you are encouraging more high-quality guests to join your show in the future. If possible, gather data like how many times people clicked on their links in show notes. Showing this concrete data in pitches to big time guests can be very helpful in getting them to agree to come on your show. 📈
Always give credit where it is due. And this is the place to do it. 💃
Anything you have read, listened, or watched to prepare for your episode should be titled and linked in your show notes. If in doubt, err on the side of including too much. You don’t want to be accused of plagiarism! Plus, it is jut the right thing to do. 😇
Sometimes it best to have two sections in your resources: 1) Things you directly referenced in the show, and 2) Things you recommend people read, watch, or listen to if they want to learn more. 📚
Remember, resources help make you seem more reliable and an expert, so don’t be afraid of this section!
Audio Transcript Link
Providing a full transcription of your episode’s audio (or video) recording is increasingly common for podcasts these days, and rightly so. It increases the accessibility of your show and it helps with your SEO. 🔦
The full transcript is usually too big to include in the show notes so you should put it on a separate page of your podcasting website and only put a link to it in the show notes.
Fresh tip: Transcripts can be super helpful when you are editing episodes. In fact some editing software like Descript provides a transcript as a main part of its system. Also, they can be helpful when you are trying to find little snackable content for your social media posts. Transcripts are just all around handy so use them!
Call to Actions
The nice part about this section is that you can copy and paste it every time, if you want! 👍
Here you can ask people to rate and review your podcast, sign up for your newsletter, add you on social media, donate to cover the costs of podcasting, subscribe for premium content… all of it. 🤙
Just keep it super simple and clean, with links that go where they are supposed to go.
Be sure to start the call to actions with the easiest going to hardest tasks. Or what you most want them to do most to what is less important. It is easy for people to zone out after the first listed ask. 😴
But do be sure to list them all! Different listeners have different things they are comfortable doing so you should give them all the options. For example, someone may prefer privately donating to publicly following the show on social media. To each their own!
Examples of Podcast Show Notes
Examples are sometimes the easiest way to learn, so check out the ones below to get an idea of how other podcasts do their show notes.
You’ll notice that no two are the same– take inspiration in that! You do have creativity and control to make the show notes best fit you and your content! 🧑🎨
For each example of show notes, we will give an overview at the beginning so you know what you are about to read. Then we will also include labels in the text itself so you can identify exactly what the main parts are.
For our first example, take a look at this example of a great show notes from the “Going Wild” podcast. Let’s break it down, briefly.
As you can see, the first paragraph there is a full description of the episode without giving away too many of the details, creating anticipation for listeners. It has plenty of words that are probably key words for search engine optimization, but they are integrated seamlessly with the overall content. 🤖
Then there are five calls to action: 1) Follow the podcast on the listening platform of your choice, 2) leave a review, 3) follow the host on social media, 4) watch television episodes related to the podcast, and 5) follow the episode guest on social media. 📣
Finally, it lists the production credits: Staff and company names and roles. Plus legal language about opinions in the podcast that they are probably required to include. 🤓
Here it is:
“Hyenas [SEO keyword] might be the most misunderstood animal [SEO keyword]— Are they dogs? Big cats? Evil, trouble-making sidekicks? (Thanks, Lion King!) Dr. Christine Wilkinson relates to the ambiguous perception as a bi-racial woman, especially one working in the fields of science [SEO keyword] and conservation [SEO keyword]. She couldn’t wait to go to Kenya to study hyenas [SEO keyword], but one there, she was labelled a “Mzungu,” a term often used to describe white foreigners. Hear about how she fought to save hyenas [SEO keyword] from being misunderstood (and even started a conservation [SEO keyword] effort for the animals [SEO keyword] considered a nuisance), and in doing so, found a community where she was accepted.
Thanks for listening! If you want to support us, you can follow “Going Wild” on your favorite podcast listening app [call to action]. While you’re there, please leave us a review – it really helps. [call to action]
You can also get updates and bonus content by following me, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, and PBS Nature on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook [call to action]. And you can catch new episodes of Nature Wednesdays at 8/7c on PBS, pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app. [call to action]
Follow Dr. Christine Wilkinson, “The Scrappy Naturalist,” on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. [call to action]
This episode of “Going Wild” was hosted by me, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant. Production by Caroline Hadilaksono, Daniella Broza, Nathan Tobey, and Great Feeling Studios. Editing by Rachel Aronoff and Jakob Lewis. Sound design by Cariad Harmon. [credits and names of key people]
Danielle Broza is the Digital Lead and Fred Kaufman is the Executive Producer for Nature. [credits and names of key people]
Art for the podcast was created by Arianna Bollers and Karen Brazell. [credits and names of key people]
Special thanks to Amanda Schmidt, Blanche Robertson, Jayne Lisi, Chelsey Saatkamp, and Karen Ho. [credits and names of key people]
NATURE is an award-winning series created by The WNET Group and made possible by all of you. Funding for this podcast was provided by grants from the Anderson Family Fun, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS. [credits and names of key companies]
Views and opinions expressed during the podcast are those of the individuals expressing them and do not necessarily reflect those of the THIRTEEN Productions LLC/The WNET Group.” [names of key companies]
Our next example comes from the podcast Scam Goddess. These show notes are short, but have all the critical information. The first paragraph is an episode description, the name of the guest, and some of the show taglines that audiences know and love. Then credit is given to the show researcher and citations are given for the sources used in the show. 💃
Check it out:
“What’s poppin’ con-gregation? [show quotes] This week, comedian Frankie Quinones [guest name] joins us to discuss how 18 barrels of bourbon went missing from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, producers of the famed Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Plus scammers [SEO keyword] capitalize off of face high end whiskey being sold in local liquor stores across the nation. Stay Schemin’! [show quotes]
Research by Kaelyn Brandt. [credit]
SOURCES [website links to resources]:
Let’s wrap up with an example from the Huberman Lab podcast. It is pretty lengthy, but the episode is two and half hours long!
Key features: It lists the guest’s name, the name of their own podcast, and includes a thank you to the guest. Plus it clearly hyperlinks to all of the guest’s social media links. The summary briefly highlights every topic they talked about. Then the timestamps echo those highlights, letting listeners jump to the sections they care about the most. 😍
Take a look:
“My guest this episode is Lex Fridman [guest name], Ph.D., a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) [organization name], an expert on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, and the host of the Lex Fridman Podcast [guest’s podcast].
We discuss Lex’s recent trip to the heart of the Ukrainian-Russian War, geopolitics, perspectives on people living in war zones, the shared human experience [SEO keywords], and how information is communicated and controlled. As an experienced podcaster and public educator, Dr. Fridman offers unique insights into the art of holding conversations that grow understanding, especially when they involve people with opposing viewpoints. We also discuss the peer-review process for scientific research [SEO keywords] publications and how social media and podcasts are evolving the way science and technology [SEO keywords] are communicated. We consider how to find and follow your life’s purpose, maintain ongoing motivation and implement support systems to build and sustain momentum.
Our conversation also covers capitalism, masculinity, chess and cheating, Lex’s idea for an AI robotics start-up and a Q&A from audience questions solicited on social media. As one of the main inspirations for the Huberman Lab podcast [SEO keywords], hosting Dr. Fridman for this special centennial episode was an honor and a pleasure!
Dr. Lex Fridman [links to follow guest]:
Time Stamps [text with links to help listeners find quotes and main points in the long audio]
- 00:00:00 Dr. Lex Fridman
- 00:04:30 LMNT, Levels, Eight Sleep
- 00:08:28 Podcasting
- 00:12:11 Ukraine, Russia, War & Geopolitics
- 00:23:17 Conflict & Generalized Hate
- 00:26:23 Typical Day in Ukraine; American Military & Information Wars
- 00:37:28 AG1 (Athletic Greens)
- 00:38:42 Deliberate Cold Exposure & Sauna; Fertility
- 00:46:44 Ukraine: Science, Infrastructure & Military; Zelensky
- 00:53:33 Firearms; Violence & Sensitization
- 00:57:40 MIT & Artificial Intelligence (AI), University Teaching & Pandemic
- 01:05:51 Publications & Peer Review, Research, Social Media
- 01:13:05 InsideTracker
- 01:14:17 Twitter & Social Media Mindset, Andrew Tate & Masculinity
- 01:26:05 Donald Trump & Anthony Fauci; Ideological Extremes
- 01:35:11 Biotechnology & Biopharma; Money & Status
- 01:45:08 Robotics, AI & Social Media; Start-ups
- 01:53:50 Motivation & Competition; Relationships
- 02:01:55 Jobs; A Career vs. A Calling; Robotics & Relationships
- 02:12:11 Chess, Poker & Cheating
- 02:22:25 Ideas of Lately
- 02:24:44 Why Lex Wears a Suit & Tie
- 02:27:50 Is There an AI Equivalent of Psychedelics?
- 02:29:06 Hardest Jiu-Jitsu Belt to Achieve
- 02:32:07 Advice to Young People
- 02:39:29 Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous Supplements, Neural Network Newsletter, Social Media
What did you think of these podcast examples? Were some too short- what would you add? How is the writing style? Any points for cleverness? Can you tell what their SEO search keywords are?
When you want to create something great, look at how others’ are doing it. The same goes in podcast world. Start a habit of looking at other podcasts’ show notes, recording what you do and don’t like. It will help you when it is your turn to write them! 💪
Final tip: For maximum impact, create a blog post based off your show notes. Its easy and can greatly boost your podcast visibility (see Blog vs Podcast for more info).
That’s all we’ve got for today folks. Thanks for reading- now go out there and create some awesome show notes! 🚀
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