Next to podcast-editing, show-notes writing is one of the most dreaded parts of podcasting. Here are several suggestions for speeding up the process!
Do show notes matter?
Yes! High quality show notes (not transcriptions) are important for accessibility, search-engine optimization (SEO), and demonstrate a seriousness about your podcast.
Learn more about why podcast show notes matter:
1. Make or collect talking points first
When you know your discussion topics, it's a lot easier to recall what you said and write sufficient show notes.
This is also important to do before you record, to prevent straggling information. For example, if you have cohosts and discuss news stories, it's easier if you have each cohost provide their links before you record instead of trying to get them afterward.
2. Write show notes before you record
We usually dread writing show notes when we postpone their writing until after we have recorded. Instead, try writing your show notes as part of your preparation.
This will not only allow you to publish your episodes more quickly, but it is a great way to mentally rehearse your content. This allows you to present the content a lot more effectively and smoothly, which also makes audio/video editing faster!
When you're finished recording, you need only to finalize your notes and add what little missing information there might have been.
This may not always be possible with cohosts, but if all of you write something before you record, it makes the process much faster after you have recorded.
3. Change your approach
Like with audio/video editing, the burden of work depends largely on your approach. Your show notes don't have to be a verbatim transcription or complete record of every thought you shared in your podcast. Let your notes be more concise.
Summarize your discussion into one or two sentences, instead of trying to represent every piece of information you share.
Here's a trick for deciding what to include in your show notes. Answer the “What was that _____?” questions.
- What was that list?
- What was that link?
- What was that video or image?
- What was that guest?
- What was that resource?
- What was that topic?
Answer these and similar questions with your show notes, and you'll probably be just as thorough as you need to be. (But there's always room to do better!)
4. Create templates
Most show notes follow typical patterns. For example, The Audacity to Podcast always contains:
- Featured image
- Intro paragraph
- PowerPress shortcode
- Full notes
- List of recent reviews
- Closing stuff
Instead of remembering this format for each post, I simply load a template.
Your template could be something you copy and paste each time (such as from Evernote), but I love the free WordPress plugin Simple Content Templates. This allows you to create post templates from a WYSIWYG editor or HTML. But remember to choose your template before you edit your post!
These templates can contain rich text formatting, images, links, shortcodes, or anything else you can put in a WordPress post. For more features (Custom Post Types, Custom Fields, Tags, Categories, Featured Images, etc.), upgrade to the premium version, Advanced Content Templates.
Make your templates for a little more than you need. It's always faster to delete a section you won't need for an episode than to add in what you need.
5. Create shortcodes
Shortcodes are keywords, sometimes with attributes, surrounded in brackets. For example,
[magic_shortcode mind="blown"]. WordPress will usually display the shortcode in plain text while you edit, but it will replace the shortcode in the published version.
I've previously recommended Shortcode Exec PHP, but that WordPress plugin seems to be no longer available. I'm currently testing Shortcodes Pro, which looks like a well updated and even easier plugin.
Use shortcodes for anything you need to regularly include. For example, feedback information, special promos, sponsors, and more.
The beauty of using shortcodes (even inside templates) is that you can change the shortcode settings and all posts that used that shortcode will be updated. For example, when I changed my contact information, I had to change it only once in the shortcode, refresh my website cache, and that one change was replicated across dozens of previous posts.
Shortcodes are also a great way of running some fancy PHP inside your posts. But shortcodes can also be simple text.
6. Write while you record
Consider this one cautiously. Most of us can't write while we speak, but it might be possible for you to jot a quick note while your guest or cohost is speaking. But always keep your focus on the conversation! (Think of it like texting while driving.)
Combine this with editing techniques and things could be easier for you in post-production. For example, you might have forgotten to mention a resource in your show notes before you recorded. So while you're recording, you pause, mark, or leave silence while you quickly write what thing resource is, and then resume.
Alternatively, you could get a volunteer or virtual assistant to take notes while you're live-streaming your show, and then you have your notes waiting for you when you're finished recording.
7. Mark topic changes while recording
You may not be able to write your notes ahead of time. Instead of listening back to your entire episode for discussion points, mark those times while recording.
You could invent your own code, such as a symbol, color, or double-mark pattern to recognize what spots need audio/video editing and what spots contain topic changes.
With this list of topic changes, skip to those moments to quickly know what was discussed without having to hear the whole conversation.
8. Learn writing shortcuts
Writing with PCs is getting faster and easier with better tools. Markdown is one common way to speed up your writing and you can use it with a WordPress plugin or third-party writing app. Many other writing tools are implementing Markdown-like shortcuts for quick formatting.
For example, WordPress and Evernote support some Markdown syntaxes, such as “- ” to start a bulleted list, “## ” to start a heading 2, and so on.
There are other common keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl/Cmd-B for bold, Ctrl/Cmd-K for hyperlinking, and such. WordPress includes a really handy shortcut: when you have a URL copied to your clipboard, select text in the WordPress editor and press the normal paste shortcut (Ctrl/Cmd-V). Instead of replacing your selected text with the URL, WordPress now hyperlinks the text.
9. Set up automatic hyperlinking
You may find that you need to regularly hyperlink the same text within your content. It could be products, people, topics, or anything else.
Pretty Link Pro (well worth the paid upgrade!) includes a keyword-replacement option to automatically hyperlink text with my pretty link. For example, the following keywords were typed in WordPress, but Pretty Link Pro changed them into hyperlinks.
Each pretty link can have multiple keywords assigned to it, and it will replace any of them that it finds. You can also adjust certain thresholds and limits.
10. Use text-expansion
Any kind of text you regularly repeat could be more quickly inserted with text-expansion. I use TextExpander for Mac to replace all kinds of things. For example:
- tap.url → https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/
- djl.htmlbio → As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis help others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success. Daniel creates training resources (like <a href=”https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/seo”>SEO for Podcasters</a>) and podcasting tools (like <a href=”https://mypodcastreviews.com”>My Podcast Reviews</a>); he offers one-on-one consulting and group training (like <a href=”https://PodcastersSociety.com/”>Podcasters' Society</a>); is a keynote speaker on podcasting and social media; and Daniel hosts a <a href=”https://noodle.mx”>network of award-nominated</a> shows covering <a href=”https://theaudacitytopodcast.com”>how to podcast</a>, <a href=”https://cleancomedypodcast.com”>clean-comedy</a>, and the <a href=”https://oncepodcast.com”>#1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time</a>. Daniel also <a href=”http://danieljlewis.net”>writes about entrepreneurship and technology</a>.
But text-expansion can also do far more than simply paste text. It can process things (like create a short link), it can insert formatted text, it can do tasks (like opening multiple browser tabs), and more.
Listen to my previous episode about the power of text-expansion for more tips. I'll also be sharing some of my special, advanced TextExpander snippets inside Podcasters' Society.
11. Listen faster while you write show notes
Lastly, if you still decide to write your show notes after you have recorded, try listening to your episode at a faster speed. VLC is an easy multimedia player for that. Open your media in VLC in adjust the playback speed from the Playback menu. This will change the tempo without changing the pitch (so you won't get that “chipmunk” sound).
How do you write show notes faster? Please share your tips or your experience with any of these!
All of the following text and links are included in my template.
↓ This is a shortcode ↓
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
↓ This is a part of the template ↓
- Get Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other podcasting deal alerts!
- Podcasters' Society registration is opening up for one last, super-special sale of the year. This special will probably never be offered again.
↓ The rest of this is from another shortcode ↓
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.