Your shownotes are the life of your Internet home for your podcast. Writing and posting them effectively will give you several benefits.

1. Start with your outline first (yes, redundant)

Green paper notebook

Your shownotes and podcast recording will be far more organized if you start with your shownotes first. Just don’t read them word-for-word in your episode (unless that’s your style).

Using Google Docs can be great, but you may have copy-and-paste issues when moving to WordPress. So try writing straight into WordPress 3.2’s full-screen editor or use a plain-text editor (I like OmmWriter). Or use paper!

2. Include all links and references

If you mention a website, include the link, especially anything more than a domain (please never read long URLs!).

When you link to other content, longer, in-line links are far more effective. For example, write “Chris Brogan suggested 100 potential topics for PodCamp sessions” rather than “Click here to read Chris Brogan’s 100 potential topics for PodCamp sessions.” The worst is to paste the URL as text into your post.

When it’s a video or a picture that you’re referencing, embed it if it’s legal to do so. Just make sure you give proper links back and credit where it’s due.

3. Use headings for hierarchy

WordPress headings

Headings help break up content so we’re not staring at a long page of paragraphs. It also conveys hierarchy by grouping relevant information together.

4. Represent your content with summaries

Posting an entire transcript of your episode can be great for search-engine love. It also makes your content extremely accessible as people can either listen or read. But this can take a lot of time.

Instead, consider writing short, simple paragraphs for your content. Give enough that listeners will remember what was said and also so new website visitors can get the core of your content. SEO experts recommend at least 300 words.

I recommend using bulleted or numbered lists for only list content. Don’t summarize with bullet points.

But if you share any kind of list in your episode, it better be in your shownotes!

5. Insert illustrations for appeal and understanding

Live-streaming with a mixer, sounds, and two PCs

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” So you may spend a thousand words in your podcast to describe something when a picture in your shownotes may do a far better job. I ran into this with my explanation of wiring for live-streaming, so it was far better to illustrate on the shownotes.

6. Write an excerpt

Boagworld podcast episodes in iTunes

This is the concise summary of your content. Think of the first paragraphs in newspaper articles.

Keep it under 160 characters and you can use it in your SEO description field. But you can expand it a little for a WordPress excerpt. This excerpt will be what search engines show and should answer the questions of “Why should I read/listen?” and “What will I get from it?”

7. Don’t repeat yourself

The Totally Awesome Podcast episodes in iTunes

“In this episode, …” is the worst way to start your shownotes and it wastes valuable space. It’s obvious that whatever you say applies to “this episode.” So dispense with the introduction to the introduction and just introduce it!

  • Don’t repeat the show title.
  • Don’t repeat the episode title.
  • Don’t repeat the episode number.
  • Don’t repeat the host names.

8. Make your shownotes easy to get to

Cursor on web address

I previously talked about making easy-to-access shownotes URLs. It’s far friendlier to tell someone, “Get the shownotes at TheTotallyAwesomePodcast.com/24,” than to say “Go to TheTotallyAwesomePodcast.com and search for the shownotes to episode 24.”

Never tell your audience to do something hard that you could make easy for them.

9. Remind listeners how to connect and respond with feedback

Cursor clicking on email

The “social” in “social media” is what makes podcasting thrive. So encourage dialog and community with your listeners by including three sets of information:

  1. Follow links: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
  2. Subscribe links: iTunes, RSS, email newsletter, etc.
  3. Feedback options: phone number, email address, etc.

It’s okay to have these in sidebars, too, but repeat them in each post so it’s convenient. This is especially handy for anyone consuming your content away from your website’s sidebars (RSS reader, iTunes summary, email subscription, etc.).

Read Mashable’s 7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability.

7 benefits of good shownotes

Having good shownotes:

  1. makes your content accessible and more consumable,
  2. provides the resources your listeners want (plus opens opportunity for making money through relevant affiliate links)
  3. draws listeners back to your website (your Internet home),
  4. cross-promotes your other content,
  5. increases the life of your content,
  6. encourages listeners to respond, and
  7. improves findability with search engines and within your site.

Update on LiveStream.com’s service

Even verifying my channel as rated G (and thus appropriate for children), LiveStream.com would still push sexually driven ads for alcohol to my channels. I’ll blog more about this later, but in the meantime, I recommend that everyone not consider LiveStream as a live-streaming provider.

Need personalized podcasting help?

I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast.

Ask your questions or share your feedback

  • Comment on the shownotes
  • Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
  • Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)

Connect with me

Disclosure

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.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

21 comments on “9 Steps to Better Podcast Show Notes and 7 Benefits

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  2. Sketchee says:

    This was a great episode, immediately started rewriting my show notes!

    1. Awesome! I expand this a bit in my upcoming SEO for Podcasters course.
      Was there a particular approach that really stood out to you?

      1. Sketchee says:

        Summaries seemed like the simplest part. I already had my outline and that was basically my old show notes. Writing based on the outline seemed simple enough, after all it’s just writing brief versions in the same way I would speak during the show.

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  5. jaredxwatson says:

    Thanks for this resource

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