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)
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
The “social” in “social media” is what makes podcasting thrive. So encourage dialog and community with your listeners by including three sets of information:
- Follow links: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
- Subscribe links: iTunes, RSS, email newsletter, etc.
- 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:
- makes your content accessible and more consumable,
- provides the resources your listeners want (plus opens opportunity for making money through relevant affiliate links)
- draws listeners back to your website (your Internet home),
- cross-promotes your other content,
- increases the life of your content,
- encourages listeners to respond, and
- 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.
I can help you launch or improve your podcast
I'm available for one-on-one consulting to help you launch or improve your podcast.
Ask your questions or share your feedback
- Comment on the shownotes
- Call (903) 231-2221 to leave a voicemail
- Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)
Please connect with me
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- Subscribe, rate, and review in iTunes
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- Follow @theDanielJLewis
Find more podcasts about technology on the Tech Podcasts Network.
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