Writing great show notes helps listeners find your podcast
Show notes are often the first thing listeners read when deciding whether or not to listen to your podcast.
Following a few best practices to write effective podcast show notes will help you maximize your reach, engage your audience, and boost your podcast’s potential. Here we'll show you some major components of great podcast show notes, and also discuss why you might try AI tools to assist in this process.
Why are podcast show notes important?
Podcasting is alot of work. You have to think of an idea, develop the content, and produce and record it. Then, you have to edit it, which always takes longer than expected.
But there’s a problem. People aren’t downloading it. Your audience isn’t growing, and you are reaching as many people as you want. Why? The content is good, and the conversation is interesting. The problem may not be in your podcast but in your show notes.
What are show notes, and why are they important?
Remember in high school English class when, bleary-eyed, you realized that your paper on Romeo and Juliet was due the next morning? Where did you turn? Cliff Notes.
Podcast show notes are like the Cliff Notes summary for your podcast, helping your listeners know what it is all about before they begin listening. Think about it: how do you choose what to watch on Netflix, among the vast sea of shows and movies? You read the description, you watch the trailer, and maybe even go the extra mile and look up reviews on Letterboxd or the IMDB rating.
Writing show notes that serve your listeners greatly helps this “decision-making” process when a listener is deciding what to listen to next.
Often, great show notes start with a list of bullet points and context that give you all the critical details of a podcast:
Who the guests are, why they’re interesting/important
General conversation overview or subject matter
A brief summary
Links to previous episodes
Social media channels
Sponsors / deals
A good set of show notes tells the listener what the podcast is about, where to go if they want to hear more about the same topic, where to find relevant information relating to guests or information, and how to stay engaged.
In short, good show notes pique a listener’s interest, help more people find the episode, and convince them to give it a listen.
Some show notes are very terse, like Joe Rogan’s, often just mentioning who the guest is. Some are long and very structured, like The Huberman Lab (which comes complete with chapters and timestamps—something Podium can generate for you, if your podcast is long). And others, like the Happiness Lab or Freakonomics, keep it simple with a basic description, guests, and links, but forgoing extensive summaries or chapters.
Joe Rogan. Regularly the #1 podcast in the world, he doesn’t need to say much!
The Happiness Lab. Short and sweet.
Show notes for the Huberman Lab podcast. So informative!
Great show notes also cross-promote your other content and helps keep the listener engaged with you long after the episode is done.
At Podium, we’ve tracked, analyzed, and studied Podcast Show Notes, so you don’t have to, and this article represents a very handy guide on how to write really good show notes.
What’s a good starting point for good show notes?
#1: A summary
Tell ‘em what it's all about. Are you interviewing a guest? Give them an insight or quote that draws them in. Are you continuing a conversation from a previous episode? Give them a running start on this episode by reminding them what happened in the last one. Are you diving into a new subject? Tell them about it! What should you include in a summary? Ask yourself, “what would make someone want to listen to this podcast?” Then, give them just enough detail to make them want to listen. A summary is there to get them engaged, not give away the entire episode.
#2: Chapters (optional)
Chapters aren’t a good fit for every podcast. But for podcasts that are long and possibly meander through a slew of topics, chapters are a great way to:
Get a bird’s-eye view of a conversation
If your podcast player allows it, jump straight to a particular topic or section
Often, podcasters must create these themselves, then rely on their players (Youtube, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Apple, etc.) to “parse” them from their description so that the chapters become clickable or interactive.
There are even podcast players like Fathom which use AI to create chapters automatically, taking long podcast episodes like those of Breaking Points and breaking them up into their logical topics so you can jump straight to the subject matter you’re most piqued by.
#3: Spotlight Social Media Connections.
Don’t forget social media. You already know that social media is one of the most important avenues for marketing your podcast. But it should go both ways. Your social media accounts should send your audience to your podcasts. But do your podcasts and show notes send them to your social media accounts, blog, and other media channels?
Podcasting is a powerful tool for connecting with your audience. If you want to level up your impact, use show notes to steer them to other ways they can interact with you. Your podcast should grow your social, and your social should grow your podcast.
Making a living from podcasting ain’t easy, so acquiring and displaying your sponsors is huge if you want to turn podcasting into a full-time gig. If you’re sponsored, you should definitely be sharing any sponsors you mention in your episode within your show notes, and even discount codes for those sponsors if applicable.
#5: Use SEO Strategies.
SEO is a website thing, not a podcasting thing, right? Wrong! There are more podcasts than ever before, and if you want to get heard, you need to leverage SEO.
Keywords, accurate episode summaries, chapters, and more help your podcast appear and stand out from other podcasts in topical searches, ensuring that searches result in actual relevant content for listeners. In short, you want to make sure listeners you don’t even know about yet are finding your show.
#6: Include a transcript
Transcripts are becoming more useful as podcasts grow in popularity. While not yet mainstream, transcripts provide an easy way for listeners to search for specific topics or words mentioned in an episode. Most importantly, they also make podcast content more accessible to those with hearing impairments. Though creating transcripts requires additional time and effort, using AI tools can greatly simplify the process, creating an entire transcript for you, and even separating the speakers. Services like Podium allow podcasters to automatically generate transcripts of their episodes, removing the manual labor (and greatly reducing cost) while still providing the benefits of transcripts to their listeners.
It’s best to not include your entire podcast’s transcript in your show notes, but rather just a link to where it’s hosted (on a web page) so listeners can read it. Soon, Podium will provide a hosted transcript service for you, but in the meantime, great hosts like Buzzsprout allow you to paste the transcript generated by tools like Podium into their publishing interface, so your listeners can read the transcript using your public Buzzsprout page.
Use an AI tool to simplify creating show notes
You could do all this work manually, typing up transcripts, searching for relevant keywords, and breaking down your episode into chapters for easy navigation. Big podcasters often employ multi-person production teams to achieve exactly this.
But chances are, you’re not a “big” podcaster, and even if you are—using AI tools will drastically help your production team.
Wouldn’t you rather just be podcasting?
That is why we created Podium, which creates high-quality AI-generated show notes in just a few minutes. The idea isn’t to get “perfect” show notes instantly, but it absolutely gets you 90% there so you can just focus on tweaking it to perfection.
Some podcasters who discovered Podium even told us that they wouldn’t create show notes at all because it was “daunting”, but with Podium—he now gets it done in 20-30 minutes. If he’s anything like me, when it’s time to sit down and write something—I have to retreat to a quiet place, turn off the music, and shut the door to write effectively. It takes all of my brain power. AI writing tools are far from perfect, but when you just want to get back to your next podcast, getting a massive jumpstart by using AI tools like Podium is a huge productivity boon.
It doesn’t matter how polished or interesting your podcast is if no one finds it. You work hard to produce a great podcast—so make sure your show notes match the audio!