This is an area that confuses many and is done well by few. The show notes you write depends upon what your podcast is for.
If your podcast is a passion project and your only presence online, that is you don’t have an associated website, Facebook page/group, instagram or pinterest accounts then your show notes really don’t need to be too detailed. If your show is part of a larger ecosystem then they probably should to be a little more detailed.
The level of detail and the location of your show notes are decisions you need to make.
If your podcast is designed to drive traffic to your website so you can capture email addresses then it’s probably better to just have link in the podcast system and the full show notes on your website. All your other social media presences should also point to your website. The alternative to this is to have a “lead magnet” link in more detailed show notes.
The problem with all these options is the podcatcher used by your listeners. You have very little control over this. The issue arises with how the podcatcher displays your show notes. Some include hyperlinks, some do not. If you want people to click through, a lack of hyperlinks can be an issue. Of course most people know to copy and paste an un-hyperlinked link into a browser. It does take more effort than just tapping a link.
So you really need to make sure the value you are delivering in your podcast is so high individuals will happily go through the process of “copy and paste” to reach your website. It is a challenge, make no mistake.
The actual show notes themselves can take a few forms. Experiment, test which type gets the best results you’re after. The forms can basically be broken down into three types. You provide bullet points covering the gist of the show. You can provide a transcript of the show or you can write a blog post.
Depending on how your show works these come with different levels of difficulty. Bullet points are great for a single presenter or a couple of co-hosts chatting. They can be written before the episode and act as a guide. You can then edit any changes that occurred in the show. They take a bit more effort to do after the show but for interviews this is probably the best time to do so.
The transcript model is great for history shows, monologues and audio essays. You will have this written before you hit record. It’s there and you just cut and paste into the space provided by you podcast host or drop into your blog. Transcripts can be a huge amount of work if you do them afterwards, particularly for an interview show. There are services that will do the job for you and you will pay for them. There are increasingly voice to text bots available but their accuracy is still not 100% especially if you do not have an American accent. If you’re from west Cork or Glasgow, lots of luck with those.
The blog post idea is not as widely used but takes the episode and expands upon it. Written either before or after, it has its place. It is more work but it does what show notes for most podcasts are trying to do: Build SEO juice.
As yet, the Google bots that crawl the interwebs cannot listen to audio. That means they need some written words as a proxy to rank your show. There will be a time when audio can be crawled but for now you need text. The amount, location and style is a matter for you to work out. I’m not an SEO specialist. Think about why you are writing your show notes and that should point you in the right direction.
- Some show don’t need them, most do
- Show show determines the easiest way to write them
- Not all podcatchers provide hyperlinks
- Show notes provide SEO juice