blogging

Podcast Show Notes

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Listening to a new podcast can be daunting.

“I hope this is good”

“What is this anyway?”

“Who is this person?”

“Who is this person?”

Podcast quality is widely variable. There are some shows I would listen to over watching a multi-billion dollar film. Others are almost unlistenable.

When I start listening to an episode of a new show, there’s a chance it will be on one of the unlistenables.

I’m nervous. I don’t want it it to be that.

There’s an equal chance I’m going to disappear down a rabbit hole listening to everything they’ve published for the last six months, and see a new episode dropping as my personal equivalent of Christmas morning. I’m a bit weird like that.

The point is, it could go either way.

Here’s where show notes can help.

As I stand in my kitchen, speculatively listening to an episode of a podcast I haven’t heard before, I’m looking at the show notes.

Hoping they’ll shed some light on what exactly I’m listening to.

Good show notes can hold the hand of your listener, introducing yourself, sitting them down in a comfy chair, making them a cup of tea.

And it’s worth remembering that whilst podcast listeners likely have an auditory learning style, most people learn visually as well. Your podcast show notes can tell them what your vision for your show is in one sentence.

That’s why our show notes start like this: ‘Level Up Human is a podcast panel show on a mission to redesign the human body.’

Here are some more potential benefits.

  • Writing show notes improves the SEO of your podcast. Podcasts now show up in Google search results. I’m no SEO expert, but notes sprinkled with keywords must help your podcast show up in relevant searches.
  • Hook new listeners. Your show notes can provide as much of a hook as the first 60 seconds of your show. Tell us in the first sentence why this episode is worth our time.
  • Help your fans. Podcast listeners multi-task. They’re not going to take their hands out of the washing up to write down the name of the book you just mentioned. Link to it for them.
  • Help yourself. It’s much easier to search your back catalogue for a quote or a clip when your show notes tell you what’s in each episode.
  • Call to action. At the end of every episode, you can ask your listener to support you on Patreon, write a review or join your mailing list. Why not put handy links to these things in the show notes?

Show notes don’t need to be lengthy.

You don’t need to transcribe the whole programme, although there are some podcasters who do this.

If you’re interested in transcription, I highly recommend auphonic’s transcription editor, the smartest way to create podcast transcripts I’ve found so far (drop me a comment if you’ve discovered better.)

It’s important to find a balance between the benefit to you and your listener vs the time it takes to write them.

On the notes for my science podcast, Level Up Human, I’m putting brief notes on acast and extended show notes for our Patreon community.

This includes short transcripts and a lot of links.

If you’d like a template for writing your own show notes, you can download one here:

Podcast show notes template

What podcast do you make? What do you include in your show notes?

6 Easy Ways to Start Writing

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The blank page is terrifying.

But the good news is, writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Not really.

Not being able to think of anything to write is easily overcome with a few strategies.

And if writing is what you do, and you’re serious about it, not being in the mood is not a good enough excuse. You just have to keep turning up, and getting started.

Which is not to say that I’m not the world’s greatest procrastinator. Lately I’ve been tackling this head on.

Here are 6 of my favourite ways to get started.

1. Start by writing an email to a friend

Here’s a lovely way to trick yourself into writing when you’re not feeling it.

Don’t.

Start an email to a friend instead!

Address the email to a friend you think might like the post or the story you’re about to write, and start writing directly into that email, instead of into a word document.

This also helps to make the style of writing friendly and relatable.

2. Start first thing in the morning

First thing in the morning, our brains are at their quietest.

If I can wake up early, and give myself a couple of hours in which to get some writing done, it can feel like there’s nothing else I should be doing.

No children clamouring for me to download them an app, no washing to put on, no emails pinging around or messages coming in on my phone.

3. Start by getting really bored

The Internet is sometimes not terribly helpful for writers. It can provide a million different types of distraction.

And yet, the most powerful way to overcome writer’s block is to have nothing else to do.

So if it’s difficult to start writing, and there seem to be a million and one other things you could do to procrastinate, turn all of that off.

Put your phone on airplane mode, and sit quietly until ideas start tumbling around in your brain.

4. Start by writing longhand

I was writing a couple of days ago about Pen and ink vs computer.

Starting to write with a pen in a notebook might be less intimidating than watching a cursor blink at you on a screen.

It can change the style of writing that you do as well. Having to physically form the words we want to write can make us more thoughtful.

5. Start by knowing what kind of writer you are

“There are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners.

The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house.

They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be.

They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up.

The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it.

They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever.

But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.

And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

George R.R. Martin

If you’re an architect rather than a gardener, it might be helpful to plan your writing before you start.

More and more detailed planning can be satisfying if you write this way. All you need to do afterwards is fill in the sections you’ve created in your blueprint.

I love everything that ConvertKit does, they have a great blog template on their site.

If you’re a gardener, the best thing might be to just start writing. Don’t worry that you haven’t had an idea yet. Allow the idea to emerge as you write.

To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing…

When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head.

What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.

Pablo Picasso

6. Start by blocking distractions

Having Whatsapp messages, texts or carrier pigeons flying in through the window can be distracting.

Start by putting your phone on airplane mode. Or use an app like Flora to keep you on track. This is a lovely app. You plant a seed, the tree grows while you’re writing. If you close the app or wander off into other apps on your phone. THE TREE DIES. Brutal.


Above all, don’t panic! Writer’s block can be more to do with what else is going on in our lives than a lack of ideas.

If you can make space for it and try all these techniques, the ideas will start to flow.

Unless you’re trying to come up with a completely new idea. I’m not sure that’s possible.

Leave me a comment if you have any more ways to start I should know about. What works for you?