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School of Podcasting - Plan, Launch, Grow and Monetize Your Podcast

Sep 29, 2014

One of the most hated steps of podcasting is writing show notes. They are a necessary evil and they help search engines like Google and Bing find you. So how long should my show notes be? We will take a look at that question today.


Podcasting is up to 13 Million Listeners a Day


5% of Americans (so this number is bigger in reality) listen to podcasts every day. That would be 13 million people. This video explains more.


Dragon Naturally Speaking Review


I tried Dragon Naturally Speaking back when they were on version 6. It was impressive. I received some questions about creating show notes, and more and more people are having them transcribed. That can get a little costly at $1 a minute. So would something like Dragon Naturally speaking solve this issue for those who don't like to type? My answer is maybe. I used a transcribe feature where I put an audio file into the software and it typed out over 10,000 words (13 pages). From my test, this software is around 90% accurate. The more you use it the better it gets as it learns your voice. The bad news is it doesn't do a bit of punctuation. How could it? It doesn't understand what it is transcribing. So the time you save by not having to type is now used by going in and adding punctuation.


Now if you are a "hunt and pack" kind of typist, this might be for you. It took me 10 minutes to go through an interactive tutorial and I was ready to go full force with the software. You can use it not only to type what you are saying, but to open programs, click buttons and more. Can I get up to speed this fast learning the keyboard? I don't think so. I will say, talking your punctuation is not something that comes naturally, but it does force you to finalize your thought before speaking (which I think we all can use).


The software is smart as if you say something and it types if wrong, you can say "Select (whatever the word is) and then go through a number of choices to edit it. Then there are more commands to tell it to go back to where you were. It's pretty slick. If you are in a chat room you could easily just speak your words and have them show up.


What does it cost? The premium version (that allows you to transcribe prerecorded files is $199 at amazon (affiliate link). The basic version is $49 that does the live transcription.


Do I Need Show Notes?


In a quick word yes. At its core, a podcast is media in a blog post. The question then becomes:


How Many Words Do I Need in My Podcast Show Notes?


The Wordpress Plugin Wordpress SEO Recommend at least 300.


Some reports who that you need 2000 words. WOA! What is this based on? A report that show that most of the top ranking pages had over 2000 words. It makes perfect sense. Google indexes every part of your site. The more it finds, the more of a trail you leave behind to be found.


You can also point at Seth Godin who has one of the most popular blogs on the planet is short and to the point. His post None of this makes sense was 125 words.


When I interviewed Pat Flynn, we spoke about his writing style. He often writes posts that can be seen as a definitive source on that subject. His original posts helped people pass an architecture exam. They were that detailed.


Things to Consider When Writing Show Notes


Your audience. It always starts with your audience. Some of your audience may want the full story. Some of them may just want the bullet points.

What is the purpose of your show notes? Pat's original posts were his notes on passing the exam. Maybe your notes are just a summary with links to resources.

What is the subject? If you hate typing show notes, then one thing you can do to save time is identify your subject and stick to it.

Most people skim when they read. Break it up in to bite sized chunks and using different heading tags. These can carry more Google juice.

Use images to break up the intimidating screen of non-stop text.

How to Speed Things Up


1. Type it once.


Use tools like Google Docs, Evernote, OneNote, etc to capture your ideas. Then later when you put together your show notes you can copy and paste from your resources.


2. If you are pasting, paste as plain text.


Programs like Microsoft Word can put weird characters into your site that can cause issues and headaches.


3. Listen to your show at 2X


If you are a person who creates their show notes after they record, listen to your show at 2X. If you are listening on a Windows machine, Windows media player can speed the audio/video. While you are listening in windows media player, you can right click on the image and choose Enhancements > Play Speed and adjust it up to 2X.


4. Check to See if Your Recorder Can Create Marks


Dragon Naturally SpeakingIf you are recording into a portable recorder, some of them like the Zoom H5 allow you to press a button and "Mark" your audio. This allows you later to go in and jump to a specific section. This can make it easier for you to remember what you spoke about (although you should have things identified before you press record).


5. If You Can't Type - Speak


There are tools such as Dragon Naturally Speaking that have come a long way in their accuracy. If you can type, it is probably easier to type. When you use a voice to text converter you have to speak your punctuation. You would say something like, "This is my sentence period." The screen would should "This is my sentence." (where the word period has been turned into a period).


6. Farm It Out - Transcriptions 


The typical rate for having your podcast subscribed is around $1 a minute. This means a 60 minute podcast costs $60. Keep in mind you then have to edit the text as you typically don't write the way you speak. Keep this in mind when you see services like Show Notes Made Easy. I interviewed Lara and she quoted me $60 an episode (her prices may change). While it may be tempting to use someone overseas for transcription you may want someone how has your language (English in my case) as their primary language. You can find transcription services in our resource section


Here are some resources I used


Quick Sprout




How Many Words Are In Your Show Notes?


Do you have any tips on writing show notes? How many words do you typically put in your posts? (leave a comment below).


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