There are two things that many podcasters don’t like to deal with, and one of those is the show notes. Philip Swindall is the Show Notes Guy and comes on today to share his podcasting journey and how he created a business around helping podcasters with their show notes.
There are two main purposes for show notes:
- Increased SEO value
- Providing information/links for podcast listeners
Each of these two purposes target different audiences, so you want to create show notes that makes it as easy as possible to accommodate each one. The podcast listener is primarily looking for the links and other goodies mentioned in the podcast episode – they’re not necessarily looking to get all the details. Provide this information in an easy way by using headers in the content and providing a summary of the links and calls-to-action. The details on the show notes page, if done right, can help boost your search engine rankings, too.
Phillip starts out by talking about his journey working with TV and radio many years ago. He became interested in early podcasting efforts, but never jumped in. In 2010/11, he started to touch the podcasting world a little. In 2014, he jumped into the podcasting world with both feet as he launched his business as the Show Notes Guy during Podcast Movement 2014.
In the interview, Phillip shares the importance of having show notes and how to have better show notes. He shares how to get his guide on writing better show notes. I am downloading this myself so I can improve the show notes here! (The show notes for this episodes should be updated and improved soon!)
Phillip also shares the editing cheat sheet he put together about how John Lee Dumas edits 8 podcast episodes in one and a half hours!
Here’s a transcript of the episode:
Joshua: “Alright welcome to the show Phillip. How are you doing?”
Phillip: “I’m doing great Joshua it’s good to be here.”
Joshua: “Yeah definitely glad to be able to have the opportunity to talk to you. I’ve been listening to you for several months now on your show the podcasters brought to you by the show notes guy.”
Phillip: ‘Hey you got the phrase right.”
Joshua: “Like I said I’ve been listening.”
Phillip: “It’s all in branding dude, you got to brand it.”
Joshua: “It is and so you do a very good job with that. And so everyone knows you as the show notes guy and they know you as the show with the podcasters. And I definitely love the show that you got there and you have a good mystery there with bringing interviews on and doing some solo stuff and answering questions; and definitely a very good resource. So for the person that’s listening to this I would recommend going over there and checking out the podcasters by the show notes guys podcast. But what I want is to start out is just kind of start with your story because you haven’t been podcasting for very long. Not even in the podcasting space for very long so can you go ahead and tell us your story about how you got into it and then kind of what you’re doing with it.”
Philip: “Well Joshua I started working in radio and television in the 1980s. I was working in a lot of different areas of broadcasting doing some news, some print journalism even; doing a lot of different things. And then I got out of the broadcasting arena for a while. And that bug once it gets in you just don’t ever get rid of it.”
Phillip: “And so when I was in Seminary in the late 90s blogging was just coming on. My first blog actually was on a movable type blog and then they started charging. So we had to start finding other platforms and I eventually landed on WordPress which now is just a beast. But back then it was a bit of a struggle. But even when blogging was just starting guys were thinking hey why can’t we do this with audio? We can do it somewhat with video. YouTube wasn’t around just yet but you know there were a lot of different platforms sort of playing with video even though the bandwidth was not anywhere what it is today. And so I began wondering hey I know I will eventually be able to merge my broadcasting with radio and television and even my..with all on the stuff on the internet. I could already see that was headed this way. Now I start hearing a guy by the name Alan Hunter. I don’t know if you’ve ever watch MTV. But Alan Hunter was the very first VJ on MTV; back when MTV really played music. I don’t know what the “M” stands for anymore. But back when they played music Alan was the very first VJ for MTV from Birmingham Alabama about an hour from where I live. And he started playing with how to get audio files to go out through RSS feeds; which is the whole genesis of what podcasting is.”
Phillip: “And so when he started playing with that, I started paying attention and getting on websites that were allowing our SSPs that would do this and everything. And even back in the late 90s early 2000 I was trying to play around with podcasting I just had not gotten my groove. And then life took over and I just had to sort to lay it down. Fast forward to 2010 and 11 I’m back in radio again and was covering news and was doing some things with that technology and trying to merge what I was doing with news on the radio and on a website with podcasting; was doing a pretty good job locally with that. And then the opportunity came about I was listening to John Lemus on a pretty regular basis after he got started. And he started putting out this feeler for this group called Podcasters Paradise. And I like an idiot didn’t join when I should have the first when it was a lot cheaper than it is today. But I eventually joined. And then I started a podcast which I’m looking at reviving in the very near future. It was a religious podcast cause I’m a licenses minister, ordained minister. And I really wanted to fill that space to minister to pastors. And it was called …..and it’s still on iTunes; you can go look at it. It’s about 30 or 40 episodes. And then life took over again. I had to take a job that was working me 12, 13, 14 hours a night, four nights a week at least; and an hour away from home. And that just really was just killing me. My wife has type 1 diabetes very brittle, sugar problems from time to time. And one morning I came home and she was in bad health and I would never have known that if she was not in bed when I got home. She wasn’t supposed to be in bed, she was supposed to have already been up. And I got home and her blood sugar was really really low and I was frustrated with my work, frustrated with the least amount of pay I was getting, frustrated with the time that I was having to spend away from home, the hour drive there, the hour drive back; just frustrated; sick and tired actually. And I began looking for a way to replace that income.”
Phillip: “And I began talking to a friend of mine who is now a friend of mine. At the time I didn’t know him from adams housecat other than the fact that he had this cool podcast; Chris Seran. Back then it was The Chris Seran Show. Now its just The Seran Show because he’s added Lacy who is a great addition to his podcast. But anyway Chris and I started talking and we were talking about my background. He said wait a second you write, you’re a journalist. I said yeah, he said you write show notes, I said I can, I’ve not done it but I can. He said write two show notes for me, go find two of my podcast episodes and write show notes for me. Matter of fact; write the one that I mention you in a couple of weeks ago. So I wrote that one and I wrote another one. The only message got back from him on Facebook was holy freaking crap. So I figured I either did something really really good or it really really stunk. And Chris said you’ve got something here, go for it, I’ll help you. Come to podcast movement. And so I began to pray about how I would get the money cause I didn’t have the money to go to podcast movement. And it was August; it’s the first of August; its two weeks away OK.”
Philip: “And so I began praying God how am I going to do this and then someone saw what Chris wrote about me in one of the Facebook groups and ask me could I write 12 show notes for her. And with the money I made from those 12 show notes I had the money to fly out to podcast movement, to buy my ticket at podcast movement and to fly back. And a little bit of money to spend on the side; not a lot. And then, but I didn’t have a name, I had a business plan but I didn’t have a business name. I had no real website for the business, I had little bit of stuff on my own personal website about writing show notes. And like I said I had no brand. And while I was there, flying there I determined that my brand would be I’m the show notes guy. And so we had this logo built later but I know have this logo with me in a fedora that I had in a picture with my wife that my artiste found and decided to integrate that into my art work. But I became known as the show notes guy. And I had no marketing material, my business cards that just had my name didn’t show up to my house until when I lifted off from Birmingham at the airport. So I had nothing, absolutely zero, zilch, nada, nothing to promote my business. And so I got there and begin trying to think and ran into a friend of mine Jordan Magoli from Teenage Entrepreneur. And he was talking about the night before the conference started about how much he wished he had a t-shirt with his podcast logo on it. And I was like man that would be cool. And the next morning he had one. I’m like what did you do have someone overnight a t-shirt to you? And he said no there’s a skeet house in the mall right behind the hotel. So I began thinking and said you know I need to create a t-shirt to go with a website, to go with my brand to promote my business to all of these 700 podcasters who are here for podcast movement. Duhh!! So we leave the restaurant in the mall I go walking by this t-shirt kiosk in the middle of the mall. And while I’m on the phone with go daddy getting a web domain setup; show out to sky.com. And having it pointing to my old website, my personal website which had some information about show notes which was phillipswindall.com. And actually I got to totally redo it, now I haven’t touched it since August. But anyway by the time I left the t-shirt kiosk I had a domain, I had a website and I had a t-shirt that said Iamtheshownotesguy.com. And put it on before I got back into the hotel to the conference area. And for the rest of the week I promoted myself as the show notes guy. And from there on I began to grow my business. Three and a half weeks later I left my job to become fulltime the show notes guy; and a month after that I had built $2500.”
Phillip: “And why because I knew there was a market. Because guys like you don’t want to spend 2 3 4 or more hours writing detailed show notes.”
Joshua: “Exactly. During my time of podcasting I realize that there is two things that most podcasters hate and one of them is editing and other is show notes.”
Phillip: “And I know a guy who can edit too but it’s not me.”
Philip: “Actually I know 2 or 3.”
Joshua: “Yeah, yeah and I’m actually getting started in doing some of that as well.”
Phillip: “Cool, so now I know 3 or 4.”
Joshua: “Yeah, there you go. But yeah, so you’re story goes back farther than I realized. And so I heard most of the most of the last part of that, I didn’t hear the first part leading up to it; kind of the getting your toes in the water during some of the early parts of podcasting as well.”
Joshua: “So that’s great to be able to hear that story.”
Phillip: “Sorry it took so long.”
Joshua: “No that’s OK. It’s a great story. And I think it’s beneficial not just for someone that is getting into podcasting but I mean just anyone that’s looking to start their own business period. Some things that they can really look at and be able to get an out of the box look. How to be able do things and even in a small amount of time.”
Phillip: “If I can I’d like to give you three principles I Iearned in that.”
Joshua: “Yeah definitely.”
Phillip: 1 )is to seek advice
2) Find your strengths
3)Find someone who needs your strength and will be willing to pay you for it.
And if you do those things you’ve got a business.”
Joshua: “Definitely. Awesome, awesome. And I think I can throw in a 4th. Have a great network.”
Phillip: “That is tremendously true. And I had a great network with podcasters paradise. That was really where my business really just launched and went crazy the first month. It’s because I had an audience, the podcasters there.”
Joshua: “Awesome dude. Yeah lets talk about some show notes and so as far as, as we look at several different things first of the importance of it. Why should we focus on having some good show notes as oppose to a …..saying this is what we talked about and here is three bullet points.”
Phillip: “Yeah, well the difference between giving a real note and an article about what happened in the podcast and giving just bullet points is a lot. My sister-in-law is profoundly deaf. She will never ever ever hear a single solitary podcast in her life. But you know what she can do? She can read.”
Phillip: “So there’s one positive of having good detailed show notes. On a more selfish level to benefit you the podcaster; deep well written show notes will benefit you because Google cannot search audio yet. When they do I’ll be pivoting my business. But right now Google cannot search audio and as such you need to have as detailed show notes as possible so that Google can find this good content, rank it, put it into their search engines and others can be able to find what it is that you’re putting out there. A lot of people don’t know this or may not realize this just because you listen to podcast does not mean that the rest of the world does. In America I think the last ad I read 18% of Americans know what a podcast is and only about 12% of them actually listen to podcast. Now that may have increased a little bit after we had this big podcast that came out from MPR last year. But it hasn’t risen that much so lets just round it off either 80 or 85% of the citizens of America have no content with a podcast at all. But they do know Google and they do know websites.”
Phillip: “So you want to have deep content on your website because that’s going to be the way you’re going to introduce listeners to your podcast in ways that you cannot do in another form. Not even Facebook ads. Because you’re going to find the higher and higher you rank the more and more people will find your content. And when they find your printed content they will also find your audio content.”
Joshua: “That’s great. And so you’re definitely talking about show notes from the aspect of somebody finding your show or discovering your show based on the show notes.”
Joshua: “And so I know there is the flip side of that, of trying to direct your listeners to your website and being able to have the show notes available for them there. What’s your experience been in that aspect it?”
Phillip: “Well Joshua my experience and on the experience of many of my podcasters that I write for show notes really do not benefit the listener all that much. The listener, if they’re listening the only thing they’re really going to want from you are the links; because they’ve already heard the content. So you got to make sure your show notes have links. And I build the links into the show notes. And then I have some podcasters who say hey by the way will you catalogue all the links at the bottom of the show note? And really that’s the way I advise it to be done. Have the links in the body of the text and then have the links at the bottoms. So your regulars can just scroll on down to the bottom; again they’ve already heard the content. They may want to read to get some clarification over something they heard. But they’re definitely going to want to get a hold of those links. And so you got to understand your audience. Now the ones who are visiting your website, who have never listened to the podcast; they need information. Ones who have listened to your podcast; they just need the connections. And so you got to build both of those in there. And I also built some images; maybe a picture of the guest if you’re doing an interview podcast. Maybe a picture promoting what it is your podcast is about. Then I also suggest pull quotes, graphical pull quotes. Where you’re pulling quotes or stats or whatever out of the podcast episode and then building those into your show note just to give some graphical break as your reading through the text of that show note.”
Joshua: “Very good. I definitely love that inside note. One of the things that I’ve been working and trying to improve is having better show notes in mine as well. And so sometimes I go and I try to produce the show notes as much as I can beforehand and use that as my guide as I’m doing the podcast.”
Phillip: “That’s very interesting because that is the very first point I make in my show notes cheat sheet is to start at least with an outline before you record. It helps you gather your thoughts, organize your presentation. And then you’re able to have things on which to hang the rest of the content as you’re writing your show notes. So that’s a great step and every podcaster really ought to think about it. Even if you’re doing an interview podcast know where you’re going before you hit record.”
Joshua: “Yes that’s definitely a good thing to know and so of course sometimes when you have interviews it go in directions that you’re not expecting. You will learn to be able to be flexible and go with that.”
Joshua: “But yeah definitely you know the direction of where you want to go and have questions and things to be able to lead that direction as you go through it. And so what are some ways that people can be able to get a hold of you so they can either learn some more about show notes or to possibly hire you to be able to help them with that.”
Phillip: “OK, my twitter handle is @…My email address is email@example.com. My website is shownotesguy.com. And if you go to that website and register for my email list; I will give you the show notes cheat sheet. Six ways to make your show notes among the best.” And it has six tips. Start with an outline, create a juicy headline, write juicy sub headlines, write 2-3 paragraphs for each subline, include links in your podcast at least twice, and then create social media content to publicize your work. And as an added benefit you get some ways to cash in on your show notes after they’re already written. So you can get that by registering for the email list at shownotesguy.com. And then if you want to hear my podcast you can go to shownotesguy.com/Podcasters with an “s” and a capital “P.” So capital P Podcasters. So shownotesguy.com/Podcasters. I want to give you something extra OK. I told the folks on John-lee Dumas episode that I just got finish recording and producing and putting out last week. He gave some great tips on editing your podcast.”
Phillip: “And if you want some really great tips from John-lee Dumas go listen to that episode with John-lee Dumas. The first half he talks about how he speed at it; eight episodes in an hour and a half. And I made a cheat sheet to go with that and so I’m going to help you out. Josh you had to listen all the way to the end of that podcast to get the link didn’t you?”
Phillip: “I’m going to give you the link OK. And here it is, shownotesguy.com/cheatsheet all one word. And it doesn’t matter if the c and the s are capital or not. I made a pretty link so you can go either way. So shownotesguys.com/cheatsheet will give you the downloadable document on how to setup audition so that you can record your podcast straight to audition and then edit as quickly as John- Lee Dumas can.”
Joshua: “Yes that was definitely very good advice. And so I don’t use auditions but I’m going to be implementing …Awesome, awesome tips….talking about show notes. You can be able to…the show notes as well in case you weren’t able to catch them all you can be able to go there be able to catch that. So again Phillip thank you very much for spending the time with us today.”
Phillip: “Awesome thank you Josh. I hope I helped.”
Phillip: “I had gone many many years as a single man with 10 nephews and nieces wanting to be made, wanting to have my own family. And then I met a girl through a mutual friend of mine another state away. And we eventually got engage. I moved three hours away from my family and was going to be setting up a home. A week after I moved there I found out she was cheating on me not with one with one guy but with two different guys. Needless to say there were no wedding bells. And then I moved three more hours away from home the next year because I was teaching. And I was teaching a school where her children were everyday; didn’t want to deal with that for two years straight. So I took another teaching job three more hours away from home almost a second state away from home. And then that school is a private school. That school couldn’t decide whether they want to stay open or not so I found a job back home making half of what I was making at the Christian school. But because I owned a mobile home and it was on my mom and dad’s property and everything else; my cost of living was significantly less. Having given up at the age of 45 of ever being married; 11 months after I told my mom and dad I guess God doesn’t have it in my cards, I guess I’m OK with that from now on. I met the woman I married 3 months later.”
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