I walked out on my 9-5, broke and without a backup plan.
I had no idea what I was going to do.
I did know two things...
I loved to write.
And never wanted to be a slave to someone else's dream again.
My partner makes good money but his paycheck wasn’t used to carrying the weight of two people. I had to find a way to start generating income with the writing skills I had. ASAP.
Copywriting and blogging looked fantastic, but I had no digital marketing knowledge, online writing experience or college degree. No budget for an online course to help get me on the fast track. I felt the entire weight of my decision crushing my spirit.
Now, as a hardcore podcast junkie, I like to browse the show notes before making a decision on whether or not the episode is worth a listen. When a podcast would pass off a one or two sentence description of the content as their "show notes," it. Grinded. My. Gears.
So on a hunch, I marketed myself as a writer who specialized in podcast show notes.
It ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made for my freelance writing career and could be for you too.
Here are five reasons why writing podcast show notes is a perfect job for new freelance writers and side-hustlers — or someone who just really digs podcasts.
1. LESS COMPETITION (FOR NOW)
When I first started out, I remember reading some pretty amazing blogs thinking, "What is this writing witchcraft!?"...
I swore some bloggers sold their souls to the devil in exchange for writing talent.
It can be intimidating as hell to think about competing with other freelancers who've been in the game waaaaay longer than you.
But podcasts aren't exactly seen as a thriving job market for writers.
They're a relatively new addition to the digital media world. And although most people have at least heard of podcasts, their minds think audio — not text.
You'd have to dig a little deeper to discover that smart podcasters rely on show note text to repurpose their audio content and drive traffic to their website — making those notes a highly valuable content marketing tool.
A task they often look to outsource.
Now, this market isn't a complete ghosttown.
There are several quality full-service podcast production companies that offer show note services. But they’re typically part of a large bundled package that includes a slew of stuff some podcasts don't need.
I rarely see them served ȧ la carte.
That said, a handful of successful show note writing services exist so don't expect to be the only fish in the pond...
But now that so many authors, coaches, marketers, and small businesses use podcasts as part of their content marketing strategies (and more popping up everyday), there’s more than enough work to go around.
In fact some are expanding and hiring as we speak.
It’s not staying that way for long. It never does. But for now, podcasts remain under the radars of most job-seeking writers. It's a hidden treasure. And I'm handing you the map.
As a newbie freelance writer or someone looking for a solid side-hustle, writing show notes is the perfect opportunity to establish yourself in a growing market, without the noisy shuffle of a bajillion other writers vying for the spot.
2. THEY'RE EASY TO WRITE
If you're starting with a clean slate — as in little to no web writing or marketing experience — and you're an aspiring web copywriter, full-time blogger, or some other content writer, allow me to reinforce something you already know or may suspect...
The learning curve is steep.
Even if you’re looking to monetize a blog on a topic you’re familiar with, you’re still looking at a few months (minimum) to start seeing any real return. And that’s if you work your ass off.
I discovered that show notes are painfully easy to create at their basic level, they didn’t take much time, and there wasn’t a buttload of prerequisite learning.
How about I walk you through some essentials so you can get to work!
BASIC PODCAST SHOW NOTE ELEMENTS
The majority of podcasters like simple, short notes (which I suggest you start out with anyway), and are likely to include three standard elements:
Guest bio or info about the guest (for interviews)
Bulleted episode discussions or show topics
Links and resources
To give you a visual of the layout, here's an example from a flippin' fantastical podcast, The One You Feed interviewing Tara Brach.
There are lots of other bells and whistles to spruce up show notes but bio, bullet points, and links are almost always included (for shows with an interview format).
Some podcasts provide you with the bio. Some don't.
If they don't, you got this.
Google the guest, head to their website, and skim through their bio (most likely found in the 'about' section). Jot down noteworthy info that showcases their best side like major accomplishments, awards, published books, places they’ve spoken, etc.
Piece it together, make some tweaks and you’re good to go.
These are the main points and topic discussions of the episode. Readers often scan bullet points when deciding if an episode is worth listening to. And It’s your job to make them as compelling as possible so they do. That’s why the key to perfecting them is the right mindset — a copywriter’s mindset.
Think of bullet points as mini headlines designed to sell the show’s content.
When writing bullet points, use these questions as guidelines:
What would that specific audience find most interesting about the episode?
What unique or specialized knowledge does the guest offer?
What would entice the reader to listen to the podcast?
What will they learn and how will they benefit?
Adjust the wording of the host’s questions to make ideal bullet points and use "power words."
Additionally, bullet points are good opportunities to fit in some long-tail keywords.
Using the above example, check out the fifth bullet point from the bottom.
Someone who appreciates Tara’s insight might search for "Tara Brach tips dealing with depression."
Made it to number three in Google's search results.
You SEO hero, you.
It does help to have a fundamental grasp of search engine optimization (SEO), but keywords tend to appear organically in show notes so don’t stress about it too much!
You’ll pick it up over time darlin'.
Links. Well. They're links.
The guest will typically drop their links toward the end of the show. These tend to include their official website, popular social media channels, and email address — ways listeners can connect with them like. Only listing these is a safe choice. You never know if their official website is under construction or Facebook page isn't in working order.
Other links mentioned could include books, websites, products, other related episodes, other related content, a web address to a promotion-specific landing page (listen for special promo or coupon codes tailored for the audience). Make sure you listen closely and ALWAYS test the links out for yourself. Guests have given incorrect and/or incomplete URLs before!
Some hosts have specific requirements regarding the links you list. Get this all straightened out during your initial powwow so you can keep track of them as you listen.
3. YOU LEARN
Weeks into my online job hunt, I had these questions in constant rotation:
"Should I be a blogger? A copywriter? A content marketer? A content marketing strategist?
What's the difference? Should I focus on LinkedIn or is it a waste of time? What's a customer avatar?
Does "niche" rhyme with "quiche" or "bitch"? What do you mean I have to "dumb" my writing down?
There's more to Pinterest than recipes?!"
I was clueless on how to package my work experience and interests into a marketable service. And I still had to learn the technical side of online writing and marketing.
By chance (and fate) the very first two podcasts I landed had completely different themes — digital marketing and personal development.
As I listened to episode after episode and wrote week after week, I realized I had gone from knowing absolutely nothing about online marketing to knowing
how to craft converting sales copy
develop effective digital marketing strategies,
create focused email marketing campaigns
conduct market research
I also had experience writing and researching personal development topics that — not only helped me personally — but inspired me to start my own personal development blog and confidently write about topics that would resonate with my readers.
Not to mention my epic collection of resources and tools gathered from industry experts interviewed on the shows.
Most importantly, I had mother. effing. marketable. skills. that I got paid to learn. The same ones I used to land high-paying writing jobs.
Podcasts are the ultimate accelerated learning courses.
Isn't that one of the mammoth benefits to listening to podcasts?
My best advice to you when targeting podcasts to write for:
Consider what knowledge and skills you need to accomplish your writing goals
Pitch to podcasts in your niche that share educational content and/or practical and actionable tips
Record all relevant material and resources helpful to you in a separate document or use Google's Keep notepad to refer back to after you've submitted your notes to the client.
Print out the show notes and use them as study guides.
For more examples and tips on how to pick your target category, download your podcast content writing guide.
Digesting all the information from guests, experiences, and industry experts will help you build a bank of knowledge you can leverage to increase your confidence and value in the job market.
That's the good stuff right there.
4. YOU BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO
Show notes don't typically come with bylines.
Meaning, people have no way of knowing you wrote them because your name won't be on them.
Those bylines are precious real estate to any freelance writer, especially ones just starting out. Before you melt away in your tears, just because it's not the norm doesn't mean it can't happen.
It's time to start changing some shit up in this niche and I want you to be part of the revolution!
To score that byline, sometimes all you gotta do is ask real nice-like. Most clients will happily oblige.
If you feel too weird asking to stamp your name on them, there are other ways to showcase your work in your portfolio or on your website.
Link to the website the live notes are published
Take screenshots of your best work and display them
Display a PDF version of your notes
ALWAYS make sure it's cool with your clients beforehand.
Whatever route you take, I'd recommend waiting until you've done at least 8-10 episodes or are 100% confident the arrangement between you and your client will work out.
Newer podcasts may want you to hold off on the linking thing until the show gains traction. Avoid butthurtness if this is the case. Ask again in a few months.
Know what else you get if you ask nicely?
Rhymes with "testimonials."
Tack those up on your website too. Social proof is are just as valuable as bylines.
5. YOU MAKE MONEY
Ask any online writer and they'll tell you to start listicles with the content that appeals to your reader the most and work your way down from there.
So why did I list this benefit last?
Because when you're just starting out, writing for podcasts isn't going to enable your "rainmaking" abilities. As in, you won't have $20's to wipe your nose with.
The income will be supplemental as a newbie but what industry doesn't suck like that?
Once you gain experience and hone your craft, you can start increasing your prices and turning to higher-paying clients.
I've officially stopped taking on new podcast clients because my time is maxed out between managing content for multiple shows, ebook writing, and copywriting projects. But there is most definitely potential to grow this into a business in itself.
The real value is the nifty combo package. Gain writing experience, learn how to communicate and interact with clients, absorb information pertinent to your goals and interests, build an advantageous foundation for your freelance writing future.
WHILE GETTING PAID TO DO IT.
Take a few podcasts on and see where it takes you. Let any clients know you're available for other tasks.
I can't tell you how many other copywriting and blogging projects I've completed for my podcast clients.
How many other gigs do you know of that allow you to generate income FROM learning how to grow your freelance writing business?
Not many, my friend.
Get it on the show notes action.
Download the guide and be on your way to launching a profitable and rewarding freelance writing career.
PASSING THE MIC:
WHAT TYPES OF PODCASTS COULD YOU SEE HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FREELANCE GOALS?
Tell me in the comments below!