5 REASONS WHY WRITING PODCAST SHOW NOTES IS THE PERFECT GIG (FOR NEW FREELANCERS & SIDE-HUSTLERS)
When I quit my job, I had no idea what the hell I was going to do. It was a tad terrifying.
But my boyfriend had practically been begging me to quit. We both knew how miserable I was.
I thought about it so many times and just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Until one day, suddenly and abruptly, I built up the courage to walk out (yay!)
...Without another job lined up (crikey!)
We’re not wealthy. And although my dude makes good money, it wasn’t used to carrying the weight of 2 people.
I had to find a way to start bringing in money. And fast.
I spent months researching freelance writing options. Copywriting and blogging looked cool but I had ZERO online marketing or sales experience. I had to learn it all.
Couldn't afford a course that would get me on the fast-track.
I wasn't about to ask for anymore of my guy or fam.
AND HATE to admit it but I'm a DIY kinda chick and was thinking "Pssh. Can't be that hard."
Eventually, I put myself out there as a podcast show notes writer and it didn't take long to start generating income to help support me while I established my writing career.
Figuring out this path took some time (understatement). And the stress probably hacked years off my life.
Which is why I’m stoked to share this shortcut that gets money rolling in while you figure out your path. It could save you serious grief.
Here are five reasons why writing podcast show notes is perfect for new freelance writers and side-hustlers, or someone who just really digs podcasts.
1. LESS COMPETITION (FOR NOW)
It can be intimidating as hell to think about competing with other freelancers who've been in the game waaaaay longer than you.
I remember skimming their blog posts with envy thinking, "What is this writing witchcraft!?"
I swore they sold their souls to the devil to be able to write that phenomenally.
Here’s the badass thing about podcasts...
They're a relatively new addition to the content marketing world. Meaning, it's a lot less saturated.
And most people think audio when they think of podcasts — not text.
Usually, things work like this...
See what I’m getting at?
Now, the show notes market isn’t a complete ghosttown.
There are several full-service podcast production companies that offer show note services. But they’re typically part of a big and/or pricey package that includes a slew of stuff the podcast might not need.
I rarely see them served ȧ la carte.
A few have successfully started their own show notes writing service 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 strategies (and more popping up everyday), there’s still more than enough work to go around.
It’s not staying that way for long. It never does.
For now, podcasts remain under the radars of most job-seeking freelance 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...
There's a shit ton to learn.
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 bust some serious ass.
So if you started out anything like I did, you need cash.
And like — yesterday.
Plus it sucks feeling like a mooch.
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 podcasts 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).
BIO 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.
BULLET POINTS Bulleted points are self-explanatory here, yeah? Main points and topic discussions. Try and write these from a listener's perspective.
What would this specific audience find most interesting?
What would entice the reader to listen to the podcast?
What will they learn and how will they benefit?
I like to use the interviewer’s questions as bullet points too. Just adjust the wording so it reads like a benefit.
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 Links. Well. They're links.
The guest will typically drop their links toward the end of the show. 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.
Aside from the usual suspects (Facebook, Instagram), they may want to send listeners to a promotion-specific landing page or even give out their direct email address. Just make sure you listen closely and test the links out for yourself. Guests have given incorrect and/or incomplete URLs before!
Some hosts might request you list other resources mentioned in the episode. Get this all straightened out beforehand so you can keep track of them as you listen.
3. YOU LEARN
I'd have to say this is the biggest benefit to writing show notes and probably the best takeaway I can offer.
So you get some perspective, I'll frame it with my story.
Months into freelancing, I was still clueless on what direction to take my writing. Frustrated to tears.
All the worksheets, articles, Venn Diagrams and quizzes asked me the same questions...
“What are you good at? What do you know about? What do you like? Write them down. Now draw a Venn diagram and see what intersects. Congrats! You just found your niche!”
Helpful for some. Not for me.
I’ve done everything from bartending to admin work to radio and broadcasting.
I’m a psychology nerd and a self-improvement and development junkie.
I like fishing, football, quoting movies, playing guitar, tattoos, writing, and cooking.
I’ve toughed through some crazy life experiences and wanted to inspire others with my stories.
"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? What do you mean I have to "dumb" my writing down? (I had HUGE issues with that!), There's more to Pinterest than recipes?"
I was getting desperate so I decided to list myself as a podcast show notes writer on Upwork (or as I like to call them "Updidntwork" due to their constant technical issues). Within days of each other, I had two clients with podcasts that hadn't even launched yet.
I’d be writing show notes for a digital marketing podcast and show notes and scriptwriting for a personal development/self-transformation podcast.
As I listened to episode after episode and wrote notes week after week, I realized I had gone from knowing absolutely nothing about online marketing to helping clients optimize their websites to attract visitors, creating effective content marketing strategies, and crafting killer sales copy for clients and my personal websites.
I also had tons of experience writing and researching personal development topics that not only helped me personally, but equipped me with tools I needed to blog in that niche and resonate with my readers.
My first two clients could not have been more perfect for me. Their podcasts were — and continue to be — the ultimate accelerated learning courses.
My best advice to you:
Target and pitch to podcasts that teach you what you need/want to learn to advance your career.
Create a new doc or use Google's Keep notepad to record helpful material you want to explore later.
Print out the show notes and use them as personal study guides to really absorb the content.
You’ll build a bank of knowledge in your chosen niche to advance your skills and increase your confidence and value in the job market.
That's the good stuff right there.
4. YOU BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO
I'll be the first to bring you back down from cloud nine — 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, ask real nice-like. And 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. Respeck!
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.
*Heads up*: New 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. Client testimonials are just as valuable as bylines.
5. YOU MAKE MONEY
Picture this... There you are...
Listening to a podcast at the gym, while you’re cooking dinner, in your car (which, if you're anything like me, is something your nerdtastic ass already does).
Taking in valuable information that’s helping you get to where you want to go, learning how to communicate with your clients, systematizing your processes...
Gaining all kindsa experience...
AND GETTING PAID TO DO IT! Yeeeah budday!
At first, the pay may be a little meh but what industry doesn't suck like that?
Who knows, you might score big bucks with the right client.
If you take a few podcasts on, you'll complete them quicker and start gaining momentum. So you can still tend to your writing career goals (wo0t).
So tell me —
How many other opportunities do you have to learn and earn like this as a newbie freelancer?
To be so captivated by what you're doing that it's almost not fair to accept cash to do it? (but of course you'll make the exception.)
Not many, my friend. ( I sorta know from experience)
I encourage you to get it on the show notes action and learn the skills while you pay them bills!
Passing the mic:
WHAT TYPE OF PODCASTS COULD YOU SEE HELPING YOU ADVANCE YOUR CAREER?