Episode Descriptions, Artwork, Duration, and Cadence
Descriptions, show notes, episode notes. People have different words for this. I'm gonna call them episode descriptions but you could also call them show notes, call them episode notes, different platforms call these... I think Brad mentioned some of this earlier but you want your episode descriptions to go beyond the title and add additional detail, additional context. This is really the place for you to flesh out in text form a lot of the ideas or what you were covering in the audio. You also wanna make sure that you include guest names. Again, this is an SEO piece because if somebody's interested in an interview with LeBron James and they're in Apple Podcasts and they type in LeBron James you want your show that got a great interview with LeBron James to show up. And links, links, links, links, links. You want hyperlinks to related resources. The thing to keep in mind is that not all podcast apps support hyperlinks so you need to write your descriptions in such a way that even if th...
ere wasn't a link there they're still gonna be useful. Some podcast apps support links, others don't. You can test this and I would encourage you to test it. Who's got more than one podcast app on their phone? Great, who's got more than one phone? Who's got an Android and an iOS device? Okay, who's got a friend with a device that they don't own? Okay, use your friends. If you produce a podcast and if you care about its packaging you need to look at your show not just on a bunch of different apps on one platform. If you've got an iOS device, don't just get all the iOS apps. Look at how your show appears on the web. Get a friend with an Android device. There's a whole ecosystem on Android that many iOS users do not know about and there are more Android devices in the world by far than iOS devices. So if you don't have an Android device, find a friend with an Android device and get them to download a whole bunch of podcast apps and look at your show in them 'cause it's gonna look different in every single app and you need to know what that looks like because if you want to grow your audience one big piece of podcast growth for the next couple years is gonna be Android so you gotta know what your show looks like there. If you only optimize for Apple Podcasts, your Google Podcast listeners are not gonna have the best experience. Your Spotify listeners are not gonna have the best experience. Episode artwork. So every show needs show level artwork. You can't submit a show without show artwork. Episode artwork is an optional thing but it is a really nice optional thing to have. Not all podcast apps display episode artwork in the same way, some podcast apps don't support it at all. Again, you wanna test this, test this, test this. But for apps that do support it, your episodic artwork is a really great way to visually reinforce the content of your episode and it signals to a listener that this podcaster took the time, put in the extra effort, and added that extra level of craft. I wanna show you one of my favorite examples of all time. This is from Why Oh Why. So earlier we looked at the Why Oh Why show level artwork. Every single episode they commissioned custom artwork which was a play on the visual branding of the show specific to that particular episode. There's a whole archive of these, I would encourage you to go look at them. This is great, right? You can have episodic artwork that is a riff on your main show artwork. That can be time consuming, it can sometimes be costly. You can also just include relevant photographs. With Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids which is my hobby show, we do live events. We take really nice photos of all the people who get up on our stage. The episode artwork for Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids is just a really nice photo of somebody catching themselves laughing at their former self on stage in front of a microphone where they're making a whole room of people laugh and there's joy on their faces and we include that because we want the episode artwork to feature somebody who is in the show but also telegraph the joy that we're trying to communicate through the audio. So, I love episodic artwork and I think this is a beautiful example of it. Like show level artwork, your episodic artwork really needs to scale gracefully because it's gonna be displayed in very different places at very different sizes. On the left we have desktop iTunes, on the right we have the now playing screen for Overcast. It's the same piece of artwork. There's detail here that gets lost in the smaller version. That's a very, very small thumbnail. It's a beautiful piece of artwork but again, like show level artwork you wanna make sure that it scales. Your episodic artwork also needs to work well when it is cropped to different resolutions. So this is Red Hat Command Line Heroes. This is episodic artwork for an episode that they did called Crack the Cloud Open, all about cloud computing. It's gorgeous, somebody made this, and it's a cloud but it's also a data center and there's a person over here with a pick or something. It's a beautiful piece of artwork. It's also 16 by nine, right? They created this gorgeous widescreen version of the artwork. Why did they do this? Where could they use the 16 by nine version? On the web, absolutely. They use this on their website, on social. Many social platforms prefer a widescreen version. Square podcast artwork isn't always the best fit for social. It gets cropped in weird ways. So if you are putting in the time to do episodic artwork, think not just about scalability but how can it work in different crop factors and can we do a widescreen version and a square version. 'Cause this is the beautiful widescreen version which I think does an amazing job of telegraphing the content of the episode and then they made a square version which is a cut down, right? This is actually a separate piece of artwork. It's the same visual but it's a separate piece of artwork. So versatility is really the name of the game if you're gonna go into that. Episode duration and cadence. People don't think of this as part of your packaging but it absolutely is. I listen to podcasts when I commute, I listen to podcasts when I go for a run. They fit into my life in a very specific way. I'm sure everybody here has a way in which podcasts fit into their lives and I have a finite amount of time to listen. Books, think about a stack of books. Books are great, physical books are great and one of the amazing things about physical books is that they have these physical properties. They have dimensions and the thickness of a book tells you a lot about how long it's gonna take you to read that book. Of course, it depends on the print size but a thick book, I might be hesitant to pick up. A very slim volume that I could read in a single sitting I might be more likely to pick that up given how much time I have. Podcasts work in exactly, exactly the same way and I would encourage you to think about the running time of your episode not just as an editorial decision but as a packaging decision. I'm gonna show you, these are two episodes in Overcast. What does the running time of this episode tell me? I haven't listened to either of these episodes. What does the running time of this tell me?
It'll take a long time to listen to.
Right, and that's fine. Somebody may never listen to this because they don't have two and a half hours. If I've got a job where I can listen to podcasts and I am looking to fill an eight or a ten or a twelve hour shift full of podcasts, this might be hugely appealing to me. I'm not looking for half hour podcasts or 60 minute podcasts. I might be looking for really long, meaty conversations where they can dig deep. This running time, and most podcast apps will show you the running time, is a piece of your podcast's packaging. It's not just an editorial decision for how long your show should be. This to me says, settle in. And that may be good or it may be bad, depending on the audience that I'm trying to reach. So that's your episode duration. Your episode cadence, how often do you release? Are you a daily show? Are you weekly show? Are you an every other week show? Are you a monthly show? Are you a whenever the inspiration strikes me, sporadic drop show? Again, podcasts fit into people's lives, they fit into their habits, they are built on longterm relationships and loyalty. If you want to become a part of somebody's routine you gotta fit into their routine. People's lives work on daily cycles, they work on weekly cycles, they work on monthly cycles, they work on yearly cycles, and whether you think about it or not how often you release an episode is going to influence somebody's decision about whether your show is going to fit into their life. This is an app called Breaker. I really like Breaker and one of the things I love about it is it shows me in human, readable language, not with timestamps but in human, readable language how often new episodes come out and they calculate this on their end by looking at the back catalog. But this is a useful piece of packaging. If I know before I hit subscribe that Repeat Customer comes out twice a month I might think, I got two episodes a month worth of time to dedicate to this. So think about your release cadence. You are trying to fit your show into somebody's routine and you wanna give them product packaging that helps them make that decision.
<b><p dir="ltr">Dan Misener makes podcasts. By day, he heads up audience development at Pacific Content, a Vancouver-based podcast company. By night, he produces the award-winning series Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids.</p></b>