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It's a new year and perhaps a new you? What about a new you with a renewed commitment to get even more serious about podcasting? If so, excellent. I have a suggestion as to where you could start, an often overlooked area: the copy that you write for your podcasts episodes.
Why focus on writing text and not the audio you create? The simple answer has to do with competition. With 4.5 million podcasts available and nearly a hundred thousand added each month, it stands to reason that shows with more complete/better packaging will fare better.
But the better answer is this: We need to grow up. More to the point, we collectively need to grow up in our efforts when we make our podcast episodes themselves.
Collectively, we need to be less lazy and stop propagating the myth that all we have to do is get the audio right and everything else will take care of itself. Though obviously, yes, you do need to get the audio right. But even if you do, everything else won't take care of itself. Not necessarily. Or perhaps not anymore.
Audio Downloads Tell An Incomplete Story
To help illustrate the point I'm making, I'm going to talk about the performance of the last episode I released before I went on my Long Winter's Nap at the end of last year. That episode outperformed my "average" episode performance by about 15% or so. I attribute most of that increase to the unusually high sharing of that episode due to the topic of the episode.
So we'll start there: an episode with download numbers a bit over the norm.
Far too many podcasters would stop at this point. Because far too many podcasters have no web presence to speak of for their podcast. If anything they rely on one of the many one-click podcasting sharing services like Pod.link or LinkTr.ee or something else.
And I get it. I understand the investment in time, treasure, and talent to make a useful web presence for a podcast. But I also know that it's worth it. So worth it!
The webpage on my website for that linked episode above has had nearly as many unique pageviews as unique downloads of the audio.
Stop and consider that for a moment. The web page for the episode was viewed nearly as many times as the podcast episode was downloaded. That's great! None of the people subscribed to or following my podcast in their app triggered any of those page views. Not unless the subscriber/follower made the conscious choice to click through to the webpage. Which could have happened. And, actually, I hope does happen. You could argue that many of those webpage views were something like that.
But if so, they were quite engaged. The average time on page for that page was four and a half minutes. That tells me people were doing more than just quick click-through. They were actually spending time reading the article I wrote.
You're reading an article like that right now, so you know I do a lot more than just dump a quick paragraph and some links in bullet point form. I do that so I can get the kind of on-site engagement I just outlined, and I'm not alone. Many savvy, serious podcasters invest the time to create content designed to be read instead of just quickly repurposing something designed to be listened to.
But far too many podcasters stop there, assuming that's all they can do after they hit publish on their podcast and their website. They could do more.
If you're going to follow my path and do the work to make a great reading experience, why not make it dead-simple for your audience to subscribe to that great reading experience? I do it with my newsletter. And the newsletter edition I sent out for the episode we're talking about right now was opened and read by about half of the number of people who read the webpage.
Only half, you say? To which I say "yeah, but I'm confident that the number of unique times the newsletter was read can be added to the number of unique pageviews of the website." There's probably some crossover, but not much. Both the page and the newsletter edition content are mostly the same. There's no real benefit to reading one over the other. So again, I'm thinking that's an additive number.
That's why long-time listeners of this show have heard me say time and time again that more people read my words than listen to them. A funny thing to say about a podcast for podcasters, but here we are.
If you think that the content—the thoughts, the ideas, the stories, the concepts—you provide is more important than the container—the MP3 file, then you'll embrace the idea of writing better copy for your podcast episodes.
But you can still do more with that well-written copy. I take the article that I've written and I condense it down to a couple hundred words at most. These form the bulk of the in-app episode details (which you probably call show notes), for sure. But I also use them to create excellent and re-sharable social content for the social platforms I'm active on.
For Facebook and LinkedIn, those words are simply copied and pasted along with a link to the episode detail page. That's much better looking—and much more likely to get shared—than a short-form post. For Twitter, I use a service called Chirr App to create a Twitter thread that's about 8-10 Tweets long that accomplishes the same thing.
For the episode we're talking about, the social reach was in the thousands and the engagement numbers in the hundreds, easily tripling the combined reach of the audio, article, and newsletter. Some of the people reached socially have no idea who I am or what this show is about and likely forgot about it as soon as they scrolled down. But not all. Some of the people reached decided to engage with those social shares and now better know who I am and what the show is about. And some, I'm sure, decided to listen for the very first time. Or maybe they decided to read that linked article. Some may have decided to subscribe to the newsletter.
I'll take any of those outcomes, thank you!
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Good Copywriting Is Invaluable To Podcasters
Let me be explicit: serious podcasters take all aspects of their podcast seriously, including copywriting.
Copywriting for your podcast is a skill you can develop. Or one you can hire out for. Regardless of how you do it, someone on your team needs to develop solid copywriting skills. And you, the serious podcaster, need to allow for the time it takes to develop that copy and share that copy in meaningful ways with your audience. And with those who you want to become your audience.
If you want your podcast to be taken seriously, then get serious about the entirety of your podcast production process. That includes excellent writing. Looking forward, the ability to write great copy will always be integral to a podcast's success.
I know the promise of AI-powered services taking that off the table is quite attractive to podcasters who don't want to write. And I'll grant you that artificial intelligence and machine learning are making some nice headway in assisting with copy creation. But the uncanny valley those services have to bridge is quite deep. For the foreseeable future, they won't be able to outperform a skilled copywriter.
So don't wait for it. Start investing in better n better copywriting for your podcast today.
I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.