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Podcast Description Tips: How to Write, & Why It’s So Crucial!

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How to Write a Podcast Description: At-A-Glance.

  • Your podcast description is also known as your podcast summary or show summary.
  • You write this inside your media hosting account, and it appears in all the directories your podcast is listed in—for example, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.
  • Podcast descriptions are vital when listeners weigh up whether or not to hit play.
  • You should write about who your podcast is for, why they should listen, and what they can expect.
  • If you’re unhappy with your current show summary, the good news is that you can edit it anytime.
  • Read on for six tips on how to write the perfect podcast description.

Podcast listeners have millions of potential shows they can listen to. So how can you stack conditions in your favour to help them choose yours?

One of the most critical factors is to have a good podcast description.

Writing your show’s description or summary is like writing a blurb for a book. You want to sell the show to your potential listeners and encourage them to give you a shot. In this article, we’re going to find out how to do just that. First up, though…

Podcast Description Vs Podcast Episode Description: What’s the Difference?

Let’s clear up any potential confusion surrounding the term.

Some folks refer to single podcast episodes as “podcasts”, but “a podcast” is really the show as a whole.

So a “podcast description” wouldn’t be the text that accompanies one single episode – that’s what we’d call “shownotes”. Here’s our complete guide to writing great podcast shownotes.

Also, if you’ve stumbled upon this post looking for a description of what a podcast actually is, then check out What is a Podcast? An Explanation in Plain English.

All pretty straightforward, but good to make sure we’re on the same page here 🙂

Now, let’s get to the meat of the article.

How to Write a Podcast Description: Where Does It Go?

Your podcast description is written inside your media host – the place your show essentially “lives”.

Writing a podcast description in Alitu
Writing a podcast description in Alitu.

That’ll be done when a podcaster is creating their show, prior to submitting it to the listening directories, where people will find and subscribe to it.

Unfortunately, many will write their podcast description as an afterthought purely because they’ve stumbled across a big empty text box. They need to stick *something* in there in order to crack on with publishing the podcast. But tasks like uploading their artwork and the first episode seem to be the biggest priority.

Overlook podcast descriptions at your peril, though. It’s a mistake to just quickly type something in and leave it at that.

That said, the good news is that you can edit your show summary at any time. When you update any detail inside your media host, the changes will usually show up in all podcast directories within around 24 hours.

Why Is Your Podcast Description So Important?

When we ran our Podcast Discovery Survey, we gathered data on the listening habits of 780 podcast consumers.

In the survey, participants were asked, “When considering a new show, how important to you is…”, followed by various front-facing aspects of a podcast.

They were then asked to grade each one out of ten, with ten being really important, and zero being not important at all.

As you’ll see from the data in the graph, the podcast description came out on top by some distance.

Why your podcast description matters so much

Yes and no. In podcast apps, this piece of text does its job once the potential listener has already found your show, but prior to them hitting play. In a listening app, the chances are, they found you through a podcast episode title or the name of the show itself, rather than its summary.

Most Apps Search Podcast Episode Titles & Names – But Not Descriptions

Almost 40% of podcast consumption occurs on Apple Podcasts/iTunes. When listeners type a topic into these apps, Apple only searches podcast names, episode titles, and author/artist names. It isn’t going to scan your podcast description or individual episode shownotes.

Overcast is another top-rated listening app. When searching for new content there, it’ll initially only scan through the podcast names, though. Once you click on a podcast, you can search through its episodes.

Spotify does search through podcast descriptions. It’s the second most popular place podcasts are consumed, at around 28%. But that’s definitely no reason to go down the keyword-stuffing route.

So to perform well in search, choose a good name for your podcast, and always publish episodes with descriptive titles. That’ll help get you in front of more potential listeners, and only then are they going to read your show summary.

Podcast Descriptions & Google SEO

That all said, your podcast description can still be good for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) outside of the listening apps, on the web itself. This doesn’t mean you should spam it with a list of keywords, but adding a few relevant keywords in there will do you no harm, as long as it isn’t at the expense of good writing. Remember, your target audience here is humans, not machines.

You might have a think about the 2-4 most important keywords you’d ideally include. But don’t worry if you can’t make them naturally fit. There are many other ways to make your podcast discoverable.

Six Podcast Description Tips: How to Write a Podcast Summary

Now that we know why podcast descriptions are important and how they work, how do you go about writing a good one? Here are our top podcast description tips.

1. What Goes In?

Again, start by thinking of it as the text on the back of a book you’ve picked up and are thinking about buying.

Or, if you’re not much of a reader, the text on the back of a video game box. Or the summary of a show on Netflix you’re considering for your next binge.

In fact, it’ll be helpful to look at some of these and pick through the way they’re written. Are there common themes, structures, or tones?

Try reading some descriptions from your own podcast listening app too. This could be more hit or miss, though, because most podcasts don’t go through a publishing process in the way books, TV shows, and video games do.

Alright, how about the things you might want to consider putting in your own podcast summary?

2. Who Is It For?

Who’s your target audience? Speak directly to them in your podcast description. Let them know that this is the podcast for them.

To do this, you need to tell them who they are. This sounds strange, but it works.

“You’re desperate to learn Spanish but only have 10 minutes daily to practice”.

Those who can relate to this statement already feel like you’ve created this show just for them. And for those who disagree, well, they’re not your potential audience…

3. What Will They Get From It?

Are you going to teach them something? Help them to solve a problem or struggle? Will you be motivating, encouraging or inspiring them? Or maybe you’ll be offering to entertain them and make them laugh? Whatever they’re going to get from your podcast, tell them about it upfront.

4. Who Are You?

You don’t need to be famous or well-known to run a successful podcast. In fact, our survey data shows that most listeners don’t care if they’ve never heard of you.

That said, you still want to let listeners know who they’ll be listening to. So, write a bit about yourself. If you’re a qualified expert on your topic, then great. If not, let them know you’re on a learning journey, just like they are. In this case, the show’s aim will be for the presenter and the listener to learn together.

5. What Can They Expect?

Will it be interviews? Will you be talking with a co-host? Or flying solo?

Do you release new episodes on the same day every week, or do you podcast in seasons?

Some info here will help set expectations with your potential listeners.

6. How Long Should My Podcast Description Be?

This is a bit like the question, “How long should my podcast episodes be?” – there’s no ideal length. Your show summary should be as long as it needs to be to get the message across.

But, you should aim to be as succinct as possible, without leaving out any good stuff.

Our media hosting pals at Captivate have a 4000-character limit in this field. Honestly, you’d need to have a very good reason to go anywhere near that. Just because you write a huge summary for your show doesn’t mean anyone will read it.

Here are some excellent examples of podcast descriptions by a few successful shows. The longest one is under 600 characters and still manages to say a lot.

Compelling Podcast Description Examples

I’ve used screenshots from these podcasts inside Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, Spotify, Overcast, and pod.link. Here, you’ll get an idea of how they actually look – as well as read.

Dan Harris is a fidgety, skeptical ABC newsman who had a panic attack live on Good Morning America, which led him to something he always thought was ridiculous: meditation. He wrote the bestselling book, “10% Happier,” started an app — “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” — and now, in this podcast, Dan talks with smart people about whether there’s anything beyond 10%. Basically, here’s what this podcast is obsessed with: Can you be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment (whatever that means)? New episodes every Wednesday morning.

Ten Percent Happier podcast description in Apple Podcasts
Ten Percent Happier, in Apple Podcasts

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Podchaser podcast summary
How I Built This with Guz Raz, on Podchaser

The longest running (and most popular) podcast for non-venture track startups, this show follow the stories of founders as they start, acquire, and grow SaaS companies. Hear when they fail, struggle, succeed, and take you with them through the tumultuous life of an entrepreneur. If you like Mixergy, This Week in Startups, or SaaStr, you’ll enjoy Startup for the Rest of Us.

Spotify podcast description
Startups For the Rest of Us, in Spotify

Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages. Newsweek calls him “the world’s best human guinea pig,” and The New York Times calls him “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.” In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.

Overcast podcast summary
The Tim Ferriss Show, in Overcast

Pocket-Sized Podcasting is the ‘how to podcast’ series for busy people. You’ll get one short sharp tip delivered to your feed Monday through Friday, all aimed towards helping you build and grow your own life-changing show. Brought to you by Alitu, the Podcast Maker, it’s our aim to make the entire process of podcasting as simple and accessible as humanly possible. Find us anywhere you get your podcasts, and be sure to hit follow or subscribe so you never miss an episode!

Pocket-Sized Podcasting, in pod.link
Pocket-Sized Podcasting, in pod.link

You’ll notice that hyperlinks are rare in podcast descriptions. Most listening apps don’t even seem to support them.

Your show summary isn’t the place for links, in any case. It’s the job of this text to temp people into hitting play. If you want to get them back to your website, then use that as your in-episode Call to Action.

There’s also a separate ‘Website’ field in your media host’s show settings where you can enter a URL. Some listening apps will show this when displaying your podcast. But again, you’re better off keeping listeners on the app so they’ll actually listen!

Digital identity, AI and podcasting.

Can AI Tools Like ChatGPT Write My Podcast Description for Me?

AI tools like ChatGPT are dominating the headlines in 2023. There’s no doubt that these tools can help support podcasters and do some of the heavy lifting or less enjoyable tasks for them. In our best ChatGPT prompts for podcasters guide, you’ll find examples of ways podcasters are using AI without handing over control completely.

My own opinion is that, if you’re not an experienced writer, AI can give you a useful first draft to work from. Staunch AI enthusiasts will point out that it’s all about how you prompt it. But, by the time you formulate those perfect prompts, you probably could’ve just written the thing yourself.

show summary from chatgpt
A ChatGPT-generated podcast description.

What Next?

You can only write a great podcast description if you’ve nailed down why you’re podcasting, and who you’re podcasting for.

For more on this, here are some handy resources.

And if you need more help with this, please check out the IndiePod Community. There, you’ll find access to all our courses, downloadable resources, and weekly live Q&A sessions!

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