Writing a Great 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 very important when listeners are weighing 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 at any time
- Read on to find out more
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Podcast listeners have hundreds of thousands of potential shows to listen to. So how can you stack conditions in your favour for helping them choosing yours? One of the most important 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…
What Do I Mean by “Podcast Description”?
Let's clear up any potential confusion surrounding the term.
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.
Also, 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 full guide to writing great podcast shownotes.
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.
Where Do I Write My Podcast Description?
Your podcast description is written inside your media host – the place your show essentially “lives”.
This'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, and purely because they've stumbled across a big empty text box. They need to stick *something* in there in order to crack on with creating the podcast. But, tasks like uploading their artwork and first episode seem to be the biggest priority. That isn't the case.
The good news, though, is that you can edit your show summary at any time. When you update something 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?
We recently ran our 2020 Podcast Discovery Survey. This is a sample of 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 they asked to grade each one out of 10, with 10 being really important, 0 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.
Is It Important for Search?
Not really. And it's likely that stuffing your podcast summary full of keywords will be a waste of time.
This piece of text does its job once the potential listener has already found your show, but prior to them hitting play.
More than 63% of podcast consumption takes place on Apple Podcasts/iTunes. When listeners type a topic into these apps, Apple is only searching podcast names, episode titles, and author/artist names. It isn't going to scan your podcast description, or individual episode shownotes.
Overcast is another very popular listening app. When searching for new content in there, it'll initially only scan through the names of all the shows in there. Once you click on a podcast, you can then search through its episodes.
Spotify looks like it does search through podcast descriptions. It's the second most popular place podcasts are consumed, at around 10%. 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.
What Should Go in Your Podcast Description?
So again, think 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 useful to have a 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, because most podcasts don't go through a publishing process in the way books, TV shows, and video games do.
Here are the things you might want to consider putting in your own podcast summary.
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 a day to practice”.
For those who can relate to this statement, they already feel like you've created this show just for them. And for those who don't agree, well, they're not your target audience…
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 up front.
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.
With 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 that you're on a bit of a learning journey, just like they are. In this case, the aim of the show will be for the presenter and the listener to learn along together.
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.
How Long Should My Podcast Description Be?
This is a bit like the question “how long should my podcast episodes be?” – there's no single ideal length. As long as it needs to be to get the message across.
That said, you should aim to be as succinct as you can, without leaving out any good stuff.
Our media hosting pals at Captivate have a 4000 character limit in this field. To be honest, 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 is going to read it.
Here are some good examples of podcast descriptions, by a few very successful shows. The longest one is under 600 characters, and still manages to say a lot.
Podcast Description Examples
I've used screenshots from these podcasts inside Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, Spotify, and Overcast. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 to keep listeners on the app so they'll actually listen!
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.
- How to Start a Podcast: Step-by-Step
- Choosing a Podcast Topic
- Defining Your Podcast Audience
- What Makes Your Podcast Unique?
And if you need more help with any of this, please check out The Podcast Host Academy. There, you'll get access to all our courses, downloadable resources, and weekly live Q&A sessions!