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Plan and Outline Your Episodes
Step 6: Write Your Episode Outline, Title, and Description
Step 6: Write Your Episode Outline, Title, and Description

Episode Planning Guide

Amy Domestico avatar
Written by Amy Domestico
Updated over a week ago

Until now, this focus of this action guide has been to help you plan a high-quality listening experience. Content is king - to build authority in a subject area, boost your brand, and connect with large audiences, you have to create content listeners value. This section of the guide will help you finish-up your first outline. We’ll also introduce a few marketing concepts. Writing effective titles and descriptions (these serve as meta-data), reaching out to your personal network, and beginning to experiment with your social media outreach will help people find the excellent content you’re creating.
Your outline

Create the first outline of your show using one of our planning templates or a simple list. In an excellent article about the resurgence of podcasting, Cynthia Graber writes that “Podcast listeners seem to gravitate to a looser, friendly, chattier tone, one in which they feel a connection with the hosts”.  We encourage you to write an outline or use a graphical planner instead of an exact script because your show should sound conversational. You’re doing a lot of work to ensure that your listener has a delightful experience every time they listen to your podcast. You should add this outline to your show page. This will increase the likelihood that new listeners will find you in search results.

Case study

Here’s Ellen’s outline for her first show:

The Sports Mom Podcast - Episode 1Avoiding Childhood Football Injuries (30 minutes)

Notice that Ellen’s outline has timecodes. Not only does this help her keep track of time but this will help her create an excellent show description that will help listeners find what they are looking for. Ellen also added the sound clips and music she’d like to use. We’re going to dedicate an entire sections to the studio and music selection. For now, check out this list of Podsafe music sources. Create a folder on your computer and download the clips and music you’d like to use. In the production guides, we’ll show you how to add clips to your show.


Use the research tools we discussed in the brainstorming section to gather information, check facts, and create talking points. If you’re going to present something as a fact, make sure your verify it in at least 3 sources - from news articles to information presented on Slideshare and YouTube. It’s important to keep in mind that Wikipedia is not a credible news source. Google Scholar is a great place to find academic research about a wide variety of topics.

Title your episode

You’ve spent a lot of time creating delightful content for your future listeners. Now, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll help listeners find your content. We’re going to dedicate a few sections to this topic. For your first show, we recommend that you focus on creating a title you think your ideal listener would click. At the end of the day, a human being has to see your title and description and choose your content.

We’ll write an entire guide about marketing that has advanced information about search. For now, think about how you find information. If Ellen is looking for stretches for her kids to do after sports, she might search for “kids stretches” or “football stretches”. If Ellen has a show with this theme, she should incorporate search terms her audience might use to find content.

Here are a few tactics to consider. Who, what, when, and how are crucial pieces of information for titles: 

The key to good copywriting is writing a lot of copy. At Upworthy, content creators write 25 titles for each piece they’d like to publish. Writing many titles forces you to experiment with different strategies. As you write titles and meta-data, keep your ideal listener persona handy. If you need help choosing a title after you’ve narrowed it down to 3, you could run it by a few audience members or friends who understand your target audience. If you try a title for a few weeks and think you could get better traction, you can always change the title of your episode to see if you can generate more demand for the content. In a future section, we’ll give you recommendations on how to perform A/B tests.

Write an episode description

Believe it or not, your show description is almost as important as your title. Search engines like Google and content syndication platforms like iTunes and Stitcher analyze the written description of your show to expose your content to relevant users. This is a topic we’ll dive into at length after your first episode. Right now, you should focus on write a description that will entice your ideal listener. If you do this, it will be easy for us to give you a few Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies down the road. With your ideal listener as your guide, draft a few 450-word descriptions for each show. Your description should include the themes, people, and events you’re discussing. Also include names of guests. Over time, you’ll learn how to use advanced copywriting techniques. You’ll also learn more about your ideal listener and be able to write descriptions that pique their interest.

Here are a few shows with excellent episode descriptions:

Cinema Royale: #79 - Gone Girl; Justin Simien of ‘Dear White People’
"On this week's show, BFCA film critic Travis Hopson and's Christopher Bumbray  review David Fincher's Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn. Is the hype all its cracked up to be? Should we be looking at Gone Girl as a potential Oscar contender?

Plus, up 'n coming writer/director Justin Simien joins the show to talk about his controversial comedy on race with the in-your-face title, Dear White People! All this and the latest news straight from Hollywood including Joaquin Phoenix's talks with Marvel over Doctor Strange; new Twilight short films, and more!"

This American Life: #537 - The Alibi
"Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a bright teenager disappears after school one day. Six weeks later her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed is arrested for her murder. He says he's innocent — though he can't remember what he was doing that afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School claims to know exactly where Adnan was. Trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found. This week features a pilot of our new podcast, Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig."

Woman Headliners: Billionaire Women’s Club, Secret Service, and CFO/CIO Cindy Brown
"Women In the News - in this segment, the Women Billionaire's Club, the first Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, Hillary Clinton's newest title & why the media got it wrong, as well as women entrepreneurs blazing trails in science and technology.  Our women headliner is Executive Cindy Brown, CFO & CIO of entegra technologies, inc. a design, engineering and manufacturing services company providing modular mobile computer devices (tablets) to military and commercial users in defense & public safety, healthcare, transportation, energy, retail and restaurant industries. Cindy, an accomplished C-Suite executive will share her story of being the daughter of a woman trailblazer herself, guilt & balance and tackling time management with her "Sacred 6" tips."

Case study

Here is Ellen's description for her first episode: "The Sports Mom interviews former NFL player Douglas Greene (Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks) and noted sports physician Dr. Shad about on-field concussions, best practices for coaches, and how parents can keep their little ones safe on the football field. The NFL and youth sports organizations across the country are investigating the role football has on brain health. There have been reports that Pop Warner and other youth football programs have seen a decline in participation."


Tags are meta data that help listeners find your content based on their topical interests. The key is to pick 3-4 tags that accurately describes your show. Think about what someone would search for to find your show. Tags can also help lead listeners find other shows in your catalog that are related to a topic they’re seeking. Tag accurately and do not tag-spam your content. It only dilutes the value of tags to your listeners.

Case study

After taking a look at the categories in the iTunes podcast store and thinking about her ideal listener, Ellen decided to tag her first show “football, parenting, kids, Seahawks” (one of her guests has ties to the Seahawks).

Action items

  1. Write 25 titles. Re-read your list and compare your titles to the examples above

  2. Select a title for your episode

  3. Choose 3-4 tags

  4. Draft your episode description and tags

  5. Schedule your episode in your BlogTalkRadio Dashboard

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