How & Why You Should Get Started with Podcast Transcription

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Last updated:
May 25, 2021
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What is a Podcast Transcript? 

A podcast transcript is exactly what it sounds like: a written version of your podcast’s audio. Although live transcription during your recording session is possible, the most common technique is to produce your podcast transcription once you’ve finished recording. 

There are two types of transcription: manual and automated. Many transcription services offer both types, so it’s up to you to choose which you prefer. We’ll look at specific advantages and disadvantages later. 


Why you should transcribe your podcast

More accessible. Over 5% of the world’s population (430 million people) suffer from ‘disabling’ hearing loss according to the World Health Organization. A transcript is essential to making sure your podcast is inclusive and accessible.

Reach a new audience. Not only will you reach those who are hard of hearing or who have a hearing impairment, but you’ll also gain new listeners: 

  • Non-native speakers
  • Those with unreliable internet connection 
  • Those who simply prefer reading

Great for listeners short on time. A transcript (especially with timestamps) can act as a map for listeners that want to skip through and find specific content.

Maximize SEO and reach. Transcripts increase the amount of SEO content you can play with. This means that if you’re savvy, your podcast will be properly indexed, and you’ll instantly boost your search visibility and organic engagement.

  • Keyword opportunities. You can ensure that keywords are woven through your transcript. If you’ve hired someone to transcribe for you, equip them with an essential keyword list.  
  • Backlink opportunities. Backlinks are great for SEO and if you have ‘next steps’ or resources mentioned in your podcast, you can link them within your transcript and help your listeners action these.

Reusable and adaptable content. A transcript gives your podcast life beyond audio. You can repurpose your content for other purposes such as marketing campaigns, social media posts, blog articles, you name it!

Get quoted and reviewed! You’re saying some inspirational stuff on your podcast, make sure your audience won’t forget it! A podcast transcript means you can get quoted, referenced, and reviewed (accurately).

Transcripts get people to your platform. Readily available transcripts of your podcasts are a great lead magnet to attract listeners away from listening platforms like Apple or Spotify to your own website! This is a great chance to engage them with your other content or products! 


Video Podcasts & Captions 

Transcripts are not just for audio podcasts. If you’ve recorded an HD video podcast using Riverside.fm, there’s no reason not to include captions:

More accessible.
Including captions on your video podcast means that those who are hard of hearing or non-native speakers can still enjoy your visual content.

Scroll culture means most of us watch videos without sound. If you’re promoting your video podcast with dynamic excerpts and beautifully cut montages, you need captions. Captions mean your target audience will still be able to enjoy your promotional content without sound. 


Subtitles versus Captions 

You’ll often hear ‘subtitles’ and ‘captions’ used interchangeably, but they’re not actually the same thing. 

Subtitles 

Subtitles are intended for non-native speakers. They only communicate dialogue and not sound effects or other relevant noises. 

Captions 

Captions are for those who are unable to hear the audio. They convey both dialogue and any other relevant audio. 

  • Closed Captions (CC) can be turned off by the viewer 
  • Open Captions are embedded into the video and cannot be turned off 


File formats for your transcription

How you publish your transcription is up to you, and we’ll be looking at how others do it later. 

Downloadable PDF or Word Doc. You can offer your transcript as a downloadable file for your audience.

Text to be published on your website. You can publish your transcript as a blog post on your website or directly beneath your podcast episode description.

For Video Captions: 

SRT File otherwise called a SubRip Subtitle file is a plain text file that contains subtitle or caption information. Crucially, they include start and end time-codes which ensure that your subtitles match your audio timing. 

  • SRT files work on most social media platforms, meaning you don’t have to manually upload your captions 
  • SRT files are indexed by Google meaning they also bring SEO benefits. 


Manual versus Automated Transcription 

As we mentioned there are two types of transcription: manual and automated, and it really depends on how much time, money, and effort you want to commit to your transcription. 


Manual Transcription 

This is where a human listens to your audio and manually types out what they hear. You can either do the transcription yourself or pay a freelance or agency transcriptionist to do it for you. 


Advantages 

  • Accuracy. Humans understand context, nuance, tone, and punctuation in a way that computers just can’t, so you’ll get a much more natural and digestible transcript that needs little to no editing. 

Disadvantages

  • Slow turn-around. Unlike AI solutions, humans require more time than you might think to transcribe even a short audio recording. This can disrupt workflows or leave you waiting around for your final transcription. 
  • Costly. Unless you decide to undertake your podcast transcription yourself, enlisting a human transcriber can be expensive. Charge structures vary from person to person and platform to platform - some charge by the hour of work and others by the length of audio.


Automated Transcription

This is where software automatically produces a transcription of your podcast audio. There is an array of transcription software available online, and we’ll outline the best options later. 


Advantages 

  • Quick and easy. Software solutions are intuitive and user-friendly, and automated transcription takes no time at all. 
  • Affordable. Automated transcriptions are usually much cheaper than their manual counterparts because you’ve cut out the labor cost. 

Disadvantages 

  • Inaccuracy means you must edit. Automated transcriptions are often riddled with inaccuracies that don’t reflect the original recording. This means that although you’ve paid for the original transcription, you or one of your team will have to edit it before publishing. 

How to transcribe your podcast 

DIY Transcription 

Advantages 

  • Free. DIY transcription is perfect for those with a tight budget. 
  • Easy. There’s nothing complicated about transcribing your podcast, simply listen back to your podcast recording and type what you hear. 
  • Accurate. You know exactly what was said during your session and you also know how you want it to come across. Plus, as we said before humans understand context and nuance in a way that computers can’t.

Disadvantages 

  • Time and labor-intensive. Don’t underestimate how long it takes to transcribe even an hour of audio. You may not have the time to give, in which case DIY transcription may not be an option for you. 


Pay a Transcriptionist

Advantages

  • Accurate. The human touch means your final transcription will be free from mistakes or grammatical errors. It also means that unnecessary verbal tics or mistakes will be cut out. 
  • No need to edit. Human transcriptionists can edit your transcription themselves; this will make the copy more readable and save you time.

Disadvantages

  • Costly. For obvious reasons, hiring a human transcriptionist is the most expensive option. 
  • Longer turnaround time. Although turnaround time from most services online is still only one to two days, this may delay your working processes.

Use an Automated Transcription Service

Advantages

  • Fast & easy. Automation services often take no more than half a day. All you have to do is upload the recording and wait till it's done.
  • Affordable. The advancements in technology gave rise to many software-based transcription services. This has led to lower prices, making this an affordable option for many podcasters.

Disadvantages

  • Proofreading is essential. Although automated transcriptions has become much better in the last years, it still contains inaccuracies. It'sa must to carefully go over the transcription to finetune it.

Best Podcast Transcription Services: 

Once you’ve finished recording your podcast using a platform like Riverside.fm, you’ll upload your WAV file to get it transcribed. 

GoTranscript 

Type: Manual Transcription 

Advantages

  • Cheap. Under $1/minute of audio, although the prices vary on which turnaround time you elect. 
  • Video and Audio Transcription. 
  • Rush order option. So you can meet tight deadlines. 
  • Accurate. All texts are reviewed, proofread and quality checked to ensure maximum accuracy. 
  • Technical Transcription. GoTranscript caters for more complex or technical topic areas, so if your podcast looks at specialist material - they have you covered. 
  • Timestamps. GoTranscript adds timestamps in one of two ways: either a timestamp every 2 minutes or every time the speaker changes. 

Disadvantages 

  • Turn around is slow. Unless you pay for their rush order option, turnaround can take up to 3 days. 

Rev

Type: Manual 

Advantages

  • Audio and Video Transcription. 
  • Fast turnaround. Most transcriptions are delivered within 12 hours. If you need to meet a tight deadline, pay an additional $1/minute of audio to get files back up to 5x faster. 
  • Accuracy. 99% accuracy   
  • Transcribes all accents. No additional charge for non-American accents, and able to transcribe tracks with multiple speakers and background noise. 

Disadvantages

  • More costly.  $1.25/minute of audio. 
  • Additional cost for timestamps. Additional $0.25/audio minute to add timestamps. 


Scribie 

Type: Manual or Automated 

Manual or Automated Transcription.

  • Automated starts at $0.10/minute with a 30-minute turnaround and 80 - 95% accuracy
  • Manual starts at $0.80/minute with a 36-hour turnaround and 99% accuracy.

Note: these rates are for clean files with American speakers, additional charges may apply for others.


Advantages

  • Accuracy. Manual transcriptions are reviewed, proofread and quality checked.
  • Free Re-Review. If you’re not satisfied with your final transcript, they'll rework it for no additional cost. 
  • Track your progress. 

Disadvantages

  • Additional charges. Scribie charges extra for poor audio quality and for speakers with an accent other than American. 


Trint

Type: Automated Transcription 

Advantages

  • Quick turnaround. Literally within seconds (although you’ll probably have to do some editing) 
  • Follow, edit, and verify on the Trint Editor. You can watch in real-time as your podcast is transcribed, verifying the words that appear on your screen. 
  • File can be any duration. Because of the subscription structure of their pricing, your file can be any duration you want. 
  • Vocab builder. If your podcast is jargon packed, Trint allows you to build a bank of specific vocabulary, phrases, names, and words which helps with the overall accuracy of your transcription. 
  • Timestamps. Timestamps are automatically included in your transcription. 

Disadvantages 

  • Expensive annual or monthly subscription. Trint starts at $44/month, which may not be a viable option for some in terms of cash flow. 
  • Lower accuracy. Automated transcription still requires you to make edits. 


Temi 

Type: Automated 

Advantages

  • Audio and Video Transcription. 
  • Quick turnaround. Your audio will be transcribed within 5 minutes. 
  • Cheap. $0.25 per minute of audio. 
  •  Timestamps are added automatically and you can customize their placement. 
  • Speaker identification. Temi marks every time the speaker changes automatically. 

Disadvantages

  • Transcribes best with completely ‘clean’ audio. Temi works best with crystal clear audio and preferably American speakers. This means if you have diverse accents on your show, it may affect the accuracy of your transcription.

Descript

Type: Automated 

Advantages

  • Manual or Automated. You can choose which type of transcription you’d prefer. 
  • Speaker labels added automatically. 
  • Custom timestamps. 
  • Collaborative Editing Interface. Just like Google Docs, you can invite and grant access to collaborates with a weblink. This means you can work together to edit your transcript.
  • Live transcription. Descript includes a free screen recorder meaning you can record your screen as you’re podcasting, and it’ll transcribe in real-time. 
  • Edit your podcast.  You can also edit your audio using Descript, adding music or sound effects, fine-tuning with fades, and volume editing. 


Disadvantages

  • Monthly subscription. The ‘Creator’ plan starts at $12/month which entitles you to 1- hours of transcription per month. 
  • High accuracy. High accuracy for a software transcription, but the likelihood is you’ll still have to make edits. 


Simon Says 

Type: Automated Transcription 

Advantages

  • Quick turnaround. Your transcription is delivered within minutes. 
  • Collaborative Interface. Like Google Docs you can invite collaborators to work with you on your transcript. 
  • Speaker identification. 
  • Custom dictionary.  You can add personal and unique words, phrases, names, etc. which will help the software to optimize its accuracy. 

Disadvantage

  • Expensive. ‘Pay As You Go’ is free, but $15/hour of audio. There’s also a subscription style pricing structure. A ‘Starter’ plan is $15/month, which includes 24 hours of audio transcription per year. If you exceed this limit, you pay $7.50 per additional hour. 
  • Accuracy. High accuracy for a software transcription, but the likelihood is you’ll still have to make edits. 


Otter.Ai 

Type: Automated 

Advantages

  • Fast turnaround. Transcriptions are completed within minutes. 
  • Affordable. The Basic Plan is free and includes up to 40 minutes of transcription per recording and up to 600 minutes of transcription per month. If you need more credit, there’s the Otter Pro Plan at $12.99/month with 6000 minutes of audio included
  • Automatically includes timestamps and differentiates between speakers. 
  • Search interface. You can search your transcript to identify quotes and keywords. 

Disadvantages 

  • Accuracy. As with all automated transcription services, the likelihood is that you’ll find yourself making some edits and tweaks. 

Where to include your podcast transcriptions: 

There are several ways you can include your podcast transcription. It really depends on your audience and what you’re looking to do with it. 

  • On each episode’s page. You can post your transcription directly beneath your show notes as text. This makes it instantly accessible and invites listeners to make use of your transcription.

  • A dedicated page for your transcripts. You could create a specific page for your transcripts - this will act as a sort of ‘bank’ or ‘archive’ and means your audience can access all your transcripts at once.
  • Downloadable transcripts. Some podcasters prefer making their transcripts downloadable. You can offer your transcript as a PDF or Word Doc so your audience can download a copy for themselves. Note: PDF or Word Docs included on your website do not help with your SEO
  • Publish as a blog post. This is a great way to repurpose your podcast content and make your transcript shine. Publishing as a dedicated blog post is a good way to drive traffic to your blog and other content.

  • Video podcast. If you’ve recorded a video podcast, we recommend simply including your transcription as captions. This means your viewers still enjoy your HD visuals. 

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Great Podcast Transcripts (and why) 

If you’re still feeling a little bit bewildered, we’ve included some examples of how popular podcasts use and publish their transcripts. Get ready to be inspired! 

New York Times’ The Daily

Linked as a lightbox on each episode’s page.  This means the transcript is easily accessible, should you want to use it.

Formatted for easy reading. 

  • Ample spacing between paragraphs and speakers, meaning navigating the transcript is easy. 
  • Archived recording is included as an indented quote to help the reader differentiate. 


This American Life Podcast Transcript 

Published on a dedicated page. Each episode’s transcription is linked directly from the episode page.

Formatted for easy reading. 

  • Each speaker’s name is emboldened
  • Guest paragraphs indented to distinguish from the host
  • Sections are titled for easy navigation.  


Freakonomics Radio podcast transcript 

Published directly beneath each episode. Meaning you can read along whilst you listen, if you please.

Formatted for easy reading. 

  • Guest quotes are placed in in-dented colored boxes. This delineates between the host’s commentary and their contributions.

Additional Resources & Backlinks. Freakonomics includes backlinks to previous episodes of theirs (great for SEO!), as well as a list of resources at the end of each transcript. This gives the audience more background and information about the episode content and helps them act on Freakonomics’ recommendations.

Archive of Transcripts. Freakonomics also has an archive of all their previous podcast transcripts on their website. This means readers can peruse at their leisure. 

Bonus Tips for your Podcast Transcripts 

  • Record your audio in HD.  Record and save your audio in uncompressed - lossless - file formats such as WAV (Riverside.fm does this automatically). WAV files preserve audio quality, making it easier to be transcribed (particularly important if you’re using an automatic transcription service).
  • Produce a style guide. While this does require a small investment of time, the benefit is huge. Whether or not you’re using AI software or human transcriptionists, you’ll want your transcripts to look consistent - a style guide helps your team to understand format, grammar, structure, etc.
  • Make sure to include timestamps in your transcript. Timestamps help the reader navigate the text, especially if they’re looking for a specific section.
  • Think about formatting. You’ll notice that the examples we gave above take some time to consider their formatting just like they would an article, adding quotes, subheadings, etc. Formatting also helps with SEO optimization and reader experience.

  • Use your transcript. You’ve dedicated time and money to produce a podcast transcript - make sure you use it. Beyond posting it on your website, consider repurposing your text for marketing or social media too!


Final Thoughts 

If you weren’t convinced before, we hope you are now. As we’ve seen, even the biggest and most famous podcasts out there are ensuring to provide episode transcriptions. If you’ve been wondering how to expand your reach - look no further. You’ll instantly make your podcast more accessible and inclusive, you’ll be giving a new life to your audio content, and you’ll amp up your quotability. It’s a no-brainer. 

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