Should You Transcribe Your Podcast?
Updated: May 29
In the 6 years since we started a podcast, there has been a total of one (1) request for a transcription of an episode. That was the Natasha Gargiulo episode back in 2018, and the person asking was hearing impaired. Natasha has a very large Canadian following, and I would have been more than happy to help out one of her followers. Sadly, at the time, I was largely clueless on how to do this. Today, I am happy to report that I know a little more on the topic.
At Podcast Movement last month, the Live New Media show with Todd
Cochrane and Rob Greenlee had Andy Bowers, Rachael King and James Cridland on as guests, and the subject of transcription came up.
I have to admit that after dabbling with the offerings from Headliner, Descript, and the Microsoft offering in my subscription, I was largely underwhelmed with its efficiency and honestly questioned its necessity. After a brief Twitter exchange, I pivoted positions; providing a transcription is the right thing to do for your show. There are some SEO benefits, and it adds a nice dimension to your website content.
But these questions were still burning:
-Why is it the responsibility of the content creator to provide them?
-Why would I want someone reading the show when I want them listening to it? (I get paid in downloads, you know.)
-Why should I pay for this? It’s expensive.
I think I can answer these.
Companies like Amazon, Google, Spotify, and Apple all have the technology to do this. But there is nothing in it for them. In fact, all it takes is a few mis-transcribed words to launch them into a lawsuit.
As for people reading the show rather than downloading it, that might happen- and if the person doing so is hearing impaired, that should make you feel good. But here’s a side marketing bonus you probably didn’t consider: Bloggers and writers can easily cut and paste quotes from you and your guests, and credit your podcast. This recently happened to one of my older episodes, and it led to a few more followers. Sometimes it’s the things that you didn’t plan for that make it all worthwhile.
As for justifying the price, that’s going to have to be a personal decision. It’s more than the subscription cost- it’s also spending the time after the transcription has been made to verify spelling and oddly pronounced words. It will likely take you even longer If your podcast is about something scientific or medical, or cities in Wales. As it stands now, some transcripts refer to me as Mad Kendall which I am considering adopting as my new wrestling name. And for networks who manage podcasts, between paying the humans reviewing the shows and paying for the subscriptions, the costs add up.
One of the big reasons podcasters get involved with transcription is for the SEO. However, there are some who believe that simply attaching a transcription to the bottom of the episode page on your website will result in Google judging the page to be too long for ideal consumption.
My thanks to James Cridland for the suggestion of finding a sponsor to assist with the payment of the podcast transcription costs. Your podcast is more than just pre-rolls and mid-rolls.
Look for newer episodes of the Sound Off Podcast to contain transcriptions of each episode via Poddin.io. We decided to partner with Poddin because of its efficiency and its downloadable player, ease of use, and now with the ability to pull from your podcast’s RSS feed.
Here are some of the other services we tried and largely liked. Choose wisely.