If your main concern with creating your show is the audio, you’re definitely not alone, but it’s worth talking about a facet of podcasting that doesn’t get a lot of love: transcription! Transcription helps grow your audience by making your podcast both more discoverable and more accessible.

What is Transcription & Why Do You Need It

Transcription is, essentially, a written version of your podcast. The transcription should cover every part of your podcast, and include time-stamps, sound effects, and anything else that contributes to the full experience of your show.

Transcription is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it is essential for D/deaf  and hard of hearing subscribers. (If you didn’t know that d/Deaf people listen to podcasts–now you do!) Providing an audio-only platform keeps them from engaging fully with you, your show, and your brand. Transcription can also help out listeners who are learning the language your podcast is in, as well as people with audio processing issues. By offering transcription on your website, you’re helping make podcasting a more inclusive and equitable medium.  

Aside from accessibility reason, transcription can help boost your SEO. Google does not have the ability to listen to your show; however, the algorithm can read your website! When you transcribe your work, you are making your audio searchable.

Manual & DIY Transcription

The cheapest way to transcribe a podcast is to do it yourself. However, this can be extremely time consuming. The average person talks at 140 words per minute. This average typically increases the more comfortable you are behind the mic. In contrast, you may be able to type only about 60 words per minute or less. Therefore, it will take about 2 and a half minutes for you to transcribe every minute of content. However, if your show is new or you have a limited budget, it may be the best option.

There are some free programs that can help you transcribe your show. An industry favorite is OTranscribe. The free services allows you to upload an audio file, and will play the audio at your preferred speed while you are typing. The service allows you to add keyboard shortcuts, to maximize your time.

If you’re pretty serious about doing your own transcription, you can pick up a USB foot pedal for around $60 on Amazon, which will really increase your transcription speed–to the point where other podcast creators may be looking to hire you to do their transcription for them!

Hiring a Freelancer

If you don’t want to do the work yourself, but aren’t necessarily ready to subscribe to an automatic transcription service, you can hire a freelancer to transcribe your show for you.

A quick google search of “freelance podcast transcriber” will unveil dozens of websites with individuals’ profiles. One of the most reliable websites for freelance workers is UpWork. On UpWork, you can search for people based on their skills, locations, and hourly rate.

[Ed. note: Take it from someone who did many hours of freelance transcribing in college: reaching out to a college journalism program will find you a lot of people with great transcription skills. -CVH]

Automatic Transcription Services

Automatic transcription services are one of the most popular options for creators. These are websites that typically charge a monthly or yearly fee, and transcribe your work directly from your audio file.

Trint is a popular option for podcasters. It will transcribe your audio in less time than your recording. This is a great option for fast turn-around. The service also works in 13 different languages. The first 30 minutes of transcription is free, so you can test the service before you buy it. After that 30 minutes, it costs $15 an hour, or $40 a month for three hours of transcription each month.

Another popular web-based service is Temi. This a great option for the occasional podcaster, because the price is very reasonable. Instead of charging a monthly fee, Temi charges just 10 cents per minute. Like Trint, you can try the service for free.

Of course, with any automated service, you should do last-pass to make sure none of your “scapegoats” turn into “escaped ghosts.”

Best Transcription Practices

You can display transcription in a variety of ways, but the most common is on your website, or in your show notes. Wherever they are, don’t make your subscribers go hunting for them!

Unless you do the transcription yourself, it will likely cost you–and even then, it will still cost you your time. However, this is one cost you definitely shouldn’t pass onto your listeners. Any costs associated with transcription (which are generally pretty minor) are outweighed by the benefits of making your show accessible and optimized for search engines! It’s a necessary expenditure for your business.. If you hide transcription behind a paywall, you aren’t doing your website or your community of listeners any favors!

Want to learn more about transcription? Start here:
The Podcaster's Guide to Transcribing Audio
Hearing Out Podcast Accessibility for the Deaf Community
Accessible Podcasting
Podcasts: The last frontier of accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people