Guest Article By Joe Casabona
One of the most frustrating things about the Harry Potter movie series is something that you wouldn’t really know is frustrating if you read the books: the movies do a terrible job at explaining what Horcruxes are, and Tom Riddle’s backstory in general. I didn’t actually realize this until my friend, who has only seen the movies, told me how he was lost during Deathly Hallows. Imagine making a movie for a smash-hit franchise, and not realizing you’ve excluded a large portion of your viewership in some way.
That’s what it’s like when your podcast doesn’t have transcripts. The difference is that moviegoers still get to mostly enjoy the movie. Without transcripts, you’re making it so a sizable portion of your potential audience can’t enjoy your show at all.
Here are 3 reasons why your podcasts need transcripts.
We obviously need to start with accessibility. Deaf users will not be able to consume your podcast at all if you don’t have transcripts, meaning you’re excluding 13% of the US audience alone. Given that podcasts are a great way to establish trust, reaching as many people as possible within your target audience is a good goal. Transcripts would go a long way in furthering that mission.
Besides that, you could legally be at risk. At the end of 2021, SiriusXM was sued by the National Association for the Deaf for potentially violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The added cost of a transcript per episode can go a long way in protecting you from legal liability.
2. Convenience for All Users
But it’s not just deaf users who benefit. When you have a transcript, it’s easier for users who can’t listen to skim the text, people who have listened to find quotes or topics they want to re-read, or even convince people to listen to the full episode.
It’s also about personal preference. Prolific Podcaster Evo Terra puts out a podcast, the “written to be read” article on his site, a newsletter, and a Twitter thread all on the same topic. Tom Webster does the same thing, minus the thread.
When we create content, we want to meet our audience where they want to be. If that means ensuring the podcast can be read because that’s how some prefer to consume content, we should absolutely provide them with the text.
Not to mention, it makes searching your podcast website a lot easier. Imagine if someone mentioned “WordPress” but it wasn’t in the title or description of the episode. Your users, and your site’s search, would have no way of knowing you cover a topic important to them in a particular episode.
With a transcript, those terms would show up in a site search. And speaking of search…
3. Transcripts Help SEO
Google and other search engines don’t automatically transcribe and index audio (yet), so the best way to get all of your podcast content indexed is by transcribing the episodes.
Anecdotally, one of the first times I saw big growth in my show is when I added transcripts. But why use anecdotes when we can use evidence? According to Moz, after they added transcripts to their podcast:
We saw a 15% increase in organic traffic to the website and a 50% increase to some keyword lift around the keywords that we were tracking.Moz
And as Moz points out in that same article, even if one day Google does transcribe audio for indexing, providing your own allows you to control the content that is associated with your site.
Ways to Transcribe Your Podcast
So how do you transcribe podcasts? There are a few ways.
Automatic or AI Transcription
The first is with automatic or AI transcriptions. This is the most affordable, and the least accurate. My favorite service for this is Descript, in part because it’s also an audio editor, and a fantastic tool.
The name that everyone knows in this space is Rev. Upload some audio, select if you want transcripts or captions, provide a dictionary of uncommon terms and names, and a person will transcribe for you within a day.
Rev is great if you want easy, and fast. But at $1.25/minute, it can get pricey. An hour-long episode will cost $75. Pay that weekly, and you have an expensive endeavor, especially if your podcast doesn’t make money.
Hire a Freelancer
My favorite solution to transcripts is to hire someone. I have 2 — my VA, and someone who specializes in transcripts. In both instances, the turnaround is a little longer, but it’s a lot more affordable (especially for someone who has 3 podcasts).
In this case, you get to work with the same person, so they’ll begin to learn how you speak and how your episodes are laid out. You can probably also save some time if you have the same reads across episodes, like sponsors and intro/outro. My workflow is just as automatic as with Rev too.
When an episode comes back from edit, my editor puts it into a Dropbox folder and my transcriber gets an email. She then transcribes the episode and uploads it back to Dropbox. I happily pay her invoice at the end of the month.
Where to Start
If you’re just starting out, test the water with automatic transcripts from Descript or Temi. The latter may be a better option because you can pay per minute instead of having a monthly subscription. Install Accessibility Checker and get reminders if you forget to add a transcript.
Once you get a feel and start to see results (or realize you can save a lot of time), find a freelancer on Fiverr or Upwork, or ask around for recommendations!
Grow Your Podcast with Transcripts
Between accessibility, convenience, and SEO, transcripts are a great way for your podcast to reach new audiences, grow your listenership, and create fantastic content for all to enjoy.
About Joe Casabona
Joe started his career almost 20 years ago as a freelance web developer before realizing his true passion, which is sharing his years of knowledge about websites, podcasting, and course creation to help creators, and business owners make money with their content. You can learn more about him on his website casabona.org.