How transcription makes podcasts accessible, searchable, and easier to edit

modern workplace with computer and microphone for podcast transcription

With the explosive growth of podcast consumption has come a big increase in scrutiny applied to audio storytelling. Just ask SiriusXM. In December, the National Association for the Deaf sued the satellite-radio and podcasting giant, claiming it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by publishing podcasts without transcripts. 

The lesson, in case it’s not obvious: every podcast needs published transcripts, for every episode, no exceptions. But avoiding highly public litigation is neither the only reason nor the best reason. Making podcasts accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing expands the universe of potential listeners, and posting transcripts online enables Google’s search robot to index the content of your podcasts. 

And as any Descript creator can tell you, editing a podcast in the transcript is far easier and more intuitive than editing with audio waveforms. Editing the audio is important for polishing your podcast and creating the sound you want, but by editing your content in the transcript you'll be saving tons of time.

So while the transcript may not be the thing that excited you about making a podcast, it turns out it’s one of the most valuable tools you have. And, as my colleague Jay LeBoeuf recently told Forbes columnist Steven Aquino, with technology like Descript you can make transcripts quickly, accurately, and cheaply. So you need to do it. We’ll break it down even further for you.

Transcribe. Edit. As easy as tapping your backspace key.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

What are the benefits of transcribing a podcast?

  • Time. Most transcription software uses advanced AI tools and will transcribe your podcast episode within minutes. A few years ago, to get a transcript you’d have to use a human-powered service, the fastest of which would take at least 24 hours. 
  • Money. Most transcription services cost pennies per minute. A free Descript account gives you three hours of automatic transcription every month (paid accounts get you more hours).  
  • Editing. If you’re making your podcast with Descript (and you should be!), you’ll be able to edit your podcast by uploading your audio files, getting an auto-generated transcript, and editing the text.
  • Audience. As noted above, transcribing and publishing your podcast audio allows you to reach more potential listeners. For example, those who are deaf and hard of hearing will be able to access your content simply by reading the podcast transcription. 
  • Brand awareness. Transcription can help you improve your ranking and boost your searchability.  When you put a transcript on your website or in your show notes, online search engines like Google can scan your site to see how your content is relevant to specific searches. To boost your visibility in Google searches, try to include relevant keywords that will optimize your website and help you rank higher within search engine results. With a defined SEO strategy folded into your content, you’ll increase the chance of winning new fans through organic search discovery.

3 ways to transcribe a podcast

Making a podcast transcript takes time, practice, and the right tools. You can use either automated or human-powered transcription — each has benefits and drawbacks:

DIY transcription 

Transcribing interviews yourself is the most cost-effective option, though it is certainly not the most efficient option. Unless you can type 200 words per minute, like some kind of lunatic, DIY transcription will be very slow; you will need to stop your audio frequently in order to catch up, or play the audio at a reduced speed. You will also have to relisten to your audio to check that your transcription is correct, which means that by the time you’re done, you will have heard your interview (and perhaps your own voice) more times than you’d care to. 

Automated or AI-powered transcription

Automatic transcription parses through your audio and generates a text version of your podcast. This option is best if you want a faster solution and you have good quality audio. For the AI-curious, Descript offers three hours of automatic transcription for free.

Here’s how you use the automatic transcription with Descript:

  1. Drag your audio file into a new composition and Descript will provide a transcription confirmation.
  2. You can have Descript automatically identify multiple speakers by activating the Speaker Detective feature during the transcription process. You can also manually add them.
  3. You’ll be notified when the transcription is complete.
  4. You can also initiate Speaker Detective after transcribing your file by right-clicking on the audio file and selecting "detect speakers" or "identify speakers."
  5. You can also share your transcript with others in Descript, or by embedding content from Descript on your website or supporting hosting platforms. 

Human-powered transcription

Human-powered transcription is exactly as it sounds—a person listens to your audio and transcribes it themselves, even if the audio quality isn’t perfect. For transcription tasks that require near-perfect accuracy or if your audio is unclear, hiring a transcription service might be the best option. Descript’s White Glove service offers human-powered transcription for $2.00 per minute. 

How to use your podcast transcription

Some ways you can use or repurpose your transcriptions:

Blog posts

Creating blog posts is a great way to summarize or further explain concepts discussed in your original podcast episode. For instance, if you and your guest talked about journaling practices, you can expand upon that concept into a quick-how to, or summarize the steps you take to make it a consistent habit.

Of course, summarizing the main talking point is fine too, though you’ll want to consider adding in relevant keywords, images, and even links to other content on your website. 

Social media

Repurpose your podcast into visual content by creating social media posts, which is a great way to connect with your audience. 

A few ideas for social media posts include:

  • Pull quotes from the episode to create images— or make Audiograms in Descript; it takes seconds and looks great on social 
  • Use the same quote and resize it to suit different social media platforms
  • Turn quotes into tweets, Instagram captions, or Facebook posts

Aim to repurpose your content so that it stands out—give your fans and followers a reason to stop scrolling with unique visuals and viral-worthy snippets (audiograms accomplish both). 

Show notes

Instead of copying and pasting your audio transcription verbatim on your website, take the main talking points and turn them into show notes. For instance, use the beginning of your podcast as the opening paragraph. 

You can also create time stamps for specific points or themes in your podcast so listeners can jump to content that is relevant to them. Using a transcript can also help you see what resources were mentioned on the show so you can create a resource list for your listeners to refer to. 

Create a searchable library of your audio content 

Transcribing your podcast allows you to easily find quotes, anecdotes, and insights from your show or your guests. 

Justin Jackson, co-founder of Transistor, uses transcripts created from Descript for different reasons, one of them being the ability to quickly access all of his content.

“My favorite thing about Descript is being able to reference other things and come back to anything I record, even interesting conversations I have,” he says. “Once I’ve transcribed something, they become these assets I can use all the time.” 

Justin uses his media library in social media conversations with followers. 

“If I’m looking for ways to reply and I’ve recorded a screencast about it, I’ll just search my Descript library and then export the clip, then upload it as a Facebook or Twitter reply,” he says. “This library is like a little ecosystem.”

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