Transcription: Everything you need to know

Transcription is the conversion of an audio or video into text. When a transcript is displayed on a video it is commonly referred to as captioning or subtitling.

Benefits of transcribing audios and videos for your audience

One of the major questions I get from Podcasters and YouTubers is why should I transcribe my audios or videos? Well, here are a few reasons why you should:

Transcription improves SEO

Let’s face it, it is becoming competitive each day to attract and maintain an audience.
Unfortunately, search engines cannot read audio or video content. So, when a potential client searches for your content and you only have them on podcast or video, then your marketing tactics to rank on top maybe futile.
According to Moz, transcribing your podcast and youtube videos is a not a nice-to-have when you want to rank for SEO. It’s simply a must.

Boost User Experience

Ah, this is my favorite.

Let’s imagine a routine of a person working 9 to 5. Go to work using a car or train, take breaks, come back home to relax. In the morning when driving to work, it might be convenient to listen to an audio. When relaxing at home in the evening, you might prefer to watch a video. What about during the day in the office? Maybe an article?

Having an audio with a transcript helps users to choose which method best suits them during the day.

Helping the disabled access your content

Not all of us are fortunate to have all the senses. Some have challenges with hearing or seeing. It is only fair that you help such an audience by proving a transcript.

Also, some users are not proficient in English. Transcription helps a majority of people whom English is their second language to understand your videos better through closed captioning.

Transcription for Business meetings and interviews

Transcription comes in handy when you’re carrying customer research, business meetings, interviewing employees or calling prospects. In such instances, when done with the meeting you can go back to your transcript to analyze the conversation.

Transcription is a necessity in business meetings, entertainment (movies, TV shows, comedy), research. All these when transcribed can be stored for future reference.

Difference between captions and subtitles

Captions include all the sounds within a video like [clapping], [applause], [screaming], [door creaking]. I’m sure if you’re a fan of horror movies, you’ve seen some of these sounds. While subtitles are just the words spoken by the speakers in the video.

Whether you choose to use captions or subtitles is a matter of the relevance of such sounds in a recording.

Types of Transcripts

A transcript is the text of an audio or video. There are three main types of transcripts:

Types of Trancripts


Clean Read/Clean Verbatim – this type of transcripts omit the unnecessary jargon without changing anything in the transcripts. You omit; false starts, stutters, and repetitions. Examples of unnecessary words can be; you know, kind of, like, um, hmm, et cetera.

Semi Verbatim – sometimes you may need a transcript that only omits specific jargon. For example, you can choose to include all the um, hmm while omitting all the false starts and repetitions.

Verbatim – transcripts that contain everything in the audio or video. That is all the false starts, stutters, repetitions, background noise, fillers, and whatnot.

Types of Transcription Jobs

General Transcriptions

Audios and videos of seminars, market research, entertainment, business meetings fall under general transcription jobs. This is kind of transcription task is the easiest as it may not require a transcriber to understand industry jargon.

Medical Transcriptions

Doctors and medical practitioners carry out research and record reports which need to be in text format. For a beginner transcriber, this may be the most challenging work as it contains lots of medical terms. Trust me, being in the industry for a few years now, I still have to research some medical terms. It would be prudent to hire an experienced transcriber to transcribe medical audios and videos to get client ready transcripts.

Legal Transcriptions

Like medical transcripts, legal transcripts may entail an inside knowledge into the legal field. With a few practice files, a beginner can produce quality legal transcripts. The major challenge with legal transcripts for newbies maybe the format of the text. Depositions need that everything is typed as it is; including all the false starts, repetitions and fillers.

How to transcribe audios and videos like a Pro

For quality transcripts, you must have:

How to Transcribe audios and videos like a Pro

Have an excellent command of the speaker’s language – I only take English or Swahili transcripts because those are the languages that I am familiar with. I may be able to speak French but am not fluent enough to transcribe a French file.

Fast typing skills – 40 words per minute won’t just cut it when typing hours of audio or video. Unless you plan on typing for several days. An hour of audio may take between 3-8 hours to produce a client-ready transcript. But, excellent typing skills come with experience and practice. There are online typing tools that can help a beginner practice typing while listening to an audio.

Software – there are different software available that can make transcription easier and faster. Express Scribe, DFX sound enhancer, and Microsoft Word are among the basic software that can help you transcribe work faster.

Fast internet – sometimes my client send me files up to 30GB. So, you can imagine how a slow internet will affect productivity.

Headset – this is one of the basic requirement for a transcriber. A good headset should block the surrounding noise and have the ability to adjust the volume without touching the mouse. I prefer using gaming headphones because they’re manufactured with user’s comfort in mind.

Ergonomic chair, desk, mouse, and keyboard.

If you plan on transcribing the audio and video files yourself, then you must be comfortable. All that sitting and typing can be detrimental to your health. Trust me, a simple addition like a laptop stand can change your comfort levels to a large extent.

Also, an ergonomic chair ensures that you don’t have to deal with back pains after working for long periods of time. Instead of struggling to stretch your fingers to reach for a letter on the keyboard, get an ergonomic keyboard that minimizes movement. If not possible, then actually move your whole arm towards the letter instead of stretching to type backspace or reach function keys.

Though pricey, ergonomic chair, desk, mouse and keyboard or a necessity for transcribers.

How much should you pay for a transcript

Payment for a transcript can vary depending with your preferred transcriber. Generally, transcripts are paid on per minute basis. Also, the quality of the audio or video will factor in pricing. If there are background noise and a challenging accent among the speakers, then expect to pay more. Some transcribers or transcription companies will charge extra for timestamps or any other out of the norm requirement.

Turnaround time (TAT)

The turnaround time referred to as TAT can also factor in pricing. For example, I have a policy of 48hours for an hour of audio or video but if you need it in 24 hours, then you might have to pay more for a rush job because I have to forego other tasks.

Transcription software

As with any industry, the audio and video industry is also experiencing major developments in technology. One of the major ones is the speech to text software programs. These software programs are similar to Google Assistant, Siri and the likes. If you have one of these at home or on your phone, then you do realize how far we are in terms of a software program that can understand accents amid background noise. Even with a clear audio and video, I’m yet to find a software program that can transcribe an audio or video 100% correct. So, human transcription is still the best way to go for now.

If you plan on using one of these software programs, make sure you have the time to go back and edit the whole transcripts.

Where to get your audios and video transcribed

If you need help with transcription, creating subtitles, or captioning, feel free to email me on and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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