Business Podcasting: Are Transcriptions REALLY Worth It?

podcast headsetPodcasting has grown to be one of the hottest marketing channels of 2014. It makes sense why this relatively new form of content is making such a buzz. It allows business owners (and bloggers/brands) to demonstrate their voice and build relationships with listeners.

If you’re a business or solo-entrepreneur trying to make the most of your podcast, the topic of  transcription services has probably came up. This is a tricky subject because podcasting is normally seen as a “free” channel of marketing. On one hand, most people don’t want to turn podcasting into a “paid” channel.

First off, here’s why that assumption doesn’t hold up:

  1. Podcasting requires your time… for most marketers/business owners, this is going to be your most valuable asset in the long-run.
  2. Podcasting benefits from your own social media promotion along with any organic visitors that come in from search engines (in many cases, companies will spend money on advertising their podcast to kickstart the growth)

Essentially, podcasting may seem like a “free” initiative, but in reality you have to pay for it in some currency.

Here’s where audio transcriptions come into play:

Think about the business goal of your podcast — Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website, blog, landing page? Then there is a specific monetary benefit from maximizing your podcast’s viewership.

More listeners on your podcast = more leads, signups, sales. It’s as simple as that.

For this reason, you need to treat the podcast just like your website or any other branch of online marketing for your business. Transcribing the audio from your podcasts and making it available on your website is a huge piece of this.

Check out just a few of the huge benefits of getting a transcription for each of your podcast episodes:

  • Convenience for the listeners — Sometimes your listeners don’t have an hour to sit down and listen through the podcast… in this case, having a transcription allows them to skim through to the important parts or copy and paste the info they were looking for.
  • Added benefit for search engine optimization — Currently, search engine “crawlers” cannot understand audio content… so they aren’t going to index and value your podcast episode the same way as a blog post. For this reason, the transcription acts like a textual map of the content on the page. More indexing, more ‘searchability’, more traffic.
  • No headphones… what do I do? — What if your listener is in a place where audio can’t be played… a waiting room perhaps and doesn’t have headphones? Most people aren’t going to bookmark the page and come back hours later to play it. This is why audio transcriptions can help get the message across to previously lost traffic.

Having a transcription done for your podcast might seem like a complicated question… but it really comes down to your business goals.

Do you really NEED to get the most views from each podcast episode? Do you really WANT to make the most of your time?

Remember that you’re dedicating hours upon hours into podcasting to craft quality content for your listeners… now take the final step and make sure that everyone can find your podcast so they can benefit from it.

How to Transcribe Audio/Video Files Using the Scribie Editor

Audio/Video transcription can be very arduous task. It takes around 4-6 hours to transcribe one hour of audio. There are several tools however which can make it easier. Our Editor is one such tool. It presents the audio and the transcript document together in a single interface to facilitate the process. The following is a step by step guide on how to transcribe a file using our Editor.

Step 1: Upload

As a first step, the audio/video file has to be uploaded to our server where it will be processed and converted to an mp3 file. We support a variety of formats. Generally the video files are large and you can save some time if you convert it to an audio file. We also support importing file by URL or via Dropbox. You can even import a YouTube video for transcription.

upload-files

 

Step 2: Open the Editor

Once the file has been uploaded, you can then launch the editor from the Transcribe menu option.

self-transcribe

The Editor will open in a new window and automatically be sized to fit your full screen. This way you’ll have the maximum amount of space for entering the transcript as well as cut out the distractions.

self-transcribe-editor

You may have to wait for some time for the mp3 conversion to complete.

 

Step 3: Play and Type

The next step is to play the audio file. There are buttons available on the Editor for it, but a more efficient way is to use the shortcuts; F10 for play/pause, F7 for rewind and F9 for forward. All these shortcuts can be changed to suit your preferences. You can assign any key combination to the shortcuts and use it as you like. Play for 5 seconds and then pause and then type whatever you heard in the text box. Repeat the process for the rest of the file.

self-transcribe-editor-typing

We recommend that you add timestamps at the start of each paragraph so that it is easier to jump to that paragraph later on. Press F12 to add the timestamp.

You can also use the dictate functionality in the Editor. Dictating what you hear is much faster than typing it out and saves valuable time and effort. This feature is supported only on Google Chrome currently.

self-transcribe-dictate

 

Step 4: Analyze

Once the transcript is complete, click on the Analyze button. The analysis will highlight the most uncommon terms and phrases in the transcript. These are the parts that need a review since they might have mistakes.  Just scan through the underlined parts and play the paragraph if required.

analyze-underlines

 

Step 5: Download

Click on the Download button at the bottom. The transcript will be converted to a Word Document and you can then save it locally. You can also save it to Dropbox if you like. PDF, ODT and TXT formats are also available for download.

self-transcribe-download

Remember that you can always order the transcript instead of transcribing it yourself. Try it out once; we assure you that you will not be disappointed with the results!

Transcription Skill

One of the misconceptions about of audio/video transcription is that it’s all about typing. Typing is definitely one of the key skills required, but there are other skills which are equally important, if not more. In this post we’ll elaborate on some of those skills.

Context:

Applying meaning to words and interpreting them is a uniquely human ability. It’s a feat which machines are yet to achieve. We listen to spoken words and combine it with our own knowledge and thoughts to interpret it. During transcription we come across a lot of words which sound similar and have to use context to arrive at correct word. Eg. illicit vs elicit. These words sound similar, but the meanings are vastly different. The correct word depends on the usage.

Memory: 

We often face the situation that the speaker’s voice is partly un-clear and only a syllable or two can be heard. These are the places where we leave blanks. However,  sometimes we can recall the word or the phrase being used in a similar sentence, which fills in the last piece of the puzzle. This is quite similar to the fill-in-the-blanks type of exercise, with additional hints from the audio file.

Research:

Research is one of our strengths. Since multiple people are involved in the transcription of each file, we have that many hands for the research. Google is our best friend for the research, but even searching on Google is a skill in itself. We have to use context again and add something to the search terms. It requires few tries before we find what we are looking for. Names of people and products, acronyms etc. are good examples. Google Maps works amazingly well for names of places.

Knowledge:

Knowledge is not a skill per se, but we use it everyday in our work. The discussion topic in our files vary widely. So general knowledge, current affairs, etc. is good to have.

At the end of the day, it’s accuracy which matters the most. We have to rely on much more than our typing skills to ensure that the transcript is 98% or more accurate. If you are looking to start transcription and/or getting your audio/video files transcribed, then you should consider these factors as well.

Express Delivery: A First For Scribie

The one option we always wanted to support was the 12 hour delivery. Last week we were finally able to launch this feature. It’s sort of a big deal since it’s the first time such a option is being offered in the General Audio Transcription industry. You can now download the transcript within 12 hours of placing the order, with a quality guarantee of 98%. This means that you can order the files in the evening and download a highly accurate transcript by the time you start work the next morning. This was one of the most requested feature from our customers.

However it’s a difficult feature to support (which is one of the reasons why nobody else does it) and presents several hurdles. First of all, it has to be available 24×7 to be useful. This is mostly an operational issue and not that hard to overcome since it required setting up a night shift team to start off where the day shift team left off. We laid out plans for it in the first quarter of this year, started hiring and training. We were able to get the night shift operational this month.

The other big issue was quality. We cannot sacrifice quality for speed; a rework is not an option if you’re on a tight deadline. This was quite hard since it required lot of tuning of our transcription system. We follow a rigorous four step process. The first two steps, Transcription and Review, are done by our certified freelancers. The last two steps, Proofreading and QC are done in-house. For the 12 hour delivery to work, the file should be reviewed and ready for our in-house team as early as possible. Right now, we can get to that stage in around 3 hours, given an hour long file. The industry standard for 1 hour of audio is 4 hours for transcription and 2-3 hours for review.

Finally everything fell into place and we are very proud present the 12 hour TAT option. We are the first among the new crop of online audio transcription services to offer this. It shows off the maturity of our transcription system and gives us some bragging rights. So keep us in mind when you are under that tight schedule and need a transcript done in like yesterday.

Career in General Transcription

General Transcription is a relatively new field compared to Medical or Business transcription. Because the field is young, and growing, it presents a promising career choice for people with the right skill sets. In this post we are going to talk about what this job entails and the opportunities in this field.

Skills

The basic skills required for general transcription is good typing speed (minimum of 40 words per minute) and excellent comprehension of spoken English. Most of the time you will encounter North American, British and Australian accents of English. However exposure to non-native accents is a plus. The ability to apply contextual judgment is also important in transcription to differentiate similar sounding words. Internet research for names of places and people is another skill required in this job. You have to be able to construct search terms which return the most relevant results.

Job Profiles

There are two broad categories of work: typing and review. Typing, as the name suggests, involves listening to the audio and typing it out.  It’s the most effort intensive step of the transcription process. It generally takes around 4 hours to type 1 hour of audio. The most important skills required here are typing speed and comprehension.

Review is the step after transcription where the audio is matched against the transcript and all mistakes are corrected. Review is much less time-consuming than typing and it takes around 2 hours to complete a review of 1 hour of audio. However, it greatly depends on the quality of the transcript. The important skill in reviews is ability to spot mistakes and apply context.

At Scribie, we have also hire Proofreaders and Quality Analysts. Both of these are specialized types of review and requires higher degrees of skill and experience.

Career Growth

The typical career in general audio transcription starts as a typist level and goes on to QA, on the technical side. To reach the QA level it takes around 5 years or so, but depends mostly on the ability and merit of the individual. On the managerial side the opportunities vary depending on the structure of the organization,  but management positions would involve managing a team of few transcribers and reviewers.

Conclusion

General audio transcription can be rewarding career for those who pay attention to detail and excel at doing repetitive tasks. It is also a good choice for people who absorb knowledge of any kind and like learning new things. If you would like to try it out then come visit us at our office (if you’re based in Bangalore, India) or apply online.

 

Transcription Types

One of the most frequent questions we get is what type of audio files can we transcribe. Audio transcription is a vast field with many different specializations and categories. This post discusses some of types of transcription and our support for them.

Medical Transcription

Medical Transcription also known as MT, is a process where the reports or diagnosis dictated by Doctors/Physicians are converted into text by trained professionals. There is usually a single speaker. Most of the companies use ASR for the initial step i.e transcribing and then the trained professionals proofread them thus ensuring the desired quality. The output of MT usually is used in EMR (Electronic Medical Records), Medical Coding or as prescriptions. Companies who specialize in MT are expected to be HIPAA certified which puts to rest the concerns about patients privacy. Accuracy is also a very important factor in Medical Transcription.

We do not cover Medical Transcription at Scribie.com and we are not HIPAA compliant.

Business Transcription

Business transcription consists of transcribing conference calls which might be used to generate an executive summary or MoM or might just be recorded for future references. It usually has multiple speakers and the topic can be varied. The desired accuracy is around 98%. Earnings call also come under this category, which are mostly used by shareholders and financial analyst. The expected accuracy is more than 98% in this case and turnaround time to deliver the transcripts plays a very crucial role. Analysts call, Investors conferences, Product Launch conference all come under BT.

Scribie.com provides Business Transcription service.

Legal Transcription

Legat transcription is a specialized to transcribing depositions, court hearings and other law related proceedings. The desired accuracy is around 98-100%. Some courts require the transcripts to be certified for accuracy via an affidavit. Most of the times the transcripts have to be formatted in a specific manner as well. There many be a number of participants as well as the topic is varied. Knowledge of legal terminology is required for this type of transcription.

We provide the draft transcripts for legal transcription. The transcript can be checked for accuracy using our Integrated Editor and certified by a lawyer if required.

Interview Transcription

Interview Transcription, as the name suggests covers the general category and does not fall in any of the above mentioned ones. These are generally recordings made of interviews conducted face-to-face or over the phone. There may be two or more speakers one of whom is the interviewer. The others are interviewees who respond to the questions asked. The transcripts are an intermediate product and is used as an input for a larger product such as an article or a research study. There are several sub-categories of Interview Transcription, e.g. Podcast Transcription,  Focus Group Transcription, Academic Transcription.

We cover all kinds of Interview Transcription. We also categorize ourselves as a general transcription service.

Transcription Types at Scribie.com

To conclude, we provide services for Interview, Legal and Business Transcription. The only service we do not provide are Medical Transcription at this time. We follow a very strict formal process to prepare the transcripts which ensures that the accuracy is 98% or more. Try out our service today for yourself to check.

Mturk For Audio Transcription

We talked a bit about our platform in the previous post. We are a new kind of platform and the best way to describe us is a Mechanical Turk like system designed specifically for audio transcription. If you are not familiar with Mechanical Turk, it is a service by Amazon where you can post tasks which are meant to be done only by humans. Think image captioning, categorization of articles, audio transcription, etc. Mturk has been used for projects ranging from art to search and rescue operations.

Where Mturk is generic, we are specialized. Our transcription system has been designed ground-up to produce the best possible quality transcript with the least amount of effort. The files are worked on by a number of transcribers (at least 20 for an hour of audio) and checked and re-checked for quality. On an average it takes us around 2 hours to complete a 1 hour file, which betters the industry standard of 4 hours by 50%.

But proofreading is the step which really differentiates us. It is the penultimate step in our transcription process and it improves the quality of the transcript significantly. Quality is the hardest problem to solve in audio transcription. Audio transcription is a laborious task. It takes a lot of time and effort, and if done by a single person there will be mistakes. And if you ask a random person on the internet to do it for you, you have no idea what to expect. They can, and will, type anything and give it back to you.

To solve this problem, we first split the file into smaller parts and then ensure that each part file passes through at least 3 people; a transcriber/reviewer, a proofreader and a QA. Our proofreaders are experienced transcriptionists themselves who are handpicked from the pool of our certified transcribers. We train them and give them tools so that they can work efficiently. We further do QC and do not deliver the file till we are satisfied with the quality. We also use automated tools to help us spot mistakes.

For our customers, we provide a simple and easy interface. On Mturk you have to manually create HITs, choose the workers and then pay them once their work is done. On Scribie.com, you just have to upload your files and place the order. Then sit back and watch as parts of your file gets transcribed. You can check the Work-In-Progress transcript anytime from your account. Once the file is done, you are notified and can download the file in Word, PDF, ODT and TXT formats. We also provide time-coding and speaker tracking by default and a host of other options.

We had a choice when we started work on our transcription system; use Mturk or build our own. We decided to do the latter because we found that the workflow that we had in mind was a bit too involved for Mturk. Building our own also gave us the flexibility and control to tweak the system as and when we desired and over time our system has evolved to a point where it works quite efficiently. We believe that the audio transcription system we have designed produces far better results than an audio file transcribed on Mturk. But don’t take our word for it; try it out for yourself today.

The Pre-Payment Requirement

One of the most frequent questions/feature requests we get is support for post-payment. We require payment to be made upfront for all transcript orders and for a lot of our customers, that is not an option. This requirement leads to a lot of questions and in this blog post we will explain why we do not/cannot support it.

A typical transcription firm operates like this. They have transcribers (local or remote) on their payroll and pay them a monthly salary. They also have some customers whom they invoice on a monthly or quarterly basis. The transcribers are paid the salary with the money received from the invoices. This is the typical services-based business model.

We are not that kind of transcription firm. Our business model is entirely different. We do not have transcribers on our payroll. Instead all our transcribers are actually home-based freelancers located all across the globe and paid on a hourly basis. Our full time staff consists of only Proofreaders and QA’s who do the deliveries. Since we do not pay our transcribers a salary, supporting post-payment requires us to either delay the payment made to our transcribers or underwrite them.

Delayed payments is not really an option. That would mean months of waiting before a transcriber receives the payment for the work done. Freelancers do not like that. In fact, our immediate payment is one of the important reasons why a lot of freelancers come to us. We don’t have artificial barriers to keep them away from their hard earned money. If we implement delayed payments, it will seriously affect our ability to bring in new transcribers into our system, which we do not want to do.

Covering the cost of transcription instead is a preferable option. But it also introduces overheads costs, which in turn affects our transcription rate. One of the reasons why our rate is lower than the industry standard is because we keep our overheads low. The transcription industry averages at $3 per audio minute whereas we charge $1.50 per audio minute. We also do not have any dedicated marketing or administrative staff.  Charging our customers in advance is just a more efficient way and we can pass on the cost benefit directly to our customers.

Our model is something very new for the transcription industry, but very prevalent on the web. We are not even a transcription firm in the traditional sense. We are more like a platform which connects people having audio transcription work to freelancers who can do the work, in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The customers do not have to pay a high rate or wait for a week to get the transcript, and the transcribers can work at their convenience and get paid immediately. Our transcription system and the workflow ensures that the quality of the transcript is guaranteed.

Unfortunately, we lose a lot of customers because of this requirement. A lot of times pre-payment is simply not possible. We know that and we also know that it is something we have to support eventually. We are still in very early stages and there is a long way for us to go. We sincerely hope that someday we will be able to support post-payment. Till that time,  we hope that our model has enough allure to make you pre-pay once and try out our transcription service.

Transcription Rates Change

Our transcription rates have been increased to $1.50 per minute of audio with effect from 1st of June 2012. That corresponds to $90 for a 1 hour file.

The Flexible Delivery discount has been increased to 25%. Flexible Delivery orders are delivered anytime within a week instead of the normal 1 day delivery schedule.  It works out to $67.50 for an 1 hour of file. For a 1 hour file, the increase is therefore only around $10 from our previous rate, with this option enabled. This option can be enabled from the options button on the payment page.

The bulk order discount has also been increased to 25%. It is applicable to orders where 10 or more hours of audio is ordered at a time and applied automatically. The cost for that works out to $675.

The affiliate commission rate has also been increased to 25%. So if you know someone who might need a transcription service then please refer them to us with your affiliate code. We’ll pay 25% of the order value to you when their transcripts are delivered.

We would like to thank you for choosing Scribie.com. We strive to provide you the best possible service and the deliver the highest quality transcripts. This change will have us maintain that.

Transcript Progress

One of the unique features of our Transcription System is that you can monitor the progress and check the Work-In-Progress transcript anytime from your account. The progress is the percentage completion based on the stage of the workflow the file is in at any given point of time. It maps in the following way.

Range Stage
0-59% Transcription
60-89% Review
90-97% Proofreading
98% Quality Checks

The mapping is approximate. Sometimes one part file has not been reviewed but some other part files have. In that case the completion will be 60% even though the transcription is not yet complete.

The WIP transcript may have higher number of mistakes and inconsistencies till the Proofreading stage. The ‘transcript’ link just collates the part files together and displays the result. The Proofreading stage is where a lot of inconsistencies and mistakes are corrected.

The WIP transcript and the progress tracking feature is one of the differentiating features of Scribie.com. We put our customer first and strive to provide an easy-to-use and transparent system which allows you outsource your audio transcription work without any hassles.