Why Not to use Cheap Transcription Services

Podcasts, webinars and video shows are increasingly popular, and an excellent way to find new audiences. They can also be time-consuming, as there’s a lot of pre- and post-work to be done, and expensive if you pay someone to edit the show before it’s published.

There’s also a lot of valuable information that can and should be reused, but you need to get into a written format first. The obvious solution would be to use a site like Fiverr and find a cheap transcriptionist, or perhaps an online service which lets you upload your audio and promises a quick turnaround for a completed transcript.

I’ve written before about why I believe these sites aren’t a good idea (click here to read), but I want to specifically address transcription services, because I know that there’s a lot of training needed to do it well.

When you use these services, you WILL receive a full transcript of your broadcast, but more often than not, it will need a lot of editing to turn it into something you can use and repurpose.

Problems with Cheap Transcription Services

Often, the transcriptionist is not a native English speaker, and they don’t have a full grasp of the grammar and colloquialisms. Another problem is that they can struggle with regional accents, and mishear words, so when you’re reading through, you need to look out for these – a spell-check won’t necessarily flag them. I’ve seen one transcript where the name of the show host (i.e., the client) was spelt incorrectly.

A one hour plus recording can generate 6,000 to 8,000 words, which gives you a lot to work with. Unfortunately, a full transcript often includes all of the hesitations, fillers (ums and ahs) and the chat at the beginning of the recording. Also, people don’t talk in full sentences, or with attention to grammar and structure, so a literal transcription is not easy to read.

Using a supplier from Fiverr or similar then, may save you some money, but there’s a time cost involved, because you’re required to proof, edit and rewrite, which defeats the purpose of getting someone else to do the work for you.

It’s unreasonable to expect a supplier from a freelance marketplace to edit properly, and to know what’s appropriate to include or leave out. They’ll have a high volume and turnover of work, and they’re not being paid enough to make these decisions.Transcription Equipment

Becoming an audio transcriptionist requires around 20 hours of self-study, learning to use a specialist software and equipment, practising with a whole range of recordings, and examination and assessment by an awarding body. All of this costs money, which is often met by the learner.

If you want a transcription that will add value to your content marketing, it’s worth investing a bit more money in a professional, such as a VA. The less you have to do, the more time you’ll save, which you can use to record more podcasts and vlogs.

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