Whether you’re a podcaster, YouTuber, TikToker, course creator, or Group Coaching leader, there are countless reasons why you might need transcription software or services for your business.
In fact, although I used to say that transcription was optional, I no longer believe that’s true. Many consumers watch videos with audio turned off, and creating more accessible content is something I want to encourage more business owners to prioritize.
So if you’re looking for fast and inexpensive (or free) ways to convert the content of your interviews, videos, and meetings into written transcriptions, here’s a roundup of my favorite human-generated and AI-generated transcription options for every budget.
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Transcription software vs. transcription services
Transcription software is any digital tool that converts human speech into written text. You can input audio or video files into transcription software and your words will come out in the form of a document. Magic!
If you have ever tried to do your own transcription, you know the process can take a very long time, even with just a few minutes of content. Transcription software is amazing as it automates this whole process, freeing you up to focus on other things.
There are also companies that provide transcription services, where an actual human will process your transcription for you. The price point is often higher, but the accuracy is often higher, too.
How transcription software can benefit your business
You’re already doing the hard work to create high-quality podcasts, videos, courses, or even live events. So to enhance your existing work, transcription software can bring these three main benefits to your business:
- Increased accessibility
- Improved SEO
- Increased productivity
Not everyone has the ability to hear well. And even those of us who can hear often benefit from the visual of closed captions or transcriptions.
When you transcribe your content, you widen your potential audience with increased accessibility through text. This is especially true for podcasts – which have a surprisingly large following in the deaf community – as well as YouTube videos, social media videos, and online summits.
Also, many social media scrollers turn their sound off while they’re on TikTok or Instagram. So when you enable captions – something you can now do automatically on TikTok and Instagram – that also helps your content reach a wider audience.
Google may be all-powerful, but they can’t (yet) listen to your podcast episodes or YouTube videos embedded in your blog posts.
That’s why transcribing your content at the bottom of your post can greatly improve your SEO. Google’s algorithms rank websites by sending bots to crawl your site for written keywords and information. And for now, these bots don’t know how to listen to audio or watch videos. They can only “read”!
That’s why it’s so important for us to give them written words so they can learn what our content is about and surface our posts in key searches.
Of course, this might change in the future. For now though, great written content remains the MVP when it comes to ranking well organically online. This means that by transcribing interviews on your website, you can insert prominent keywords to help your site. When your transcription is posted to your site, it helps boost your ranking for these keywords.
There are so many ways I use transcriptions to boost my own productivity as a business owner. Two prime examples include transcriptions for live group coaching sessions (in my courses), as well as 1:1 calls.
After a one-hour coaching call, it can be tough to remember exactly where you talked about a specific topic. But if you have a transcription, you can do a keyword search to find the right timestamp.
Similarly, I love doing 1:1 calls not only with my course consulting clients, but also when I’m conducting user research. And during those research calls, I’ll record them (with permission) and then transcribe the calls afterward so I can quickly sift through what I learned and analyze my findings. It helps me be more present during the actual call, which leads to a better experience all around.
Human-generated vs AI-generated transcription
As described above, your transcription can be done by either AI or by humans. Each has its unique benefits.
Using automated transcription services can save you money. Pricing varies by company, but it will almost always be less expensive than human-generated transcription.
That said, automated transcription isn’t always as accurate as human-generated transcription, which may be 98%+ accurate. Before we get into the specific software and services I recommend, here’s a quick high-level comparison:
|High level of accuracy
Can include quotes
Understanding of context for accuracy
Can hear through the noise
Accuracy rates between 80% and 95%
|Potentially less accurate
Lack of contextual understanding
Often no punctuation
May not understand multiple speakers, accents, or conversations with a background noise
AI options are not always 100% accurate, so paying for high-quality human transcription will reduce errors in your documents. The cost savings presented by automated services, however, is a huge plus. I don’t think one option is better than the other, it’s just a matter of what you’re using the transcript for and how important accuracy is.
For my own podcast transcriptions, I’m ok with AI-generated transcripts because the 80-85% accuracy works for me, and I manually update the most important pieces, like my own name and my guest’s name.
10 best transcription software and services in 2024
Otter is the free tool I use to transcribe the Wit & Wire Podcast. I can upload my exported audio files and transcribe a limited number of files per month for free, or you can get a generous amount of transcription (6,000 minutes) for under $10/mo.
You can use Otter for so many things. One of my favorite applications – which is also a favorite among Podcast Launch Accelerator students – is using Otter to speak out loud and capture notes for solo podcast episodes or other content creation. It’s a great way to get your ideas out there free of judgment, and you can record on the go with their app, too.
Otter can turn your conversations into smart notes that you can share with others. You can also search your transcript to locate certain topics and keywords. It can take notes during meetings, transcribe interviews, and record your ideas as you speak them, wherever you are.
Easy-to-use and versatile, (you can export your text as either document or an email), Otter is a top transcription tool, and one of my personal favorites.
Scribie offers both automated (AI-generated) transcription as well as manual transcription services. Constructed with highly advanced speech recognition capabilities, its AI version has an average 80% accuracy rate for punctuation and automated subtitles. It also has a high turn-around time. You can get a 2-hour file transcribed automatically in about 30 minutes, which is great.
Scribie has some of the most affordable rates in the industry, and they charge by the minute. Click here to learn more about Scribie.
Temi offers users quality automated transcription services without the need to sign up for a subscription or pay a minimum charge. You can edit your transcripts online through their free editor tool, add custom timestamps, and mark who is speaking.
Temi fully admits on their homepage that if an audio file has considerable background noise, crosstalk, or people speaking in strong accents, their service won’t work well. But that’s true for every transcription platform; Temi is just being more transparent.
If your file is clean, Temi boasts 90% to 95% accuracy. Trusted by serious journalists across the US, and over 10,000 customers, Temi is a great AI transcription option. Click here to learn more about Temi.
If you’re a podcaster, this could be for you.
Podscribe is different than the other tools because it isn’t just a transcription tool. Not only do you get an AI transcript for your podcast episode, but Podscribe also gives you a searchable, embeddable player for your show notes. It’s possible the only tool I know that does both.
(Most other similar options like Fusebox can give you nice-looking embeddable players, but they don’t actually create the transcript; you have to upload one.)
With one copy and paste you can also easily embed the Podscribe transcript onto your site. This whole process allows your podcast to be more searchable online, potentially reaching a much wider audience or at minimum, aiding accessibility.
Podscribe also offers manual transcript clean-up, where a human will edit your transcript for you to increase accuracy and clarity. But you can also make manual tweaks yourself.
Descript is an audio and video editing software that allows you to transcribe audio to text. Descript’s main attraction lies in its extensive editing tools. With this service, you can record presentations, record your screen, and transcribe podcasts. You can also polish off your podcast to make it even more professional.
Once you have uploaded your file, you can easily overdub portions of your video where you said the wrong thing and type what you meant to say right into the script. You can also easily remove filler words like “um” and “uh” in your audio. Once you’re done, you can publish your project right to the web to share with anyone.
With titles, transitions, frame animation, audio mixing, and frame mastering, you can export your project to other Pro apps, and collaborate with others within the app at the same time.
Podcasters keen on polishing their shows can truly benefit from using Descript. (Another tool you might not want to miss when building a website for your podcast is Podpage, which automatically creates show notes for newly published episodes.)
Rev has long been the gold standard in the transcription industry. They combine AI tools and human transcriptionists to create fast, accurate transcriptions.
Whether you need captions, subtitles, or transcripts, Rev boasts 99% accuracy, Rev is for those seeking perfection in the speech-to-text process. They offer live transcription, on-screen subtitles in multiple languages, and live captions for Zoom. And their turnaround time is incredibly fast.
TranscribeMe is focused on offering high-quality, affordable human-made transcriptions. Trusted by brands like Cisco, Oracle, Facebook, and Salesforce, TranscribeMe keeps things simple, secure, and correct. TranscribeMe is powered by the skills of talented transcribers located around the world. This means you get access to 24-hour service. Files can be completed quickly. When it comes to confidential information, specialized personnel have signed non-disclosure agreements.
GoTranscript is another trusted transcription company, and they offer a $10 free trial if you want to test them out for free (for up to $10 worth of transcription or captioning.) On top of that, you can earn loyalty discounts as you continue to use their services, and you can get 10% off your first order with the code WITANDWIRE at checkout.
This is a free web application and tool that helps transcribers (humans) work more efficiently. So to be very clear, you’re the one writing the transcript if you’re using oTranscribe.
You’d upload your audio file and see the transcription in one single window on your screen. oTranscribe includes keyboard shortcuts to make your process more efficient. You don’t need to store your audio file in the software’s system, but you can use this app with audio and video files, as well as YouTube links.
Loom allows you to record short, fast videos of your screen and camera, and it’s the main tool I use for my online courses.
In fact the reason why I started using Loom to record my course videos was because they’re one of few tools that auto-transcribes your videos to create fairly accurate closed captions without any additional cost or tasks. (They’re included right when the video finishes processing.) This was a huge factor for me as a course creator, because I wanted to add captions to all of my videos, but this saves me a ton of extra steps in the process.
Transcription services and software can meaningfully increase value in your online business. From making your video and audio content more accessible to increasing your SERP rankings through better SEO and bringing added efficiency, transcription software and services can elevate what you’re already doing to help with your marketing, accessibility, and productivity.
There’s no one right tool for everyone, but hopefully, this list has helped you make a decision around which tool is right for you.
And for more ways to build your business, check out our Wit & Wire online programs, where we help creators turn their skills and passions into profitable online courses and businesses.
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Melissa Guller is the founder of Wit & Wire, where we help everyday experts become profitable course creators. She previously worked full-time for Ramit Sethi, Teachable, and General Assembly. Today, she shares simplified tech tutorials and modern marketing strategies through our blog, YouTube, and Wit & Wire Weekly newsletter