Should I have my video transcript edited?

Should I have my video transcripts edited?
You’re creating great content, and you’re doing the right thing by thinking about how you can repurpose your videos.
​After all, you know that not everyone will find you on YouTube or Vimeo, and you want to get your content in front of as many prospective clients as possible – and that should include a written version of your videos.
In this post I’ll be answering these questions:
  • Should I have my video transcribed?
  • Why should I have my video transcribed?
  • What types of transcript are there for my videos?
  • ​Should I use a transcript of my video as a blog post?
  • Should I edit my video transcript myself or hire an editor?
  • Hiring an editor to repurpose your video transcript.​

Do I need to have my video transcribed?

First things first – are you having your videos transcribed? If you’re not, then you should be. Having a transcription available to your viewers is a positive move for several reasons:
  •  it improves accessibility
  • it’s good for search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • a searchable transcript will improve navigation of your video.

Why should I have my video transcribed?

1 Accessibility
You are inadvertently excluding the deaf and hard of hearing if you don’t provide a written version of your video. Some organisations are required to provide a transcription by law. 
​For people whose first language isn’t English, it can be very helpful for them to be able to refer to a transcript to check vocabulary and improve their understanding. And you want to be helpful, don’t you?
A huge percentage of video is watched on mobile devices, where it may not always be practical to listen to your audio, e.g. on a mobile phone in public when the viewer has forgotten their headphones.
While a transcription below your video is one option, a better choice to improve accessibility is to have captions added to your video. YouTube offers free subtitles and closed captions, but the accuracy is variable, and it doesn’t fare well with Scottish (and other regional) accents!
Having captions added to your video by a company such as is straightforward and costs around $1 per minute.
Having a transcript is a big bonus for your SEO, as search engines will index  all your spoken content, not just your video’s title and any tags you’ve applied.
By doing this, search engines can also index all your spoken content, not just your video’s title and any tags you’ve applied, which is a major plus for your SEO.
However, remember that the key to good SEO is that your content is relevant, interesting and well written, and that people like and share it.
Your transcript may have the keywords you want in it, but does it tick all the other boxes? It  won’t fare as well in the rankings as better written, edited content. So although it’s better to have a transcript than nothing at all, from an SEO perspective it’s even better to have written content that properly addresses the problems and solutions you talk about in your video.
3 Searchable or interactive transcripts
Some companies will create searchable transcripts for you, which makes it easy for your viewers to find a specific point in your video and jump to it, without using time stamps.
However, I imagine this level of service will come with a hefty price tag. I’d like to tell you how much, but I couldn’t get a price on any website without giving them all sorts of details first – not even a ballpark figure – which I wasn’t prepared to do. Not cool!

What types of transcripts are there for my videos?

There are many different levels of transcription available, and my colleague Liz Dexter of LibroEditing goes into detail about this on her blog. I will focus on only a few of the more relevant ones here.
​A verbatim transcript includes absolutely everything – mistakes, umms and errs, repetition and stumbles.
As Liz says in her blog, ‘This is used by, for example, legal clients, researchers and marketing companies and anyone who wants to get the full flavour of how the person was speaking.’
This level of transcription captures everything, including pauses and laughter, but it probably isn’t necessary for most people’s videos and it is more expensive.
An edited transcript has all the umms and errs, any repetition, and speech tics you might have, such as likeright, and y’know removed.
​Here’s a clip from the lightly edited transcription of a video interview I did with Chloe Forbes-Kindlen about my work as an editor. For this she used, which is a transcription service used by many business owners I know. It charges $1 per minute of audio and has very good reviews. 
In this section I’m talking about creating a style sheet for your business writing.
‘Because very often these decisions, there isn’t one correct answer, so whether you choose to capitalise spring and summer … if you’re in fashion it’s a spring/summer collection … or not, how you choose to write out your times of opening if you have a business that has a shop, how you deal with the numbers and the times, how you write dates, whether you spell with an -is ending or an -iz ending, again, it’s about bringing consistency to it.’
​Hearing me speak like this in the video is fine because you have visual cues and you can hear my tone of voice and the words I emphasise, which all goes to help make my meaning clear.
​But reading it is a bit annoying, isn’t it? You can get what I’m saying, but it’s not a smooth process – there’s repetition, a false start to the sentence, and it’s very long and grammatically all over the place. 
Of course this is the way we speak, and you generally don’t think twice when someone talks to you like this, but we want a smoother experience when we read. We don’t want to have to jump back and forward in a sentence to get the gist of what’s being said – that’s a complete turn-off.
This level of transcription might be good enough for you if it’s only for use inside your company as a reference document, for example, but it’s not great for content that is outward facing – as a blog article or as part of a web page or ebook, for example.
For this purpose the editing needs to be taken a stage further to what’s known as an intelligent edit.
An intelligent edit will reword and remove grammar errors to provide text that reads smoothly and clearly.
Here’s how an intelligent edit of my convoluted sentence might look:
‘There isn’t one correct answer when making these decisions. For example, if you’re in fashion and you’re writing about your spring/summer collection you can choose whether or not to capitalise Spring and Summer.
If you have a shop or salon, you can choose how to write out your opening times and how you write dates. You can decide whether you spell organise with an s or a z. Again, it’s about bringing consistency to everything you write about your business.’
Can you see how this creates a smooth journey across the page for the reader? There’s no jumping back and forward, and you don’t have to think too hard about what the writer is saying. The meaning of the sentence is quite clear.
Note that I’m not trying to make the sentences shorter; I’m making the message clear and ensuring that it reads well.

​Should I use a transcript of my video as a blog post?

My answer to this is no. In my opinion, using your transcript as a blog post isn’t good enough.
I think that a transcript below your video is absolutely fine. Viewers may want to follow exactly what’s being said, and won’t mind any grammatical errors being included, and it makes it easy for people to find specific topics discussed in your video. And they won’t be surprised to see your pauses or false starts included when your transcription is sitting directly below your video.
However, there’s a different level of expectation for written content.
Remember that your potential clients are making most of their buying decision before they ever contact you. They are looking at your videos, scrolling through your website and reading your blog posts.
​Like it or not they are judging you, and how you present your written material gets added to the mix when they’re forming an opinion about whether or not they’d like to work with you.
For some people, there’s no question that a blog post which is essentially a transcript would be a negative point. There are plenty of people out there who will dismiss poor grammar and punctuation as a sign that your work could be equally poor, even when it’s not.
And you won’t get the chance to convince them otherwise, because they’ll be gone without you ever knowing they were considering hiring you.

​Should I edit my video transcript myself or hire an editor?

The bottom line is that your written content should be the best it can possibly be.
Note that I didn’t say that it should be perfect, but it must be good enough.
You should be confident that your content is free of spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, and that you’ve removed all the repetition and irrelevancies that can happen when you’re talking.
It should be well structured and organised, using subheadings to guide the reader through it – don’t forget that in a longer article people will scroll down and skim read to find the most relevant sections for them. This might mean re-ordering sentences and even paragraphs to make your meaning clear.
​If you are happy to do this yourself, or someone in your organisation is, that’s great. Just be aware how time-consuming it can be. Is this the best use of your time or theirs?

​Hiring an editor to repurpose your video transcript

You might decide that it’s better to use a professional editor to repurpose your video transcription into a blog post.
It may be that you realise that writing isn’t a strength and that your best just isn’t good enough. There’s no shame in admitting that – recognising that you’d rather employ someone else to edit for you is freeing. You can spend time on areas of your business that you are good at, and where that time is well spent.
In summary, you should definitely be having your videos transcribed. But think carefully about how you repurpose the transcript and be sure that you’re making the best possible use of this resource. Make it the best it can possibly be for its intended purpose, and recognise that might mean using a professional editor to bring it to the right standard.
Are you producing videos for your business? Do you have them transcribed? I’d love to know how you like to repurpose your content and whether you’ve used an editor to help you. Let me know in the comments!
Big, big thanks go to my friend and colleague Ross Coverdale of RAD Creatives for his patience when helping me to understand the finer points of video production, editing and transcription when I was researching this article. If you need help with video editing, Ross is your man!

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