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Written by Gary Logsdon

What are the Factors When Selecting a Transcription Service?

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I have previously discussed why you should transcribe your videos and podcasts, and in this article I want to share my recommendations for the factors you need to consider as you begin to work transcription into your work flow.

Everyone has different needs, so taking a look at the various factors involved in creating a transcription will help you figure out the right service for you!

How Do You Decide Between Transcription Services?

There are numerous ways to transcribe audio to text, each has its advantages and disadvantages. When determining what type of transcription service to use, there is usually a tradeoff between the accuracy, cost, and turnaround time of the transcription.

How Accurate Does the Transcription Need to Be?

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Not all uses of transcription require the same level of accuracy. If you are transcribing a presentation given at an astrophysics conference, you probably want to get it very accurate. On the other hand, if you are adding captions to a recipe video on YouTube, a minor error or two is not a big deal. The YouTube search engine will still be able to understand what your video is all about.

What is the Quality of the Source Audio?

It is important to understand that the accuracy of the transcription will be impacted greatly by the quality of the source audio. The ideal situation is that the audio contains one speaker, who talks clearly, with no background noise. All transcription methods will work well with this quality of audio.

However, if the audio contains multiple speakers, perhaps with accents, crosstalk, or noise and/or music in the background, accurate transcription becomes much more difficult. In the worst-case scenarios, using a trained transcription expert may be your only choice to achieve an accurate transcription.

How Much Does the Transcription Cost?

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For most people the cost of doing the transcription is the most important decision factor to consider. Transcription costs can vary from less than $0.10 an audio minute to $1.25 a minute or more. The general rule of thumb is that you will need to pay more as your requirement for accuracy increases. Moreover, if the quality of your source audio is poor, additional charges will typically be levied.

How Long Does it Take the Transcription to be Completed?

Turnaround time can vary from a few minutes to several days. As you would suspect, manual transcriptions typically take much longer than the automated ones. But you do get greater accuracy. In some cases it takes more time to upload the video to the online site than it takes for them to actually do the transcription!

Summary

In the next three articles we will explore the options for getting the transcriptions created. They include: Free Transcription Services and Why We Didn't Use One, Paid Automated Transcription Services, and Paid Manual Transcription Services. But before you move on, give some thought to the accuracy you need for your transcriptions, how much you are willing to pay for them, and how quickly you need them turned around. This will prepare you to evaluate each of the three options and how well each one meets your specific needs.

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How do you approach this? Let me know in the comments below.


This article is by Gary Logsdon, the resident equipment tester, researcher, business partner, and most importantly, my Dad. He loves diving into the nuts and bolts of different pieces of equipment, researching what works best, and sharing that information with you.