If you make scripted fiction podcasts, you’ve got a script, which means it’s almost no work at all to create and posts transcripts. This article will break down why you should have transcripts, how to make them, and where to post them. If you make a scripted show, you have no excuse not to post transcripts.
Why have transcripts? The biggest reason is that they’re an accessibility tool. People who are deaf and hard of hearing, or have audio processing disorders, or any condition that might it difficult to engage in an audio-only medium will find transcripts extraordinary helpful. Some people might use them to listen along with the show. Others might just read them. When you have transcripts, you’re expanding the reach of the show and growing your audience!
Transcripts are also helpful for press and podcasts journalists. It’s much easier to quickly look up a fact about the show from a transcript instead of spending an hour listening for it. Fan artists also benefit from having written descriptions of characters or moments. People who are learning the langue your show is in will love it. It also benefits your SEO and makes your show easier to find in general.
What make a script different than a transcript? A script is what’s initially written and recorded from. It might have notes for the actors or sound designer, and it might change during production if actors improvise, if scenes are cut, or if a sound designer uses different sound effects. A transcript is essentially a written version of the audio in it’s final form. If anything deviated from the script during production, it’s captured on the transcript.
Usually, making the transcript is the hardest part- but when you’ve got a script to start with, you’re 90% of the way there. Unless you have a script that changed a lot during production, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour per 30 minute episode to make the transcript.
Here’s what I do:
- Copy my script into a new document.
- Play the episode audio.
- Follow along on the script, updating it to match the audio where needed.
- Save the document as the episode transcript.
And that’s it! If an actor paraphrased a line, I’ll change it to match. If my SFX descriptions were a bit vague, I’ll add more info. Half the time this process is me changing “SFX: Footsteps” to “SFX: X pairs of footsteps on SURFACE” because I never specify them when I write. I’ve found I don’t need to pause the audio a lot while I follow along, because there’s usually not much I need to change. Obviously, mileage will vary per show!
I’ve learned that it’s a bit a easier for people to have transcripts as html text or google documents (as opposed to pdfs), so I usually save my transcripts as google docs or upload the text directly to the website. But if you work with a system that make this hard, a pdf is okay! Some script formatting makes copy-pasting to a google doc really difficult, and a pdf transcript is truly leagues better than no transcript at all.
You should spend the time to make your script into a transcript. But if this is a hurdle for you, just upload the script itself. After all, it’s 90% of the way there anyway, and that’s something. As long as you’re clear about what it is, it’s okay! (Please don’t call a script a transcript if you haven’t ensured it matches the audio).
There are two places you should definitely link your transcripts from: the episode show notes, and your website. This doesn’t mean you need to host them there (some podcast apps will cut show notes off after so many characters anyway), just that people should be able to find them from those places. Here are some places you can upload your transcripts too:
Google Docs/Google Drive is a great place to put transcripts. You can make a free account for your show (up to 13 GB, which should cover all your transcript bases), upload transcripts, and share read-only links. If you have pdf transcripts you can use google drive, or you can copy it into a google doc. A benefit of using a google doc is that people who want a pdf can download one, and everyone else can read directly. Here’s an example of transcripts linked form google docs.
Tumblr is a free option, and gives you a more blog-like feel. Their search and tagging functions leave much to be desired, so if you’re going this route, I’d recommend having an external page (such as your website) that links to the transcript for each episode. Otherwise you’ll have to scroll and scroll chronologically. Here’s an example of transcripts on a tumblr site.
Carrd.co is a semi-free option. You are limited to 100 “elements” on a free plan, but if you’re like me and paying for carrd for your main website, you can have infinitely many sections for each episode. A downside of carrd is that I haven’t yet figured out how to host pdfs — but you can always link to them. Here’s an example of transcripts on a carrd site.
Squarespace is not a free option, but if you are hosting your website there, you can also host transcripts directly on your site as well. Here’s an example of transcripts on a squarespace site.
If you use Wix or Wordpress, your best bet is uploading transcripts to google docs or google drive and linking to them from the page. I don’t use either of these websites, and I’ve yet to find a way to upload transcripts scripts directly to them. Here’s an example of transcript links on a wix site.
And there you have it! If you have a script, it’s super easy to make and upload transcripts! Go forth and share you stories!