Don’t Want to Write? Just Talk!

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Dictating Your Blog Posts: Why Would You?

This is worth mentioning again (and again): If you don’t want to write, just talk.

Whether it’s a blog post or a book or something in between, if you’re able to verbalize your thoughts, then you have the means to write.

There are plenty of reasons why you may not want, like, or even be able to write:

  • You’ve been sitting at a computer all day (or all week), and you’re tired of staring at a screen.
  • You’re tired, period.
  • You usually write by hand but are finding it too slow at times (or all the time).
  • You’ve injured your hand, arm, fingers, or wrist in an accident.
  • You have a repetitive stress injury that makes typing painful.
  • You’d much rather talk than type.

In any of these cases, your keyboard is a barrier to writing instead of a useful tool. Fortunately, there are other options – some cheap, some not – and you probably already have all the tools you’ll need.

Dictating Your Blog Posts: A Case Study

One of my clients is a speaker, trainer, and facilitator who, essentially, talks for a living. For her, it’s a piece of cake to talk on any topic for 10 minutes to an hour, while sitting down to type out a draft can be a lengthy and irritating task.

Wise woman that she is, she doesn’t write her blog posts anymore. Ever.

Instead, she sits down to a microphone and talks her talk, then sends me the audio recording. From there, two things happen:

  1. I clean up the audio, add intro and outro music she provided, and upload the polished audio as a podcast, and
  2. I have the audio transcribed, edit the transcript, shape it into a blog post (with subheadings, imagery and such), drop it into Squarespace, and schedule it for publishing.

After a short experiment with this, we’ve found it to be a really good use of her time and mine.

With this method, she can outline and dictate three or four blog posts in an afternoon, then send them all to me. Because I get a bunch of recordings at one time, I can immerse myself in them for an entire day or spread them out over the month, as I choose.

Regardless of how I schedule the work, she’s off the blogging hook for an entire month! After she sends me the recordings, she can forget about blogging until they appear on her website (and I suspect she does).

Dictating Your Blog Posts: Some Helpful Tips

Ya still need to do your prep work.
If you want a well-structured blog post, you’ll need a well-structured talk. There’s no need for a whole script (if you do that, you may as well type it!), but a brief outline with the title, an introduction, your key points, and a clever wrap-up can be enough to keep you on track.

One minute of talk time = 90 written words.
I just took a peek at my client’s most recent blog posts, and the recordings range from 10 to 15 minutes with text versions between 800 and 1,400 words. On average, one minute of her talking results in 90 words.

So, if you’re aiming for a short 500-word blog post, try gabbing for 5 to 7 minutes. If you’re going for something meatier, say 1,000 to 1,500 words, talk for 10 to 15 minutes.

Went on a bit long? Yay!
If you get going and find you’ve talked a lot longer than 15 or 20 minutes, good for you! If there’s a logical break near the middle, you can split it into two blog posts, like a Part 1 + Part 2 or a main point with a follow-up.

Too-long recordings can become right-sized products.
Another option for longer recordings: If the recording quality is quite good, you can offer the polished recording with its transcript (and perhaps a worksheet or other bonus) for sale on your website as a paid download, such as a mini-course.

Make the most of what you have on hand.
If you have a collection of recordings from podcasting, speaking, or teaching, then you might want to think about what those talks could do for you (and others) if they were text.

For example, transcripts of your podcasts could improve the search engine rankings for your show notes and provide another way for people to engage with your work. Or, if you have a bundle of recordings on a specific topic or related topics, you may be sitting on the first draft of a book!

Dictating Your Blog Posts: Here’s How

Now, you could always dictate into speech-to-recognition software, like Dragon, but making a recording and sending it off for transcription doesn’t require special software or sitting at your computer. You probably own the only tool you need, and there’s a good chance you’re holding it right now…

How to Record Your Talk: Use Your Smartphone

If you have a smartphone, it likely came with a voice recorder app already installed. On my Android phone, there’s a built-in Sound Recorder app that does very little: record, playback, save, and share. And guess what? That’s all you’ll need for this.

Another option is to download the free Temi app, which does those four things and one more bit that’s super-amazing: you can send the recording for automated transcription at a wee 10c per minute.

Tip! Be sure to create an account and log in before recording with the Temi app, or your recordings will be lost. #askmehowIknow

There are fancier ways to record, to be sure. Like, I love the sound quality from my snowball microphone and Audacity for editing audio, but

  1. Recording with your smartphone won’t cost you anything extra,
  2. You already know how it works, and
  3. It’s always on-hand for anytime, anywhere recording.

The simpler it is, the more likely – and more often – you’ll do it.

How to Change Your Speech to Text: Humans vs. Robots

Choosing a transcriptionist boils down to two things: Time and money…

When you can wait a few days and have a small budget, there’s Fiverr.
I have a favorite transcriptionist on Fiverr, and I’m not going to tell you who she is. With her high accuracy and reasonable rates, she’s booked solid as it is.

That said, Fiverr is a good place to find a strong transcriptionist. I auditioned three to find one who is super-accurate. For me, it’s worth paying more for exceptional quality to skip fixing the transcript and go straight to editing. For an idea of costs, a 15-minute recording is $20 for a 3-day turnaround or $10 for a 7-day turnaround.

When you need it within a day and have plenty of cash, there’s Rev.com.
Many of my Friends say that Rev.com does a damned fine job with transcription. For $1/minute, Rev really will return a 99% accurate transcript of your recording in 12 hours or less.

There are less expensive transcriptionists, but that 12-hour turnaround time could be worth the money. Just think: If you upload recordings at the end of your workday at, say, 6 pm, the transcripts will be in your mailbox when you get to your desk the next morning – and they’ll be close to perfect. If time is tight and money is not, that’s tough to beat.

When you need it right now and/or your budget is wee, there’s Temi.com.
I was introduced to Temi.com’s automated transcription recently, and after testing a couple of audio files, I would say it’s the only way to fly, but a completely automated process comes with good news and bad news.

The good news is: It’s crazy, stoopid fast. I uploaded a 30-minute recording, and it was transcribed in under 10 minutes … and then I did it again with a different file because I couldn’t believe it. But, yup, both transcripts came back in less time than it takes to listen to them. #WTH.

The bad news about automated transcription is the quality of your transcript is 100% dependent on the quality of your recording. Computers can manage a lot of things, but discernment isn’t one of them. If your speaker(s) has a strong accent, there’s a lot of background noise, folks are talking over each other, or the recording is poor quality, Temi is going to return a transcript that’s a screaming hot mess. If your recording has any of those issues, it’s better to hire a human.

But if you have a good, clear recording (even with multiple speakers), you might want to give Temi.com a try. The first one’s free, so it won’t cost you anything to try it out.

Mind you, the transcript won’t be perfect, but it’ll be pretty close, and their built-in editor syncs the transcript with the audio, which is a huge help in cleaning it up. If you don’t mind working on it, the near-instant turnaround is well worth 10c/minute.

Dictating Your Blog Posts: Wrapping it up…

Writing your blog posts by recording yourself and having the audio transcribed is a great way to avoid the tyranny of typing, whether you prefer to talk, are working around an injury, or you’re sick of sitting at your computer. You can record a little and have the recordings transformed into blog posts and articles, or you can record a lot to create products for sale – or even a book!

There are plenty of good reasons to write through recording and many fine ways to do it. You can purchase special software and equipment, but the voice recording app on your smartphone is a quick, easy, and handy tool you already have and know well.

When you’re ready to turn speech into text, Temi.com’s automated transcription service is cheap and fast if you’re willing to clean up the transcript yourself, but if your recording has complexities (such as poor sound quality, background noise, or heavy accents), you’ll want to hire a human. In that case, Rev.com has a 12-hour turnaround time with 99% accuracy for $1/minute, or a strong transcriptionist from Fiverr will take more time but be equally accurate for less money.

I hope this helps you move forward with blogging or your next book!

And I hope it’s helpful for my editor, proofreader, and virtual assistant friends out there, too! If you’re willing and able to accept audio as the first step for editing, proofreading, or managing someone’s content marketing, another whole world opens up.

Write on,
CW

Photo by Tommy Tong on Unsplash


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Write & EditCrys Wood