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Many of our podcast listeners hear Novel Marketing through a podcast app on their phones. Other Novel Marketing fans read the blog version of each episode. While I often refer to the blog version as “show notes,” our approach to creating the blog version of the Novel Marketing podcast has developed over time to be more than just show notes.
We now create a blog version of the podcast content, and the process requires far more than a click of a button. We don’t simply copy an AI transcript and paste it into WordPress. It takes quite a bit of work to create a weekly blog version of the podcast, especially if we want that blog post to rank on Google.
How do you take an audio interview and turn it into a search-optimized blog post?
While we do use AI in the first step, we have a very real human intelligence who takes that AI transcript and turns it into a blog post. Shauna Letellier is an author, copywriter, speaker, and Bible teacher. She’s written three books and numerous articles, and she is the “blogifier” of podcast episodes at Author Media.
Why should we turn our audio content into blog posts?
Shauna: If we’re going to serve our audience, it’s important to remember that people have different learning styles. Some prefer to listen, while others prefer to read.
People also have different time constraints. If you have a desk job where you have to listen for customers, you can’t listen to a podcast, but you may be able to read a blog post during the slow parts of your day. Other people have more drive time when they can listen to podcasts.
A blog post is also more shareable than a podcast episode. It’s much easier to copy the URL of a blog post and paste it into a text, email, or social media post.
It’s harder to share a podcast. I might send you an Apple podcast link, but you might listen on Spotify. If we don’t use the same app, you’ll have to create an account or download a new app, and by that time, you’re probably not going to listen at all.
Thomas: We’ve had blog posts go viral because a social network will pick it up. People post about it on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll see a spike in the stats for the blog version. However, that rarely translates to a spike in the podcast download stats for the audio version.
The listening audience is very stable. We’ll have about the same number of listeners from one episode to the next, but the blog post audience can increase or decrease from week to week.
We also send an email alerting people about the new blog post, and that email is very forwardable. People forward those emails to their friends and colleagues. If we didn’t have the blog post, our content wouldn’t be nearly as shareable, and our listener-growth rate would be much lower.
Shauna: It’s much easier to search a website than a podcast when you’re looking for a specific piece of information.
In our AuthorMedia.social community, people will often ask specific questions like, “What episode was it where Thomas mentioned the book All Marketers are Liars?”
The podcast episode wasn’t necessarily about that author or book, but let’s say you only remember the title. You can’t search the audio content, but you can search the website by typing “all marketers are liars” into the search bar at the top of the page.
The search will pull up every podcast episode where Thomas has referred to that book, as long as it was included in the transcript or the final blog post.
I use the search bar at the top of NovelMarketing.com multiple times every day.
If you ask a question in the community, I am probably back here by the search bar typing in your question and sorting through the results. Searchability is a huge advantage of having a text version of your audio content.
Thomas: Besides our website being searchable inside the site, it’s also searchable by Google. Google sends us traffic because we’ve published blogs.
Google is very biased against podcasts, and it doesn’t even like podcast transcripts. Some people say posting a podcast transcript on your website will help Google will send you traffic, but I’ve never seen numbers that prove it.
If you want to get traffic from Google, you have to publish more than a transcript. It has to be a blog post.
Thomas: A blog version also makes the content more accessible to people around the world. The analytics of the audio version are dominated by English countries.
If you’re a native English speaker, listening to audio may be even easier than reading it on a screen. But for people who speak English as a second language, listening can be tricky. Some of our guests have an accent that may make listening even more difficult.
Our blog analytics say that the sixth most popular country is Nigeria, followed by the Philippines and then India. Some of those readers may be native English speakers, but others may not speak English well. The text version is much easier to comprehend for non-native speakers.
Google Translate will also translate that text version into the local language. A blog version makes the content accessible to more people.
Thomas: Another advantage of a blog is that people leave comments. There’s no easy way to comment on a podcast. Podcast listeners will sometimes reply to the emails we send, but our blog readers tend to leave comments on the blog at AuthorMedia.com.
Shauna: Sometimes, they leave super helpful comments. We’ve only started adding multiple images in the past year or two, and a few years ago, one reader commented on a cover design post and said, “A whole blog post and not a single book cover?” And I thought, “Yeah, we really dropped the ball—or dropped the book cover—on that one.”
We went back and added those book cover images, and it really increased the value of the post.
What tools can I use for audio transcription?
Thomas: We run the audio through Descript (Affiliate Link), HappyScribe , or Sonix.ai (Affiliate Link). We’ve used all those services, and they produce fairly comparable transcripts. Each service delivers an AI-generated transcript of the audio, but it’s not a blog post. It’s a huge block of text.
Before you get the audio, I do an initial content pass in Descript, where I take out some of the bunny trails and filler. If I can remove the five most boring minutes from an interview, the average interestingness of that interview goes up dramatically. It makes the episode more appealing.
A one-hour interview might be cut to 40 minutes of audio. That 40-minute audio file goes to you and to William, who cleans it up further, sweetens it, and does his processing.
Shauna: Are you doubly offended when I then cut something from your cut version?
Thomas: No. I like having “Easter eggs” in the audio version, which is a little bit longer. Listeners typically want a more in-depth conversation with a bit more color and context. Blog readers want to get straight to the facts.
I want there to be something special in the podcast version because I enjoy the podcast version. I’m a podcast-first kind of person, and I want the podcast to have value that the blog post doesn’t and vice versa.
How do you turn an AI-generated transcript into a blog post?
Shauna: An AI-generated transcript is accurate in that it records nearly every word that was spoken, but it is not an enjoyable or easy read. If you posted the transcript on your blog or website, people would bounce. They might try to wade through a sentence or two, and then they would be off.
A sample block of AI generated text from a podcast to turn into a blog post
The tools transcribe how spoken words sound.
- “Because” is transcribed as “cuz.”
- “Going to” is transcribed as “gonna.”
- “Want to” is transcribed as “wanna.”
- “Kind of” is transcribed as “kinda.”
Those words are easily corrected through the find and replace feature, but other words require more individual care and correction.
AI does not know how to handle proper pronouns. For instance, Thomas Umstattd becomes
- Thomas instant
- Thomas umm stamp
- Thomas Amstat
AI is always fumbling with book titles and author names.
Thomas: Proper nouns are often the most important piece of information somebody’s looking for in the show notes.
If you’ve listened to a podcast and you’re wondering about that transcription service I recommended, but AI didn’t transcribe the name properly, the transcript becomes useless. The piece of information you need isn’t available in the pure AI transcript version.
How do you navigate turning spoken paragraphs into written paragraphs?
Thomas: Most people don’t talk in complete sentences. Their ideas roll together. Descript gives you some punctuation and paragraph breaks, but they don’t always work. How do you take a paragraph of words and turn them onto sentences?
Shauna: I always begin by listening to the entire interview so that I get the tone and direction of the whole thing.
A lot of what I do is rearrange information. We tend to circle back to a topic when we speak. We might be talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) here, and then later, we might circle back to it and refer to a great book or course on SEO.
That doesn’t work in the blog version. I typically take that comment from later and put it with the first SEO paragraph.
We often talk about “editing” the transcript, but I would say I do less editing and more rewriting.
Sometimes a whole spoken paragraph can be reworded into a single sentence. For example, a guest might say:
“I read this book called Unbroken, and I don’t remember who wrote it, but it was about this Olympian turned POW, and I can’t remember his name either, but I do remember that the first paragraph, that book was absolutely breathtaking and really painted a great picture in my mind.”
That’s how we would hear it.
After listening to that long sentence, I would look up the title and the author and write one sentence instead of three.
“The opening paragraphs of Unbroken by Lauren Hillebrand provide a stellar example of concrete writing.”
Instead of 50 words, you have 15.
Thomas: The blog is a more focused version of the text because it’s been adapted. It’s like adapting a book for a film. Filmmakers often cut characters to simplify the story. They only have two hours to tell a story that an audiobook tells in 15.
How do you use headings to make it easy for readers to scan a blog post?
Thomas: After you’ve rewritten, rearranged, cut, and focused the text, it’s still not a blog post.
A good blog post uses headings. How do you add headings to the blog to make it more scannable?
Shauna: I do find it a little tricky to add headings to an interview. Usually, I look at the general topic of those few paragraphs and try to boil it down to a few words or a question.
For example, we were just talking about AI transcription tools earlier. I might give that section the heading, “What tools can I use for audio transcription?”
Beneath that heading, I’ll put the paragraph where you talked about Descript (Affiliate Link), HappyScribe (Affiliate Link), or Sonix.ai (Affiliate Link).
When people are scanning, they often have a question they want answered. When they see their question in a heading, they think, “Hey, I have that question!” Headings make it easy for readers to find answers and information quickly and easily.
The reader can scan that paragraph about tools and find all the blue and underlined links to the tools.
The Yoast SEO plugin we use prompts you to insert a heading every 300 words. That doesn’t always work out nicely with interviews, but headings do break up the text for the reader.
Headings also get extra “points,” so to speak, from Google. All parts of your blog post are indexed by search engines, but your headings have a little more weight. Think of your headings as an outline.
H1 (Heading 1): The title of your post.
H2 (Heading 2): The questions that the following paragraphs answer.
H3 (Heading 3): The sub-points of your H2 sections.
What the above transcript looks like after being converted to a blog post.
It’s a bit easier to use headings in a solo episode because Thomas works from an outline and has already done much of the work of writing the headings.
Thomas: Our typical episode is 40 minutes long, but the average amount of time a web visitor spends reading a blog post version is between five and seven minutes.
Readers jump in and out of the content. The heading has to sell the next 300 words and convince somebody it’s worth reading. They’re skimming and trying to find the most interesting bits. Your headings shouldn’t describe the content. Headings should sell the content.
Humans and Google use headings to find pertinent information.
If you’re trying to rank for a certain phrase, you should put that phrase in your H1 heading, which is the post title in WordPress. WordPress will then put the phrase in the title tag.
What else can you do to make a blog post scannable?
Thomas: There’s more to a blog post than headings and texts. You can add other elements to break up the text and make it more readable.
Thomas: People love bullets in blog posts. How and where do you add bullets?
Many times, I use bullets to break up a sentence with a series of words separated by commas and a coordinating conjunction.
Depending on how much is explained after each term, you could list the term and the brief explanation as a bullet (See above bulleted list of wanna, gonna, kinda, etc.)
If there’s a lot of explanation for each term or sub-point, I would make each term a heading and then put a brief paragraph underneath.
Thomas: Bullets add breathability and white space. The text looks less intimidating for a rushed reader. People are often rushed when they’re reading a blog post. They’re looking for specific information, so they’re more intentional and have a higher expectation that they’ll find the information they want.
People often listen to podcasts in the background in a more relaxed way. They might listen while they’re doing dishes, walking, or driving.
Bullets allow you to adapt your content to readers.
Shauna: Thomas sometimes begins a podcast with a strong metaphor, which makes it easy to find a relevant photo. For example, he often talks about the concept of reaping and sowing, so it’s easy to find an image with seeds in the ground.
I look for metaphors that would paint a picture in someone’s mind, but it’s sometimes hard to find pictures that aren’t silly or cheesy.
Thomas: It’s very tempting to use an image of a typewriter for every blog post, so we have to fight that temptation.
If you can’t find a photo that helps people visualize your metaphors or content, it might be an indication that your blog post isn’t ready yet. If you’re articulating concrete ideas, the photos should be easy to add.
By outsourcing this part of our process, I’m doing myself a bit of a disservice because I don’t see where I’ve neglected to add clear metaphors.
Where do you find stock photos?
Thomas: We get our stock photos primarily from DepositPhotos.com (Affiliate Link). You’ll find cheaper and more expensive options, but DepositPhotos is my current go-to source for stock photos.
Diagrams or Charts
A blog is stronger than a podcast when you’re referencing data or a chart. Sometimes, in a podcast, I have to go out of my way to talk through a statistic or describe what a chart looks like.
In the blog version, we can just insert the chart. Readers can see the graph right there on the blog.
Shauna: Sometimes, I create graphics or charts to insert.
You often refer to the four quadrants of being “time-rich” and “cash-poor.” That’s a really difficult paragraph to read because the terminology is not familiar. A while back, I created a graphic of those four quadrants so it would be easier for readers to scan.
An example of a diagram.
Thomas: Book covers are an obvious choice to use in a blog post about publishing and writing. When I use a lot of books as examples in the audio content, the blog post images take care of themselves. Plus, authors love it when you feature their book cover in your blog post.
If you’re starting a podcast about Amish romance to review a different author or book in each episode, you can add the book covers to your blog post and link them to Amazon so readers can click the image and purchase the book.
Your readers and authors will love that.
Quotes and Pull Quotes
Thomas: Recently, I’ve noticed you using pull quotes. You’ll pull out a single sentence and let it float in its own line as a quote, which really breaks up the paragraphs.
I’m always curious about what you’ll pick as the key quote. So how do you go about picking which quotes to highlight?
Shauna: Usually, I pick short and pithy quotes that jump out to me.
You often say, “You can’t fix a bad book with good marketing.”
Those short, pithy, or memorable sentences make great pull quotes.
Thomas: You can highlight a sentence, click the little pull-quote icon, and WordPress will handle the design of it automatically.
You can also quote longer sentences or direct quotes from another source with the WordPress quote feature. If you’re quoting somebody else, you can set off their words with the quote feature to make it obvious that these are the words of whoever you’re quoting (See quote about Unbroken above).
When do you pull the text from the audio transcription tool into a word processor like Google Docs or Microsoft Word?
Shauna: After I listen to the episode, I export it as a Word doc before I make any changes. I’m familiar with Word, and I know where all the tools are, so that feels faster and more efficient to me.
I keep the audio version open in a window beside my Word document.
If Descript hasn’t given me the right word, and I can’t understand what the speaker is saying, I’ll play it multiple times and sometimes do a Google search to try and figure it out. If I can’t, I have to email Thomas and ask about it.
When do you put the Microsoft Word version into WordPress?
Shauna: I usually make three passes.
- First Pass: Rearrange information and reword sentences as needed.
- Second Pass: Correct typos I overlooked or introduced.
- Third Pass: Run it through Grammarly and accept or reject each suggested change.
I am to the point where I cannot and do not publish anything, whether it’s a social media post or an email of my own or yours, without running it through Grammarly. Grammarly is not perfect, but it is better than my eyeballs. I am terrible at catching my own typos.
Grammarly will catch silly things I miss. However, Grammarly is still AI and still requires human influence. If you have the word peruse or pursue and they’re both spelled right, Grammarly won’t pick it up, but a human will.
After considering each of Grammarly’s suggestions, I copy the text from Grammarly and paste it into WordPress, where I do all the formatting.
A lot of times during that first and second pass, I’ll add headings. I might notice a long chunk of text, and I know Yoast will want a heading, so I will bold the heading text and then add the H2 formatting later in WordPress.
There are some quick keyboard shortcuts in WordPress that let you turn a line into an H2 heading, and it’s quite a bit faster to do it with those shortcut keys.
I’m also adding images, pull quotes, and bullets in WordPress. By that time, I start to get a feel for how the post will appear on someone’s computer screen. I feel like I’m tweaking it until it goes live and sometimes after.
Thomas: Sometimes I make tweaks too.
How does our mindset need to change when going from print to digital?
Thomas:The ability to edit a digital publication is a big worldview shift for some writers. When you’re printing a hundred thousand copies of a book, the manuscript has to be perfect. Trees will be cut down to make your book, so you need to make sure there are no mistakes.
But you can tweak blog posts any time. I’ll update or expand posts we published years ago. If you find a better way of phrasing what you’re saying, why not put that better phrasing on there? A good website is constantly edited and updated.
No one benefits from errors or typos left on a web page.
Shauna: It’s a huge advantage. It also takes a bit of the pressure off.
Thomas: Occasionally, readers will point out inaccuracies or information that need clarification. We can easily make those changes in the blog post, but the audio is frozen. Editing the audio is a hassle.
The blog version can evolve quite a bit. If a post gets a lot of attention over time, it may be edited a lot, but the audio is still frozen.
These are not transcripts. This is a blog post version of the content of the audio, and that’s an important distinction. It’s why our blog is so much more popular than a pure transcript. It’s an adaptation of the audio version.
Shauna: Adaptation is a good word.
When I first started, I struggled to find the balance between using the speaker’s words verbatim and trying to accurately represent their thought while knowing there was a more concise way to word it.
I had to wrestle through that a bit. The fact that it’s not a transcript and it is an adaptation gives me the freedom to make it more readable.
I want to enjoy a piece of reading and not have to struggle through it. Human influence makes it more readable. AI transcription services won’t add puns, inside jokes, or writer humor. Those elements make the writing pleasant to read, and humans can connect with it.
Blogification or Amanuensis?
Thomas: In many ways, what you’re doing with the audio is the act of an amanuensis, which is a word that’s fallen out of use.
In the days of the Roman Empire, Marcus Tullius Tiro, invented shorthand, some of which we still use today.
The books of the Bible were written using this method as well. The apostle Paul would dictate the letter to his amanuensis, who would write his words in shorthand. It was the ancient equivalent of the audio recording.
The amanuensis would write the letter again in regular script and often add his own flourishes. We know this because occasionally Paul would pull the quill out of his hand and say, “See as I write this in my own hand.” In some of Paul’s letters, the amanuensis would send his own greetings.
We get a glimpse into a time when Paul and his amanuensis worked together to craft a letter.
This approach is becoming more popular with authors, except that many authors act as their own amanuensis through dictation software. They speak the first draft while pacing back and forth. Later, they clean up the text.
Many podcasters find that it’s worth the work to have a blog version to help grow their audiences faster.
Shauna: The blog version only increases the shareability, searchability, and visual interest. It adds a lot of value to the content. It also serves as a way to repurpose your work. After you’ve created an informative piece of content, you can offer it as a podcast, blog post, or extra credit in a course.
Thomas: Those blog posts can also be compiled and turned into eBooks and reader magnets.
What encouragement do you have for a podcaster who wants to turn a 30-minute episode into a blog post?
Shauna: Give yourself some grace and plenty of time. I have done the math on this several times, and that first pass takes me about one hour to rearrange, reword, and rewrite ten minutes of audio.
If you want to create a blog post from your 30-minute podcast, allow yourself at least three hours, and probably more, for the first time. You just wade through it one sentence at a time.
Over time, you’ll begin to anticipate your own verbal quirks or habits and be able to work with your text faster. I think it would be hard to edit your own transcript, and I can’t say I am looking forward to editing my own transcript this week.
Thomas: The process may be painful, but it’s worth it.
If you’re starting a podcast, I recommend doing your own podcast editing for the first few episodes. If you have to delete every “um,” you will say “um” less. Over time, you’ll start to identify your filler phrases.
If you never do that, you never really get a chance to improve. These tasks are very outsourceable, so you can easily hire someone later. But if you’re involved in learning how to turn a podcast episode into a blog post, your podcast will only get better.
Thomas: If you want to connect with Shauna and pick her brain, you can find her at AuthorMedia.social. Since she’s listened to all my episodes multiple times, she is often the one with answers to people’s questions there.
Connect with Shauna directly through her website.
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I really appreciate that you turn them into blog posts. I’m one of those people who don’t learn well by listening. I need to read it. So, thank you.
I appreciate your making the podcasts into blog posts as well. I read faster than I can listen, and I comprehend more by reading.