If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I’m an advocate for captioning videos and adding transcripts to podcasts.
Whenever I hear about someone’s new video or podcast, I share how captions and transcripts can:
- Improve search engine optimization
- Expand your audience
- Make videos/podcasts available to everyone
Some people thank me for the information, replying that captions/transcripts are too expensive. Others ignore me.
And others, like web developer Dave Foy, hear what I’m saying and take action.
Dave and I met on Twitter a couple of months ago, when I attended one of his web design webinars.
After his webinar, we chatted about his work. And yes, I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of adding captions to videos.
A few weeks later, Dave shared his success with captioning videos with me. I was delighted!
It’s one of the few times someone I’ve chatted with about captioning told me how successful it was.
I asked Dave, would you share your experience?
Once other people hear about your experience, they would have a better understanding of the process. And it might dispel some misunderstandings about captions and transcripts.
Dave kindly accepted my invitation. It was a pleasure to chat with him about videos, captioning, and the process he used to make his videos accessible to everyone.
Here’s our conversation.
Dave’s Background and Accessibility Experience
Deborah: Thank you Dave, for answering my questions about your video captioning experience. I’m curious, what made you decide to add captions to videos?
Dave: I’ve always been very interested in accessibility, since way back in the early 2000’s when I started building websites professionally.
That was at the time of the birth of the web standards movement, and as you know, enhanced accessibility was seen as a big added benefit of building websites in this new way. Well, at least compared to what we had before in the dark ages.
So in the next 15 years or so, I’d been involved in many website accessibility audits, reviews and improvements, as well as having accessibility as one of the core considerations of each website project.
It’s only this year that I left client project work behind and started Design Build Web. I’ve only been making tutorial videos since around March 2017.
I tell you… making decent tutorial videos is not as easy as it looks!
The first two felt like trying to give birth to a baby. I don’t ever recall quite a brain-melting learning curve as I had figuring it all out.
By the time I finally managed to finish my first fourteen-minute training video—which took me over a week—the only mental capacity I had left was to just get the darned thing published and move on!
So, to my shame…captions barely crossed my mind.
I knew I had to do them, and fully understood how important they are… but at that point, they were lodged in the ‘too hard’ category in my poor fried brain.
In one sense, I knew captions were an absolute necessity, though I had no practical idea of how to do it.
But also, it was you Deborah that kind of shamed me (in a good way), when you said you’d love to share my videos, but couldn’t share them without captions.
That was what really kicked my butt to get it sorted.
Realizing that video captioning is not only great for accessibility, but also naturally increases the chance of greater reach to a bigger audience.
Do-It-Yourself vs. Third-Party Captioning
Deborah: Wow, you have a long history with web standards and accessibility, Dave. I didn’t know you were involved with accessibility audits and reviews.
Had you considered adding captions to your videos in the past? Was there anything that kept you from adding captions?
Dave: Four things kept me from captioning my videos:
- One was a lack of time.I presumed it was time-consuming and difficult and it was time I didn’t feel I had to spare.
I’d already spent a week making a 14 minute video! Thankfully these days my videos take me a fraction of that time to make.
- Two was not understanding the mechanics of how to actually caption videos.
- Three was believing that to hire someone in to caption them for me would be expensive.At the start of any new business every penny counts, and it was no different for me.
- And four was presuming that only I could do my own captioning, due to the web development technical terms I use in my videos.I imagined I’d get outsourced captions back and have to rewrite them myself anyway.
Deborah: I know you added captions on your own for one of your videos.
Dave: I actually captioned the first five of my own videos myself! Although it was almost entirely my partner, Vicky, who took over doing them all for me.
We quickly figured out that YouTube’s captioning tools do make the job a bit easier than I first imagined.
Type the transcript while listening to the video, then have YouTube automatically synchronize the text to the audio.
But wow…it was pretty time-consuming.
Neither of us are especially fast typists. It was taking a long time, and it got very frustrating.
It’s not even that it was hard as such. But Vicky will happily tell you that she became tired pretty quickly listening to me ramble on and on about a subject that bores her to tears!
Between us, we got them done. And I was 100% happy with the quality because we’d done them ourselves. But it wasn’t an ideal experience.
Deborah: Why did you seek a third-party service for video captioning?
Dave: Mainly because doing captioning the videos ourselves quickly started to feel like an inefficient use of our time.
Especially considering the quantity of videos I’ll be producing in future. Not just one-off free YouTube tutorials, but also full paid courses and hour-long live webinars.
I remember it was you, Deborah, who mentioned the possibility of using a third-party service.
In fact, I recall you being surprised I’d done them myself. I took a lot of confidence from you, with your experience and expertise in this area, that using a third-party service could be a valid solution after all.
How Rev Made the Captioning Process Easy
Deborah: Glad to hear my recommendation gave you confidence! I’ve worked with third-party captioning services since 2009.
I’ve been impressed with how they’ve improved their process, speed, and accuracy over the years. What made you choose Rev for captioning?
Dave: Almost all because you recommended them to me as an option.
I checked out their site. The service and price looked great!
$1 per minute of video?! I can’t lie, I was a little skeptical it would be good enough.
But your recommendation meant a great deal. And I also I did vaguely remember Pat Flynn mentioning he uses Rev a while ago on his Smart Passive Income podcast.
If it’s good enough for Pat and good enough for you, it was worth checking out.
Deborah: Tell me, what was the process for getting captions from Rev? Can you describe the steps?
Dave: It was an unbelievably easy process.
- Signed up for a Rev account-super simple. That’s of course a one-time task.
- Chose the YouTube captioning option.
- Gave permission to connect to my YouTube account. No need to hand over my account login details or anything. Again, a one-time task.
- A list of thumbnails and titles of my YouTube videos were pulled in automatically. I selected the ones I wanted captioning.
- Paid for the captions.
The entire ordering process each time takes about half a minute. Seriously.
Deborah: That does sound like a straightforward process, Dave. What did you receive back from the Rev?
Dave: I received the transcripts back as .srt text files. That’s the format Rev recommends for YouTube, but they offer a whole range of possible options.
And they also caption the videos on YouTube for you too.
I think I presumed I’d have to then add the transcripts to my videos manually. But no, they handle it all for you. It’s all hands-off.
So I have the transcript files as back-up if I ever need them. And my videos have proper captions, without me having to do anything.
I must mention how fast I get the transcripts and captioning back from Rev.
As an example: for my first order, I ordered four videos’ worth, totaling 20 minutes of play time.
I ordered them all at 14:18. The first one was back by 14:37, less than 20 minutes later.
The final one was back by 15:09.
Now it’s not always that fast. I think the longest I’ve had to wait is about 90 minutes.
But still… I think it’s an incredible service. And the quality of the captioning is pretty superb.
Deborah: I love that you get captions and transcripts. And that you have no extra work you have to do to add the captions to the videos.
That quick turnaround is amazing. What steps did you have to take once you received the captioned video?
Dave: All I did was go into the caption editing area for each video, in my YouTube control panel; chose to edit the captions; and then quickly whizzed through them to check for any errors or amendments needed.
I don’t expect someone who’s not familiar with the technologies I’m talking about to get it all 100% right.
Honestly, I was amazed at how few changes I had to make.
Typically there are maybe one or two small errors, usually due to the captioner mis-hearing a word – and I’m happy to accept that’s probably due to my pronunciation!
But sometimes not even that. Some videos require no amendments to captions whatsoever.
I think this is amazing, especially considering the technical terminology and language in my videos.
Captioned Videos and Engagement
Deborah: I agree, amazing! Did you notice any difference in views/engagement with captioned video vs. uncaptioned video?
Dave: It’s hard to say for sure, because when I released my first few uncaptioned videos I’d also only just launched my new business.
Now I get much more traffic and engagement, partly because I’ve gradually built up more of an audience.
But I don’t doubt that captioning helps with that. I heard that captioned videos enjoy greater visibility in YouTube and search engines and it’s a knock-on benefit I’m happy to enjoy.
No Excuse to Not Caption Videos
Deborah: Dave, overall, was it a good experience captioning your videos with Rev? Will you caption more videos?
Yes, I’ll be captioning every single video I make, without a doubt.
But I won’t be going back to captioning my own videos again, that’s for sure! My partner, Vicky, is delighted.
Why would I do it myself?
Rev makes it so easy. It takes moments to order. It costs peanuts.
And the process is frictionless. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
If you publish videos online, you have no excuse not to have them captioned. It’s a total no-brainer.
Thanks again Deborah for the recommendation!
Deborah: My pleasure, Dave. I’m thrilled to hear about your captioning success!
I hope others are inspired by your experience and consider adding captions and transcripts to their videos and podcasts.
Appreciate you spending the time with me answering my questions.
About Dave Foy
Dave runs Design Build Web, where he teaches non-coder graphic designers how to build and launch beautiful, mobile-friendly, fully featured WordPress websites, quickly and easily.
Drag-and-drop, with total custom design control. He runs regular live training webinars and produces tutorial videos and courses, all aimed at code-phobic designers.
Dave is a qualified teacher who’s been a web developer for more than fourteen years. He lives in Hull, United Kingdom with his partner, two children, and one freakishly furry cat.
You can check out his videos on YouTube.