How to turn your podcast episodes into blog posts
Do you produce a regular podcast show? Do you have lots of podcast episodes that you’d like to also share in written format? Turning podcast episodes into blog posts (or re-purposing audio content into blog posts) is one of the main services I offer to podcasters. And if you’d like to find out more about why re-purposing your podcast episodes may work really well for your business, head over to my blog post: 7 Reasons Why you Should Re-purpose your Podcast Episodes into Blog Posts.
And if you’d like to find out more about what’s involved in the process, let’s break it all down. Here are the exact steps I follow to turn podcast episodes into fully-optimised (or search-friendly) blog posts.
Always start with a transcription
First things first, I’m not suggesting for a minute that you listen to your own podcast episode and type it up word by word. Always start with a transcription, which is basically a written version of your podcast episode. And not one you have to produce yourself either! You can easily use an automatic service to convert audio (or video) files into text, like rev.com, temi.com, or otter.ai.
While a transcription is a great resource, it’s never perfect. You definitely can’t take a transcription as it is and pass that as a blog post. And here’s why:
- A transcription is too long. If you take a solo episode, for example, of about 20-30 minutes, you’re potentially looking at a transcription of around 7,000-8,000 words. And that’s a lot of copy!
- It’s not user-friendly. At all. It’s essentially a big chunk of text with no sub-headings, no paragraphs, and no visual elements that guide your readers through the text to help them pick up the most important points. Would you want to read something like that? I bet you wouldn’t.
- A transcription is not ‘polished’. You’ll probably find it’s full of spelling mistakes, with punctuation all over the place, and maybe even full of jibberish. Depending on how well the software is able to pick up your accent and depending on the quality of the audio recording and background noise, the copy may be full of mis-spelt words that make no sense whatsoever. In my experience, first names and surnames, numbers, and dates are never picked up very well. And, sadly, neither is my own accent!
When going through these steps, I’m specifically referring to solo episodes here, where you may have picked a topic and pre-planned your talk with a view to cover a few key points. Guest interviews can be trickier to turn into blog posts, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t follow the same steps to also re-purpose an interview podcast episode into a blog post.
Step 1 – Cleaning up the transcription
So during the first pass at the copy, your aim is to edit the transcription down to a piece of content that works in the written form. This is because when you work from content that was originally intended and produced to be spoken (rather than written), the copy will have certain characteristics that you want to eliminate.
For example, in the transcription you’ll find a lot of:
- Words that I call ’empty words’. Things like ‘well’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’, etc.
- False starts. By ‘false start’ I mean a sentence that starts in a certain way but that you then change mid-way as you come up with a better or more effective way of getting your point across. So as you keep talking and recording your episode, you essentially drop the original sentence and turn it into something else. At that point the original sentence (or ‘false start’) becomes redundant. And that’s something you can easily remove from your copy when you first go through it.
During the first pass at the copy, you’re essentially looking to eliminate all those words, phrases, or even entire sentences that don’t need to be there and wouldn’t work in a written piece of work.
Cutting the copy down
You’ll find that after going through the transcription once, you’ll have cut it down by quite a lot. By the end of the first pass, I’m normally looking at a piece of content that’s around 2,500-3,000 words and know I’ll have to cut down some more.
This is because the spoken language is full of repetition. So, for example, if you’re trying to explain a concept in a podcast episode, you’ll make your point, back it up with examples or a story, and then you’ll repeat that point again to wrap up and make sure the message hit home. That’s just the nature of how we speak, and it’s important that we speak in that way because repetition is key to our learning.
But when you’re creating content that’s meant to be read, rather than listened to, repetition looks and feels redundant. It’s just not necessary. You can go back and re-read a point as many times as you like! Repetition makes the text heavier, boring, and less engaging for the reader, so you want to get rid of it as much as you can.
Giving the copy some initial structure
During my first pass at the transcription, wherever I can, I also try and create full sentences, even though at this stage they may still be quite long. If it’s easy to do, I’ll also break the text down into logical chunks. This gives me an initial idea of the sections and paragraphs I may be looking at. If the topic or the split is obvious, I may insert some headings to signpost what a chunk of text is all about. Some of them will turn into sub-headings later on. Others will just be eliminated during the second pass.
Step 2 – Creating a draft blog post
Once you’ve completed the first pass at the transcription, you’ll want to create a nice blog post draft. You’ll want to give your copy some structure, so that after you’ve gone through the whole text a second time, you have something that looks like a blog post. This means you’ll have text with sub-headings (Heading 2’s), further sub-headings under those (Heading 3’s), and some nicely structured paragraphs and sentences.
In order to do that, when you go through the text a second time, you need to start adding some structure. If you haven’t done this during the first pass, this is the point where you start to focus on the logical chunks that you can break the copy down into so you can create some sub-headings and some paragraphs.
So, for example, if the podcast episode was an How-to episode covering 5 points to do something, each one of those points becomes a sub-heading. And any text that belongs to that topic will, for now, sit under that sub-heading. You’re looking at your copy logically and structurally.
Normally, as I do this, I also start to bold any sentences that I think are going to be key. And if I see anything that can be broken down into bullet points, I’ll create little lists. So this could be a series of questions or a set of steps, for example. This is important because it breaks the text up visually. It makes it more user-friendly and turns it into a more inviting and enticing blog post.
By the end of this pass, you’ll be looking at a rough version of a draft blog post with a clear backbone and structure. If you were to write a post from scratch that’s probably what it would look like. And in terms of word count, you’ll have probably cut the copy down by another 1,000-1,500 words.
Step 3 – Editing your blog post
With every blog post I work on, I always do at least 3 rounds of editing:
- Structural edit.
- Line edit.
If you want to find out more about each type of edit, head over to my blog post How to edit your own writing.
In a nutshell, during the structural edit, I will look at things like:
- Does the text make logical sense? Do I need to move any chunks of text from one sub-heading to another one?
- Does the blog post need more sub-headings (Heading 2’s or Heading 3’s)? Can I break down the paragraphs even more?
- Can I remove some more text?
- Is it possible to make the sentences shorter to improve the readability of the blog post?
It’s not unusual for me to remove another good 500 to 1,000 words at this stage. So after the structural edit, I’m often left with something like 1,500-1,700 words. And that’s close to the word count of the final piece.
During this pass at the text, you’ll look at things like:
- Grammar and form.
- Choice of vocabulary and repetition.
By now, your blog post should be in fairly good shape. So this round shouldn’t take too long. And in fact, if you’ve done these checks during the structural edit, you may want to skip it altogether (although an extra check won’t hurt!).
Proofreading and polishing
This is the last round of checking your blog post, where you’ll probably be making tiny cosmetic changes and check that the blog post reads well. If you’re familiar with the Yoast SEO plugin, this is the phase where you want to look at readability and SEO to make sure you get green lights. And although I know getting green lights on the Yoast SEO plugin isn’t the end all be all, I do like to make sure my readability is the best it can be!
If you want to know more about optimising your content using the Yoast SEO plugin, this is the blog post for you. The main point to bear in mind here is that when you start from a transcription, sentences tend to be quite long. So you’ll need to shorten them to make sure the text is easy to read on a screen.
As this is the final check before you hit the publish button, it’s also important that you spend some time making sure the blog post is visually appealing and easy to scan.
So you’ll want to have:
- Plenty of white space on the page.
- Bold text that highlights the most important points.
- Bullet points where necessary.
- Images (plan for at least one image for every 500 words).
- A Call To Action (CTA) at the end.
How long does it take to turn a podcast episode into a blog post?
How long it takes you to re-purpose a podcast episode into a blog post depends on how long the episode is, how long you’re prepared to work on your blog post to make it the best it can be, and how experienced you are at doing this.
I find that the first pass takes the longest to complete. The original transcription is often very long, and simply because of the amount of text you’ve got to go through, you’re looking at spending at least 1.5-2 hours turning that into something you can work with.
You’re then looking at at least another hour for the second pass and probably another hour for editing rounds. All in all, re-purposing an episode of about 20-30 can take you anything between 3 and 5 hours. A lot of it also depends on how much you cut and how many edits you make in the first round. I definitely find that the more improvements I can make during the first pass, the quicker it’ll be later, so I don’t mind spending an initial chunk of time making sure the copy is as good as it can be.
So here they are – the exact steps I follow to re-purpose a podcast episode into a standalone blog post.