The future of internet content and social media sharing lies in video. However, many social media platforms mute their videos by default. So to listen to activate the video you will either have to turn up the volume or use subtitles.
To be sure, it’s better to have both. Lots of people are scrolling through their social media feeds at high speed. So you will only see how you express your words quietly.
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Which is pretty useless. But what if there are subtitles? Then maybe they are reading something you think is interesting. Interesting enough to stop scrolling and turn on the volume. Unless they are in a public space, subtitles are essential.
Lots of people are promoting their audio transcription services in places like Fiverr and Upwork. But in all honesty, even the cheapest deals can make you hesitate if you are on a tight (or no budget) budget.
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I’ve written about creating my own subtitles with free software before , but it’s quite time consuming. That’s why you can get them done quickly and for free with YouTube.
Wait … YouTube?
Not many people know this, but every single video that is uploaded to YouTube is automatically transcribed by the service. To prove it, go to any YouTube video and click the Subtitle / Subtitle option at the bottom right of the video.
You will then see the subtitles when the person starts speaking.
You can immediately see that the transcription is not perfect. It’s made by computers, not real people. So if you have a strange accent like mine, words get garbled. If it doesn’t hear a word, it’s guesswork (sometimes weird). In addition, punctuation is often not used .
That doesn’t mean the transcription is useless. I would say there is an 80-90% accuracy. For a free service, this is great and it doesn’t take long to fix the errors.
Many people choose not to correct the subtitle errors, either because they don’t know the subtitles are there or out of sheer laziness. This is a huge mistake as subtitles can really add to how many people are engaging with your videos.
You can edit the errors in the subtitles and re-upload them to your YouTube videos. Or use this file wherever you want. Think of it as a
free gift from Google.
Upload your video to YouTube
The first step, of course, is to publish your video on YouTube. I would recommend it to upload private or unlisted until you sorted out subtitles.
Private or unlisted videos are good too if you don’t plan on keeping the video on YouTube and only uploading it there to take advantage of the subtitle service.
In YouTube, click the camera icon in the top right corner and choose Upload Video .
On the next page, before you drop the video on the page, choose your preferred setting. Private and not listed are pretty much the same thing to me, but I tend to make up my mind .
Now put your video in the upload window and let it upload
to YouTube. To make it faster, choose a low resolution and as small a
size video as possible. But don’t skimp on audio quality. The worse the quality,
the worse the transcription will be.
Access to your subtitles
If your video shows up on YouTube, leave it there for a while. I’ve found that the audio transcription can sometimes take a while. Obviously, videos are queued for transcription in the order they are uploaded.
Eventually, however, log onto YouTube Studio and go down to Transcriptions .
YouTube Studio is still in beta. Therefore, selecting this option will take you out of YouTube Studio and into the old format of the page.
Now click on the language in which you want to access your subtitles.
Technically, you can edit the subtitles on YouTube, but I
wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, I would suggest that you download the text file and
edit it on your computer.
So click on Actions menu and download your preferred subtitle format. “ SRT format is usually a good choice.
Edit your subtitles
Downloading the subtitle file adds a file to your computer that you can open with any text editor (e.g. Windows Notepad or MacOS TextEdit). Then start looking for the mistakes.
DO NOT change the timestamps unless you absolutely have to make large changes to the text that will cause the video to be out of sync. In most cases, changing small words and adding punctuation is an easy case in some cases.
Save the edited subtitle file and return to the screen where you selected the subtitle file to download. You will see a blue button Upload new subtitle files. Choose your preferred language or look for another one if your chosen one isn’t already there.
Of course, you only need to re-upload subtitles if you plan to keep the video there.
Once you’ve selected a language, click Upload a file and upload the newly edited subtitle file