For most “real” bloggers, magazines, or television productions, there is a need to transcribe all “audio” content and format it into a readable document. Just about every program you see on television is transcribed into words by either an in-house employee or outside contractor. To transcribe is to literally type out every word, phrase, and sometimes sounds, thus transferring that digital audio into a written format.

The WallStreet Journal recently ran a study comparison on various companies that offer transcribe services. Their study showed the difference between the high priced and the lower priced services. Most companies charged a range of $55 to $277.50 for their services. People think with the highest cost comes the best quality. WRONG! In WSJ’s studies, they found that that was not always the case. For instance, with, WSJ found that greater translation errors occured. The company got things like “tomatoe salad” confused with “camilla salad”. Also, there were several phrases and words that were completely dropped. Transcribing is definitely time consuming.

If you have the means to hire someone to do it, then hire them! But first do your research and find out what this person’s track history is or contact one of these companies and try your luck.

Here’s WSJ’s list and comparison chart of transcribe companies:

$249.75 to complete the project within six days; our order was done in four.
The most accurate and detailed of all our services. Many difficult-sounding proper names were correctly noted — and the transcript best captured the ebb and flow of the conversation. That said, mistakes still occurred.
If you’re not in a particular rush, company offers a “budget” service that runs half of what we paid. But the timeframe for completion can be “a month or more.”

GMR Transcription
$236.50 to complete the project within five days; our order was done in three.
Not as accurate as CastingWords, but still got many obscure names right. Our big nit: At one point, the transcription failed to identify the proper speaker.
As with other companies, GMR charges a premium for “difficult” audio (i.e. anything that involves background noise, low-speaking voices, foreign accents, etc.).

iSource Solutions
$129.50 to complete the project within three days; our order arrived a few hours late.
So-so. Service had lots of problems with culinary terms and ingredients, but won points for completeness, as it attempted to notate even the slightest interjections.
Need a digital recorder? The company provides one free to medical providers if they’re committing to $1,000 in transcribing services.

Oasis Office Support
$277.50 to complete the project within three days; our order was done in three.
Given this was the most expensive service we tapped, we were hoping for better. There were many gaps in the transcript (albeit ones noted with time markings) and company took occasional liberties in editing out portions it deemed unimportant.
Company’s Web site was not as sophisticated as some others, since it didn’t allow you to upload audio files or track the progress of your job directly on it.

$55.50 to complete project within two days; our order was done in two.
OK for the money. Lots of tricky names and technical culinary terms were clearly a stretch for the low-cost Elance provider we hired. But we knew that was a likely risk when we entered the agreement.
The beauty of Elance is that you can find your freelance provider in different ways — by posting a job and considering offers or by scrolling through hundreds of listings in search of the right contractor.