Some of you have noticed quite quickly that on JZS next to some of the articles the possibility to listen to them has appeared. I myself am surprised at how quickly emails have appeared in my mailbox saying: I want one too! 🙂 I'm also surprised at how quickly emails have appeared in my mailbox saying: I want one too!
Table of contents
I have been thinking about implementing this functionality for quite some time, mainly with a view to visually impaired people, but also all those who simply prefer to listen rather than read.
I originally envisaged that I would produce some articles as podcasts, recording the content. The problem, however, is that content made available in this way would become obsolete quite quickly. I update older articles from time to time, and that would mean having to record it again each time. This is the main reason why I've been procrastinating.
Why publish audio versions of articles?
You already know my motivation. I mainly want visually impaired people to be able to freely use the published content, or at least some of it. But on-page multimedia, such as videos or audio files to listen to, are also factors that have a positive impact on SEO.
If you've taken my courses, you've no doubt noticed that when we talk about marketing I strongly encourage video creation. However, often the fear of taking this step is so strong that you just let it go.
And here is good news for those of you who are afraid of the camera. You can record audio files and publish them as podcasts. What's more. You can use tools that convert written text to audio files, so you don't even need a microphone.
How to change text to audio file
As you may have guessed, there are quite a few tools. Today, however, I'd like to show you one that immediately won my liking, so much so that I decided to implement it on How to Make a Website.
This is a very interesting solution especially for non-technical people who run their sites on WordPress and would like to make their published pages or articles available also as audio files.
How does Play.ht work?
It must be said that the management panel is very intuitive. Immediately after logging in you will see a list of audio files you have previously created. You can edit them, generate code to embed anywhere on the page, download the audio file or delete it.
To create a new audio file, just click on the "Create New Audio" button to go to the next step, which is to choose the method of its creation.
As you can see, there are three options available.
The first is creating a sound file by pasting the content into a text editor. The second option allows create audio file from URL that we enter. The system will download the content and you can continue to make adjustments to it. We'll take a look at the editor in a moment. Finally, the third option is possibility to upload your own audio fileThis option will not convert the text into sound, as the audio is already ready, but it will allow you to embed the audio sent in this way on the website using the Play.ht player. Of course, this option will not convert the text to sound, because the sound is already ready, but it will allow you to embed such uploaded audio on the page using the Play.ht player and track its statistics.
How does the editor work?
If this tool did everything completely automatically, it probably wouldn't be as interesting. Why? Simply because the quality would be unsatisfactory. An automaton is an automaton. Despite increasingly advanced technology, it makes mistakes that need to be corrected. However, we need to be able to do this, and Play.ht has it.
The editor looks rather inconspicuous, but has pretty much everything you need to make quick corrections. I've highlighted three places in the screenshot above.
The first one allows you to choose the language, and it is worth mentioning that their number is quite large. Of course, there is also Polish language and what will certainly make you happy, there are a lot of voices to choose from. A total of 14 at the moment.
The second option is choice of narrative style. Unfortunately, when it comes to Polish voices, none of them allow this option. It is a pity. I hope, however, that in some time this will change. However, if you publish in English, you will be able to use these options.
Finally, we have the editor itself, i.e. our text, on which you can operate. You can freely make changes, work with punctuation, which affects, for example, how a given passage will be accented. Finally, you can add your own spacing between any words or larger chunks of text.
You can listen to each block. Make corrections and listen to it again. This goes on and on until you are satisfied with the final result.
However, not only can you model the way you "read text" using the tools listed above. You can also correct the tone of any passages! Simply select them to launch additional correction tools. However, their number will depend on the language and "reader" you have selected.
Using the editor you can correct the text in such a way that the audio version will sound quite natural. Of course, you won't get the effect of a living voiceover, but it's not bad anyway. In the case of Polish, the quality you can get is acceptable, while in the case of English it's really great.
Integration with WordPress
Play.ht makes its plugin available in the WordPress repositorywhich simplifies the entire process of converting text to sound and placing it on an article page to a total minimum.
You do not need to go to Play.ht to convert and place an audio file on an article page. Simply run the text to audio conversion option in the publication list or in the article editing mode.
This will automatically launch the editor, which will download the content of the publication. All you need to do now is make corrections. When you have everything ready, you start the conversion process and after a while your article will be enhanced with an audio version.
Of course, you have control over how the player will be presented on your website. All settings related to this can be found in the plugin configuration.
It is worth mentioning that the solution in question is not only a converter. It also offers the possibility of hosting audio files, analytics, i.e. statistics related to playback, and even the possibility of building a database of subscribers to our audio publications. Additionally, Play.ht enables publishing the audio library on iTunes or Spotify.
How much does Play.ht cost?
The cost depends on the amount of converted content per month or per year. Depending on the billing period selected. With monthly payments, the smallest plan allows you to convert up to 5 articles. The largest plan allows you to convert up to 50 articles.
As I write this article, there is also an offer available on AppSumo. You can get access to the lifetime tool, allowing you to convert 5 articles per month for a one-time price of $49.
This type of content sharing or enrichment is most often used by bloggers. Play.ht, apart from a plug-in for WordPress, also has a plug-in for the Chrome browser dedicated to the Medium platform. But should only bloggers be interested in this tool? In my opinion not, because it is also an excellent way to enrich the presentation of services or products on typical business websites.
By placing audio versions of e.g. offer descriptions, we automatically open ourselves up to a wider audience. It's not just about visually impaired people who naturally prefer to listen rather than read, but also an increasing number of Internet users are more willing to use this form of content consumption. In a way, this is due to our busy lives and the need to do many things at once.
In addition, there is the SEO aspect mentioned earlier. Google appreciates sites that care about their readers and try to make it as easy as possible for them to access interesting content. It is worth noticing, because currently not many business websites use this mechanism.
Is it worth it?
It all depends on your needs and the site development strategy you have adopted. If you want to make it easier for some of your readers to access your content, then certainly Play.ht is worthy of interest, especially as integration with WordPress is really simple.
One may, of course, wonder whether Play.ht or something else. For example AWS for WordPress. It also allows you to convert content to audio files, and it's cheaper too.
However, Play.ht offers far more tools, and we have systems such as Google, Amazon and IBM integrated in one place. This gives you a much wider choice of voices than if you only used one provider of this type of service.
Play.ht can be tested free of charge for 14 days. So you can check whether this variant will suit your needs.
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