The Benefits of Written Content Over Video and Audio Content
It’s undeniable that people love to watch videos online and listen to audio content, such as podcasts. Recognizing the popularity of YouTube, it’s logical that many businesses and content creators want to focus nearly all their efforts on creating video and audio content.
However, there are still benefits to creating written content over other types of media. Here are several benefits of written content over video and audio content.
You Don’t Need to Dress Up
When you record a video, your concerns include how you and your surroundings look. Many people choose to dress up, put on makeup, and strive to look their best. This might include setting up a special area to film the video, as well as finding the best lighting options. All this prep work adds up to a loss of time and money that could be spent in more efficient ways to grow your business.
None of this is necessary for written content, where no one sees—or cares—what you look like. While it’s advisable to find attractive ways to present written content, there are fewer requirements for making written content look good. Much of its appeal comes from the formatting choices that you make including fonts, spacing, and aligning the content. There’s nothing else needed to make it look appropriate.
Written Content is Searchable
Unlike written content, you can’t search for keywords used within an audio or video file. For instance, if you want to know how to clean a cast iron tortilla press, you’ll most likely find an article with that specific information, not a video.
With videos, it isn’t possible to know if what you’re searching for is part of the video unless there’s a caption that lists what’s in the video or it happens to be in the title. Some users might try to fast forward through the content in an effort to see if it has what they need. However, many people will just find a shorter video about the question they want a specific answer for instead of trying to find the answer in a longer video. This means they might skip over your video completely, even if it does address their question.
With audio files, there are many of the same challenges as searching for specific topics. Audio files aren’t searchable. Some listeners won’t have the patience or time to listen to the whole thing.
Less Editing Time
Editing audio and video files require a lot of time and expertise. In some cases, you might need specialized software to edit media files. Some might argue that it takes time to edit or proofread written work. While this is true, reading through written content takes far less time than editing other types of media files.
If you record a podcast or other types of audio files, you need a way to host it online and make it accessible to listeners. Many websites charge a fee to host and distribute podcasts. With written content, you can put the content on your own website. If you don’t have a website, there are other ways to publish content online that doesn’t cost anything. This includes writing a guest post on another website you don’t own, using a free to publish popular website such as Medium, or on social media.
Generally, it’s more affordable to get written content distributed to your audience than video and audio files (perhaps with the exception of YouTube). This applies to almost every type of document. Long form publications can be distributed through CreateSpace and Amazon, with very little upfront costs. Blog posts can be published for free.
Many people engage with content through their mobile devices. This might mean that they only skim the article, reading bolded parts and subheads over reading the whole thing. This is much more difficult to do with a video or an audio file.
Think about how you use the internet and this concept becomes more obvious. If you want to know how much flour you need to make a roux, you’d skim through the top internet results to find an article with a recipe you could read. There are definitely many videos and podcasts you could choose to find out this same information. Yet, it’s much more efficient to browse an article over watching an entire video.
Knowing this, it’s best to make blog posts, whitepapers, and website pages as skimmable as possible. Go ahead and write a high quality and comprehensive article. Just make sure to take advantage of writing’s skimmability by including headlines and short sentences.
Written content is also reusable. You can record a video or an audio version of a written document. You can also transform a whitepaper into a series of blog posts, email autoresponders, and upload social media posts with little effort. The time and energy you spend writing one piece of content can advance toward different versions.
Video content and audio files can typically just be used for their intended purpose. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a simple tweak to reuse it in a different way. You might be able to segment a longer video into shorter ones, but the content itself stays the same.
No Need for Special Equipment
Creating professional quality videos requires special equipment. Some people try to create videos for their business from their smartphones. In most cases, this is very obvious. Using a better video camera, microphone, lighting, and light filters equal a better video. It isn’t possible to create a professional quality video without any special equipment. Editing video content often requires expensive and high-powered computers since video processing is a labor-intensive process for computers.
Creating written content does not require special equipment. The tools for writing are basic and can be found online or on the devices you already own. In fact, most of the devices you can buy today come with a free text editing program already installed. That means it won’t cost you anything extra for the tools to edit written content unless you choose an upgraded program with proprietary licensing.
Video and Audio Still Need a Written Script
It’s a myth that if you make a video recording you won’t have to write anything. Unless you plan to create a video about your stream of consciousness, you need a written script to ensure that you have a cohesive video you’ll want to share. Developing a great script takes time and practice, so it isn’t something you’ll want to put together haphazardly.
In some ways, it’s more difficult to write a script over writing a blog post or brochure. You’ll need to make decisions of what to include, how many people need to be involved, and what needs to be researched. You can probably write a blog post on your own. You probably won’t be able to record a video on your own.
Audio and Video Content Requires More Words
It actually requires more words to create a video or a podcast than a comparable blog post. The average blog post is around 500 words. There are 150 words in a minute of voiceover. This means that a five-minute video requires 750 words of voiceover. Long videos require even longer scripts. If your whole purpose in recording a video or an audio file is to avoid having to write a long post, this may not turn out to be the case.
More Practice to Speak Professionally
No matter how you plan to record yourself speaking, professional quality narration, voiceovers, podcasts, and videos take practice. You can’t expect to have professional level speaking skills without developing them. Compared to writing, it takes much more time to learn to be a better public speaker than to write. You can join a Toastmasters group, pay for private coaching, or sign up for a public speaking class at a local community college. After all, you don’t want a video of “um” and “uh” phrases that can’t be edited out.
Some people never become comfortable enough speaking professionally, in videos or to the public. This is okay. However, you can’t fake it the same way you can with writing. If you find that you’re a terrible writer, you can always pay a ghostwriter to create content for you. Then you’ll get the benefit of the content even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.
While there are surely benefits for each type of media, the most well thought out marketing plans utilize all types of content. There are some people who simply prefer one medium over another. Creating a range of quality content can make it easier to connect with your audience no matter their preference.
Melanie G. is a freelance writer and editor living in Tampa, Florida. She’s freelanced full-time since she left her writing job at Nielsen in 2012.