What Content Is Best – Audio, Video Or Text?

During our most recent live group coaching call with members of the programs I teach, I was asked what type of content is best.

The question in particular pertained to membership sites, and I was asked whether video, audio or written content was the best for keeping members in a program.

This is an interesting question. After three years of running three online courses, each with different types of content, not to mention blogging for five years using text, video and audio, I’m in a good position to at least have a perspective on the issue based on my experience.

So what exactly is best? Text, audio or written content, or is that even the right question to ask?

The Origin Of Web Content

When I began blogging video wasn’t something you could easily produce and distribute online. There was no screen recording software or YouTube to help you host and share your visual creations. Webcams were just becoming popular, but the quality was quite sketchy.

Podcasting was catching on when I started my blog, however this was pre-iTunes, when podcasting was simply figuring out a way to record an MP3, sticking it up on a server somewhere and giving people a link to download the file. That’s not really much different from today if you think about it, although people now are used to listening to audio from the Internet, hence there are more tools to help you create and share audio and much more content available to listen to.

I started my blog by writing articles. I still consider writing my best craft, and certainly the majority of my blog content is written text. I enjoyed experimenting with new technology, which is why I began blogging in the first place, and shortly after started a regular podcast.

I experimented with Podcasting within six months of starting this blog, using my iRiver MP3 player to record some spoken words, which I then uploaded as my very first podcast. You can listen to it recorded back in May 2005 here – Audio: Location, location, location…Offline marketing for online business. I called it an “audio” blog post because I wasn’t sure people knew what the term “podcast” meant yet.

Podcasting turned out to be an especially effective tool the day I started recording interviews with other people. Although I can create content solo talking off the top of my head, having a two way discussion with someone proved a lot more popular. Interviews also led to forming relationships with important people, people who owned blogs with traffic and influence, which really helped my blog gain new audience when they linked through to the interview I conducted with them.

Video came along much later and in my case instead of jumping on the bandwagon early as I did with blogging and podcasting, I decided to sit back and wait for the technology to become easier to use. In particular I saw video as a good tool to help teach inside my courses, so most of the video I’ve published isn’t on my blog or in YouTube, it’s inside my paid-for training programs, in particular Membership Site Mastermind, which is made up of six core modules all in video.

Video also became a tool I used for namesqueeze pages, sales pages and although I don’t personally focus on it, some of my best students and colleagues have made use of videos as their preferred content choice on their blogs.

Video is clearly a powerful medium and it’s definitely gaining in popularity on the current version of the Web, but is it the “best” choice for content today?

What Really Is Good Content?

The answer to this question isn’t actually any of the options – video, audio or text – they all make up part of the answer.

What we really want to know is what goes into good content, and if we only talk about the format the content takes, then we’re missing some of the most important aspects.

What I love about questions like this is how “fuzzy” the answer is because we are dealing with something intangible and undefinable. I can’t tell you what good content is because there is no general set of rules that defines it. What is good to someone is rubbish to someone else. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Our goal is to ensure that enough people have the perspective that sees our content of value, so we can meet our objectives.

What we can do is use guidelines and accepted practices to come to broad and at times general consensus on what usually results in producing valuable content. This is not a science, it’s an art.

I’m not going to dive into an in-depth discussion of what good content is in this article as I’ve covered at least part of this question before inside the Blog Profits Blueprint and in my article that defines Pillar Content. Have a read of those resources if you want a deeper look at what “good” content is.

For the sake of the discussion now, we’re going to assume that the core message you have to deliver is of value. What we want to know, as I was asked during the call, is what format is the best to distribute the value you have to give.

Meeting The Needs Of Diversity

It’s safe to say as a definite conclusion that we are all different. What we like, and in the case of blogging and creating valuable online content, what people learn best from and enjoy the most, varies from person to person.

To improve our chances of meeting the needs of a diverse population, when it comes to format choice, the answer to what is the best is, all of the options available.

This is limited to our means of consuming information – we have to use the senses our bodies are gifted with – so in the case of interaction with the world wide web, we presently have the options of reading text, listening to audio, watching visual content, or mixtures of these mediums.

You can potentially figure out the “best” of these formats as it relates to your audience, if you have a means of contacting and stimulating a response from enough of them to get something statistically meaningful. As Frank Kern revealed in his Mass Control course, the target customer for his dog training business wanted video on a DVD format as their top choice. He found this out through surveys.

I’ve done surveys to find information about my audience, although I prefer conducting more passive observations by interacting with my audience and watching how they react to what I provide them. Forum discussions, comments left in reply to your blog posts, emails you receive, traffic response rates to the content you distribute, email open and click-through rates, and all kinds of other data are helpful to gain a greater understanding of what your people respond best to and want more of.

However as a rule you can’t really argue against the idea of offering everything in all formats. If you cast a wider net, you catch more fish.

There are strategic reasons to sometimes limit what mediums you publish your content, but in general if you offer content in text, in audio AND video, then you capture the attention and deliver value to more people.

The Rich Schefren School of Product Creation

Rich Schefren teaches a great lesson in content creation, which you can learn simply by taking his courses and watching how he teaches.

Rich creates a slide presentation, which he will then use as prompts to give a live presentation, which is watched as a webinar and distributed after the fact as a recording. All webinar recordings are also provided in audio-only MP3 format, and transcribed into PDF text. You can also download the slides from the presentation in PDF format.

This is the exact format I used for Membership Site Mastermind. In my first course, Blog Mastermind I typed out lessons, and then spoke out the lessons to record an audio version. Become A Blogger Premium is a video course presented by Gideon Shalwick and myself. The core materials are all videos, which you can stream or download to your computer, and each video is also available as a PDF text transcript. The audio interviews I release inside my programs, as well as my free reports are available as text and MP3.

How Do You Learn Best?

Lately I don’t read books except fiction for entertainment. In terms of educational content, I prefer audio. I listen to audio books, or podcasts or the audio from video presentations, usually while exercising or traveling. I like to combine education when I’m doing something else. With reading I have to focus 100% on the words in front of me, I can’t be driving a car, or lifting weights at the same time.

But that’s just me. Everyone is different.

I’ve had many people complain about podcasts that don’t have text transcripts because they don’t have the patience to sit through an audio file. They want to scan to the best bits and they can only do this with text.

Some people are easily bored and need flashing lights, dynamic movement, or a personal connection with a real human in front of them in visual glory in order to keep their attention. Video in this case is the best choice, and is the only choice when you need to show someone how to do something that can only be taught visually.

What’s important is that you don’t make any assumptions. I’ve received feedback that endorses all formats, hence I know by providing as many different mediums as I can, I’ll satisfy more people.

My advice, especially if you are going to create an information product, is consider using the slide presentation model. Use Camtasia on PC or Screenflow on Mac, together with a slide presentation and sit down and record your talk as you move through the slides.

Take the recording and release it as a video, an MP3 audio file, a text transcript of what you said and a copy of the slides. This means you effectively create four different content resources using all three mediums and you only have to present it once. That’s pretty efficient. Instant product creation – it doesn’t get much easier than that!

I still consider text the most powerful medium online because it’s the easiest to create, can be downloaded in seconds and people are used to reading content online (and I’m bias because I enjoy writing the most). Others will argue that video is the future, and we all know that television killed the radio star.

There is no right answer here, and in truth if you have something powerful to say, then whatever content format you use will communicate well enough. The power of the message is always the driving force behind distribution, not the format it arrives in, but why not give yourself the best chance to spread your message as far as it can go by using all formats and as many distribution points as possible.

Yaro Starak
Content Creator

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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54 Comments

  • Very well said Yaro,

    I think it’s a very good idea to have your content available in a variety of formats. Having text, audio and video allows you to cater to everyone as you say.

    I personally love having all options. I love being able to read it. I purchased a Kindle and email myself a bunch of good content to read on there. However, I also download a bunch of podcasts and take them with me on my iphone wherever I go, so that if I need some inspiration, or need to listen to some educational content, I can easily do so.

    Video is also great because it ads another sense in there. I love this for learning HOW to do something.

    If you are a blogger, regardless of what your niche is, it’s ALWAYS a plus to be diverse in the way you deliver your content. You need to keep in mind that different people have different learning styles (even if your topic is within a narrow niche). If your goal is to help as many people as possible, catering to the different learning styles is a great thing to do.

    • I agree about using the variety of options available to get your message across. There is one thing that really bugs me, though, with a method used by some experienced marketers. The last couple of online programs I bought consisted of everything being explained through a series of videos only – no written text whatsoever.

      What about a pdf to back up the videos? I like to get my hands on text, something I can mull over at my leisure. The pdf is also a good reference as there’s no way you can quickly recall what you’ve viewed on 8 or 9 videos.

      Listening to a large number of videos can take up lots and lots of your valuable time, so please bear that in mind please, marketers.

  • In my opinion it all comes down to personal preference, and what the blog owner is best at doing. Some blog owners are just have that knack for videos, while others just may be way better suited for text, which is why every blog owner I believe should try to focus on what their best method is, and it will get them on the right track to success!

    Till then,

    Jean

  • This article is good food for thought. I have been thinking about doing videos, but I don’t think I have the face for it.. Maybe I’ll have to hire someone… What do you think about that?

    • Everyone has a face for video Carl, you definitely shouldn’t let that false limiting belief stop you from recording video.

      If you’re really shy, do screencapture video where you record your desktop or slide presentation, there’s no face required to do that.

      • Yes it is worth a shot making videos. That content format is really appreciated by users. Once you get recording, you should immediately know if its going to work out. Still, with some help you can usually overcome minor problems. Hiring someone to do the videos for you would not be a great option. That forces you to keep using that person as your figurehead. Unless that person really knows the subject matter, it may come off as looking unprofessional.

      • You know I was debating your comment in my head for a long time Yaro, but in the end I decided you are right its important for all of us just to get out there and just do it. We have to get over our personal fears and not worry so much of what others will think of us. As long as you put forth your absolute best effort, than everything will be ok in the end =D

        Till then,

        Jean

    • Just wear a funky hat or other outlandish accessories……jokes aside, all you have to be is confident and knowledgeable. It is about the message, not the messenger!

  • Well said Yaro. I think having multiple formats reach different people at different times. I think there is significant different between audio vs text & video with audio being more relaxed way of taking in information, while text and video requires you to sit with your eyeball on the screen.

    I think as a start one should start blogging with text first then later go the audio/video way which requires more time & effort to get right i.e. editing & post processing etc

    • Yaro & Sarah,

      As a profession, I am an Instructional Designer and MOST of the work required for any type of content or media creation is done first with text. The lion’s share of any project I do is first with pen and paper (or, a word processor). For a document, for an audio recording, for computer-based training, or for a full-blown video. My point is once you’ve written out your post or course, is relatively easily to take that and transform it into more sophisticated forms of multimedia. Most learners prefer consuming your content in one – sometimes two – modes, so it’s safe to duplicate a post via audio and video versions without boring them with redundancy.

      Thanks for the information!

      S.C.

  • Spot on Yaro. It depends on the person, each medium is different but necessary at the exact same time. Gotta love the “New Media Content Creation Model” as the possibilities are endless! 😀

  • Great posts Yaro. When I interviewed Tyrone we spoke about this very point. I thought that I may be getting behind the curve because I was not producing video content. Having said that I was introduced to your blog because I downloaded your podcast on iTunes (the same with Tyrone) which promoted me to make an iTunes available podcast. So the audio element iTunes is still powerful.

    I think your conclusion is encouraging to those of us who are coming along with our blogs and taking the content creation step by step from text, to audio and eventually video.

    Cheers
    David

  • Your product can also have a role to play in what will work best. In my case where I’m communicating how to cook, recipes etc, a podcast would not work that well. On the other hand, video goes gangbusters – obviously the visual demonstration is what is important.

  • Hi Yaro, from Perth,

    I totally agree with your suggestion of providing as many different formats as possible, BUT there’s one important consideration that didn’t seem to be mentioned amongst all this.

    From an SEO point of view, TEXT is the best form of content to have on your site. While Google can notice & index audio & video, it can’t yet effectively determine what is being said in these mediums (although they ARE working on that technology).

    Every additional page of text content is a boost for your site’s rankings & Search engine traffic, so at the very least, I would always get a transcription of the audio component of any multimedia content you create & add to your site, and add it into the post.

    That’s what I am working on at the moment for my new site – recorded lots of videos and will get them all transcribed and added to the site with the video post.

    Castingwords.com is an excellent low-cost transcription service I have used before. The last time I used them, I had approx 30 mins of audio transcribed, which turned into approx 19 pages of text, and on average, that worked out to be about $2 per 500 word page.

    Try finding a GOOD article writer who can write killer content at that price – I would be stunned if you did… yet my audio + their transcription = low cost killer text content! Well worth the effort & small amount of extra cost.

    Love the blog Yaro – keep up the good work and well done on the last tax year’s income – I was super-impressed!!! 🙂

    Eran Malloch
    World Wide Web Marketing
    Perth, Western Australia

  • Excellent post Yaro, as always 🙂
    There’s something to be said for diversity. Although I had downloaded the Membership Site Mastermind and read it several times, I went back and got the audio format so I can listen to it while driving. I like that all options are available here, to cater for all tastes and conditions. I mostly use text and video on my site and have found video comes tops because my readers can see me, hear the conviction in my voice and relate to me better than with any other format.

    Decided on that car yet, Yaro, or are still enjoying the obsession?

  • Its depend upon your audience, whether they are choosy about you or not. If they likes you then they can accept you even on a video you teaching a thing while taking bath, in the toilet and anywhere. So I believes in the fact that the face is not important, how clear your creation ,is the most important.

  • “We all know that television killed the radio star” : the number of people using radio in their car is still amazing, and even movies often show that.

    About text, I consider it as the best way to get the full content indexed in search engines (although in the case of membership based website, a large part of the content may not be indexable).

    I think too that the most interesting option is text + one or many other format, but recording audio or video may take a lot of time…

  • For me, video took a little while to start. People would see and hear me and I was quite concerned about that.

    But I started to tell myself, “so what?” People see and hear me everyday and no one laughs (well not to my face!).

    Now I don’t care, I just video when I feel a video is worthy. At the moment that tends to be more when I am showing my visitors a new tool or something like that.

    I have been writing more personal stuff lately and that has received some good comments so the next phase for me is to video some personal things (not too personal of course!).

    I’ve yet to get into podcasting.

    Andrew

  • I’ve found that is best to offer your content in as many forms as possible. Every audio interview I do is then:

    1) Offered as a direct mp3 download link on my site
    2) Posted as a flash player on my site that can be listened to immediately without downloading the entire mp3 file
    3) Transcribed and posted as text
    4) Set to PowerPoint slides that I create after the fact and then turn into a video with Windows Movie Maker

    Yes it is more work to create all four content mediums, but visitors appreciate that they can consume the content in any fashion they prefer and it is good for search engine optimization because the transcripts are keyword-rich and easy to index.

  • I think if you are going to offer video or audio format, you always want to have text backup. There will always be people viewing that content without access to speakers for whatever reason. Maybe they are at work or maybe they are in a public place without their headphones.

  • I believe your service or products would certainly play a huge role here. I lean toward the written word a bit but that’s just me and works great for my marketing and business, whereas if you had a product that required a visual “how to” effect, a podcast certainly would’nt do.

  • I think Text is the best, in text we can explain in detail.

    • Text is the most accepted content format, but it is not necessarily the best. A lot of things can be better explained with video. Audio doesn’t have any major advantages over the others, but some people still prefer it. So a mix of all 3 is ideal.

  • Yaro…

    Well this question obviously has no single answer.

    Video is by far the most Immersive & Senses-Rich media.

    A real NLP homerun delivery system… 🙂

    But it takes more technology to create it, AND to view it!

    And your eyeballs are kept captive.

    Audio is medium-low technology, is easily portable,
    and frees up the eyeballs…

    That’s also the negative… nothing to see or look at…

    Text is universal. BaseLine technology.

    But takes A LOT of eyeball resources.

    And… Must be an ACTIVE EFFORT process.
    No Passive consumption here!

    But it IS UNIVERSAL!

    And easily and fully Indexed by the Great Googler, his cousin Yeah-Who,
    and nephew Billy Bing!

    Camtasia software automatically produces custom full video, and Ipod video,
    and mp3 Audio copies of your recordings, all at once.

    A real time saver.

    And my full-time Philippine outsource employee can transcribe perfectly
    a 30 minute audio or video… for about $3… total… same day results…

    Oh yeah… gotta love that USA / Philippine money exchange rate!

    So Yaro and friends, I guess we have come full circle.

    No media is a Man or Women for ALL Seasons.

    Pick & Choose, or if you have the resources, use all 3 media.

    Learn & Teach & Do… Learn & Teach & Do…

    Dr. Michael Quadlander
    VeryEasyDiscipline.com/mind-mapping/

    ____________________________________________________

  • Hi Yaro,

    I was just wondering where you get good internet marketing related audio information? Do you have an recommendations on good audio products or podcasts you listen to?

  • For me, most of the time I like reading content, rather than watching or listening. This might be because I am not a native English speaker, so it is a bit difficult for me to understand what is being told in a video or audio file. However, there are times when I like to watch videos about something I am looking for especially on how-to topics.

    I know there are lots of people like me and that’s why I think it would be better to have same content on different formats.

  • Overall, videos work better than text content in appealing to your targeted audience and this is why you should consider incorporating them into your sales pages.

  • I think that text is the best. You can always enhance words with images. Also most web browsers will pick up text and people do not want to download anything that they need to view video or listen to audio.

  • It took me awhile to get into video, getting comfortable on cam is very important. Video doesn’t hide anything 🙂

    I also started with screen capture vids and audio over slide shows.

  • Hi Yaro,

    Like you, I prefer learning while doing something else such as listening to audio while exercising. As an entrepreneur, it’s all about efficiency and multitasking is simply a must as part of one’s time management.

    Regarding which content is king, while text is still the primary means of communication, I would say you MUST mix it up with video playing an extremely important role. If you are branding yourself as a leader and you are looking for people to know, like and trust you, there is simple,y no better medium.

    I like the idea of audio as well and think it’s an effective means of communication. Audio teachings are especially good as they can be easily downloaded, transported and listened to while engaged in other activities as previously mentioned.

    While our own personality may be prone to one medium more than another, in order to grow, you must also do what’s uncomfortable and challenge yourself in these other areas. I think intuitively we already know this but one must take action in order to make one’s content delivery mediums well rounded.

    ~Fredric

  • Another awesome article. I agree, it depends on what the readers can digest the most. But still anyway text for me is the most preferable option because its easy to skim text. 🙂

  • One of the things I love about blogging is the multi-media aspect to it. Books can only provide text and sometimes pics but with blogs you can provide that and much more (not that I’m against books, I’m an avid reader).

    I personally use a range of content formats with a focus on text. I always have a pic of some sort though.

  • Hi Yaro

    I too like to both read and listen. It depends what else is often happening in the same room where my computer is. Some days I just don’t feel like listening to someone and I would much rather just read and digest.

    On a regular website having live testimonials in the form of videos from satisfied customers, can be a very powerful method and it also provides more credibility to the person who is wanting to purchase from you. They can see that you are a real, “normal” human being, not a robot. I also think that having the written testimonials does allow for the SEO part of the page to keep working for your site. I would like to include business testimonials on video, which becomes a win-win for the business and myself.

    Thanks for a great thought provoking discussion Yaro.

  • I vote for text with appropriate images or videos..

  • Well, so far for me text has been the best content. That said, video and audio if used correctly can prove to be immense for a particular website. Anyway, this is a great post and is a definite read for anyone.

  • Search engine spiders don’t watch movies. As long as you remeber that and keep a healthy balance between quality written information and video you’ll be OK. Otherwise you’ll have to strategise your marketing campaign in such a way as to be less relaint on search engine traffic.

  • Hi Yaro, Great information there, I have recently set up a a premium membership option in my site allowing users to view my video tutorials.

    I was also camera shy up until a little while back but after some videos you kind of get used to it. It’s a great diverse way of providing to your users multiple options.

    Great post,

    Thank you

  • I was just recently reading a blog post by David Risley where he stated the obvious- content should be in as many forms as there are available. Write the post, then podcast the same post, and then video tape it…one post in three different formats reaching an unlimited number of readers. I wish I had that insight a few months ago when I first started blogging. But it is not too late to start now.

  • Again, another wealth of information listed for me in your blog postings. I cannot thank you enough for listing all the software resources. These resources are answers to some of the questions I had for media delivery and how to create them. For me, my “readers” come for my images, as I do Hollywood Glamour Photography, so I have to show images. However I have a following that wants to know HOW I did those Hollywood Glamour Pictures. So I have to write what they want to hear on how to do it. I also incorporate lighting diagrams and will be doing little camtasia movies for the lighting lessons I give. All the info I have ever needed has always been in your posts Yaro. Thanks for the information.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I definately learn better from audio rather than reading information directly, it just seems to sink in better for me.

    You mention Rich Schefrens product creation. I’d learnt something similar from Russel Brunson who suggested that multiple formats of product could be created quickly by creating a video recording of an interview with an expert on a niche subject.

    From the video, one can create a DVD, strip off the audio to create a CD and use the transcript to create a book.

    With that in mind I’ve been working on a web service that automates the sales order fulfillment process between a shopping cart and Kunaki.

    I’m initially offering the web service free of charge in order to gain feedback, testimonials and create product awareness.

    I’d appreciate your input.

    Thanks
    John

  • Text because LCD. Seen any of Chow’s emailings lately? LCD and that guys sells like no one else.

  • @Ms. Freeman: I totally agree! I know that when I surf the web, I enjoy receiving info in various forms just because it keeps things more interesting!

  • Personally I have to agree that tesxt is the best.. Punctuating your text with videos is also goood but I think that pure audio is the weakest of the bunch.. I find people struggle to stay focused on audio.. their eyes seem to need to be kept occupied

  • As a reader of many blogs, I would say what is the fastest is the best. If the video will quickly download and in a short spell give the message, it can be powerful failing which, the written word is the best. Audio somehow does not appeal to me as I normally listen to music while I work at the computer.

  • well actually I think that it depends. It depends on what kind of blog you have. Although, the use of various media will surely make your content look more attractive and maybe less boring;) I always try to add something extra to the pure text. Pictures or videos look good in your post.

  • Not everyone learns in the same way. Some learn best by listening, others by reading, others again by watching. If you aren’t catering for all the different ways people will best ingest, understand and synthesise your message then you are losing out on potential followers/clients/whatever your intent may be.

    Peter Drucker wrote a brilliant book in which he discusses some of the different ways people learn best, and gives some great examples.

    Here is the google book link (it is not an affiliate link or anything) to the relevant section, it’s a great read.

    http colon forwardslash forwardslash su dot pr forwardslash 24IRIb

    great post Yaro.

  • in my opinion, I like to have the three formats, because it kindles interest to res us..But for giving a attractive post definitely text is enough with the exact info….

  • Video content is best to express your content easly and much better. But for SEO purpose you need text content. audio content has no value in the world of internet (i thought)

  • I prefer text because it loads much faster, but sometimes it is better to present some things via audio or video aids.

  • Yaro, I agree that the ‘best’ format for one audience, may not be the ‘best’ format for another audience…in fact, on one of my websites, the content is mostly video….whereas most of the others are mainly text…I just found that the video content converted better for that particular niche/market/audience.

    As long as you are testing ‘all’ of the different formats with your audience, you should find a winner amongst them…

  • I think video is the best because YouTube is the quickest and most effective way to get traffic for your site. Text is the second best media form followed by audio. Audio is a bit out of date because who needs audio when you can have video and audio. Text is useful because sometimes people miss stuff on video.

  • It depends on the person, each medium is different but necessary at the exact same time. Gotta love the “New Media Content Creation Model” as the possibilities are endless!

  • Hi Yaro,
    I am a new reader in this blog and have downloaded your blog profits blueprint just now. I am a rookie, so I am still creating my content in text.

    Regarding your article above, I actually want to ask a question. But, sorry if my question looks silly. I try to see your topic from point of view of outbound links. Can the video and audio be counted as backlink by SE like text link? Thanks for your kindness to answer me.

    • Ann, I don’t think Google has figured out a way to value non-text based links, so if you mention a URL in a video or audio, it won’t create a backlink, unless there is text that the search engine can follow.

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