Amazon Polly – Text to Speech for WordPress

One of the things that Amazon has been working on is the AI component and in this case, text to speech. So, they’ve been working on something called Amazon Polly for at least a couple years now and they recently came out with an announcement saying that it is now available for all to use. You can do lots of things with this on the development end, but for blogs, they’ve teamed up with WP Engine and created a WordPress plugin called Amazon Polly that will convert your blog posts into a text to speech audio file.

So, the first question you’re probably going to ask is why would I want to do this? And the easy answer is that it gives you another avenue to take your blog posts. We’ve always talked about repurposing your content. Amazon, with this Polly plugin, you’ll be able to do that on the fly directly and this plugin that I’m going to be showing you will enable you to actually create a whole podcast with Amazon Polly. 

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One of the things you’re going to need is actually to have an AWS account. You’ll need to have an account with the Amazon Web Services and to do that is very easy. You sign in with your Amazon account, and once you sign in with your Amazon account, you’ll be taken to the console area.  Once you’re signed in, what you want to do is go over to where your name is and click on My Security Credentials. Now, if this is your first time here, you’re not going to have any security credentials, so you want to go into access keys, access key ID and secret access key. You want to click that open and you’ll want to create a new access key if you don’t have one already created. Your secret access key and your access key ID. Those are the two pieces you’re going to need for the plugin to work.

All right. Once you have those, you can install the WordPress plugin. It is available in the directory. It’s got 100 plus active installs. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin switch over to the settings of the plugin. This is where you want to put in your AWS access key and secret key. Now, they’re going to ask you for the sample rate for this audio. You could do 22050 or you could do 16000 or 8000. I’ve got it at 22050, but you can manually override this by going into the blog post.

Other options in the plugin are setting the voice style and language, audio player position and whether or not you want Amazon Polly activated.  So, I have it enabled for each new post that I create.  Then you have an option to whether or not you want to have an auto play. I have that turned off. 

Now, here’s a neat thing that you can actually have. You can store your Amazon audio on Amazon S3. Again, that’s the Amazon Web Services. If you’re familiar with that, you can connect to your audio files and have them stored and streamed from there. So, that’s kind of neat, so it doesn’t take up processing power on your web server.

Now, here’s where we get into some interesting, fun stuff. It has Amazon Polly cast, so you can actually create a podcast from the Polly audio files that are created. Now, the funny thing here is that it’s going to sound like a robotic voice. Now, I’m sure they’re going to be improving on that technology, but if you want to go check that out, you can. The fact that they’re going to have this is great, but I don’t see how anyone would really enjoy listening to a robotic voice, so I’m not going to be filling that in. You’re welcome to go test it out and fill it in and connect your podcast, your Polly cast, to iTunes. Once you’re all set with all that, you click on save changes.

Within each blog post, there are Amazon Polly settings that you can edit and override the main settings. The plugin is free, but the AWS service you actually have to pay for. If you have a long blog post, it’s going to be more expensive than if you have a short blog post. But, expensive means, pennies. If I click on how much will this cost to convert, it’s going to tell me .016 cents, which is a minuscule amount for this conversion to happen, but it does cost. That is something that you need to be aware of.

So, now that we have that, we’re going to go and click update. Now, if you didn’t do the bulk update and you do this manually, you’ll need to re-save your blog post, because if you just made those changes and then clicked refresh on your blog post, it’s actually not going to register the changes. So, make sure you click update after you’ve set up Amazon Polly. So, let’s click on view post and this is what it’s going to look like on your blog post. It’s going to have a little audio bar going across. There’s a play button, the amount of time elapsed and a download button.  So you can download the audio file and repurpose it that way or anyone visiting your blog post can download this as well. So, that’s something you need to be aware of.

So, that’s pretty much Amazon Polly. It does this on the fly. It looks at your text and is converting it automatically to an audio file once you load it up in the browser, which is amazing to me that it actually can do that. It reads the text and it reads what the text says and then it converts it to an audio file and then from there, you can repurpose it however you wish. What do you guys think? I think this is a pretty neat type of service and again, it is for pay, although the pay is very minimal and if it is something that you think you can repurpose on, I think you might as well try it out and go for it. I’m going to keep going with Amazon Polly, see where I can use the recorded audio files and certainly, maybe, send it off to, maybe a transcription service or that type of thing. This is just the beginning and I’m looking forward to the future of what Amazon Polly brings.

Links mentioned in the video

Larry Snow is a leader in providing online marketing solutions for small to mid-sized security and executive protection businesses. He shares his knowledge in WordPress, social media, security business, open-source, and social intelligence. His goal is to help protective services companies succeed in establishing and strengthening their brands on social media platforms. He is here as your guide to making that happen.

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