Polly want an audio blog?


If you’ve been toying with the idea of adding an audio blog or other audio content to your WordPress website, you’ve now got an easy and cheap-to-free way to do it: Amazon Polly. Polly is a new service from Amazon that lets you create life-like speech based on written content, and there’s a WordPress plugin you can install directly on your site that makes it super simple.

After activating the text-to-speech plugin, you’ll be able to generate audio from any kind of text-based content by feeding it into the Amazon Polly API. In return, you’ll instantly get an audio stream you can either play or store in MP3 or other standard audio formats. Visitors can click to hear audio content or listen to podcasts (PollyCasts!) that you publish from the site.

Polly comes with a wide range of features and languages. That includes several English dialects and a dozen European and Scandinavian languages, as well as Russian, Japanese and Korean. The plugin also supports Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) that gives you the option to adjust volume, phrasing, intonation, pitch and emphasis as you like for the most human-like delivery.

One of the weak points in many text-to-speech applications is that they run into trouble with acronyms or other unusual words, which can grate on listeners’ ears. Polly lets you avoid this problem with a custom lexicon to set pronunciation guidelines for firm names, foreign words or other likely trouble spots. You simply upload an XML file that gives the phonemes you want for any given word.

Access is flexible, too. You can access and control Polly through a command-line interface, the Polly API or the Amazon Web Services console. The app service also supports a broad array of programming languages and an HTTP API for ultimate control.

Ten years ago this would have been incredibly expensive or impossible to accomplish for most site owners, but now it’s both easy and quite affordable. There’s a free option that lets you convert up to five million characters per month at no cost over the first year of use. If you need more, the pricing is pay-as-you-go with fees determined by the number of characters. The basic rate is $4.00 per million characters. There’s no cost for unlimited replays of audio content you create, and should you decide to quit using Polly, you’ll still have the audio files you created while the service was active (either on your WordPress server or stored in your Amazon S3 bucket, if that’s where you chose to keep them).

Whether you’re trying to create a more accessible website (which is a really good idea) or you just want to give site visitors the option to listen rather than read, the Polly plugin for WordPress is an amazing tool to help you do it.

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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!