When you start out as a Virtual Assistant, one of the easiest services to offer is transcription. It takes very little setup and it is an in-demand service. But is it really that easy to do? Not really.
It’s important to note that transcription is a specialty; it is not as simple as just typing. There are many types of audio files that you can transcribe, but the three main categories for transcription generally fall into general, legal and medical.
For the purposes of Internet marketing and social media, my clients mainly require general transcription, also known as business transcription. This can mean transcribing a conference call, a teleseminar,a webinar, a podcast, or any other type of digital audio.
Transcribed documents are great because they can be used or repurposed in a variety of ways: as workbooks or ebooks, blog posts or articles, and they can be used as giveaway products or paid pro ducts.
So in Internet marketing, we need transcription! I started out doing a lot of transcription, but now I don’t have as much time so I outsource that kind of work wherever possible. It can be very hard to find a reliable and reasonable transcriptionist. (The great ones can be either too busy or priced out of my clients’ budgets).
Here are ten tips that will help you perfect your skills if you are interested in offering transcription as one of your services:
1. You need to be a fast and accurate typist. Slow typing speed will just not cut it, and having to make endless corrections will make the job take so long that you will waste your time and lose money.
2. You need to have clear and accurate hearing skills. You must be able to hear and understand what is being said on the audio so you can type it. Good headphones or earphones are essential to make sure that you can hear what is being said, especially if t here is more than one speaker, if there is an accent, or if there is background noise.
3. Be willing to do Internet research to find correct spelling and other relevant information about the audios you are transcribing. By taking the time to get the names of the speakers and the programs they are talking about, it sets you above the rest in terms of professionalism.
4. Get transcription software to do the job. There are many free and paid software versions available via an Internet search. I love Express Scribe. You should have experience using the software so that you can either operate it using keyboard shortcuts or a foot pedal. Some people swear by foot pedals and laptops, others use desktops and keyboard shortcut keys. Whatever you use, make sure it is suitable for you.
5. Control your accuracy. Only type as fast as you can type accurately. It will sa ve you proofreading time later if you don’t have to correct a lot of spelling and grammar errors. You should also have good spelling and grammar skills. If you do not, be sure to have someone else proofread your transcript before sending it to the client.
6. You should know your client’s format. Ask your client ahead of time how they want the document formatted. It is much easier to type in a standard format than it is to try to format a large document afterwards.
7. Be sure you have a comfortable work station. I sit on an exercise ball to sit on when I do my transcription. It keeps me upright and active, and there is nothing impeding my elbows or arms so I can type for longer periods of time before tiring. I can also type much faster on the ball than I do in my office chair.
8. Charge by the audio hour. Clients want to know how much something is going to cost them when they send it to you. They don’t want to expect to pa y you for 3 hours of work, only to have you say it took 8 hours to do the transcript for whatever reason. Figure out how many hours it takes you to do one hour of audio and then use that as your base audio hour rate. Your clients will be much more willing to sign on the dotted line when there is a firm fee (45 minute audio x your audio hour rate = their fee).
9. When you receive the audio from the client, listen to it to assess the sound quality. Listen at various intervals to be sure the the sound quality is consistent throughout. Report back to the client that you have checked the audio quality and let them know whether you think it is good or bad. If it is good, confirm the rate you quoted them. If it is bad, either try to get a better version from them, or revise your price.
10. Enjoy it! If you don’t enjoy doing transcription, it can be very difficult work. If you take regular breaks, you will be able to get more done in a fresh state. I typically do 15 audio minutes at a time, and then I take a break for a while. Then when I go back to start again, I am fresh and fast!
So there you have it. Ten great tips to help you get set up to provide transcription services. Remember too, that it does take a lot of practice, but when you set yourself up for success from the start, you will be able to build up your speed with practice.
You can build a great reputation by paying attention to these details, and that means repeat business and referrals!