Tuesday, May 7, 2013


There are many reasons why it seems a great idea to set up as a transcriptionist – be it for health, personal or financial reasons – but it is not like driving a car. What you get out of this business is directly concomitant with what you can put it.

The two most important considerations are (a) your ability, and (b) your equipment.
The equipment is reasonably simple: a chair, a desk, a PC, good internet connection and a foot pedal (not essential – some manage extremely well using hotkeys).
And off you go...

The catch here is your ability. Dictaphone typing can be likened to transcription only in so far as one types another’s words. Dictaphone typing in an office situation deals with correspondence, reports, file notes – all of which should be familiar to you. If you work for a mining company, for instance, the subject of the above will be mining. If you find a strange name which you can't make out you can ask for assistance; if a typo slips in, somebody will probably pick it up and correct it.

In the world of transcription you're on your own and this is where the specialised skills of transcription come into play.

Spelling, grammar, punctuation
I believe I owe a client good English at the very least. You must be able to distinguish between principal and principle, there and their; to be able to hear the difference between his, he's and hiss. If you are going to attempt to obtain international clients be aware of the difference between UK and USA punctuation and spelling.

This is a tool of vast importance – it is a gift – use it.

Take rush jobs only when you have gained confidence. A client may be prepared to grant reasonable time for you to turn into an impeccable transcript, but, if you cannot meet the deadline, the client will move on immediately. Reliability is a key marketing tool in this game.

Typing speed
This should not be an overwhelming factor. Fair enough, you need to have a reasonable typing speed but you don't need to be a whizz. There are plenty of other factors which contribute towards a great transcription.

Taking instruction
Fortunately most clients want intelligent verbatim – no err, mmm, or general babbling. Legal proceedings require keener attention to verbatim speech than interviews, for instance. It is up to you to enquire what the requirements are and stick to them. If a client sends a template don’t substitute yours.

General Knowledge and Google
Ah, don't we just love Google? But even Google can't read your mind. You will work in many different fields with a vast variety of subjects and you can't just turn in a helpless well-I-can't-know-everything transcript marred by question marks and the famous inaudible. Say, there is mention of a mine in Finland – your Finnish may be fluent but mine certainly isn't – there are ways of tracking down that name. It takes time and skill but you can usually get there.

There are of course many aspects to be considered – marketing strategy, web design, advertising, your accounting system, tricks of the trade – the list is long - but it is my belief that without the above qualities you are not going to be successful in the transcription field.

Michele Johanson
Good Hope Transcription Services
: 086 6021 791
Skype: Michelej6
Ph: 084 6944 307

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