Basic Questions For Interviewing An Administrative Assistant For A Non-Profit The Advantages and Disadvantages of Transcribing

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Transcribing

As a Virtual Assistant, one of the services you can consider offering to your clients is transcription. Although it is quite simple (you listen to an audio tape and just type what you hear), it is much more involved than that.

There are pros and cons that you should consider before making your decision to offer transcription services.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the official definition of transcribe is “to make a written copy of” or “to make a copy of (dictated or recorded matter) in longhand or on a machine (such as a typewriter).” Now before you drag out your trusty old typewriter, you need to make sure you have a few things in place first. Most importantly, you need a good computer with a high-speed internet connection and both transcription and word processing software installed on it because that old typewriter won’t work anymore. Other equipment you will need is a quality headset, a comfortable chair in a quiet room, and if you are serious about making transcriptions, a foot pedal (preferably the USB type). Depending on the format used (DVD, mp3, cassette, micro-cassette, etc.), you may need additional equipment for audio playback. Of course, to be an efficient transcriptionist, you also need to have a good decent typing speed, good listening, spelling and grammar skills.

Here are some of the points you want to consider before you decide to offer transcription services:

Advantage:

Pricing is fairly straightforward (by word, page or audio minute/hour)

Sharpen your listening and typing skills

Opportunity to learn about new and interesting topics

Become a long-term client because transcription can easily lead to other projects (editing, proofreading, article writing or ebook creation)

Pre-recorded audio gives you the flexibility to transcribe anytime (great for those who are trying to juggle a 9-5 job too)

With some additional education, you have the ability to specialize (ie medical or legal transcription) and charge a higher specialized rate.

Disadvantages:

Other equipment and/or software may need to be purchased (headset, foot pedal, etc.)

You need to have a decent typing speed or you won’t make much of a living doing transcription.

Sound quality, multiple speakers, accents, people talking to each other, and audience interaction can slow down the transcription process causing frustration and reduced productivity.

Client-supplied templates can be difficult to use

Transcription is not multi-tasking friendly; you have to concentrate so there are no phone calls or tweets

Real-time transcription requires that you and the client be present at the same time. This does not allow time for editing, or pauses

As with any task you undertake for your client, you should ask some important questions before you begin.

You should be prepared with a checklist of some kind, because finding specific information beforehand will save you time and aggravation. Some questions you should ask your client before transcribing:

What will the transcription client do (eg create an article or ebook)?

What format is the audio on (DVD, mp3, cassette, micro-cassette, etc)?

How do you receive the audio (mail, email, etc)?

Does the client want a hard copy or just the electronic file?

What format do they want the final product to be in (Word, PDF, etc)?

Do they want verbatim or do they want to edit out the umms and other unfinished thoughts?

How many speakers are there?

Do any of the speakers have accents?

Are they just looking to put words on paper or are they looking for something that is proofread, edited, and in the final draft stage?

Does the audio include any confidential information?

o Will the client require a Non-disclosure Agreement in addition to the Virtual Assistance Agreement?

o If it is medical transcription, are there any HIPPA compliance issues involved?

If you have decided to venture into the field of transcription, make sure you have all the necessary tools to make your journey a positive experience. Take your time creating your proposals and make sure you understand all the details of each transcription project. If you are unsure of the terms of the project, contact the client for clarification.

You don’t want to get in over your head and disappoint your client and yourself.

Consider taking on a couple of small “test” projects before officially offering transcription services on your website.

Volunteer to write a meeting or two for a church or civic group to gain some experience. You can even propose a trade and get a client testimonial for your business! Either way this is a great opportunity to try out transcription, and see if it’s worth adding to your business.

If you have the typing, spelling, and grammar skills needed to transcribe and you’re willing to invest in some equipment to get started, then transcribing may be for you. Transcription can be frustrating and tiring at times, but it can also be a rewarding, interesting, and flexible service that you can offer your clients. While this has its pros and cons, always remember transcribing is a perfect springboard to additional services that you can sell to your clients to keep your business growing.

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