Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa Ebook - R130

E-Book “Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa”!

This E-book is packed with everything you need to know about working from home as a transcriptionist in South Africa. I started out as a transcriptionist in 2005 and I’ve included everything I’ve learned along the way that I wish someone had told me.

How do you get that first client, how do you keep your clients, how do you invoice, and quote? What about where can you find support? What equipment do you need? All this information and more is available in my E-Book. Buy it today. This is information I wish somebody had told me – I would have been able to get going so much faster.

These are my tried and trusted methods. There are many American transcriptionist guides but “Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa” has challenges and obstacles all its very own and answers particular questions faced by South African Transcriptionists.

Buy my book today!! Much cheaper than other shorter publications on similar topics. gaynor@typewritetranscription.co.za or 083 442 4689.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rates / Pricing

When you decide upon your rates at the start of your business, you need to realise that the following must also be reflected in these rates:
Electricity you will use,
Printing cartridge
Your Skills and experience
Your time etc
Your Company expenses.

See what the going rate is within the area you live, find out the rates countrywide by asking various VAs/Transcriptionists to comment and give you a rough estimate. I know a lot of Vas want comment on this, but you will find the more established VAs will. A lot of people are frightened to give out their rates as they think you are competition and you will then charge cheaper and get the work. This is not always the way things work. Do not undercut others or charge too low as it is bad for the industry as a whole, it sets a precedent and you will find it hard to charge higher rates at a later stage. Your rates themselves are an indication of the service you provide
• higher rates reflect that you take pride in yourself and your service and provide quality
• lower rates reflect that you are just going to rush through and move onto the next thing

Yearly you should be increasing your rates to keep up with inflation; after all you are running a business and prices increase continually.

Before you open up your doors to clients, you need to have a basic set up of rates for each service you are going to offer. With these basic rates, you can then look at each task as you receive them and then estimate a price based on clients location, race, size of task, deadline, and requirements of the task. Then charge accordingly. I have a basic rate but very rarely charge that rate, as I look at client circumstances first and look at the job that is required of me.

You need to be running your business making profit, if your rates are too low, you will not do this and then what is the point of doing this! Every job you get in must be worth your while to do, you are here to help you as well as the client. And charging low rates is not always the way to getting the client. Clients look for service, quality, presentation, your skills and experience and the clients like to know what they are getting for their money, they like to get their money’s worth.

Do not tell me clients want pay. That is nonsense, it is up to you to show the client what you can do and they will pay. Clients pay me and some of my rates are very high, but then clients know the services they will be getting from me. If clients can pay me then tell me, why they want pay you as I am interested in knowing. It is all about service and quality in the end.

Written by Alison Fourie © Copyright 2009 Tavasa. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Portuguese Transcriptionist

Hi guys I'm urgently looking for someone to transcribe in Portuguese. If you can or know somebody who can please contact me urgently, Gaynor at gpaynter@telkomsa.net.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Newbies - dealing with clients

Newbies: Dealing with Clients

A lot of newbie Vas and Transcriptions have a Secretarial background, so should be used to dealing with clients...

• The quicker you reply to an email, sms, fax or query from potential clients, the more likely you are to secure that client.

• Clients must be treated as equals, you are both on the same level, and you are providing them with a service they require.

• I learnt very early on in my career to provide a quality customer services and I have always done this with my clients. I treat each client as if they are my only client and they know I have a lot of clients, but I make them feel special and make them feel as if their work is very important to me and I would say that clients appreciate this.

• Never try to sell a service to a client that you cannot perform, the client will immediately pick up on this and very soon you will be caught out. Only offer the services that you have experience in.

• Be confident in your approach with potential clients, the more confidence you show in knowing what you are doing, this is again a way to bag the client.

• Show an interest in getting to know your client, ask for company profile, company website so that you can see what that client does, that is a great help when sending out emails, doing PowerPoint presentations and doing press releases for clients and it shows you are interested in knowing more about them.

• You as a VA or Transcriptionist should be the one who gives your client a rate for the job, not the client. You should be able to negotiate on deadlines, as you know how long jobs take to do. The client does not always know and often it is the case in transcription. The client has no idea how long it takes to transcribe an hour’s work, but you do. If the deadline is not reachable negotiate with the client and tell them it is unmanageable, be honest up front, never be afraid to approach a client, you are on equal terms.

• Do not address clients as Sir, Madam, and Mr Brown etc; address them by their first name, as they do you. You are working with them, not for them, the way you address the client makes a difference in how they will treat you and the level in which they converse with you on.

• VAs and Transcriptionists are Business Owners, so make sure you portray this to prospective clients.

If you need help or assistance in dealing with clients, please approach us at Tavasa. We have lots of experience in dealing with all types of clients.

© Copyright 2009 Alison Fourie, Tavasa. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Climb Every Mountain - you can handle the challenges facing you.

Hi guys

I know that times are difficult for a lot of people. Many of us are facing difficulties in our lives, financial and otherwise, that perhaps we didn't know last year we were going to face, and we're not sure how to deal with them. Sometimes it can feel like we're heading into unchartered territory and it can feel overwhelming.

Now is a time to remember the old adage, to forgive and forget, do unto others as we would have them do unto us - and keep at the forefront of our minds that most of the world is going through some kind of stress.

It's nice to know that we have caring friends and family - so much support is needed right now, for ourselves and for others. The message I want to get across to you is that if we look deep enough inside ourselves, we have the strength. There is so much untapped resource inside the human race and it's time for that resource to come out. Turn off the noise, the unnecessary outside static, focus on that which is important - look deep inside yourself and you will find the strength you need.

To end, the lyrics of the age old song:

From the Sound of Music Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Climb every mountain, search high and low
Follow every byway, every path you know.
Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream!

A dream that will need
all the love you can give,
Every day of your life
for as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream!

Transcribing and Translating from France!

Christiana Asante is a self-employed French and English transcriptionist with a translator’s background. Born and raised in an English-speaking family, but educated in the French language and according to France’s education system, Christiana has been exerting herself for the past five years, using her language advantage, for the sole purpose of delivering accurate transcription and translation services to the world. She presently resides in Ghana, a West African country which is exclusively enclosed by Francophone States, and where she is able to provide her services from her own office located in the country’s first industrial city, Tema.

1. Please give me full name and contact details including email / website

Christiana Asante
P.O. Box TT 582, Tema N/T – Ghana
E-mail: christi.translation@yahoo.com
Office Phone: +233 22 300 267
Cell Phones: +233 28 709 1260 / +233 28 954 4008
Skype ID: Christiana-Asante
Yahoo ID: christi.translation

2. Tell us something about your background, where were you educated?

I spent most of my childhood living in the Republic of France, where I also began to receive my formal education. Just three years before the start of the new century, my family decided to settle in Ghana where I now live and render my services from, and so I came along.

3. How did you come to be a French / English transcriptionist working in Ghana? It sounds like you have a very interesting background and we’d love to hear about it in as much detail as possible here!

A couple of years ago, as I had just embarked on my translation career, I was searching and bidding for open projects on various freelance job portal sites. Because I had signed up to accept instant e-mail notifications relating to French and English translation tasks specifically, I got the opportunity to apply to transcribe a several hour French recording. Before that, I did not know about transcription and its benefits for both clients and contractors, so I had to do a brief research on the topic. That is when I learned about the different types of transcription, and that is how I came to be interested in this somewhat challenging industry. Also, it did not take me long to figure out that I could easily work as a transcriber while still living in Ghana. If it was possible for me to render translation services to individuals and agencies on the other side of the globe, then there was no reason I could not also establish myself as a bilingual transcriptionist, and thus complement my plan to remain self-employed.

4. What constraints face you regarding facilities etc in Ghana?

Ghana is still a developing country, and so as years go by, the utility infrastructures and – more importantly for me – the telecommunications infrastructure, among other things, continue to witness significant improvement across most of the regions. This is definitely good news for a person like me who relies considerably on technology to reach international markets where I can exercise my talents. But I think some of the major constraints that Ghanaian contractors face today include the lack of dependability as far as getting access to power supply. In addition to that, the cost of high-speed internet connection remains excessively high. Nonetheless, in comparison with many other African countries and developing States as a whole, Ghana can still be considered a fairly good place to outsource transcription and translation work.

5. You come across very professional, what measures do you take to overcome constraints you face in Ghana (eg when South Africa started experiencing severe power cuts, we bought lap tops, UPSes etc in order to continue being able to work).

Well, I would say the more financial resource I am able to obtain, the more prepared I become in responding to the challenges that once impeded my elevation to the stage I have managed to reach today, in spite of everything. During my early years working as a language professional, I quickly learned that in order to be successful in the outsourcing industry, I needed to take appropriate actions to make sure that I retained my clients by wholly satisfying their expectations. That in fact did not only imply returning a high quality work to them. For me, it meant more precisely giving them what they had inducted me to perform at almost any cost. So for instance, instead of accepting to contend myself with the new PC I had acquired, I decided to purchase a laptop and a fixed wireless phone that allows the use of data services even without the availability of electricity. This helps me to deal better with general power cuts, although it is worth stating that the tendency has become way less frequent these days.

6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as you do in Ghana?

From my personal perspective, the major benefit of being a freelance transcriber and translator in Ghana is that there are increasingly a lot of opportunities here, along with an unlimited pool of clients/customers, to leverage. If you are lucky and are able to market yourself very well, then you are set to succeed on the local market as well, rather than just focusing on foreign outsourcing companies who usually are the ones that provide the kind of jobs I specialize in. Numerous services have just lately been introduced in the country to complement the existing ones, but transcription and translation are still missing; for one, you would hardly find registered providers in the yellow pages. So it’s definitely great to know that you can become a pioneer in these fields, in this country. Just a decade ago, you would not have seen the level of growing interest among Ghanaians in translation services or even less in transcription services, because the nature of most businesses that had been established at the time did not require this type of assistance. Today, with the expansion of the private sector, the strengthening of democracy, this situation is beginning to change at a relatively fast pace. Obviously, one of the principal challenges remains that it is not easy finding the right business organizations to work in partnership with. Demand for language transcribers and translators is still unsatisfactory, and as such, hospitals seem to not realize the importance of transcription, media houses continue to be reluctant to give a try to what is considered as new products in Africa, and consequently have a feel of what transcription is all about. The solution, though, is not very hard to find: in my view, one just needs to keep marketing the products until the expected outcome is reached, like I am committed to doing.

7. Do you have kids and a family, if so how easy is it to be a transcriptionist with a family?

I presently do not have a family to cater for. Therefore, my priorities are mainly set on pursuing my formal education and on becoming a recognized pioneer, notably in the Ghanaian transcription industry.

8. What made you decide to get into the field of translating and transcribing?

I think when you are aiming at attaining a higher position, or let me say realizing greater dreams in life, you need to concentrate first on the tools that you possess and on how good you can put them to use in order to get to the stage you have set for yourself - at least when you choose ‘to climb the mountains’ all by yourself. In my case, I always had the language advantage because of my background. But that isn’t all; I have a little bit more than just the ability to speak, write and understand different tongues. I am ready to dedicate a certain amount of my time serving others as an accurate transcriber and translator so that I can pave myself the way for another career in the foreseeable future. Higher education, like I suggested earlier, is central to me, and I continue to bear in mind that the level of effort I invest today in my plans to pursue my studies will unquestionably be reflected in my achievements in the future. I opted for the transcription and the translation paths because these are the most ‘logical’ professional activities which I enjoy practicing and where I can be efficient.

9. Did you do any particular courses or studies in either of these fields?

Actually, I was never trained to be what I am, neither do I possess any qualifications in these fields. My success is chiefly the result of the motivation, the dedication, and the strong willingness to assimilate new things fast, that I have tried to exhibit throughout my years in business. I understand and perfectly respect the stance of many clients who have a preference for certified contractors, but I also know for a fact that many would rather favor meritocracy over any types of certification. The reason is that it is better to hire someone whom you know will get the job done the way you want it than to contract a person without the requisite experience. And even in the event of having to translate/transcribe too technical documents or audios that I cannot handle, for instance, I know there is always the viable alternative to refer my client(s) to trusted peers. So with respect to the difficulties I may encounter in retaining a clientele, I would say I don’t really have a problem.

10. How long have you been doing transcribing / translating?

I have been a French and English translator since 2004, and I joined the transcriber network nearly two years ago.

11. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in this field?

Staying persistent no matter the circumstances and thriving to improve each day on the quality of the services you provide for your clients/customers, especially after setbacks, are the biggest lessons I am happy to have learned. And of course, these don’t exclusively apply to transcription and translation, but to other fields as well.

12. Do you have any advice for transcriptionists starting out, particularly those in African countries?

Yes, certainly; for anyone planning to settle as a transcriptionist and to those who have already started the journey to earn a living doing this type of work – whatever your genuine and legitimate reason – I would like to lay emphasis on the urge to remain focused and determined to become part of a growing and exciting global network. Being based on the African continent is not the challenge we face at all to reach outside markets, because that can be done more or less easily if you are really serious about your intentions to succeed. Both financial investments and personal involvement will be required as it is the case in any other part of the world. But when you get to understand that all this is worthwhile because in the final analysis, YOU surely reap the benefits of your contribution to the further development of the two industries in question, then you realize you made the right choice!

13. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

It is a chance that I managed to join TAVASA after searching for so long for other professionals who, like me, enjoy their work and can be trusted at various levels, especially as competent people who I can have recourse to whenever I require professional support. I am very thankful to the moderators who have enabled me to not only join the tavasa forum, but also to participate in its evolution and continuation. I think it helps to know that you belong to a group of people whom you can count on and also assist. That tells you that you are never alone in your relentless struggle to reach higher grounds.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Well after a mad week in which we transcribed two conferences plus all work for regular clients, I finally have a moment to breathe.

I am busy updating documentation for the group (which can be found at http://www.facebook.com/n/?profile.php&v=feed&id=751713968&aref=29238353)... go along and take a look and group members can let me know if there are more documents you think it would be beneficial for us to host - I am looking at trying to get a draft retainer contract to put there, as retainer new contracts are the new trend.

I wanted to say that it's easy to become bogged down in the VA and transcription field, particularly at this time of year, when the Christmas holidays are past and it's a way to go until the next holidays, and work is picking up. I want to list here some coping mechanisms we can use (thanks to some TAVASA members for contributing)

1. Plan something small to enjoy every day. This morning, we decided we'd watch a movie and eat pizza with the kids for supper, which we did. Pick the thing you enjoy doing, and indulge yourself in looking forward to it. Switch off everything during this time and devote it entirely to what you are doing. You'll be surprised how rejuvenated you feel.

2. Take the help that is offered to you. The concept of the superwoman (or superman) is not sustainable. We can all, for a time, work all day, run the entire house, run the kids schedules, do the gardening - but it's a one way trip to burn out. If someone offers you help, take it.

3. Make a priority list. In our field, we can become completely overwhelmed by what has to be done. We can stop seeing the forest for the trees, become overwhelmed and too panicked to even attempt to continue. So make a list of things to be done, in order of importance, and do them one by one. This is the first thing I do every day. I've resorted to the concept of a school timetable. I figured if a school can get through an entire curriculum every year by breaking days down into half hour blocks, I can too. Allocate the item on the top of your list into however many half hour blocks of your day you think it will take, then the next one, etc. etc. And don't be too hard on yourself. If you over run by half an hour, so be it. You've still got the job done a lot faster than you would have if you hadn't itemised everything.

4. Live day by day, hour by hour and minute for minute. It's no good dwelling on things that might happen next week, when you have things to accomplish now.

5. Believe in yourself. You haven't come this far by not being able to manage - you CAN manage.

6. Vent. Before TAVASA working at home could become very lonely and frustrating. Ali and I realised that there were hundreds of people sitting at home, like ourselves, getting frustrated and having nobody to talk to. So that's one of the things TAVASA is here for. Vent it to us, we understand and can in all probability offer some advice, or at least, sympathise.

These are all strategies I use to help myself get through the day. If anybody has any others to contribute we would be glad to see them here!