Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gender Violence

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, more information to follow

"Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms... In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture."

—Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, paragraph 112

Monday, May 24, 2010

Minute Taker

TAVASA is looking for a minute taker to work in Pretoria on Monday 31 May. You MUST have minute taking experience and preferably shorthand. Apply to me

Friday, March 5, 2010

If you take us seriously, we'll take you seriously.

Michele Johanson ( runs a transcription business from home,and, when not pounding the keyboard for her daily bread, writes articles on the more domestic arts, cooking and gardening in particular. Thank you to Michele for the following informative article.

One of the drawbacks of working from home is the difficulty of getting serious clients who are willing to pay what you are worth.

I enjoy working from home as a transcriptionist and I have good and loyal clients who make it possible but how does one deal with the demands of people like this?

This was posted on Get a Freelancer today:
“I need only serious transcribers who can finish up the project by today. There is totally 3 hours of audio. You can be a team or person. But you must follow the below points strictly and there wont be any excuses:-

You must finish the project with in 5-6 hours It should be with 100% accuracy
Pay will be $7 or $8 per audio hour depending on quality (If you are not accepting for this bid, then please dont apply). The completed file should be proofread, spellchecked, formatted, grammar checked etc.

There will be a continuous flow of work if you finish this successfully. Note that turnaround time is very important. Once you place your bid be online. I will hire within 2-3 hours and you should have me the files back within 5-6 hours.”

Downloading 3 hours of audio could take several hours alone. A professional transcriptionist allows approximately four hours to complete one hour’s worth of audio, and that’s just the typing. Spell-checking and proofreading is a given and is included in the rate but could somebody please tell me how to check the grammar on audio? Surely the whole point of transcription is to produce a verbatim report? I do tweak here and there, particularly if I’m transcribing a foreigner, but limit it to replacing words like ‘choosen’ with ‘chosen’. If a client specifically asks me to fix the English I have more leeway, but even then I make an effort to stick to the original.

The above-quoted job provider is particularly arrogant and unrealistic but unfortunately there are many people that think that because we run our businesses from home we are not doing a “real job” and want to pay accordingly, or not at all. The following quote was taken from “ … and by the way, I can’t afford to pay you for this job, but you will be paid in karma — which is so much better and more permanent anyway.” Better for whom? Can you eat karma?
We do real jobs and provide real quality. We pay our own overheads and work long hours and stick to our deadlines.

Sadly, there will be takers for this position but they are unlikely to have English as their first language and the job provider will get what she is paying her two dollars (or less) an hour for. I would love to see what she ends up with.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tools to use in our business

Tools to use in our business

Can we use free software that is available to us?

There is lots of open source (free) software available these days which we can use. You don’t have to buy the latest in Microsoft Office software, you can make use of Open Office software which is upgraded often, and there are many other software packages available. Within Open Office there is an equivalent to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Skype and MSN / Yahoo messenger are two packages that are invaluable for communication for VAs and transcriptionists, it means we can talk to our peers worldwide and communicate between each other virtually.

A major piece of software that Transcriptionists use is Express Scribe. This is used around the world to transcribe files - the software is available free.

There is open source software for accounting and desk top publishing. search Google and see what you can find.

The more we educate ourselves as VAs and Transcriptionists the better for us. Our aims should be to keep up with technology, keep up with our skills and our education. We are never too old to learn new things within our jobs using the technology that is around to assist us.

Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services

Monday, February 15, 2010

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Business

Thank you to Sandra van Statten for this interesting post on the importance of social media in our industries today.

Sandra van Statten is a Virtual Assistant and Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist, based in Cape Town, South Africa, but offering her services world-wide, through her company Virtually Assist. She specialises in setting-up, optimising and maintaining social networking profiles for companies or private individuals. You can network with her by clicking on any of the following links:

Virtually Assist
Linked In


Before we can begin to use Social Media to enhance our business, we need to understand exactly what it is and what we can do with it.

Social Media is the name for a collection of networking channels that you can use to engage with a targeted audience. Some examples of engaging are: talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online.

Some of the most common reasons that businesses actively participate in Social Media are:

• Building their brand visibility and authority;
• Increasing their influence with targeted (or niche) audience;
• Promotion of services or products;
• Link-building and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO);
• Increasing website/blog traffic (thereby increasing leads and list building);
• Gaining insight into community of interest (via surveys and market research)
• Education and raising awareness (e.g. Non-profit organisations).

Before a company begins with a Social Media campaign, a thorough assessment should be carried out to correctly identify their needs, goals, targeted audience etc. A Social Media strategy and action plan can then be drawn up (with specific measurable goals). These can then be monitored (e.g. 200 new subscribers, 5 new clients, 500 new fans, 300 new followers) to see if you are achieving your goals.

I would suggest that every company at the very least, has a company website/blog and also participates in the “Big Three” of Social Networking. Some interesting information and benefits are listed below:

• Facebook

According to Facebook’s stats, there are currently:

- More than 400 million active users;
- More than 50% of these log on to Facebook in any given day;
- More than 3 million active pages on Facebook with 5.3 million fans;
- More than 5 billion pieces of contents (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc) are shared each week.

Can you imagine being able to reach even a fraction of this audience? Well you can, by building a top class Facebook Fanpage where you can promote your company and services, feed fresh relevant content and become the “go to” person for your niche.

• Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blog (you can only post 140 characters at a time – known as a “Tweet”) and it is also known as a “one to many instant messenger” - similar to a big chat room, but you choose who to follow.

You will soon gain followers and connect with a network of other people in your industry or area of interest. You can Tweet about your services, your company, resources, content links, or tips focussed on your area of expertise. This usually generates a lot of website traffic as people are curious by nature and want to learn more about you and your company.

• LinkedIn

According to their website, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 60 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.

This is the place where you can:
- Establish your professional profile;
- Find experts and ideas;
- Build a powerful network of trusted professionals;
- Explore opportunities.

It is important that you build great profiles and branded pages for all your networking sites and each site should have links to the other sites as well as your blog/website. You can even have content feeding from your blog to your Facebook Fanpage and from Twitter to your blog.

Social Media Marketing is a great way to advertise your Company, services and expertise to the world, for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

Friday, February 12, 2010

3 Reasons you should promote your business on Public Holidays

Thank you so much to Damaria Senne, a Johannesburg based writer, for this guest post.

3 Reasons You Should Promote Your Business On Public Holidays

Valentine’s Day is almost here and as you know, many vendors are offering specials and discounts to entice their customers to buy something. As a transcriptionist /and VA, what are you offering your clients/potential clients to encourage them to do business with you? What message are you communicating to your clients about your ability and willingness to meet their needs??

As those of you who are members of the Yahoo discussion forum are aware, I have been writing articles about love, romance and Valentine’s Day for the past couple of days and will continue to do so until Sunday 14th February. And you may have assumed that it makes sense for me to make a big deal about the holiday because I write about love and sex and relationships for the OneLove Regional Campaign ( On the other hand, what does a VA and/transcriptionist have to do with Valentine’s Day, or Easter Weekend or Diwali?
Quite a bit, actually.

1. Each holiday has significance to a certain group of people and those people are your potential clients.

Which means that vendors who serve them for that holiday may become exceptionally busy. For example, during the Easter weekend, many church groups have intensive conferences, workshops, excursions and programmes. Are you targeting churches in your area right now to find out what they may need come Easter? if they’re going to have a conference, who’s developing their weekend programme brochure?

Many families with children also going on school holidays. Some of these parents may be business owners. Are you talking to them about providing tailor-made VA services so work in their business can continue to get done in their absence?

How are you going to clients that sell Easter-related products and services to be more efficient?

2. Holidays are a good excuse to promote your products and services anew.
Sure, you can have your own angle to promote your services, but why not pick up the low-hanging fruit too and use the opportunities public holidays provide?

3. You are indirectly reminding your clients to get on with their own promotions.
As I previously mentioned, Valentine’s Day is almost here, so most people have already planned and implemented whatever promotion plans they had. But there are many other holidays coming up, and if you plan early, you’ll remind your clients to also get the first worm. Which may very well make you a rock star VA/ transcriptionist in their eyes.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning for the next holiday!

Author bio

Damaria Senne is a writer based in Johannesburg. For the past year, she has been helping her clients create web site and build online communities, which include Kwanda ( ) and the OneLove Regional Campaign ( ). Learn more about her and her projects at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti disaster

Hello everyone, TAVASA wishes to express its condolences to the people of Haiti after the terrible earthquakes and subsequent loss of life.

South Africans can help by donating to Gift of the Givers

Please show the giving spirit of South Africans in general and TAVASAites in particular.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Outsource your tweeting and blog posts

Hi everyone,

"Social media" was one of the watch phrases of 2009. It has become one of the most important marketing tools of our time and making use of it correctly is a necessity for the survival of businesses today.

Yet, like everything else, it is time consuming. How many times have you been in your car or another environment where it's not possible to get to the internet, and have thought to yourself "oh I must tweet or blog about such and such a thing", only for the thought to drop from your mind, never to return?

Imagine how easy it would be to note your ideas down or to make a digital recording of that thought or dictate your blog post as you are on your long commute, send it to your transcriptionist to type up, and have it placed on the relevant social network without having to do this work yourself - and freeing yourself up to handle your core business, or to simply relax.

Make the most of this opportunity by outsourcing this work to me. - Gaynor

Originally published by Gaynor Paynter on

Monday, January 4, 2010

Prepare now for a busy time

Hello everybody and happy new year! Hoping that 2010 is going to bring the best of everything!

This week is probably a good time to get everything in order that you haven't already attended to - open new files for 2010, do final marketing, finish off small adhoc jobs that you may have, etc.

In the transcription field things already are very busy, with queries streaming in and I'm advising everyone to ensure that they have all their procedures in place for full steam ahead next week! January 2010 is upon us and it's going to be a good year!