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