As a British Virtual Assistant who has specialised in Digital Transcription whilst living in the south of France, I’m often approached by people with administrative backgrounds moving abroad who want to know my Top Digital Transcription Tips so they too can set up their own Virtual Assistant Business. Here are my top 7 tips!
1. First and Foremost, Know How Digital Dictation/Transcription Works
Digital dictation starts with the client; for example a property surveyor, who goes out each day to examine properties with the aim of producing a surveyor’s report. He takes with him a digital voice recorder to record his findings. When he returns back to his office, he downloads the voice file onto his PC. He then sends this voice file via the internet to a Virtual Assistant Digital Transcriptionist to transcribe using Transcription Software, headphones and a pedal. The report is typed out into a Word document and returned via email. Job done!
2. Decide on your Digital Transcription Niche
It’s a great idea to have a digital transcription niche – use your previous experience to guide you to your niche area, whether that be insurance, property, education, medical… becoming known for your speciality and be able to offer quality transcription work will serve you far better than being a jack of all trades. If you don’t have a particular expertise in any fields, research areas that motivate you and study terminology associated with that niche. Take into consideration the type of transcription you want to offer. This may be one-to-one interview transcription, meetings, focus groups and teleconferences. The number of people being recorded will directly affect the price that you charge. The greater the number of people on the digital tape, the longer the tape will take to transcribe.
3. All Clear?
Before accepting any work, ask for a test file to listen to. This can save hours of wasted time and money, where the quality of the file is vital to your quotation. Voice files can vary hugely dependent upon many factors such as: the recording equipment used; whether an external microphone was incorporated; whether people talk over each other; whether someone is mumbling or talking very fast. As a general rule of thumb, an average single person talking clearly for one minute takes four minutes to transcribe.
4. Know your file types
The audio file type is that of the voice file that your client is going to send you and you need to know that you’ve got the right transcription software to handle the job. This can vary according to digital recorder used when recording. Each can have their own advantages and disadvantages.
One of my favourites is the DSS (Digital Standard Speech) audio file format, a compressed audio file developed by Olympus which does not suffer loss of quality, but is still easily transferable via the internet due to its smaller size.
In addition there is the more common WAV (larger file size, excellent quality) and WMA (inferior quality) digital file formats. More associated with music, but excellent quality are the MP3 or MPEG formats, as well as a host of others.
5. Know what’s important to your client
Each client may have their own requirements when typing the transcription in a Word document. Ask if they have an in-house template they want to use, so you can use their predetermined heading styles, fonts, headers and footers etc. It’s extremely important that your client receives their transcription to the highest quality and that means proofreading every time! Deliver to your deadline and be totally confidential.
6. Communicate in the right way
When a client sends you a voice file, it can be substantial in size and you don’t want to block up your email by receiving it as an email attachment. Check out internet communication services designed just for this purpose such as: http://www.sendthisfile.com.
7. Have the right tools for the job – Transcription Software, Headphones and Pedal!
Olympus supplies their own DSS Player Transcription Software which transcribes DSS, WAV and WMA digital file formats.
There is also a range of free transcription software available, for example Express Scribe. The Windows version can be used to load most common audio file formats including WAV, MP3, DCT (encrypted dictation), RA and RM (RealAudio), SRI (VoiceIt), DSS (Olympus, Lanier and Grundig), AU, AIF, MSV, DVF, MP2, VOX, compressed WAV, Philips Digital Recorder format, Sanyo Digital Recorder format and more!
Get a good set of headphones (my Skype wireless ones are just the ticket!) to listen through, a footpedal (USB connection) for effective voice file control, leaving your hands to do the typing!
So get started using your 7 Top Digital Transcription Tips when setting up your Virtual Assistant Business.