So You Want to Be a Home Based Transcriptionist
The allure of transcription is simple. I can type fast! I have a computer! I
have a great internet connection! Transcription is so easy! I'm here to tell
you, "Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again." Sheer typing speed does not a
Let me reinforce that. Typing 120 words per minute does not qualify you as a
skilled transcriptionist. Typing speed is but a single facet of the transcriptionist.
In fact, in regards to the home based transcriptionist, I would place it pretty
low on the totem pole of importance and at the same level of good hearing.
Accuracy, attention to detail, strong grammar skills, and customer service are
far more important to the home based transcriptionist. This seems obscenely
obvious. However, you would be surprised at the number of would-be transcribers
who discover that "transcription ain't so easy."
If you were at a carnival ride, here's the 'you must be this high to ride this
ride' information. Number one - do not attempt transcription if English,
especially grammar, was not your strong point in school. The exception to this
would be if you hired a pro scopist, but this usually defeats the purpose of a
home based business.
A scopist also poses a slight barrier to entry. You've got to pay him/her, and
you are already working on a tight margin. Number two - get the right equipment
... now! If you've decided you are 'tall enough' to get past stage one, then do
not hedge your bet. Buy the equipment. You will need a foot pedal, transcription
software, and a comfortable set of headphones.
The most common foot pedal is the Infinity USB Foot Pedal. You can get this on
ebay for around $50 delivered. Out of all the equipment, in my opinion this one
is a no-brainer. Next, get the software. ExpressScribe is a free shareware
transcription program that works great. It's easy to use, and the price is
Finally get a nice set of headphones. Serious transcribers sometimes consider
this the most important piece of equipment. Just picking up slight audio nuances
can be a huge benefit.
Finally, like with any real business, you must excel at customer service. Your
competition is stiff and cutthroat direct from the shores of India. However, a
native based transcriptionist will almost always have the advantage. If you are
good, it's easy to get to the point where the work finds you. Repeat customers
will not let you go. They tell their friends, co-workers, and associates. I
cannot tell you the amount of projects I have been freelanced to "rescue" from
the hands of a foreign out-sourced transcriptionist.
In closing I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are missing one of the three
major components : a strong command of grammar and the English language, the
tools and equipment necessary, or the degree of customer service you are able to
provide, then DO NOT even attempt to start a home based transcription business.
Save yourself the grief. Spare your future employers the headache. On the other
hand if you feel like you are tall enough for this ride, then jump on and go for
it. Feel free to email me with any questions, tips, suggestions, or anything.
I'd love to hear from you. Leona. Info Aces
Leona started her home based business, Info Aces,
in August 2006. She served in the US Air Force and was awarded a commendation
medal for her time during Desert Storm. She has two teenage kids and lives in sunny Arizona.