Posts Tagged ‘transcription


My First Client

I remember the first time I had a transcription job. This was when I posted that I could transcribe audios in a day so I could send the transcript to the client as soon as possible. Yes, I am a fast typist, or a touch typist that’s why I could type and listen to an audio at the same time. It’s kind of multitasking, don’t you think?

Let me stay on the topic at hand, which is my first client. After I was contacted by a client overseas, it was for her dissertation, she interviewed foreigners. Back in 2007, our Internet connection was just dial-up, not the wired broadband connections these days. The fastest was the 64 kilo bytes per second at that time. And when you’re using a telephone line, you would not be able to use the telephone or else you would lose the Internet connection.

Okay, my client and I had settled on the price and she sent me the link in my e-mail account so I could download the audio. At one point, the downloading stopped at 5 MB of the file. I thought that was it as I didn’t know I’d have to ask the client how long the file was. At that time, the Internet connection was really slow so it took like half an hour to download a 10-minute or so audio. The downloading just stopped and I didn’t bother checking if there was more to it than that.

So I started transcribing and after an hour or less, I sent in the file. What happened next was unbelievable.

My client reprimanded me for sending in an incomplete transcription of the interview. Yes, I downloaded a five-minute audio, thinking that was the whole thing and transcribed it. Boy, did I get so frustrated and mad at myself for not realizing that was a boo-boo. My client even blamed me for not passing her dissertation because of the error I’d committed. I apologized to her profusely. For that, I told her that I’d transcribe the audios for free.

So I downloaded it again, transcribed the whole 20-minute audio, and submitted the transcript, even if it was too late. I still got paid P1,500 for the job, for the effort.


The dial-up days are over so a transcriber’s Internet connection should be something like 2.1 Mbps now to comply with the client’s requirements in downloading audios, or else, no transcription job.

After that mistake I made, from that time on, I’d make sure that all the audios I’d download, I’d ask the client how long the file was and wait for it to completely download.


How I Got Home-based General Transcription Clients

I am thankful to my mom, she bought me this laptop in 2007 when I was out of a job and our Internet connection was still dial-up back then.  I had to find a way to get a client for general transcriptions because I knew that this was the “in” thing back then.  In the Philippines, it was just a small market at that time.  There were not much clients to work for.

So, what I did was search the Net on how I could acquire good clients.  I first put an online ad in,  I even posted my resume on  I opened an account in, and other job portals out there.

And true enough, I got an email from someone in London from one of those ads that I posted.  I mean, at least, when you tell the whole world what you can do, I’m sure someone will turn up and check you out.

That’s how I got my first client.  The next client came from from the States and I wish I could do that again.  The client said they saw my resume from that job portal and would like to give me a try.  When I got things right, they hired me to transcribe their podcast for a year.  Imagine that?

But after a year, I was going back to the corporate world and sort of quit that job because I might not be able to deliver good transcripts.  I regret doing that, actually.

Oh, well, I’m sure things happen for a reason.  Then, I discovered LinkedIn, the site for professionals, where you can showcase your talents.  Just write in your profile that you can do such and such and people will contact you for the services that you do.  You will find those tag words very useful.  I did that and I got some clients from there too.

I must admit though that for some people, going to oDesk and Guru and Elance is probably the way to go.  In my experience, yes, I have accounts in those portals but I never bid on anything because I believe my talent lies within and I don’t want to price myself so low and that I’m worth more than what they’re paying for.  There are clients who would bid as low as $10 per audio hour, which really sucks big time.  Your time and effort for that price is not worth it, I’m telling you.

You can find better-paying clients and they will even appreciate the quality of work that you give them.

That’s the word for it – make your work worth every cent that your client pays you for.  Show them you’ve got the ‘It’ factor and they’ll definitely keep coming back.  And in a previous blog, I’ve written you should know how long it will take you to finish a certain number of audio minutes.  That way, you can tell your client if you can finish the task at hand.  That’s another blog – communication.

Aside from the ones that I’ve mentioned, you can check other sites as well like craigslist, peopleperhour, and some other job portals that contain the magic words, home-based general transcription jobs.

But one last word about job-hunting for transcriptions.  I’m sure there are scammers out there who will take advantage of those sites.  So, be careful in choosing the right job for you.  I don’t know how I do it but I’m lucky that the people I get to work for, pay me for what I do.  I’m sure you can too.

Good luck in finding your pot of gold!


The Transcription Job

In transcription, the things that you should be concerned about are:  audio, format, style guide and deadlines.  These are the things you should consider once you and your client have agreed to the rates you’ve given.   Remember not to price so low if you can send back quality transcripts.  $10 per audio hour is a big no-no.

Audio.  Once things have been settled between you and your client, you have to download the audio and check if it’s clear, doable and the exact length your client specified in an email.  You can listen to parts of the audio and see if you could still enhance it in Express Scribe, Audacity or in any software that you use for transcription that could help you make the audio clearer, if it’s not that clear or audible.  If there’s no way to enhance it, you can inform your client that it’s impossible to work on as soon as you can so that the client will know how bad it is.

That is, hoping that your client is online all the time to answer your queries.

Format.  This is also important.  It’s a guide for you how to type the transcript.  Always ask your client how he/she would like his transcript to look like.  More often than not, clients prefer a certain format for the transcriptionist to follow.  This has to be strictly followed or else you’d lose your client.  Or most of the time, the client has his/her own template and a sample and they will send it either with the audio link or in a separate email.

Be sure to check your emails carefully for these or you might start from scratch.  You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Style guide.  A style guide is the rules of how you will approach the audio and start transcribing.  Without it, you’re at a loss.  You’d have to contact your client again and again if he/she doesn’t have a clear guide as to how he/she wants the audio transcribed.  I always ask my client if I would have to include the uh’s, uhm’s, uh-huh’s, wanna, gonna, kinda, you know, I mean, like, so, et cetera.  I’m lucky if those are not needed.  Those are really a bunch of useless words to me.  Or ask if you could start the sentence with ‘And…’  as most speakers do that.

The style guide is just to make things clear about a lot of things that’s why it’s part and parcel of any transcription job.  There are clients that are meticulous when it comes to their transcript.  There are times they would require you to include the time stamp every 5 minutes or so, which is also tedious for me.

Deadlines.  Now, this is the crucial part of the job.  If the client says, “I need this by 12 noon tomorrow,” make sure you complete the task by 12 noon the next day.  You’re lucky the client gave you a long turn-around time or TAT, in transcription lingo.  Usually, clients would want a shorter TAT for a certain audio and that is a rush job.  We can talk about that in another blog.  That’s a whole ballgame altogether.

As long as you and your client agree on the terms, conditions and the things you have to do on an audio, that’s fine.  But always ask your client if you still have something to clarify.  That way, the client will know you want to make your work as perfect as you can.

Good luck and love your job!