As a British virtual assistant specializing in digital transcription while living in the south of France, I am often approached by people with administrative backgrounds moving abroad who want to know my best digital transcription tips so they too can create their own virtual assistant can set up company. Here are my 7 best tips!
1. Know how digital dictation/transcription works in the first place
Digital dictation starts with the client; for example, a real estate expert who goes out every day to examine properties with the aim of drawing up a valuation report. He takes a digital voice recorder with him to record his findings. When he returns to his office, he downloads the voice file to his PC. He then sends this voice file over the Internet to a Virtual Assistant Digital Transcriptionist to transcribe using Transcription Software, headphones, and a pedal. The report is typed out in a Word document and sent back by e-mail. Job Done!
2. Determine your digital transcription niche
It’s a great idea to have a digital transcription niche – use your previous experience to guide you into your niche, whether that be insurance, real estate, education, medical… serve you much better than a to be a jack of all trades. If you don’t have a particular expertise in any area, research areas that motivate you and study the terminology associated with that niche. Consider the type of transcript you want to offer. This could include one-on-one interview transcription, meetings, focus groups, and conference calls. The number of people included directly affects the price you charge. The greater the number of people on the digital tape, the longer it takes to transcribe the tape.
3. Delete everything?
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 essential to your quote. Voice files can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as: the recording equipment used; whether an external microphone is built in; whether people are talking over each other; or someone is mumbling or talking really fast. As a general rule of thumb, an average single person who speaks clearly for one minute will take 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 have the right transcription software to do the job. This may vary depending on the digital recorder used when recording. Each can have its own pros and cons.
One of my favorites is the DSS (Digital Standard Speech) audio file format, a compressed audio file developed by Olympus that suffers no loss of quality, yet is easily transferable over the Internet due to its smaller size.
In addition, there are the more common digital file formats WAV (larger file size, excellent quality) and WMA (inferior quality). More associated with music, but of excellent quality are the MP3 or MPEG formats, as well as numerous others.
5. Know what matters to your customer
Each customer may have their own requirements when typing the transcript into a Word document. Ask if they have an internal template they would like to use so you can use their predetermined heading styles, fonts, headers and footers, etc. It is extremely important that your client receives their transcription of the highest quality and that means proofreading every time! Deliver to your deadline and be completely confidential.
6. Communicate the right way
When a customer sends you a voice file, it can be significant and you don’t want to block your email by receiving it as an email attachment. Check out Internet communication services designed specifically for this purpose, such as: http://www.sendthisfile.com.
7. Get the right tools for the job: transcription software, headphones, and pedal!
Olympus provides their own DSS Player transcription software that 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 pair of headphones (my Skype wireless headphones are just what you need!) to keep listening, a foot pedal (USB connection) for effective control over voice files, while leaving your hands to type!
So get started with your 7 best digital transcription tips in building your Virtual Assistant Business.