Do you want to know how to grow your transcription business? In this article, our graduate Chloe Brittain will give her entrepreneurial advice on how to scale up your transcription career and become a successful business owner.
Keep reading to learn the best practices that will put you on the fast track to success.
As a home-based transcriptionist, it’s easy to forget that the agency or MTSO you contract for is your client, not your employer – and that, as an independent contractor (IC), you’re running a business. As an IC and business owner, it’s up to you to remain on the lookout for new contracts and keep your pipeline of opportunities full.
Here are four strategies for helping you meet your career goals as a transcriptionist – whether that’s higher pay per line, greater job security, or a more flexible schedule.
Boost your transcription speed
Using technology to improve your transcription productivity can be the fastest way to see big improvements in your earnings.
Apart from my Infinity foot pedal and word expander programs – both of which have done wonders for my productivity – here are a few other ways I’ve managed to increase my transcribing speed:
Audio enhancement software
Get familiar with any audio enhancement features that are built into your transcription software. Express Scribe, for instance, ships with background noise reduction, volume boost, and high-pass filter settings.
By using a free audio editing program like Audacity, you can apply a low-pass filter to reduce that high-pitched ringing sound that plagues so many recordings.
Repetitive keyboard actions, such as typing out timestamps and inaudible tags, can be automated using the timecode features available within your transcription software. You can also use your word processing program’s autocorrect feature to quickly expand speaker labels.
Speech recognition software
I discovered voice recognition (VR) software after developing a repetitive stress injury that put me out of commission for weeks. Today, I regularly use it to give my hands a break from heavy-duty typing. There are paid tools available, like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, as well as free ones, like Google Docs’ speech recognition feature.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Maybe you’ve landed your dream client and you currently have more work than you can handle. It’s a great feeling! But don’t let yourself rely too much on one client. Changes can happen and it’s important to be prepared when they do.
Many transcription companies hire on a part-time or flexible basis. It’s a good move to get on with a few of these companies if you can. They’ll make welcome filler work if your main account runs dry. Set aside time each week or month to research new opportunities. Check LinkedIn job postings, remote gig boards, and transcription forums, and note down any leads in a spreadsheet for future reference.
By making job hunting an essential part of your work routine, you can continue to introduce new contracts that help you reach your career goals. At the same time, you can phase out contracts that aren’t the best fit or keep them on as backup work.
Be proactive about career advancement
One of the biggest benefits of working remotely as an IC is a flexibility to advance within a company while continuing with part-time transcription work.
For instance, at the company you contract for, there are likely other positions where you can put your skills as a transcriptionist to good use. These roles may include training new hires, working in quality assurance (QA), or taking on the responsibilities of a team lead or manager.
Additionally, transcription companies are often seeking candidates to fill other part-time roles, such as tech support, marketing, administrative, or HR. Since these can be done remotely, they can make a rewarding supplement to your transcription work. These roles tend to pay hourly or on salary, rather than per line or audio minute, which has its benefits – and it’s another egg in your basket as a home-based worker.
If you’re interested in any of these positions, the best way to get your foot in the door is to be proactive: Connect with your team lead and let them know of your interest and any relevant experience you have. If you have a good track record as an independent contractor, you’ll be first in line when a position opens.
Start building a base of private clients
Private clients are the Holy Grail of a transcription career since you can cut out the middleman and charge your own rates. However, it takes time and effort to land them.
Fortunately, private client acquisition is something you can do on the side while you continue to work your regular transcription accounts.
Also, transcription is a referral-friendly industry. One or two well-connected clients can get the ball rolling and make a noticeable difference to your bottom line.
To expand your pool of prospects, consider offering a variety of virtual assistant services. Depending on your skill set, you could offer word processing, data entry, press release writing, desktop publishing, proofreading, or even marketing tasks like social media management. (Check out this comprehensive list of VA services you could offer!)
There are several sources of prospective clients to consider:
Your personal network
Your network includes family, friends, existing clients, and past or current coworkers and employers. It also includes their networks – for instance, you could ask your friends if they can put you in touch with anyone who might need a virtual assistant or transcriptionist.
Online local classifieds
I’ve gained several leads from Kijiji and Craigslist, some of which became clients. Monitor your ad regularly and renew it when it expires. This way, you could gain at least one or two regular clients a year. (Always require payment up front or at least a deposit.)
Online niche communities
While transcriptionist communities can be a good source of information on new leads, you’re not likely to land any direct clients from them. Instead, consider where your dream client hangs out online. There are Facebook groups for medical and legal practices, copywriters, podcasters, journalists, and video production agencies. These groups dislike blatant self-promotion, though, so it calls for a subtle approach.
Community newsletters or bulletin boards
Many local community centres, neighbourhoods, YMCAs, schools, and universities have newsletters or bulletin boards for their members. Some of these are free for local businesses to advertise in; for others, you’ll need to pay a small fee.
While it may seem outdated, cold outreach can still be an effective and inexpensive way to generate new business. Direct mail doesn’t have to be fancy to get results: A simple cover letter describing your services will suffice. If you go the cold email route, make sure to read up on anti-spam laws for the geographic area you’re targeting.
About the Author: Chloe Brittain is a high honours graduate of CanScribe’s medical transcription program and the owner of Opal Transcription Services. She also writes for Not Just Paint, a Calgary cabinet refinishing company. Connect with Chloe on Twitter: @opaltranscripts.