If you’re looking to pursue transcription as a career, typing skills are essential! Being successful at transcription isn’t always about speed – granted, you’ll earn more money the faster you can type – but it’s much more important that your accuracy skills are in good shape to ensure that you last the distance. Attention to detail is everything in transcription. This is where you really need to take charge and be proactive, and it’s never too late to start.
It’s highly likely you brought along some bad habits to your new career. I know I did – we all do. Some of the people you’ve worked for, pre-freelancing, may be highly educated and even experts in their field – law, finance, property, medical, etc. This doesn’t automatically make them English language experts (and it’s usually not part of their job to coach you on your English skills!)
Further, transcription companies don’t always provide thorough training, or even feedback on work you submit. This for various reasons, but mainly because they don’t have the time, or they have a proofreading team to correct any errors. Therefore, it’s unlikely you’ll receive exhaustive, detailed reports on errors for each piece of work you produce. Unfortunately, this can inadvertently mean you’re proceeding blind, without really knowing exactly how you’re progressing in terms of accuracy.
Standards and expectations vary across the industry. This creates a kind of catch-22 issue when applying for freelance work elsewhere. If you’ve never been told you’re doing something incorrectly, how do you know what you need to do to improve? For example, you might apply to work with a company demanding a higher standard level than has previously been expected of you and they might refuse your work. You’re understandably shocked when you see the proofread transcript you receive, scattered with errors.
It might seem like a lot to take in and a huge learning curve. Unfortunately, some take it as a personal attack on their skillset (it’s not), and some are of course shattered and perhaps dread the barrier they’ve come up against. But looking at it another way, you can use the apparent scrutiny to your advantage. It’s actually a blessing in disguise, because everything that’s being fed back to you, you can use to better yourself.
You need to take the initiative – it’s your own personal freelance career you’re building and you’ve absolutely got to look out for yourself. Quite often, there isn’t the same type of support and security of a traditional workplace in freelancing. Naturally, this can come as a bit of an adjustment, particularly as a newcomer to working independently. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself every day and, yes, work to the standard requested of you, but go above and beyond and aim to find out more about the English language and transcription in general.
There are a lot of things not mentioned in a company’s manual or style guide that you’ll naturally be expected to know. Check out the Hit List in my e-book, The Home-Based Typist, for a list of these top ‘unwritten’ rules that will boost your chances of success. In addition, I recommend plenty of easy to use tools that can help you improve your accuracy skills – find these and more in The Home-Based Typist (link above) and also Improve Your Career with Time-Saving Tech, which details only the best and most effective shortcuts and time-saving tech tips to help you earn more money as a transcriber.
It might seem from the outside at first to be a tough gig or harsh ‘perfect’ environment to be in, but it’s really not that way. It’s a fun, rewarding and interesting career to have – you’ll constantly learn, and gain so much from being able to work flexibly, whenever it suits you! Show initiative and willingness to learn and you’ll secure a spot for yourself in the place you’re meant to be.
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