Author: Outsource Typing

I'm Fiona, owner and founder of Outsource Typing. Based in the UK, we provide Virtual PA, audio typing and transcription services to businesses and individuals worldwide. You can follow us on Twitter and Google+

Case Studies | Questions to ask your VA

Virtual Assistant Case Studies

To demonstrate how you can utilise our services and to give an idea of cost-effectiveness, we’ve outlined below some case study examples of work we’ve done recently for our valued clients.

The task: Telemarketing / database creation 
What we did: 9 hours over the course of six weeks – researched potential customers, gathered the details, followed up with calls and created user-friendly Excel database with all info. Passed this on to our client who then did a mass cut and paste of the email addresses gathered for a brief follow-up email to all, and et voilà, effective marketing to around 200 potential leads.
Cost: All for around £160!

The task: Survey Monkey – Survey creation and maintenance
What we did: 13 hours of admin time perfecting four long and complex in-depth surveys. Saved the client considerable time and effort as these can be tricky and require thorough testing before making them available to complete.
Cost: Just over £200

The task: Blog article drafting
What we did: Two hours drafting a blog article collating best tips from previous articles. I’m trained in editing and also a keen writer, and lover of the English language, and relish these types of task! If you’re looking to buy time and rehash or recap while you’re thinking up new material, this can be a good way to keep your readership and followers engaged meanwhile – plus other ideas can often be sparked from revisiting and reviewing.
Cost: £36

The task: Editing and proofreading
What we did: Looked at 36-page e-book a longstanding client had created, edited and proofread so it was ready for publishing.
Cost: £36

The task: Typing
What we did: As well as PA and admin type duties, we also carry out a lot of typing! We take on many hours each month and pride ourselves on always returning on or before the deadline and to the highest standards. Examples of work provided: medico-legal reports; medical correspondence; legal correspondence and file notes; CVs; interview recordings; PDF to Word conversions (involves tidying up formatting). We also take on regular copy typing handwritten docs and data entry tasks – of all shapes and sizes!
Cost: From 85p per recorded audio minute

Hopefully this gives an insight into what we do all day! And it proves that you can use our service as and when you need it – there’s no commitments or packages to consider or anything like that – you simply pay for the time you use and you can cap this at any figure you would like. We work to your budget!

So if you require any of the above, travel planning, event organisation (room/venue bookings, catering), formal meeting room bookings, database creation or management, data entry, podcast transcription (the list goes on… – hopefully you get the idea!) then just drop us an email or a call, we’d be happy to discuss how we can help. We are resourceful, well established and have access to lots of local and national resources, as well as bags of initiative and great ideas – just ask us!

Free Download! Questions to ask your Virtual Assistant 

Thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant this year to help support your business or busy department? Download our free guide to assist you in selecting the right provider.

Transcription 101

Transcription basics

Need a transcript produced from your audio recording? Here at Outsource-Typing we draw on our many years’ combined experience in secretarial and transcription work to offer you a professionally presented end product.

Transcription of lengthy reports, correspondence, interviews or discussions can be time-consuming and often quite technical. We can transcribe your audio files for you to produce an accurate record of what was discussed or dictated, saving you time to get on with your research or core business tasks.

We can accept the following:

  • Medical Transcription
    Medico-legal reports, medical notes, summaries, clinic letters, etc.
  • Legal Transcription
    Letters, memos, court documents
  • Academic Transcription
    We assist students, lecturers and professors in transcribing lectures to assist students. We accurately type research interviews
  • HR Transcription
    We can produce a verbatim transcript of your grievance and disciplinary hearing meetings
  • Media Transcription
    We can transcribe your YouTube videos, radio, video, or podcast content
  • Market Research Transcription
    In-depth discussions, one-to-one and multi-speaker interviews, focus groups
  • Other Types of Transcription
    These might include journalist interviews, conference recordings, seminars, panel discussions, focus groups on anything and everything

    If there’s something you don’t see on the list above, contact us and we will advise on how best to carry out the work to the highest standards.

Formats we offer
Full details of the below formats can be provided to you prior to commencement so we know what type of finished transcript you would like.  We offer four types:

  1. Full Verbatim
    Includes everything that is said. 
  2. Standard Format
    A verbatim transcript, but excludes insignificant prompts by the interviewer, half sentences, repeated words, etc.
  3. Smart Style
    This type of transcript avoids use of verbiage, but includes half sentences, repeated words, etc. 
  4. Media Transcript
    In a tabled format to include time codes each time there is a new speaker / segment / introduction / music / sound effects, etc.  

If you’d like to an example copy transcript of any or all of the above just ask – we will be happy to produce copies of these for you to peruse to help make your decision easier.

If you would like to adapt any of the above formats with any of your own requests or additions we are happy to work to your preferred needs – we aim to provide a tailored service. The above will hopefully give you a solid framework.

If you are carrying out research interviews or dictating for the first time take a look at our 8 Top Tips for Recording Interviews downloadable PDF.

8 Top Tips for Recording Interviews

Tips for recording interviews

You might be brand new to audio recording, or just fed up getting poor quality transcripts back.  If so, this article is for you! 

At Outsource-Typing, we have extensive experience in the transcription process. We’ve compiled below a cheat sheet, feeding back some of our best tips to help things run as smoothly as possible for you on the day of your recording and beyond, into the transcript phase.  

A link to a PDF of this article can be found here: 8-top-tips-for-recording-interviews – you might find it helpful to keep as a prompt or for ease of reference.    

  1. Trial and test your equipment
  • Perform a short test to check audio is being picked up clearly on the recording and all speakers are sitting at a suitable distance from the mic.
  • Check battery levels and that everything is plugged in correctly!
  • Remember to periodically check the indicator light on your recording equipment during the session.
  1. Introductions and identifying all speakers
  • At the beginning of the recording, it is essential that each participant introduce themselves – spelling names if necessary – to enable the typist to then identify that person each time they speak as the meeting evolves. A longer introduction (e.g. full name, where from, how they travelled to the session) would be preferable where interviewees or participants have similar accents.  This longer dialogue at the beginning can help typists pick up on distinguishing voice characteristics to make it easier to identify each speaker throughout the transcript. 
  • Remind all participants that the session is being recorded and to speak slowly, clearly and audibly for recording purposes.
  • Regularly remind participants not to speak over each other for the benefit of the recording.
  • The interviewer / moderator could attempt on occasions to refer to the speaker by their first name upon completion of their comments to aid the typist in identifying speakers. This is especially helpful regarding participants who contribute less to the discussion over the piece. 
  1. Too many people speaking at once!

We do our best when people are talking over one another to pick out exactly what is being said, but this can be difficult at times.  If this happens, prompt the person(s) to repeat themselves, separately, for the recording.  If speech absolutely cannot be made out, (overspeaking) will be inserted into the transcript.

  1. Background noise

While we’re experts at completing even the trickiest of audio files, there are some things you can do to ensure your job is returned with less speech missing and also to a speedier timescale if you consider the below tips:

  • Politely request all participants to switch mobile phones off or onto silent mode prior to commencing the group or interview session – preferably without vibration set to “on” if the phone is sat on the desk – this will get picked up and amplified on the mic and may obscure speech!)
  • Any internal telephones could be diverted either to voicemail or another line so as to avoid them ringing during the recording as this can interfere with the recording quality and render what is being said inaudible.
  • It may not be possible to avoid, but water coolers, fans, air conditioning, stirring of tea and coffee, shuffling paperwork, tapping or banging on the table, people coming in and out of the room, etc., all cause background noise on the mic and can obscure what is being said. If possible, turn undesired equipment off.  If a person enters the room late, it is advisable to curtail the discussion until they are seated and introduced to avoid distraction and background noise. 
  • Sirens / heavy traffic noise / beeping horns / jet engine noise – please be aware that we can’t hear over this, it is amplified! If you can halt the discussion while there are sudden loud disturbances such as these it would be helpful – if this isn’t followed, perhaps you could ask the speaker to repeat what they have said for the purposes of the recording.    

If speech cannot be made out for any of the above reasons despite both our best efforts, (inaudible) will be inserted into the transcript and a time-stamp inserted to indicate the exact time-point of the discussion.  You may want to go over these yourself to see if you can make out what has been said. 

  1. Inaudible speech

People speak in a range of accents, tones and timbres.  Very quiet or softly-spoken people may need to be prompted to speak up for the recording.  Likewise if someone is mumbling!  To avoid embarrassing them or appearing rude by constantly asking them to speak up, you could halt the recording and ask that person(s) to sit closest to the mic.  It’s better to address the issue, pause the recording and resume than to have nothing they’ve said picked up at all!  We can boost volume and sound quality to a certain extent with our software, but we can’t work miracles!    

  1. Industry terms

It’s helpful to us if you spell any unusual names, words or terms for the purposes of the recording actually on the recording – or, if this isn’t followed, along with the recorded audio files, provide us with a “crib sheetorvocab doc containing a list of likely used words, phrases or acronyms.  Therefore, if someone says a word or term that you are not familiar with, asking them to spell it for the recording is helpful for the typists when completing the transcript. 

  1. Offer breaks
  • People get tired, distracted, thirsty, restless, when sitting for too long – offer them a break if you notice they are looking distracted, or especially if know the recording is going to go on for longer than an hour. You could consider designating a time for rest breaks that will not interfere with the recording of the session – after, say, 45-60 minutes.  You can pause recordings at any time, and this is always helpful to state prior to getting started, so as to avoid your interviewees from feeling trapped!   Just remember to ensure that the recording is on again after you hit pause.  Familiarising yourself fully with the equipment beforehand is essential.    
  • For disciplinary hearings, it is recommended – and respectful – to offer the subject a break at regular intervals.
  • When returning from any breaks, it’s best to ensure everyone sits in the same seat to ensure continuity, and to wait until everyone is settled until resuming the recording to cut down on background noise. 

20 tasks we can do in under an hour

Virtual Assistant quick tasks

Could you work more effectively if you delegated? The benefits to you could equal more time to get on with your core business tasks, or just might make your life easier and more stress-free in general.

Here are 20 popular tasks our experienced admin staff can carry out for you:

  1. Data entry – type up over 100 lines of data, e.g. contacts list
  2. Social media – set you up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  3. Document conversion – convert MS Word documents to PDF or vice-versa
  4. Marketing – set up a Mailchimp account for email marketing/newsletters
  5. Market research – create a survey using Survey Monkey
  6. General internet research
  7. Form filling
  8. Travel plans – book flights, accommodation, meals, etc.
  9. Diary management – meeting organisation, Doodle Polls, etc.
  10. Financial – chase up unpaid invoices
  11. PowerPoint – create a presentation template
  12. Copy typing – type 5-10 pages of A4 handwritten text
  13. Create a professional signature block for emails
  14. Get quotes from potential suppliers
  15. Personal errands – sourcing gifts or services online
  16. Reception duties – fielding calls/call handling service
  17. Type your dictation – short audio files, podcasts, interviews, etc.
  18. Create reports – pivot tables in Excel
  19. Organise files using Dropbox
  20. Create document templates and new databases

This is not an exhaustive list of what Outsource-Typing can do for you, just a sample of what we offer – we’re not just all about the typing! And at a cost-effective and competitive price, it’s worth finding out more. Contact us now: fiona@outsource-typing.com

Cost Comparison – Staff vs. Freelance Virtual Assistant

Thinking of hiring a temp, or full/part-time in-house staff to assist with admin or secretarial tasks?  How many of these tasks could be done remotely (off-site) by a skilled Virtual Assistant? To show how outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant can save you money, take a look at these cost comparison stats.

Because Virtual Assistants are specialised, highly experienced and have accumulated resources and connections at their fingertips, this automatically reduces down the number of hours spent on your tasks – important when you only pay for the time you use. We aren’t paid for coffee breaks, holidays or training. We are also self-employed – no need to worry about tax, National Insurance, overtime, mandatory pension, sickness/holiday pay, admin resources, equipment, supplies or training costs.

Our comparison guide above followed the version kindly offered by VA Networking.

Why you should hire a Virtual Assistant

Why you should hire a Virtual Assistant

Using a VA (“Virtual Assistant”) service can help you to:

  • Reduce your workload
  • Achieve a better work-life balance
  • Focus on your core business tasks
  • Get around to your to do list
  • Strengthen and revitalise your business
  • Utilise skills and experience unavailable within your company
  • Achieve a professional finish to your written reports and work

Delegate
Virtual Assistants do the same tasks an in-house secretary or PA would do for you, except on a freelance basis and from our own office.

Service Level
Our team is made up of highly experienced PAs and secretaries with many years’ previous experience. We research, proofread and transcribe your work accurately and professionally. We can work to your templates or create new ones for you.

Transcription
We are UK-based and a native English speaking team, who can expertly analyse your audio files in detail – accents, multi-speaker interviews, abbreviations, acronyms and industry terms. We research any words or terms we aren’t familiar with to save you time and give you the fullest possible service. We highlight these for you to review, to ensure total accuracy.

Initiative
Our extensive PA experience puts us in good stead for understanding what your requirements are and we will go the extra mile to help you achieve those.

Security
We are registered under the Data Protection Act and our transcribers sign a non-disclosure agreement and confidentiality agreement. We delete all sound files and documents once the job is complete – nothing is stored. We are happy to sign any agreements you may have.

Our virtual door’s always open how to get in touch
We’re always just a click or phone call away – call, email or Skype us.  We work core hours of Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm but if you require work carried out in the evening or at weekends this can be accommodated.  

Spelling out the Benefits

  • We work from our own premises – no need for you to pay for office space and other associated costs
  • Pay-as-you-go service/no obligations – only pay for the time you use, no contracts 
  • We are self-employed – no need to worry about tax, National Insurance, overtime, mandatory pension, sickness/holiday pay, admin resources, equipment, supplies or training costs
  • Business minded – as a business owner, I recognise and understand the importance of helping your business flourish
  • No training required – we can start immediately with all the relevant skills and knowledge, can offer useful suggestions, are multi-skilled in various professional industries (legal, medical and corporate)
  • Green – we are a great way to offset your carbon footprint, as everything is done via electronic transfer

We always offer a trial of work so you can see if it is right for you.
Call now to find out more: 01875 340 892 or email: fiona@outsource-typing.com

The Telegraph

We received another mention in The Telegraph online from 5 December (thank goodness for Google Alerts!Full article here by Elizabeth Anderson, listing all of the 100 businesses that took part this year. So, another year over for Small Business Saturday, but if you’re interested in taking part or being one of the “100”, like my business was, visit the Small Business Saturday UK website for further info.

Outsource-Typing and Small Business Saturday UK 100

I am pleased to say Outsource-Typing has been chosen to participate in this year’s Small Business Saturday UK “100”.  100 businesses have been chosen from all around the UK for promotion, one each day between now and 6th December: event day.  What’s in store for the event day is still a secret, so it will be interesting to see what they organise for us all and I am looking forward to meeting the other participants.

Capture

 Here’s what they say:
Small Business Saturday is a grass-roots, non-political, non-commercial campaign that supports, inspires and promotes small business and encourages people to support small businesses in their communities, both on the Saturday itself and beyond. It is a time to focus on our nation’s small businesses, which provide almost two thirds of private sector employment and almost half of private sector turnover. This year Small Business Saturday in the UK will take place on the 6th December, one of our busiest shopping days of the year. More information on Small Business Saturday can be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page, Twitter page and website”.

 Some stats from the 2013 Event:

  • 48% of UK consumers aware of the day
  • Over 1.5 million Facebook views
  • #SmallBizSatUK trending top 3 all day
  • 40% of Local Authority support
  • £460m+ spent in small businesses

I’ll be doing my best to promote the event on social media, in my local area and also through my website and this blog!  

I hope that this has been of interest and if you want to find out more please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit the links above.

Now I’m off to go and draft my press release!