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‘Secretary’, ‘Audio Typist’, ‘Transcriber’: What’s the difference?

transcriber definition

Let’s clarify! A secretary or audio typist is commonly someone who types single speaker dictation for one person or a team of people (also known as a typing pool), producing work such as letters, reports or memos, and who is typically familiar with doing the same type of work on a daily basis. 

At Outsource Typing, we work with all three of the above types of people – secretaries, audio typists and transcribers, but our team have almost always made the transition from secretary/audio typist to transcriber to enable them to work as a freelancer at home.  Secretaries and audio typists will have gained background experience in their careers working in various business sectors.  Their accuracy, attention to detail and typing skills can be transferred over into transcription work. 

When a secretary or audio typist leaves the arena of single speaker dictation, in addition to continuing with audio typing, there is a world of work out there for them if they can skilfully type a range of varied recordings that might involve anywhere from 2-20 people (or more) speaking on a single recording.  It is what is formally known as audio transcription and the people who produce the work are called transcribers.  They might typically go on to specialise in legal transcription, court transcription work, medical transcription or ‘general transcription’. 

General transcription covers a wide area of the industry.  A transcriber may go from typing an informative webinar or a light-hearted podcast one day, to the next day transcribing an employment disciplinary hearing, a focus group with several participants involved in discussion, or a police PACE interview, for example.  

Good typing skills are essential, but transcription involves so much more than this.  Here are just a few examples of what is expected of a professional transcriber:

  • Punctuation and spelling. The transcriber will be expected to have the necessary skills and experience to ensure that the transcript is accurate in terms of punctuation and words are spelled correctly, so that the text makes sense. 
  • Indicating speech nuances. Not only to represent accurately what was said, but also how it was said.
  • Identifying individual speakers. Often, the client will not only want to know what was said, but also who said it, and each time there is a change in speaker, it needs to be marked up within the transcript.
  • Attention to detail and following instructions closely. There are a few fairly standard styles of transcript across the industry, depending on what information and/or data the client needs to capture. All of the formats require to be produced alongside the transcription company’s instructions and client requirements.  The transcripts can often be quite technical and so attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions closely is essential. 
  • Making sense of difficult or challenging recordings. Often, where there are many participants on a recording, they will talk over one another.  There might be background noise on the audio recording, such as dog barking, café noise, traffic noise, etc., and it’s important that the transcriber knows what to do in order to represent this properly within the transcript.
  • No editing – strict verbatim. Sometimes no editing of a transcript is permitted, particularly with a verbatim requirement, and there is usually a strict set of instructions to follow that require great care and attention to detail. 
  • Editing required. Sometimes the transcript requires to be edited or ‘tidied up’ by the transcriber to make it easier to read, and it takes great skill and care to know how to do this correctly to produce a high-quality transcript for the client.
  • Attitude. You will need to have patience, a willingness to learn, initiative and good research skills – the subject matters you will be requested to type will be wide ranging and you may not always be provided with any background details.  It takes time to work through a transcript and produce it correctly.       
  • Good health – hearing. A lot of people overlook this crucial aspect and I seldom see mention of it in other articles or instructional literature. Get a hearing test. An audiologist will be able to tell you where your hearing falls on the scale in terms of being able to pick out speech.  If you need an improvement in this area, there are many ways in which you can adjust your software to help you hear the audio better.  Further information on this can be found in our e-book: Improve Your Career With Time-Saving TechIf you are struggling to hear the audio, we’d highly recommend following these two steps.
  • Correct use of software. It’s important to use the software and equipment you have to maximise the audio quality so that you can capture all of the information and data within the transcript for the client. Sometimes audio quality can be poor. The transcriber should take the initiative to use the sophisticated tools they have at their disposal to improve the audio quality to make it clearer and more comfortable to listen to.
  • Correct use of equipment. Choice of headphones is also very important.  I often see people incorrectly recommending noise cancelling headphones for use with transcription.  In most cases, these are not the correct choice. I make recommendations on the best headsets to use in my e-book that cater to a range of budgets.  Unsuitable headphones can also be detrimental to aural health.  A transcriber will be wearing a headset for long periods of time and so it’s important to make the right choice.   

To sum everything up, what makes a good transcriber is someone who can really listen to what is being said on the recording in an effort to help them best represent this within the transcript, for example, knowing where and how to edit, e.g. where to separate sentences properly and natural paragraph breaks. 

As an audio typist, a vast majority of work done on this basis for a single speaker of course needs to be accurate, but there is the luxury with this type of work that the professional who dictated it will be responsible for editing the final copy at the end of the day. Within transcription, the transcriber is responsible for the editing. It has to be correct and an accurate record of what is said by its very nature! So there is a greater responsibility in terms of really listening and accurately representing what is being said, rather than simply ‘drafting’ copy for someone else to edit later on. This is the real difference between basic audio typing/secretarial work and transcription

If you are looking to train with us as a transcriber, as an SME we are rarely able to take the time to teach transcription on the job.  We look for applicants to have at least one year’s previous experience in formal transcription, as well as having your own setup in terms of equipment and software.  For information on this, check out our sister site The Home-Based Typist, where you will find information on how to work from home doing audio typing and transcription work. 

If we can assist your business with transcription projects both short- and long-term, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a quote fiona@outsource-typing.com

COVID-19 – Business Continuity Planning: Virtual Admin & Typing Support

As a remote operation offering virtual assistance, we are business as usual and there is no change to our service.  And as a purely virtual service, we are immediately able to help support businesses whose workers may be absent and unable to work from home.

Many businesses will be negatively impacted and unable to produce typed or written work, or keep on top of building admin tasks due to staff absence.  Outsource Typing can assist for as long as you need us by providing typing and admin support to all kinds of businesses during periods of staff absence. There are no contracts – you can send as little or as much as you like, and you only pay for the time you use, which is a very cost-effective way to keep your business productive amidst economic instability.

Dictation and recorded audio files can be sent securely to us through our easy to use secure online portal.  We can accept large volumes, and at short notice.  Our thoroughly vetted UK-based transcribers work securely from home, working through the portal to send your work back to you by your chosen deadline.

Sending work to us is easy: login to your online account, upload your file and it will arrive in our typing or admin pools for our team of dedicated remote workers to complete.  Your account is free, our charging structure is simple and there are no hidden costs.

Take a look at our list of services here.  If we can help during this difficult time, please get in touch with our experienced team today by calling 01875 340 892 or emailing fiona@outsource-typing.com.

Using Video Content For Your Business

Using video content for your business

You might be thinking about live streaming video for your business or brand via Instagram Live Video or Facebook Live. If the video is going to be informative and lengthy (both features allow up to an hour), why not screen record your live video, send it to us to transcribe (type up!). You can then turn the content into useful marketing info on your website or social media.

Likewise, if you pre-record and edit video footage for use on your website or social media, or record your webinars, get in touch and send us the video file to have the audio content typed up.

Click here to find out more about our media transcription skills and services.

One final interesting thing! Why not be at the start of something new and get your videos and content out there by using LinkedIn’s new LinkedIn Live.  Not yet launched and still in the pilot scheme stages, they are selecting a few business to take part and this could be you! Click the link to take you to their online application.

7 Ways Podcast Transcripts Can Boost Your Audience


Podcast Transcription - 7 Ways Podcast Transcripts Can Boost Your Audience

You want people to listen to your podcasts, not read them, right?  Not exactly.  Let us fill you in on how making available a typed up version of your shows (a transcript) can help you reach a wider audience – the ultimate goal of podcasting!    

Delivering your product or content in as many platforms as possible is a great way to help expand your business and reach a wider audience. At Outsource Typing, we specialise in transcribing audio and can type up your show recordings into a transcript document for you to use on your website, to send to subscribers – whatever you want (more about using transcript content below…). 

A growing number of people are looking to have their podcasts, webinars and YouTube videos transcribed, recognising a variety of benefits:

1. Enhances search engine optimisation (SEO) – content from the transcript can be used on your website, blog or social media, or the actual full transcript uploaded to your site for your audience, providing lots of new and regular content for search engines to crawl, which boosts SEO. Google searches are getting smarter all the time with autocomplete and picking up trends, and monitors how people search for things, which can include trends in how people talk – helpful if you have written transcripts of people actually talking, with all of the great content that they are speaking about, which has the the huge potential to crop up in all kinds of searches.   

“Podcasting is a great medium for engaging with your audience – for really building a relationship – but it’s not a patch on text content when it comes to being found in search, simply because that’s how people use Google – by typing in their questions! That’s why we always include a good written version of every podcast episode we create, so that we make a search friendly and easily findable version of our podcast episodes. Transcriptions are a great way to do this, providing a full copy of everything said on the show. Not only do they help in search, but they help the accessibility of your content, providing a written version for anyone with hearing impairments, or for those that simply want to review or skim through your content. While we love audio as a medium, it works even more effectively alongside text, and that’s why there’s a lot of power in transcriptions.”
Colin Gray, The Podcast Host

2. Makes content readily available – quote or use content in any way you want for your blog, website or on social media, etc., and include links to any websites or products mentioned.  Keeping your “content profile” updated regularly with new information and links provides the best chance at staying afloat in the search engine ratings, making sure people can find you.  Content can easily be used on your site for blogging and social media posts or marketing products, services, events or other important messages.

3. Produces cross-selling / marketing opportunities – as touched on above, you can use the typed content to create lead-magnet freebies (e.g. e-books, reports, guides, mini-courses, etc.).

4. Reaches wider audiences – the hearing impaired, or those unable to display audio/video content due to IT restrictions (e.g. at a workplace or library).

5. Reaches people with time constraints – some people may just find it easier to read the transcript document or content.  Don’t forget, getting them hooked by reading the transcripts can mean repeat visits or new subscribers if they like what they see…

“Transcripts are an essential part of my podcast. Each podcast I broadcast is accompanied by a detailed blog post based on a transcript of the show. Why? Not everyone wants to listen, some people want to read. By providing both the audio and written version of the show I’m reaching more people, it also makes my content accessible to those with hearing difficulties.  The blog posts are popular, get indexed by Google and help my website reach more people, the podcasts build stronger relationships because it’s my voice in your ear. They work well together.”
Amanda Webb, Spiderworking

6. Reaches foreign audiences – the transcripts are easily translatable into any language from the written transcribed content.

7. Enables smartphone/tablet users on the go – they can browse the written content using less data as opposed to listening/watching, perhaps enticing them to come back and listen/subscribe later – again, no opportunities missed!

We’re trained and qualified in editing and proofreading, so you can trust that your work will always be word-perfect and professionally presented, taking the headache out of editing the content yourself.  Why not trial it out – there is no commitment; we are a pay-as-you go style service, and if you want 1 or 100 podcasts typed up it is totally up to you.  No contracts, no fuss, just great service. 

Get in touch today: fiona@outsource-typing.com

The Home-Based Typist

typing ebook

My e-book is not free, but it is affordable, and PACKED with invaluable info from an expert insider perspective with a proven method for success. Running a successful transcription business full-time since 2011 means I know what it takes to make it as a freelancer and business owner in this field.   

I’ve authored a perfectly tailored and indispensable all-in-one guide for typists wishing to start up a new business or enhance their freelance career to boost income. Designed for secretaries/typists, PAs/admins, writers and proofreaders looking to transfer their valuable skills for the first time – or as a refresher – into working at home for transcription companies.

You might be:

  • Working full-time but want to reduce your hours and earn extra money working from home
  • Working full-time as a transcriber but want to advance to the next level and boost your income, earning money from your own clients, in addition to having the optional safety net of agency working too
  • Soon to retire but looking for optional, occasional ad hoc freelance work into the future
  • Experiencing redundancy and want to transfer your skills into something new or temporary
  • Seeking a change in a new role utilising your existing skills
  • Unsure of how you can get into the industry/unsure how to approach transcription companies for work
  • Consistently getting knocked back on your applications for employment with transcription companies (I can tell you why!)
  • Simply looking for a more flexible working life

The e-book has been carefully put together from YEARS of tried and tested approaches and experience in the transcription industry as a competitive transcription service. It’s PACKED with hard-earned knowledge, honest advice, resources and helpful mini projects that will maximise your chances of getting accepted by transcription agencies. It will give you the tools to help you start up your own transcription business or make it as a freelance transcriber, taking assignments as and when you want!

Find out everything you need to know to get started and beyond all in one helpful guide – from equipment to IT, from finances to legal and regulatory advice and many, many more important and fundamental topics are covered, along with a detailed breakdown of transcript types, example transcripts, industry insides, innovative tips, clever tricks and invaluable resources you won’t find elsewhere (or that other educators or mentors want to keep to themselves!)

I’ve been in the industry since 2011, and I run my own successful transcription business. I’ve worked as a freelancer with all types of transcription businesses and my own clients – from large to small, and all over the globe. I know what it takes to make it, and I can share my secrets with you to help make the process easier for you.  I can help you succeed where others have and can so easily fail without the right coaching.

The e-book contains 65 detailed full A4 pages in a PDF (or MS Word format) download, ready to print or be read on screen. The user-friendly interactive document navigation makes it easy to jump between sections for easy referencing. A printed and bound copy is available by post within the UK for an small extra charge – please message me for details: therealhomebasedtypist@gmail.com

Each customer will be offered access to our members only Facebook Group where you can chat with myself and others about all things transcription and ask any follow-up questions you might have.

Discover today exactly what you need to know in one affordable and easy to reference guide.

Still not sure if it’s for you? Visit our sister website here: The Home-Based Typist for further information and background, and helpful articles on our blog. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter here to stay informed.

Find out more today.

Meet the speech to text specialists

speech to text

Want to know more about our Transcriber Team?  Here’s the skinny on who is carrying out your work!

About Fiona, Owner of Outsource-Typing
I’ve worked in secretarial, administrative and Personal Assistant jobs for solicitors, doctors, company directors and other professionals from 1996 until starting Outsource-Typing in 2011.  From then on I worked as a freelance transcriber, doing as much as I can – anything and everything! – to build up experience until recruiting my team in February 2015.  I’m also formally qualified in editing and proofreading, and all work is “double filtered” through me for a final proofing before being returned.

Our Transcriber Team
My team of transcribers have backgrounds in legal, medical, corporate and interview transcription.

  • We never use non-human methods (i.e. speech recognition software) to produce your transcript
  • Our Transcriber Team are all UK-based and we only ever use our own staff – we never outsource to other transcription companies, therefore the quality and service level therefore is one you can depend on
  • Confidentiality is paramount and we have policies and procedures in place to protect your data

Find out more about our culture.

What we offer “as standard”
We listen carefully and analyse exactly what is being said.  We realise it is crucial to capture all of the information and its meaning.  Anything that is unclear or where there is any uncertainty in meaning, our transcribers will assist in picking this out and marking it clearly within the transcript for you to double-check.  We are professionals and will carefully examine the speech and ensure you have an accurate and reliable document.

There are no hidden charges.  Included in our cost, which starts from as little as £0.85 per audio minute:

  • Research – we research unfamiliar terminology, place and person names
  • Participants – all speakers, interviewees and participants are clearly identified within the transcript.  We are used to dealing with multi-speaker interviews where there can be as many as 10 or more people speaking during a session.  We take extra measures to identify exactly who is speaking.
  • Understanding of nuances – e.g. homophones
  • Emotions – pauses, laughing, crying, raised voice, quiet tone/whispering, etc., can be added
  • Quotes – from text are clearly marked out on a separate paragraph
  • Publications – all references to any books or publications are italicised
  • Inaudible/unclear words/phrases – anything unclear is marked up with a “time-stamp” for easy and quick referencing/review
  • Accuracy and continuity – all work is proofread by the Transcriber Team, but then is also passed through a quality control process to ensure it meets our continued/sustained high standard
  • Tones, accents, verbal habits – you can rely on our extensive experience in dealing with all types of style and speech

Working out costs
Because you know the audio file(s) duration before we even begin to hit any keys, you can easily work out the exact price for the job.  We will review the audio prior to commencement to let you know the rate.  Rates can vary depending difficulty: audio quality, number of participants, etc., but start at £1 per audio minute (pam).  Therefore, for example, for 1 hour audio length at a £1/pam rate, the calculation would be 60 (mins) x £1.00 = £60 total cost.

A word about voice recognition / speech recognition software
“Speech-to-text” in the Google results may bring up some tempting offers for you.  Voice software may work for you if you find you are regularly dictating large chunks of unformatted text, i.e. simple paragraphs in a Word document, with no numbering, headings, etc. – or you can add these in easily later on… not always as easy as it may sound, however (more on that below).  Where it falls down especially is with medical terminology, which can be broad.  Likewise for some legal terms, or Latin – it doesn’t seem to cope with Latin very well at all!  Interview transcripts, due to their complex nature, cannot be put through the software, and need to be sent to an experienced service – such as ours…  #justsaying!

What users have also found is there can be a long period of time spent “training” it to get to know your voice and verbal habits – some of which it may never pick up!  Therefore, there may be an indefinite period of having to replace its errors manually with the correct words or phrases. Great if you have the patience and time for this.  It may appear to save you money in the long term, but then don’t forget to factor in the time you will inevitably spend cutting and pasting the text into your report or document template, adding numbering to paragraphs or bullets, etc., which can be technical, and frustrating if you don’t know what you are doing; even if you do know what you’re doing do you want to be spending your precious time on this when you could be focusing on other business tasks?!

As mentioned above, included in our price, we type everything for you – exactly how it was meant, fully researched, properly formatted – the finished article.  All you might need to do is tweak it here and there with any additions or edits you may have.  Easy.

I personally haven’t tried the voice software, but I am going on reliable feedback from contacts and clients who have trialled it in the past.  Feel free to comment below your experiences with using voice recognition transcription software.

Recapping on six years in business

As September draws to a close, I’m taking some time to recap on six years in business with Outsource-Typing.

True story
I heard about the concept of “Virtual Assistants” on the Woman’s Hour radio programme back in 2010 whilst in a job I was undervalued in and a very toxic environment. 

Fast-forward to where I am now and I love my freelance work.  I’ve learned and gained so much from doing it – personally and professionally.  I’m reading a book that puts forward the idea that no learned skill is wasted.  Experience gathered over the years in jobs – some good, some bad – all adds up and, if you are pushed hard enough to use your resources like I was, you might be surprised at the outcome.  I now have a business I am proud of and a team who are top-notch.  (I still have to pinch myself sometimes!)

We’re moving forward!
We’re glad that our users find our service helpful, and with the assistance of a great team we can carry on helping clients and continue to grow and welcome new ones without compromising quality.  Check out our client reviews.

Our team are UK-based, time-served, from secretarial and PA backgrounds and are thoroughly vetted prior to joining our team.  We respect confidentiality and have strict policies and procedures in place to keep your information and data safe.  We are also registered under the Data Protection Act.  All work passes through me as Head of Quality Control!  I am formally qualified in editing and proofreading, ensuring the finish is both professional and word-perfect.

How our service can work for you
If you’re considering how a virtual PA or transcription service (or both) may work for you, check out our guide Questions to ask when hiring a Virtual Assistant and let us know what your requirements are.  We can provide you with a detailed quote as well as a free sample of any audio work so you can see for yourself how it will work for you.  We aim to tailor the work to suit your requirements, but if you are unsure of how to approach a task we can offer reliable suggestions – you can rely on our combined and extensive industry knowledge to help get tasks delivered to you efficiently, excellently presented and with a high rate of accuracy.

We can also provide information on optimising quality of audio recordings during dictation or interviews, to include equipment tips, software and hardware recommendations, and any apps you can use to make recording tasks easier.

For anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us fiona@outsource-typing.com

40 examples of transcription we provide

 

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.