Bradford (Brad) Hines is a digital marketing strategist, writer, and founder of HungryKids.org.
He also runs an online toy store called Nerd Playthings!
And you guessed it: he uses transcriptionists to boost his businesses.
"I am a content marketer both as a consultant to others and to myself for my e-commerce businesses," says Brad. I help people with content inception, SEO, social media marketing, writing, online ads, strategic planning, as well as digital PR."
I got on the phone with Brad for just 15 minutes in order to ask him more about how he uses transcriptionists to create blog content -- and guess what? I got our 15-minute chat transcribed to help me create the blog post you're reading right now.
Talk about PROOF that transcription work is everywhere, huh? Even a transcription blog uses transcriptionists!
Brad runs HungryKids.org, his own consulting business, and several e-commerce sites -- including an online toy store.
"With all of those businesses, it behooves me to have written word on the website," he says. "Small business and entrepreneurs are being told all the time now, 'You need to be producing video. You need to be doing social media posts.' All of that is great. All of that is true. But it has always been a good premise to have your marketing central hub be your own website," Brad says.
"For example, I have an online toy store. Even though it could very simply just be nothing but the products and selling the products, I make a point to have articles up on the site at least once a month," he says.
What does that mean? Text. "That means written words. They’re not podcasts; they’re not video -- not even little snippets -- but actual, north-of-400-word blog posts, articles... whatever you want to call them," says Brad.
The point? Brad says, "The point of that is for search engines."
"Periodically, I will look up, either through Google itself or through any of the best SEO blogs, like moz.com, about what Google search is looking for," says Brad. "One of them is frequent content. They don’t want so much a static website."
"Sometimes the easiest way to [get text] is to simply have something transcribed,"
Brad uses the $10 app Tape-a-Call. "I downloaded [it] a few years ago when a fellow marketer recommended it to me. It’s very easy to get written content this way."
"I could call somebody up and use the app, get an audio file, and then -- because it’s not worth my time -- it’s much easier to just send that dialogue, literally the MP3 file, and have that transcribed into text," says Brad.
It's not enough to have just rough speech, though. "Adding the punctuation and having it edited to make sense, then just being able to then paste that into a website," he says. "In a way, it’s like instant content. It’s much easier for someone to just speak."
Instant content is a huge time saver for clients, so the closer you can get a transcript to usable and blog-worthy, the better. The transcriptionist needs to know how to organize text, know what things they can safely take out, so if there’s a false start, if someone says “um” a lot, they can actually clean that up so their client can literally just copy and paste it into a blog post and it’s already perfect.
Great transcriptionists know how to proofread. They know how to use punctuation. There aren't any weird things in there, and they never send back just a giant paragraph. They can actually parse it out to where it makes sense, and it’s usable as a quality blog post.
Brad says, "I know that, in the past, I’ve definitely had problems with the person not being familiar with the language because they were transcribing in English, which was not their first language. And it was evident they were typing words that were not actually said because they were being heard incorrectly. So, that could either be a function of people that don’t have a good ear, the language problem, or both."
Skill comes with experience. "Sometimes, it can be our own fault because we slurred a word in our speech or we weren’t talking into the microphone clearly. Then, if the transcriptionist has a good contextual mind and can figure out what’s being said in that moment that makes the most sense -- and get it correctly -- I believe that would come through experience," says Brad.
Brad and I talked at length about why it's not a good idea to outsource non-native English speakers.
"[It's because of] the cultural differences," says Brad.
"Sometimes they won’t take initiative to explain back to you that something you’re asking them to do doesn’t necessarily make sense. So if you’re incorrect in what you ask them, they will go ahead and use up your time and your money because, in their culture -- I’m referring to the Philippines especially -- their culture is to do exactly what the boss tells you to do. They would do something, six billable hours, eight billable hours, that they know doesn’t even make any sense just because you asked them to do it, rather than simply say, 'Wait. Do you think maybe we should do this instead?'"
On the other hand, a high-quality, native-English-speaking transcriptionist can much more easily understand what you're trying to accomplish with your business and, can create a transcript to align with your vision.
So we've posted accounts of several other marketers who use transcriptionists for books, podcasts and the like, but how incredible it is to know there's also demand for transcriptionists in the e-commerce sphere -- even selling toys!
But it's critical to take time to learn the basics and put in the practice before going out there and looking for work -- or you could shoot yourself in the foot. As we learned from Brad today, transcription is more than just typing words -- it's about assisting in creating quality content.
To be excellent, you need to actually practice and get a good feel for hearing people speak, typing at the same time, and understanding the context so you can help fill in the gaps and create a finished product for your client.
Follow Brad on Twitter.
What do you think about Google's preferential treatment toward e-commerce websites with quality content? Do you see the benefit of quality transcriptionists in creating that quality content? Do you know how another entrepreneur uses general transcriptionists in their line of work? Leave a comment below!
What separates a ho-hum transcriptionist from an excellent one? Is there even a demand for transcription? Who hires transcriptionists?
Can anyone be a transcriptionist?
Get the answers to all these questions and more by enrolling in my free introductory course, Transcription Foundations.
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