It’s 2022, and you’re looking for how to start your transcription business. You’ve wanted to start such an endeavor but don’t know where to begin. You also might wonder whether it’s a good idea to begin with.
Starting a transcription business isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s not that complex either. However, you need to account for various things when starting one. You need to think about how you’re going to begin, what investments you need to make, how to start looking for transcription clients, and most importantly, answer if there is still a future for transcriptionists?
In this article, I’ll be tackling all of those concerns. I’ll be taking you through different steps in starting that transcription business. I will also list down the different things you need to consider when going through this journey. So get your notepads ready, and let’s get right to the article!
The majority of businesses know the importance of transcription in their operations. It has played a significant role in the success of several companies in various industries. It has helped government agencies, medical organizations, legal businesses, automotive companies, and many more.
There is a current buzz surrounding the transcription industry in today's time – and that is the rise of automation and AI. So how does this affect the industry? Well, as you’ve read different headlines throughout the years, it’s no secret that current technology is slowly taking the manual jobs of humans.
Publications have mentioned that machines are taking over jobs. This is evident in different business industries where management downsized and opted to work with automation instead.
People see the same thing in the transcription industry. The rise of speech recognition and text-to-speech software has made transcription businesses, and solo transcriptionists wonder and think about their future.
I firmly believe that the whole transcription industry will be here for a longer time. However, people in this field need to be on their toes and be updated with current changes. The innovations in the technological side of the industry may change the way in which we work, but our core skill set goes way beyond being a “fast typist”.
To further support this case, here are the top 6 reasons why AI can’t fully replace human transcription.
Everything starts with a business plan. It will help you determine which route you’ll take and what elements you need to take care of. To help you start with this, below are the things you need to consider.
One might think that starting a transcription business has little to no costs involved; that is somewhat inaccurate since there are things you need to invest in if you’re serious about starting this business. Although the investments here are relatively cheap compared to starting other businesses, you’ll still need to shell out some cash.
Here are some costs involved:
Producing quality transcripts requires more skill than simple typing. You must be proficient in English grammar and punctuation and a whiz with word processing and transcription software. You must have focused listening skills and be accountable to yourself to get jobs done on time and accurately. This all takes practice and an investment in quality training.
The most basic one is a desktop or laptop at hand. You don’t need the top of the line for transcribing. You just need a fast and reliable one. If you’re a solo transcriptionist, I believe a laptop is a better choice. There will be times wherein unforeseen scenarios happen – there would be a sudden loss of electricity, problems with your internet provider, or a weak data signal. These scenarios can easily be solved when you have a laptop. You can simply go to coffee shops or workspaces and do your duties there.
The job of a transcriptionist involves listening and understanding. This means you’ll have to listen to audio and video files for several hours. If you have a headset that’s not comfortable, it will cause some pain in your ears, especially if you’re using over-the-ear headsets.
So to avoid any pain that can delay and affect your work, invest in a comfortable headset. Something that’s soft and gives out high-quality sounds for you. You can also opt-in for in-ear headphones. These peripherals don’t put pressure on your ears since you just plug them in. However, some people find them uncomfortable when using it for long hours.
Whatever your choice is, make sure you’re comfortable with it. You’ll be using a headset for most of your transcribing responsibilities.
Most people coming into the space don’t know that transcriptionists use a foot pedal to make them more efficient in typing. The use of a foot pedal can come with many advantages. It can be used to play audio automatically; it can fast forward or even slow down the audio.
The purpose of such an instrument is to keep the hands of the transcriptionist on the keyboard at all times. It is meant to make your hands focus on typing alone. This means that a foot pedal can help with the overall speed, efficiency, and accuracy of a transcriptionist.
Since you’ll be mainly sitting when transcribing, it’s best to use an ergonomic desk and chair. These things help you be comfortable and indirectly help with your speed and accuracy when typing.
When you’re sitting for long hours in uncomfortable positions, you may feel your body’s response through aching, muscle soreness, and muscle spasms. This will make you resort to applying hemp lotions, aching creams, or even ice to treat soreness.
So, if you’re serious about this endeavor, make sure to take note of the height of your desk, the monitor distance to your eyes, and the comfortability of your chair.
All of these things help you lessen the physical strains that typing will give you. Remember to look out for yourself because an injury or a simple eye strain will cause your productivity to go down.
Professional transcribers see this as an essential tool since it helps them be more accurate in typing. The playback can be controlled with a foot pedal or hotkeys on your keyboard. This software can also aid with increasing the clarity of audio or video files.
The transcription business requires people who are quick and accurate with their typing. These two aspects need to both be present in an employee. One can’t be fast and inaccurate since it will take double the time to proofread what the person has typed out. One can’t also be accurate and not be fast in typing since the time it will take to finish will be longer.
So when you’re starting a transcription business, make sure that both quickness and accuracy are present in the people you’re hiring.
To measure typing speed, you can look at a person's word per minute (WPM). Typingpal mentioned that the average typing speed is around 40 words per minute. A very productive person types around 65 to 75 words per minute.
You can look at the word error rate (WER) for accuracy. Most publications mentioned that a 5-10% word error rate is still good quality. But to put things in context, Microsoft claims to have a word error rate of 5-10%, while Google presents a 4.9% WER. Fortunately, an average transcriptionist has a word error rate of only 4%.
There are a lot of services in the transcription business. But it can be placed into two categories: the general type of transcription service and a specific transcribing field. To know which one is best for you, let’s discuss these two categories.
General transcription is work that does not fall under medical and legal industries. These transcription services can be from various business industries. Transcription businesses that fall under this category do not specialize in a certain field. They take any jobs under the sun.
Below are different industries that a general transcription business serves:
Podcasts - Podcasts outsource some of their staff to keep everything running. Most of them hire voice-overs for ads and intros while also subscribing to transcription services to have a written form as marketing content.
Course creators - Most of these course creators have their materials in video format; however, they also want a written form. This is where general transcription businesses come into the picture.
Radio shows - All of its great materials are in audio format. They need to have a written one to expand their market reach.
Webinars and web conferences - Some businesses and organizations that create such events also love to have a written version. They will use it as future and current marketing materials.
Educators - Some educators produce only video format lectures since it’s much more engaging for their students. However, some still hire transcription services to create a written format for their work.
Influencers - Lots of influencers in the various industries hire transcription businesses to create written materials for them. It is their marketing resource for websites and platforms.
Startup brands - Whether that’s a tech startup or a niche one like an innovative lingerie clothing line, they would want to hire transcription services for their web and live events. It will serve as their marketing material to get their brands out there.
Here is some advice from top general transcriptionists to deepen your knowledge in this field.
The other category would be the specific field of transcribing. These are usually the services that fall under the medical and legal fields.
For legal transcriptions, it is where legal proceedings and audio files are carefully and accurately formatted in a written form. It is used for keeping legal records precise and documented.
Legal transcription makes it easy for lawyers and other involved parties to review what was said in various legal proceedings. This can help them develop trial plans, create a plan for appeal, understand a judge’s decision, and many more.
If you were in the product business niche, an automated repricer would have made this aspect of the business easier. But defining price in a service business niche is difficult across different industries.
The same thing happens in the transcription business. This is quite tricky to figure out because you might find yourself questioning whether your rate should be on par with the industry standard or should you lower the rate.
You can set your rate at industry standard because you believe in your skill and time. You could also believe that the team you’ve created for this company is talented and skillful.
However, it’s also logical to have a lower rate since you’re starting out. You will definitely increase your client list if you give a low rate but present quality output. More businesses will try your service to see whether your company gives out excellent transcriptions.
To help you with this process, here are some things you can consider:
If you check out most transcription services online, you can see that their rate changes if the audio is clear or not. If it’s clear, they will charge a bit cheaper. But if the audio is unclear, they charge a bit more. This is because unclear audio will take time to transcribe. Transcriptionists will spend more time rewinding audio to ensure they got it right.
Almost every service business out there charges extra when a client wants the product the same day. The same thing in the transcription business. If a client wants the transcription the same day or the next day, they will have to pay a premium since the business will prioritize it from the rest. The pricing of the audio quality is still considered here.
The number of people talking in the video can also be a factor of a higher rate charge. If 1 to 2 people are talking, most services charge regular rates. But if it goes beyond 2, that is where they start adding to their rate cost.
This one is another vital factor that you need to decide on. Should you charge per line? Per hour? Or per length of the file? This will be up to you. If you’re starting, you can always try things out.
You can go for a per-hour charge and see how it feels for you and your team. Gather opinions and feedback. That is how you find what’s fit for your operation.
Finding clients is one of the utmost priorities of businesses that are just starting out. They need this so the business can continue to operate. However, finding clients is much easier said than done. This requires effort from your end to find them and network with other businesses.
Sometimes, you need to be aggressive and introduce your service to others. You need to be proactive to get your first set of clients. You can’t lay back and wait for the client to come to you.
The transcription business is a competitive field. Although there are a lot of businesses that need your type of service, what makes you different from those businesses that have a massive client list and a proven track record already? So be ready to get your hands dirty and do the work.
Remember not to settle when your business has achieved some steady cash flow and clients keep renewing for your service. When you think you can take on more work, that is the time to expand your client list and grow your business.
If you think that you’re in the position to hire more employees you can reach out to other transcriptionists or do a recruitment process outsourcing, then do so if it brings you more business. With already having a set of clients under your list, you can leverage that to entice more businesses to use your service. For starters, here are some ways you can do so:
Oberlo reported that nine out of ten consumers read reviews before purchasing. They added that online reviews influence 67.7% of purchasing decisions. And lastly, 92% of B2B customers are more likely to buy a product or use a service after reading a trusted review.
The statistics above only show how important client reviews are. These things act as social proof that you’re a legitimate operation and your service is top-notch. It also represents the customer satisfaction you’ve given to businesses and organizations you’ve worked with.
Once you’ve gotten those reviews, you should use them as marketing material. Post them on all your social and other platforms. You can also display them on your website's home page, so make sure that your website design can highlight this particular aspect of your business.
Having a healthy client list is always appealing for businesses. It gives them the idea that you’re great at what you’re doing. This is magnified when they see a prominent business on your list. It creates an idea in their head that if such a business uses your service, you must be excellent in transcribing and other elements related to it.
A good client list also gives the impression that your output quality is top-tier. It gives them the confidence to transact and partner up with your services.
To grow your operations, you need to let businesses understand your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP is what makes you different from other transcribing businesses. What your USP is will totally depend on you. You can be unique in your pricing, charging style, services offered, and other things.
Starting and growing a transcription business isn’t easy, but if it’s something you’re passionate about, you should do it by all means. Almost all businesses and organizations need this type of service. Regardless of video formats having more engagement from people, the need for written content will always be there.
By following the tips and points above, you’ll know how to start this type of service business and grow it to have a massive client list. Materializing the transcription business in your head can’t be done overnight, it needs constant determination to be better at your craft.
Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. Follow Burkhard on his journey from $0 to $100,000 per month. He's sharing everything he learned in his income reports on Novum™ so you can pick up on his mistakes and wins.
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