Transcriptionist and Novelist: Jessica’s Story

Feb 18, 2021 by Janet Shaughnessy

Today's Success Story comes to us from Jessica. We'll learn how she leveraged transcription to help make her dreams of being a novelist come true, and we'll find out what else she takes away from this new career.

Can you tell us a little about your background? What did your life look like before Transcribe Anywhere?

I realized the other day that I've worked quite a few different types of jobs. I have worked in a pizza place, a bookstore, a record store (remember those?), and various offices. When I was laid off from my last office job about 5 or 6 years ago, I realized something had to change for me. I needed a job that was more than working for someone else. My then-boyfriend, now husband, said I needed to finish my novel that I had been working on for almost 7 years and then maybe look into doing freelance work of some type.

What made you decide to learn transcription?

Quite honestly, I was looking for anything that would help me make money while I worked on my writing. I stumbled across a site where I could transcribe audio and make money. I took the test, looked over their rules and regulations, and boom! Like magic, I was doing contract transcription work. I found very quickly that I really enjoyed the work and I could do it well, but I kept pretending as if that wasn't going to be my career. It took me 5 years, a BA in communications, and finally stumbling across Transcribe Anywhere to realize that transcription was something I liked, I did well, and I could thrive as a freelancer. That's what made me take the leap into the course. I needed to better my grammar skills and find out if I could really make a go of this transcription life.

What have been the most valuable things you learned during the course?

Learning that I can actually handle the grammar portion! Comma trauma and em dash distress are real things, people! I was always afraid of looking seriously into grammar, and that is what was holding me back. I still don't feel like an expert, but this course has given me more confidence and tools to get better and better as I practice more and more.

How long did it take you to find your first job? Do you subcontract or have your own clients?

I only just graduated from General Transcription and will start on the Legal course in the new year (2021). But in 2021, I plan to launch my website and get started reaching out to clients, so hopefully, I'll start bringing in clients soon. Until then, I continue to do contract work for the site I have been using for the last 5 years.

What advice would you give anyone thinking about becoming a transcriptionist?

If you are new to any part of the work, go slow and easy. Be kind to yourself, and don't expect to understand all the rules of grammar quickly. Just keep plowing through the course material. It'll start to stick the more you practice. Honestly, the best advice is practice. Practice your typing. Practice listening to videos and typing them out. Don't worry about your speed either. That comes with time. Accuracy over speed should be your mantra all the time.

What do you think it takes to be a GOOD transcriptionist? How about a GREAT one?

To be good, you need to type fast and hear well. To be great, you also need to understand grammar, have a keen eye for detail, and have a passion for the work.

What's your favorite thing about being a transcriptionist? What about your least favorite?

I love the freedom of working when I want and how long I want to work. My least favorite is that sometimes the work can be mind-numbingly dull. For real, I have gotten sleepy sometimes working on files. But because you have freedom over your schedule, you can take breaks, walk around, and refresh yourself if you need to.

What does a typical day look like for you? How do you organize your time?

Monday through Saturday, I go for a 4- to 5-mile walk to get fresh air. Then I settle in for work by 8 am and work until 4 or 5. I take breaks for coffee, tea, and snacks. But I spend a lot of time at my desk, typing away! As far as organizing my time, I make sure I work hard all day to relax in the evening with my husband and cat. I actually like the review part of transcribing, so I'll work through a file, research what I need to, and then drink tea while editing or fixing any errors before submitting it.

What is the greatest strength that YOU personally bring to your transcription career?

I love the work. That passion makes me want to seek out clients and work hard. I am excited to launch my website and start freelancing. I think having that passion makes it less like work and more like a career.

What keeps you awake at night?

The usual stress everyone has these days: pandemic issues, money issues. I have anxiety, but I also have the tools to keep myself calm and realize that nothing is forever. The stress doesn't rule my life, and I can face whatever comes my way.

What success moment are you most proud of so far? What is the next goal you are excited to work toward?

Passing the GT final was a huge accomplishment for me (and many others I know). I felt proud of myself when that congratulations email came my way. It was quite frankly the most challenging and demanding test I have ever taken because I cared about the outcome. This was my career hanging in the balance, and knowing I can do something that difficult, and do it well, makes me a stronger transcriptionist, writer, and person.

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