We hear a lot about professional development and skill enhancement in different professions, but transcribers often wonder what they can do to broaden their offering to clients. Obviously, as a transcriber, you transcribe an audio file as per the client instructions and return it. Simple, yes? Yes, it is… However, what do you do if…
Claire and Sonya are two Australian-based transcribers/business owners with over 30 years’ combined experience in the transcription industry, working wherever there is internet connectivity: their home offices, or on the move, anywhere life takes them or where they need to be. Having also worked in the USA and UK, Claire and Sonya have a unique perspective on the industry.
Here’s a little bit about me. I’m an Australian citizen with a background in legal, having enrolled in a legal secretarial course at a local business college not long out of high school. This short course led to a 13 year career as a legal secretary (or personal assistant). In 2003, tired of office politics and encouraged by my US mother-in-law’s home-based transcription business, I began searching online and found a whole world of Australians working from home as “virtual assistants,” offering diverse services covering everything from accounting and book-keeping, to answering telephones, and audio transcription.
I soon came across an online virtual assistants’ forum which, for a small subscription fee, provided access to “job postings,” or potential clients. Through this forum, I secured my first subcontractor role with a very young Australian transcription business that soon grew into a very large Australian transcription company.
Within weeks, through my own initiative, I then secured a transcriptionist subcontractor role with a large Los Angeles-based transcription company, I quit my law office job, and my new career was begun. Within 12 months, I had secured a subcontractor administration/editor role within the Australian-based transcription company, and began to learn the ropes of managing clients, typists, and audio files from the inside. I ran the business in its entirety for several weeks while the business owner travelled through Europe.
In late 2007, I moved to Montana, USA, with my daughter and American-born husband. Upon arriving in Montana, we had the internet connected at our new home, and I picked up with work exactly where I’d left off. The only thing that had changed was the view from my office window at home; instead of tropical rainforest, I was looking at snow. Working from my home-based office meant that despite moving around the globe, my income stream remained intact.
Over the next 8 years, I had a front-row seat and hands-on involvement in the growth of a small transcription business: subcontracting work to a team of 15 to 20 home-based transcribers, and managing all its systems manually; to a large transcription company subcontracting work to a team of 50 to 70 typists using an advanced online platform to control its workflows.
Throughout this period, I maintained and grew my own separate client base, and expanded my skill-set to include book research and editing, which led me onto developing and honing skills in vignette writing. I also pursued training in advanced Microsoft Word, and took several short-term subcontractor roles where I was engaged to convert and format legal precedents. My subcontractor role within the Australian based transcription company grew to include training of new typists, and management of the company’s style guide.
All the work I have undertaken since I quit my job at the law office in 2003, regardless of which country I have lived in, has been conducted from my home-based office.
Mid-2016, I returned to Australia to live full-time.
On a personal note, I am owned by four cats, who moved from the US to Australia with me, and a Chihuahua. When not at my computer, I enjoy painting and drawing, playing my ukulele, and early morning stand-up paddle boarding with my daughter. I still travel extensively, and take my office with me wherever I go.
My story is quite similar to Sonya’s in many ways. I am a mother of two. I am originally from the UK, but have been living in Australia for the last 20 years. I completed a diploma in Bilingual Secretarial Studies in the early 1980s. The course included English and French dictation, shorthand and typing, computer skills and led to me becoming an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Linguists after passing the final language exams. I spent six months in Paris working for a travel company, before taking a position back in the UK working as a Medical Secretary for three consultant surgeons and their teams.
After 12 months, I decided to move to London and stayed there for 12 years.During that time, I worked for a medium-sized private oil company as Office Manager and then moved to the packaging sector, working as an Executive PA/Office Manager at board level for a large multinational PLC company, dealing with company acquisitions and mergers. I moved with my husband to Australia in 1997 when my daughter was five months old, and focused on spending time with her.
My son was born two years later and was diagnosed with autism. I had always planned to go back to work, but I also needed flexibility to be able to attend my son’s specialist appointments and be able to be a Mum, do the school run, and be available if either child was unwell. I had heard of Virtual Assistants and did some research and started my own business in 2003, and also began subcontracting for what is now a large transcription company here in Australia. It was here that I met my lovely business partner, Sonya. I spent the following years growing my own client base here and in the UK, as well as learning more about the transcription business itself and began to take on an editing role, as well as learning how to run the software systems and allocation of work for the company I subcontracted to.
I love languages, travel, quilting and music. I have a gorgeous black lab and three chickens. I am passionate about what we do and the flexibility it brings.
The Birth of a Venture
In 2016, taking our combined three decades of combined experience, we struck out on our own and formed a small bespoke transcription business. We had our first client within a month, and by the end of our first year, we had grown our client base enough to support a small team of transcribers, which is steadily growing. We work very closely with our clients and our subcontractors, nurturing collegial relationships. We know how hard it is to find transcribers with the experience required to work in the specialised field we service, and we noticed a lack of training available for people interested in entering this field.
We have taken all the experience and all the skills that we have learned and passed on over the years as mentors and trainers, and created a step-by-step training module that will help you build all the skills you need for a successful career as a transcriber.
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