It is very hard to be all things to all men (or women). Transcription as an industry covers just about every single industry and topic that you can imagine, with every conceivable accent.
Whilst general transcription does cover most things, it doesn’t cover everything. You might do some medical or dental, but are not a medical transcriptionist as you don’t do it full-time. You might do some aspects of legal, but you aren’t a legal transcriptionist unless you are head down in complex Court matters and truly understand the etiquette and protocols of the legal industry. If those two specific areas really light your fire, it’s worth doing a course specific to those industries due to the vocabulary for medical, and the sheer volume of knowledge required to solely work with legal.
Personally, I love the choice and challenge of general transcription, which we’ve mentioned before in “One Tasty Taco.” However, an important thing about working in this industry, and especially when working for yourself, is to find the “sweet spot”.
The sweet spot is where you are really interested and challenged in your work, and can also earn enough money to meet your goals. It is also really important to find where your strengths and weaknesses are. Some people love focus groups, others don’t enjoy them at all. Some people are really good at accents, and others simply can’t understand a word. Some transcribers just love to do a similar style of audio and prefer not to have to chop and change. Some transcribers prefer long TAT (turnaround times), others prefer 24-48 hour TATs to earn higher rates and get the work through the door and not have it hanging around.
It is important as you begin to find your way in this industry to be really honest with yourself about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Be honest, but kind to yourself and appreciate where your strengths actually are, rather than focusing too much on your weaknesses, remembering that it is a strength to know what you can and can’t do. There’s nothing more frustrating to a client, or employer than someone taking on work that they know they struggle with, or simply can’t do. All that happens is a stressed transcriber, an unhappy client, and potentially lost income.
How do you know where your sweet spot is? Well, if you have joined us on Facebook at Transcription Central, you will have seen a meme of a cat leaping in the air, back arched in joy and the tagline is “Oh yeah! Transcription time.” If you feel like that when most of your work comes in, you’re on the right track. If you feel like cutting your ears off, then the work you’re taking on is obviously not engaging you and not enjoyable. Realistically, no one enjoys their work 100% of the time, but it should be pleasurable for most of the time. We all get files that are poor quality, but even those files, if you’re in the right space, will be more of a puzzle and a challenge rather than out and out, “Kill me now.”
Many transcribers prefer clear, two voice audio files within a range of topics that they are familiar with. If that’s you, you aren’t going to accept work from a company that does focus groups, which are multi-voice, usually have questionable audio quality and can be on any topic. As I said earlier, some people leap at the challenge and love the variety.
The point of this blog is to highlight the importance of finding your sweet spot and then, if you want to extend your skills, do it slowly, making sure that you’re moving into an area that you think you will enjoy before taking on too much. We all spend a lot of time working, and it’s important that you end the day feeling happy that you’ve risen to the challenge and got a transcript back to your client that’s the best you could possibly do, rather than exhausted and stressed because it’s taken you hours longer than it should and you know it’s not your best work.
Once our TranscribeRight Advanced Learning Module is complete in mid-2018, we will be looking at an Extension Program, offering harder audio files with Answer Keys, for those who are already in the industry and want to stretch themselves and learn new skills.