How to Be a Really Great Transcriptionist
How to be a really great transcriptionist – It’s a pretty funny story, how I got started with transcription — and particularly how I got started with Way With Words as a transcriptionist. I had been doing some freelance transcription along with my editing and proofreading job at the time and I enjoyed it. A few months later, I was reading an online forum where people were talking about transcription companies and their hiring processes. Someone mentioned Way With Words, saying something along the lines of, “Apparently, it’s a scam because the application testing is so difficult.” I immediately thought to myself, I want to see how difficult it really is. It sounded like a fun challenge. That, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a scam.
Turns out, Way With Words is the real deal (who would’ve guessed?). I have a great time working with the team and always have something new to learn from each file. I haven’t been transcribing for too long (just about three years, almost two with Way With Words), but I think I have a routine down that minimizes errors and maximizes my work time. So without further ado, here’s my not-so-secret-anymore formula.
Let’s talk about my workspace first as a transcriptionist — it definitely makes a difference in my efficiency. I like to sit at my dining table next to the porch, where the natural daylight comes in and I’m not distracted by things like the television. My work essentials include: My planner, laptop, noise-cancelling headphones, manual keyboard, foot pedal (sometimes), and tea.
My setup: No genius ever worked without a good cup of tea. Am I right or am I right? Note: The Rubik’s cubes help loosen my fingers up if I’ve been typing for a while.
Next, I’ll download the audio file if I haven’t already. While that’s going, I’ll update it in my invoice so I don’t lose track of it later. I set up the word document, making sure to double check the format, tags, and other special instructions. I also take this time to remove my cat from my workspace (he’s pretty nosy).
Meet Tiger. He’s been my best friend for the last 15 years.
I like to quickly skim through the file, just to make sure that the audio isn’t corrupted and that I can understand the subject matter and accents. I’ll take notes about the number of speakers, and if there are three or more speakers, I’ll write down little identification traits to help me keep track of who’s who.
At this stage, I have a pretty thorough understanding of what’s being talked about and the amount of research I’ll need to do as I start to type. I tag names and terms to research later on, but right now, I’m just focused on getting the body of the content down. If I can’t make out a word or phrase, or a name or term is mentioned that I’m not sure of, I’ll mark that space with two square brackets.
As I go back through the file again, I use Ctrl + F to see all the brackets I inserted before, and replace them with the correct words as I research them. Story time: I was working on a political file that had quite a few city and district names mentioned, so I looked up the Wikipedia page that listed all of the country’s cities. Every time a city name was mentioned, I could use Ctrl + F and type a few letters of what I heard. I could then go to that city’s page and look up the politicians involved. If I’ve done all the extensive research I can and still haven’t come up with a certain name or term, only then will I insert “inaudible” into the brackets and leave it at that.
After going through terms and names, I give the file a couple more listens to correct any last errors. You’d be surprised how many little mistakes can slip past your eyes after a while. Its not always apparent, but when you read it few more times, you’ll notice some things don’t look right (like in this sentence).
I’ve spent days listening to the audio until I practically memorized it, typing and revising until it’s as complete as can be, and now it’s time to turn it in. I usually try to upload my work at least 24 hours before the deadline, just in case there are any issues. Now I can finish my tea, have some cuddles with my cat, and move on to the next file.
Im now a great transcriptionist!
I’m currently living in Japan, so sushi after a long work day is standard.
Thanks for reading!