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Having mentors and learning from their experiences is the easiest and most effective way to become a professional transcriber.

Having that in mind, I took the liberty of interviewing highly qualified and most sought-after transcribers of our time. They are fast, effective, successful and they always get the job done.

Get these transcription tips and tricks for beginners,  and learn how to do transcription with ease!

Sheeroh Kiarie Interview

Allow me to introduce to you Sheeroh Kiarie. A professional transcriber and blogger with insider tips and solid advice that will leave you asking for more. Check out her website at Tech Money Mama.

There is lots to note down. So, get your pen and paper ready. Let’s get started!

How did you get started in transcription?

Sheeroh:  I had been a stay-at-home mom for a while and after some time, I started having a deep desire to contribute to the income of our household. I wasn’t sure of the business I wanted to venture into, but right about that time, my mom mentioned to me that she knew a lady who used to do typing work for a German. I then Googled typing jobs on the net and that is how I came to find out about transcription.

Related: How to Build a $1.2 Million Transcription Business

What type of files do you handle on a day to day basis?

Sheeroh: 8 out of 10 times, I usually handle interviews and lectures, and thankfully, they are mostly very clear audio files.

Do you accept multiple speaker files and/or files with foreign/heavy accents?

Sheeroh:  I’m okay transcribing up to three speaker files. But if the pay is really good, I accept files that have even more speakers. My favorite accents are American but I also accept Australian and British. I subcontract a lot and I don’t like to take files that will take too much time unless the pay is really good.

And, what has your experience been like handling those types of projects?

Sheeroh:  What I like about dealing with multiple speaker and heavy accent files (when I do accept them) is they have a way of sharpening your listening skills. When I started out, I used to work for an Indian transcription company, and I transcribed quite a lot of files that had mostly Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese speakers. What I didn’t know then was that my listening skills were becoming more and more refined.

Do you handle verbatim or non-verbatim projects or both? How has your experience been like?

Sheeroh:  I prefer non-verbatim vs verbatim projects. They usually don’t take much time and as we well know, time is money!

What medium do you use to receive work? Email, dropbox, ftp? Why that medium?

Sheeroh:  I ask my clients to send me files via Dropbox. It’s very easy to use, and convenient. I love that I can easily share files with my transcribers when I’m outsourcing work to them, via the Dropbox app on my phone.

Email, and Google Drive are great options too. Clients also send me short files, about 4MB sized files, through Odesk and Elance.

Do you use the same medium to return finished work (transcripts) back to the client?

Sheeroh:  I always send the transcripts through Upwork. I simply upload them as a docx. File.

How frequently do you communicate with the client?

Sheeroh:  When I receive a file from a client, first thing I do is inform the client that I want to have a listen to the audio file. Once I listen to it and confirm that I can confidently submit an excellent transcript, I confirm the same to the client. I will then communicate with the client when I’m almost done, and inform him that I’ll be sending the file shortly. I learnt that it’s important to keep the client in the know.

What payment methods do you use to receive your funds from the client?

Sheeroh:  I love Skrill. The fact that I can withdraw my hard earned money from Upwork to Skrill, and then from Skrill to Mpesa, is just amazing. It’s fast, cheap and convenient. I also use PayPal, but very infrequently.

Do you work on freelancing sites like Upwork, fiverr and freelancer? If yes, how has your experience been like?

Sheeroh:  All my clients are from Upwork. When I started out, I worked for a transcription company and the deadlines were not flexible at all. So what I love about these freelancing sites is that the clients give me very flexible deadlines, and sometimes, there are no deadlines at all. The clients also pay well and I am able to increase my hourly rate. Just last year, around October, I increased my hourly rate and I’m planning to do the same around June.

Do you accept private clients?

Sheeroh:  I’m very wary of working with clients away from the two platforms I have mentioned but I do have one private client.

Related: Scribie Review: Get Paid to Type Audio Files At Scribie

If so, do you sign a non-disclosure agreement?

Sheeroh:  I’m always happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement as long as the terms are clear.

What tips can you offer newbies while handling private clients?

Sheeroh:  My take for newbies is it’s better to deal with clients via freelancing sites such as Odesk and Elance, since the said sites have ways of protecting freelancers and one such way is the Escrow system. But if you really feel you need to work with a client outside that system, then check their profile. See whether the client has a good reputation before you take him or her up as a private client.

Ask for an upfront payment. At least 20% to cover the risk. Before you sign an NDA, make sure you read it carefully.

Do you outsource? Yes or no?

Sheeroh:  Yes. All the time. In fact, I rarely transcribe nowadays. Outsourcing is a great way of leveraging yourself. When you do all the work by yourself, you’re only able to do so much. Example, it takes me about four to five hours to transcribe an hour of audio. Within that same time, I can proofread four to five transcripts, maybe of a one hour audio. You earn more that way.

If yes, how do you go about it?

Sheeroh:  When I started out, I would outsource through Upwork. When I started training others on transcription, I realized that there were people who had lots of potential and from then on, begun to outsource work to my trainees. When I want to hire someone on oDesk, I ensure that I check their profile, what feedback they have received from past clients, and if they don’t have any feedback, I send them a short test and if they do it well, then I’ll hire them.

Is transcription your full-time income generator or do you have other sources?

Sheeroh:  Apart from transcription, I also have a transcription training ecourse. I also just launched my new eBook- – Online jobs: What You Need To Know About Working Online. I have a blog too which I’ve been working on very part-time but intend to work more on it this year. My blog is Tech Money Mama.

What challenges have you faced as a professional transcriptionist?

Sheeroh:  Some audio files are really difficult/poor quality and such files take a long time to transcribe, as one has to keep rewinding to avoid having too many inaudibles. Some clients will send you such files and still expect to pay the same rate as a good quality file. I have learned that the price cannot be the same.

Some clients take too long to pay. In my experience, they haven’t been many but once in a while, I have encountered a client who disappears only to resurface after about two weeks to release the funds.

As I work a lot on Upwork, some clients will hire you and fail to end the contract, even after you have submitted work. When you have too many open transcription jobs, it might discourage other clients from hiring you. It becomes a challenge because if you end the contract, it is likely that you might not receive any feedback/rating from the client.

What advice would you give new and aspiring transcriptionists?

Sheeroh:  If you can get trained, please do so. You can train yourself via Google or YouTube, and as a matter of fact, I did that. But when you get trained by a professional, you’ll gain the skills needed for the job and the much needed support from a mentor. You won’t have to jump from one website to another gaining bits and pieces of info.

This is a serious job. If you do it like a hobby, you won’t go far. Take it seriously and soon enough, you’ll earn enough money to not only pay your bills but save and invest too.

This is not a get-rich quick scheme. That is an attitude that makes many newbies give up too soon. This is a business just like any other and it takes time to learn and start earning.

Invest in good headphones. Since transcription work takes time one hour audio will take a newbie 7-8 hours to transcribe it’s important to get headphones that are comfortable, durable and quality. Some headphones can even make your ears and head hurt if they are too heavy or don’t have cushioned ear pads.

Invest in a good chair. Transcription can take time as I said before, especially when you’re transcribing long audios. Get a chair that has an adjustable height. Your shoulders, your arms and your neck should be taken good care of.

Transcription is about precision listening. Even when you’re transcribing an audio file and you can’t make out a word, don’t be too quick to mark it as an inaudible/unclear word. Rewind severally. A professional transcriber puts in her all to ensure that the file she sends to the client has zero or minimal inaudible tags. It may not always be possible to submit a transcript that is 100% accurate but it is important for the client to see that you put in effort to send him or her a high quality transcript that is readable.

Related: TranscribeMe Review: Best Transcription Jobs for Beginners

Helen Waithera Interview

Allow me to introduce to you Helen Waithera. An avid transcriptionist who has so many years of transcription experience under her belt. She shares insider tips and solid advice that will leave you asking for more. You can also check her out on LinkedIn.

There is lots to note down. So, get your pen and paper ready. Let’s get started!

How did you get started in transcription?

Helen:   I worked for several transcription companies/call centers. That’s how I first bumped into transcription.

What type of files do you handle on a day to day basis?

Helen:   Basically audio files and sometimes video.

Do you accept multiple speaker files and/or files with foreign/heavy accents? And, what has your experience been like handling those types of projects?

Helen:   Most of my clients are coaches and usually their subject matter involves back and forth, question and answers so a lot of them are multiple speaker files. Luckily, none of them are foreign/heavy accents. I however had some of these when I first started out and it was really frustrating. I had to play back several times to get it right.

Do you handle verbatim or non-verbatim projects or both? How has your experience been like?

Helen:  Mostly non-verbatim. My clients expect me to clean up the audios/videos and send a client-ready transcript.

What medium do you use to receive work? Email, Dropbox, FTP? Why that medium?

Helen: Mostly email and Dropbox. I used FTP when I first started out because my only client, at the time, used that medium.

Do you use the same medium to return finished work (transcripts) back to the client?

Helen:  No. Sometimes I would attach the document on email and sometimes I would upload to Dropbox. Other times I would upload to the client’s work site.

How frequently do you communicate with the client?

Helen:   If I have a job from them, every day or every other day.

What payment methods do you use to receive your funds from the client?

Helen: They pay via PayPal, I move it to my Payoneer card.

Do you work on Freelancing sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer? If yes, how has your experience been like?

Helen:  I launched my career on Upwork and that’s where I got most of my clients. However, the referrals that come out of that we have an out-of-Upwork understanding and we work privately.

Do you accept private clients? If so, do you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement? What tips can you offer newbies while handling private clients?

Helen:  Yes! Most of my current clients are private. Some ask me to sign an NDA, others don’t. When handling private clients, make sure they are referred to you by a trustworthy source so that in the event of non-payment you have some sort of mediator. I would advise newbies to stick to sites like Upwork and the rest for their own protection.

Do you outsource? Yes or no? If yes, how do you go about it?

Helen:   I do. I outsource locally. I interview prospects on quality and speed, mostly it is someone I know or they have been referred to me by someone I know because of the confidentiality factor. I send them work via email and send them money via M-pesa on the 5th of the following month.

Is transcription your full-time income generator or do you have other sources?

Helen:   It was. At the moment I’m channeling my energy to another income stream I recently learned about so outsourcing is coming in really handy. It helps when you have good help and you can focus elsewhere.

What challenges have you faced as a professional transcriptionist?

Helen: The challenges were in the initial stages when I didn’t know how to set up withdrawal systems, it was expensive to withdraw money, the money wasn’t as much etc. In my six years of transcription I’m lucky to have come across only one client who wanted to refuse with my payment. Good thing she had been referred to me by one of my good clients and that acted as a mediator and in the end she paid up.

What advice would you give new and aspiring transcriptionists?

Helen:  Consistency is key. Only take work you can handle. Under-promise and over-deliver. Referrals will come and before you know it you’ll have a healthy database, and a healthy bank account to go with it.

Related: How to Open a Transcription Account and Pass the Test

Leon Mwenda Interview

The first two interviews were from two awesome ladies who gave us nothing but the best tips, but today we are going to do things a little differently.

Allow me to introduce to you a gentleman who does not shy away from a field known to be dominated by women. He is Leon Mwenda. An all-round freelancer who has handled transcription, blogging, SEO and data entry projects. He has more skills and experience than I can count here. So, let’s get started!

How did you get started in transcription?

Leon: I got started in transcription at a BPO company. Got trained, full-time, for about a month and then worked at the company for two and a half years.

What type of files do you handle on a day to day basis?

Leon: I mostly work on webinars, podcasts, YouTube Videos, and online TV content, since that is what my main client does. But I also get interviews, sermons and focus groups.

Do you accept multiple speaker files and/or files with foreign/heavy accents? And, what has your experience been like handling those types of projects?

Leon: Yes I do. My experience with multiple speaker files has been a gradual learning process. A lot of transcriptionists shy away from these types of files, so it’s very easy to get work when you can do them nicely. Most of the time the clients with these kinds of files ask for simple speakers tags (male/female speaker). In some cases you’re asked to track each speaker and tag them accordingly on the transcripts. What I do is have someone different track and tag the speakers, after the transcript is done.

Accents are very tricky, and they can cost you your clients. So I choose and practice on specific accents and only do those. I mostly work with American, African, British, Scottish and Australian accents. I stay away from Indian and Irish accents, I have a not-so-good history with them.

Do you handle verbatim or non-verbatim projects or both? How has your experience been like?

Leon: I work on both. Non-verbatim projects are pretty easy and straight forward. That’s the bulk of the work that I do. Verbatim projects on the other hand need a great deal of attention to detail. Most transcriptionists are trained using verbatim files, so learning to switch between the two is very hard. Verbatim pays much better that non-verbatim, but it also takes more time. In my case re-training and regular practice gives me the edge.

What medium do you use to receive work? Email, Dropbox, FTP? Why that medium?

Leon: I have a Gmail address specifically for work. This of course comes with Google Drive, which I couple with Dropbox. These are simple and very easy to use, also, everybody owns an account with them, and I can use them on the go over my phone. Some clients have their own FTP file sharing medium, that’s when I also use that.

Do you use the same medium to return finished work (transcripts) back to the client?

Leon: Yes, unless specified, I use the same medium.

How frequently do you communicate with your clients?

Leon: Communication is one of the key factors of outsourced projects. So if I’m working on a single project on a long term basis, I make a point of communicating at least thrice in 24 hours, even if the client doesn’t communicate back. Normally on short-term files I communicate with the client;

  • When I receive the files.
  • After I confirming the specifications and quality of files.
  • When I’m half way through the files, and need something I encountered specified.
  • When I’m done and have just returned the transcript.

What payment methods do you use to receive your funds from the clients?

Leon: Most of the time I use direct deposit to a bank account. I make it a prerequisite on any project I work on because it is the safest, cheapest, and fastest mode of payment. Other times, mostly on smaller projects, or when working with transcription companies, I use PayPal and an Equity bank account.

Do you work on Freelancing sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer? If yes, how has your experience been like?

Leon: Yes, as a freelancer, I started out on Upwork which is, in my opinion, the best freelancing site out there. Actually, apart from a site called Translators Café, I have never worked on any other freelancing site. All my work over the years has been from referrals from Upwork and transcription companies like Rev. There is no limit to what you can do on Upwork, plus you get a chance to develop one-on-one relations with your clients, which has worked very well for me.

Related: Rev.com Review: Is it The Best Place to Find Transcription Work?

Do you accept private clients? If so, do you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement? What tips can you offer newbies while handling private clients?

Leon: Yes, 90% of my work is from private clients. NDAs and Contractor Agreements are a must in any project. Getting conned is seen as a rite of passage for online freelancers, but that should not be the case. For newbies;

First, before accepting a private client, ask to work with them on a site like Upwork where you are protected. After you see that you can trust them, you can then work on a one-on-one agreement.

You, the freelancer, come up with an agreement on how you’ll work together. Payment rate, payment mode, payment frequency, work rate and all that. Have the both of you agree and sign on it.

Do you outsource? Yes or no? If yes, how do you go about it?

Yes I do outsource. I have a few in-house agents who I work with every day. When we have more work, I outsource online to people I know, so through Gmail and Dropbox. Payment is done through M-Pesa after work is done and approved.

Is transcription your full-time income generator or do you have other sources?

No, it’s not. I work on other online projects, data entry, blogging, SEO, SMM and project management for online based outsourced projects.

I understand you are a successful transcriptionist, what has led to your success?

Leon: I treasure my work and clients. I treat clients and work very seriously and professionally. I deliver more than is required. I communicate with my clients as much as I can, and the rest just falls into place. The transcription workforce in Kenya is not that big, so if your work is good/bad it never takes long for you to stand out.

What challenges have you faced as a professional transcriptionist?

Leon: When I was starting out, not many people were doing freelance transcription, so I had to learn as I went, which was very costly and time consuming. Knowing how to set up on Upwork, how to receive payment and all that. The main problem now, as we are growing, finding quality and reliable transcriptionists to work with is very very hard.

What advice would you give new and aspiring transcriptionists?

Leon:  It might seem hard at first, but so does everything else in life. Just keep working hard. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, those are the best lessons you will have. If you can, look for someone who has done transcription professionally before, and get guidance from them, or find a local transcription company/BPO and work there for a few months, in my opinion the best way to go about it.

Find a balance between work and play; it is very easy to lose that as a freelancer and lot of people burned out because of that. Don’t be discouraged, as long as you scale up and diversify, you can do this for the rest of your life.

Related: Castingwords Review: Work From Home General Transcription Jobs

Put These Tips To Practice

And there you have it folks.  Solid advice from four professional transcribers who understand what it takes and what it means to deliver top-notch transcripts that meet their clients’ needs every time.

No take these tips and apply them to your work. Soon enough you too will earn more money as a transcriptionist.

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