What does a transcriber do and what is audio transcription?

Outsource freelance transcriptionist

Recording interviews, conversations, meetings and such like is easier now than it ever has been.  Technology has advanced so far where now we can record on our smartphones at the touch of a button.

Using modern technology in this way, as a back-up for detail discussed in a meeting, for example, or interviewing someone for academic study or a journalist interview.  Most of these recordings are made with the intention of converting them into text, and this is what’s known as audio transcription.  Audio and Video Transcription is the skilled art and process of converting recorded speech into written documents, commonly called transcripts.

Foot pedal for audio or video transcription
Transcriber’s Best Friend the Foot Pedal

Producing a document or transcript can be very time-consuming, even for the quickest of typists, without specialist transcribing software and a foot pedal to avoid taking your hands off the keyboard, rewinding even for a few second to replay can be difficult and frustrating.

This is where outsourcing your recorded audio or video to a general transcriptionist (depending on the subject area) can be very beneficial.  The time it saves you, against the cost of a freelance transcriptionist will be to your benefit.  You will, in an agreed time, receive an accurate transcript that has been transcribed manually, directly from your recording.

The Transcriber’s Role

“A transcriber is someone who writes down what someone else is saying.” 

Initially, a transcriber was a person that wrote things down in shorthand, but this art is dying out.  Technology and the fact it isn’t taught anymore means, unfortunately, this art of note-taking is no-longer used.

Instead, recordings made on your laptop or tablet, for example, can then immediately be uploaded to your transcriptionist, via email or a sharing application like DropBox or Google Drive.  They then download the audio, upload to their professional software player and begin to type what they hear in the speech content into a transcript for you.

As part of the transcriber’s role, unlike years ago where commas, full-stops and new paragraphs were dictated, in today’s advanced world, an experienced transcriber will insert the appropriate grammar for you, as a matter of course during typing.  This is certainly something here at Virtuadmin that I do for clients; it is a natural thing to do.  Without it, I cannot read if the transcript makes sense or not.

How long does transcription take?

A professional touch typist should be able to type in the region of 75 words per minute.  At this speed, the industry standard states a minimum of 4-5 hours to transcribe 1 hours recorded audio or video.  However, there are other factors that the client and transcriptionist need to consider regarding the audio for transcription.  They are:-

– The speed at which the participants of the audio are talking

– The number of participants in the audio talking (cross talking)

– The clarity of the recording (background noise, phone interview, interference)

– The speech clarity of the participating speakers (accents, speaking English as a second language, mumbling, no close enough to the microphone)

These are the variables that will add time to transcribing an hour’s recorded audio.  It is difficult to say how much time should be allowed for these variables, so it is worth keeping in mind that a professional transcriptionist cannot type at the same rate as the average person talking, no matter how fast they are.  People generally speak 4-5 times faster than what an experienced transcriber can type. 

How to hire a professional transcriber?

Professional transcribers can commonly be found on freelance websites, People Per Hour, Fivesquid, UpWork, are examples of these.  Using these types of websites gives you the ability to see the service provider’s feedback, as well as protecting your money against a poor job, or no delivery at all.

There are transcription companies as service providers; they are specialist businesses that only provide the transcription.  The employ teams of transcribers, either remotely on in-house.  (You don’t get the same direct contact with your transcriptionist as compared to using a freelancer.)  These are a self-service type website, you upload your audio and either pay a deposit of invoice after the audio or video has been completed.

Another option is to contact a professional transcriber directly.  Search on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to mention a few social networks as a source to find a transcriptionist.  Search by a hashtag #transcriber or #transcriptionist and up will pop the latest tweets, on Twitter for example.

If you choose to contact directly, saving yourself time and money from not using a 3rd party freelance website like People per Hour, for example, there are some questions you can ask them as tips as to how professional and experienced they are.  Someone may think they can type quickly, but listening to an interview, for example, can be very tricky to rewind a few seconds without a foot pedal and professional transcribing software, like NCH Software, something Virtuadmin has had for many years.  (When I downloaded the free version you couldn’t use a foot pedal with the software, you had to purchase the professional version!)

What rates do transcriptionists charge?

For audio transcription by an experienced transcriber, you would usually pay by the recorded audio minute.  The rates vary from company to company or transcribe to transcribe.  But, charging in this way helps you know the cost from the outset.  Here at Virtuadmin for example, my rate starts at 60p per audio minute for a single speaker audio that is of very good quality.  It is 70p per audio minute for a 2-speaker clear clarity recording.

It is usual for a speech-to-text service, either company or freelancer to add on per minute, 30-minutes or per hour for audios that contain background noise, or the speech clarity is difficult to hear, for example.  For these types of audio to be transcribed the transcriptionist must first get the audio to a quality that is suitable listening volume.  This can take sometimes a few hours for this, so don’t think if you have a difficult audio that they are just looking to increase the cost, it is genuinely time-consuming to repair a recording to suitable levels for a transcript.

Conclusion

A transcriber is a professional touch typist that listens to recorded speech and types what they hear.  A professional will insert the necessary grammar, and intelligently paragraph where necessary within the transcript.  A transcriber will touch type between 50-80 words per minute (WPM) and would usually take 4-5 hours to transcribe one hour of recorded audio, as an approximate guide.

A transcription company that hires typists either remotely or in-house will probably have a higher fee, due to their overheads and profit before paying the transcriptionists.  It is more usual for a professional freelance transcriptionist to be more affordable due to their fewer overheads.

Dealing with a transcription company you don’t always get the direct communication or personalisation as with using a freelancer.  An independent transcriber, either working with them directly or through a freelancing website and working with them, you can expect more flexibility. 

Most freelance transcribers will accommodate a template if you have one, or use their own if you don’t.  If there is noise interference, you can discuss with them.  For another example, let’s say you only wanted a certain part of the audio transcribed, or a certain part time-stamped for ease of reference.

Using a freelance transcription service, like Virtuadmin for example, is the quickest and most affordable way to go.  Work is usually turned around as soon as it is received, therefore, approaching a freelancer offering a transcription service, they are most likely in a position to start it immediately, rather than wait in a queue for one to become available with a transcription service company.

How to Save Valuable Time When Looking For a Transcriber

How to save time for your audio transcription
Save Time when you need a transcriber

Do you regularly use freelance portals like People Per Hour, Fivesquid and Fiverr to name a few of the platforms out there, to economically outsource your audio or video transcription requirements? Then read on there is important information inside!

As a freelancer offering very reasonably priced professional typing and transcription services, I visit daily the freelance platforms that I have active profiles on to search for assignments with potential clients that I can assist with in their typing or transcription projects.

It takes up a lot of my time, but frequently time after time that frustrates the hell out of me, to be honest, is the fact that businesses, entrepreneurs, students, or anyone that requires outsourcing to a transcription service, fail to put four important things that matter most to a transcriptionist: –

  1. Audio quality
  2. Number of speakers
  3. Length of the Audio
  4. Turnaround time/deadline

Quite often people needing audio or video transcribed are under the impression that touch typists can type at the rate of speech, and therefore as an example, a 20-minute audio recording would take a professionally trained transcriptionist, like me, 20 minutes to transcribe into text.  This is in fact not the case, please see my post and Infographic Audio Transcription Time Guidelines for more insight on this.

What Is Not Helpful

This is a typical example that I see day after day when people are advertising to get their audios or videos transcribed into text.

Time saving tips when advertising for a transcription service

This example is better than some, it describes the length of the audio which is a good start, the format they would like the transcript in, which is generally Word anyway unless the transcript it being used for video captioning.

But, this example does not state how many speakers the audio contains, or the quality of the audio.  These two factors will determine combined with the other two points highlighted above, the time it will take to listen and type the recorded speech into text.  There are other factors also, for instance, if it is a two-speaker audio is there a lot of cross-talking?  Are there any additional requirements within the transcript required, time-stamping for example.

Advice on Best Practices

When advertising for a transcription service vendor, or freelance transcriptionist, it is always best practice to give as much information as possible about the audio.  To get the best transcriber for the job, it would be very helpful attach a sample, or the audio itself, but this isn’t always possible for confidentiality reasons.

By doing this it saves the transcription provider time from having to contact you asking these basic transcription questions that they need to ascertain whether they wish to submit a proposal for the work or not.  Advertising the basic details, audio quality, the number of speakers, length and desired deadline, transcription service providers know what they are applying for.

You, as the contractor of transcription services then do not get delayed with your transcription, especially important when you have a deadline to meet.  It will prevent your service provider telling you they cannot fulfil their part of the agreement because of incorrect or missing details about your specifications.  It saves time for both parties concerned and speeds up the whole process with the transcriptionist having a clear understanding of the audio content from the outset.

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Freelancing – Two Popular Freelance Sites Analysed

Freelancing and procuring work on a regular basis to keep the cash-flow circulating in on the context of submitting proposals, quotes, or setting up gigs or services is hard to do. I’ve been freelancing as Virtuadmin on a variety of sites for the past few years but work has suddenly come to a halt and wondering why.  I’ve been marketing Virtuadmin regularly the best way I know how; posting to our website by sharing great tools and information and generally being active on Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ to name a few.

The most success I had was on Fiverr.com, unfortunately, the exchange rate of ‘$’ to ‘£’ doesn’t make working in a professional niche viable sometimes. To explain further, my success was transcription and was getting regular orders. It takes the average transcriptionist with touch typing speeds in excess of 70 words per minute 4 hours to transcribe one hour of good quality clear audio. To transcribe say 30 minutes for ‘$5’ would give the freelancer, me, ‘$4’. At the time of writing the exchange rate would convert that $4 into approximately £2.82. Break that down even further and it works out to £2.82 divided by the 30 minutes of audio is 0.09 per audio minute.

After discovering Fivesquid.com and the British equivalent to Fiverr.com in as much that it is working in £’s and not $’s suited me better. This would make £4 and not $4 for 30 minutes of audio to be transcribed (An example for ease of explaining and this would then make the audio 0.13p per audio minute. Other freelance sites offer multiple currencies to pay or receive payment in.

Fiverr.com and Fivesquid.com are two very similar sites with the same objectives of providing quality low-cost freelance services. This got me thinking why I’m not getting the views of my services on Fivesquid as I was getting on Fiverr.com (my account is closed on Fiverr). My ‘gigs’ are active on Fivesqid.com but even after cross promotion on various platforms, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Digg, Flipboard some days I am just not getting the views or orders.

A quick search on Google to see if there was a website out there that would show traffic rates and comparisons of traffic; hey presto I found www.similarweb.com. These two graphs have been generated by this wonderful website and show the difference in volumes in traffic and their sources.These two graphs are a comparison of estimated monthly visits website traffic between fivesquid.com and fiverr.com. To clarify this is the estimated number of internet users who visited fivesquid.com compared to its American competitor fiverr.com.

Estimated Monthly Visits

The reason for my comparison is to ascertain if Fivesquid as a freelancing website is actually growing in popularity or are regular users maintaining it? Are more people actually looking for and hiring freelance services via Fivesquid?

To look at the graph above for the last 3 months looking at the first two indicators, ‘Direct’ and ‘Referrals’ the answer would seem to be no. However looking at the results of ‘Search’ which is Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page this would change my opinion a little. There is a significant number of more clicks from search results for Fivesquid as opposed to Fiverr.

Engagement

Fiverr has a much higher engagement rate to that of Fivesquid, it would appear that Fivesquid is remaining steady in popularity and Fiverr is decreasing in popularity. Certainly, over October, November and December their visits have fallen by approximately 10 million. In referrals, they are much pretty neck and neck but with the decrease in visits and referrals staying the same Fiversquid is getting a more trustworthy site to hire freelancers on. Their rate of conversion at roughly 9.58% compared to Fiverr shows that Fivesquid has a much stronger email marketing strategy and therefore better conversion rates.

 

Conclusion

This is only my opinion as an experienced Professional offering digital services as Virtuadmin Services working with years of experience working in an office and freelancing.  Our conclusion and belief are that Fivesquid has a lot to offer small businesses and organisations or businesses or anyone looking for cost-effective digital solutions.  Fivesquid has an awful lot to offer where benefits are to be gained outsourcing in the currency Great British Pound but unfortunately are not promoting.

It is encouraging that ‘Search’ results and ‘Mail’ initiatives provide much higher traffic sources and conversions hoping that one day they will increase their hundreds of thousands of visitors to millions like Fiverr.

Entrepreneurs, Solopreneurs, Small and medium sized businesses, organisations, self-employed are turning more using the professional services offered by freelancers that ever before.  Outsourcing to a freelancer is a cost-effective solution and hiring freelancers via freelance websites ensure security for both parties in the buying and selling of a service, flexible that you can hire them to do a one-off job or long-term pretty much hassle free. The only drawback to a site like Fiverr for freelancers where the exchange rate is not favourable to their native country’s currency they cannot work for any decent amount of money without severely dropping their working rates of what they are willing to accept for a certain task. Many, many freelance professionals produce high-quality work and this alternative of compromising working rates does not seem at all fair.

I hope in the future that contractors using freelance sites will consider the currency aspect and appreciate that the digital world operates in different types of currency values and unfortunately, therefore, some parts of the world can outsource their quality services cheaply and work happily on sites like Fiverr whereas others like myself have to remain on less popular websites like Fivesquid.com that haven’t got anywhere near the same volume of visitors or traffic but the buying and selling of services are conducted in the native country’s currency.  The quality of services is not to be doubted in any way, they are absolutely top quality and professional.  It needs is recognition in countries that can operate on a sensible valuable level to the contractor and freelancer operating from their habitual residence.  What would you want for £5?  What would you do for £5?  Visit www.fivesquid.com or visit fiverr.com for the alternative and see for yourself what works best for you, your wallet and your business!

If you are interested in hiring our professional freelance services please feel free to drop me an email or visit our profile on https://www.fivesquid.com/freelancer/Virtuadmin. Quality low-cost transcription service and Construction (CnDM Manual compilation.

What’s your experience of working on Fiverr.com or Fivesquid.com?  Let us know your experiences as a buyer of freelance services or seller of skills and knowledge, we’d love to hear from you.  Thanks for reading. – Virtuadmin