Transcription Services: Do It Yourself or Outsource?

4 Jan

outsourcing transcription services
Today’s question is from Marilyn:
What do you think
of outsourcing
transcription services?

Thousands of people and companies do it all of the time. Personally, I find the transcription hours useful in the journey of editing, fine-tuning and deep learning.

I do not use a transcriber when:
a) It is less than 1,000 words (3-4 pages). This takes me about 30 minutes.
b) I am still learning about or solidifying my views on the topic.
c) It’s too disjointed for anyone else to follow.

I have used a local gal to do transcribing under the following circumstances:
a) I have dozens or more pages to transcribe.
b) The topic no longer presents a “learning curve” advantage via submersion.
c) The content does not need significant editing by yours truly.

When hiring a transcriber:
a) Require a time and accuracy test.
b) Provide a login/logout time sheet or pay by the page.
c) Have clear deadlines.

The transcription method I use and train:
a) Dissect the recording into 5 minute segments.
b) Start typing immediately. Type until you lose pace.
c) Double space (this helps you see the holes).
d) Begin typing again with the words you are now hearing.
e) Repeat until you’ve completed the segment once.
f) Return to the top, rewind, and repeat the cycle, editing easy fixes in the previously typed text and adding new text in the blank spaces.
g) Beginning the 3rd or 4th time through, pause the audio to catch small misses.
h) Listen through while you read one final time to be sure you didn’t miss a segment.
i) Reread for grammar and spelling.

Interesting stats:
1. The average typewritten page contains 250 words.
2. 1.5 single-spaced pages equal one page of a book.

To find a transcription service:
1. or help you clarify your project needs while providing competing bids.
2. I find most of my out-of-town outsourcers from

Stay in touch with me (Marnie) via:


One Response to “Transcription Services: Do It Yourself or Outsource?”

  1. officesupport911 January 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM #

    Hi Marnie,

    You’ve posed a great question!

    For those who have decided to outsource their transcription needs, yes, it’s always a good idea to know ahead of time what you are expecting from your transcription service (should you decide to outsource that function).

    Freelance sites such as Elance, Guru and oDesk can be great sources of finding exceptional freelance transcriptionists. I just found three awesome folks to add to my own team via Elance.

    For a really proficient transcriber, the normal ratio is 4 to 1: Four hours to transcribe one hour of audio. This includes editing and proofreading (and also depends a lot on the level of editing required).

    Again, great topic!


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