- Yes, with certain conditions.Under NAFTA there is no issue with hiring a Canadian contractor on a 1099 basis as long as the work is being performed outside of the U.S. and there is clearly not an employer/employee relationship. I work as a 1099 contractor for a number of U.S. companies and there is no extra paperwork for the client. I will provide a W-8BEN for your records.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of offshoring of transcription, which has created unreasonable expectations of what the service should truly cost. Many of these companies offering very low rates are little more than transcription mills going through a high rotation of typists. These typists are looking for experience and/or only pocket income. They are not professionals.
Imagine that you have an interview to transcribe where the interviewee has a very thick accent and is talking about a highly technical subject matter that includes the names of drugs, diseases, and parts of the anatomy. At the rates most transcription clients are willing to pay, this will be transcribed by someone with very little experience who, being paid a pittance, will want to get through the file very quickly. So you will get a transcript riddled with inaudibles. If you are lucky, the transcriptionist may have made some attempt to Google terms and you may not have too many blanks to fill in.
Contrast this with paying a professional rate to someone who has been in the business more than five years, has extensive experience with a variety of accents, and has transcribed material in so many different fields as to have broad general knowledge. You will get a file with almost no inaudibles and with all technical terms correct so there are no blanks to fill in.
Now imagine that this interview is going to be part of a court proceeding and its accuracy could affect the outcome of a trial.
Do you want to spend a few hours turning the first transcript into a court-ready document or a few minutes skimming the second one? How much is your time worth?
There is a misconception in this industry that anyone who can type can transcribe. This is not the case. Typing ability is a very small part of this job. When I see an ad that requires the transcriptionist to type so many words per minute as being the most important criteria, I know that this is a company that does not understand what is involved in providing a quality transcript and will therefore not be willing to pay a fair price. To transcribe, you need to understand speech and be able to convey it in writing. If you are not a good writer, you will not succeed as a transcriptionist.
To illustrate how little typing speed matters, the industry standard is that it takes four hours for an experienced transcriptionist to type one hour of material. I have been transcribing for six years now and I still can rarely do better than that average — and I type over 100 words per minute! So your “small” project consisting of an hour of recorded material represents a half day of work.
With most transcription pricing being per audio hour, this means that whatever rate you see should be divided by four to provide the transcriptionist’s hourly rate. And then, you need to subtract the cost of overhead. If you do the math, you will realise that my rates are actually a bargain.
Also note that hiring a freelancer/1099 contractor is much less costly than hiring an employee since you do not have to pay for benefits, vacation, office space, equipment, and more.
- Certainly. As long as it’s small. See the above. I will not type an hour of audio as a test. Five to ten minutes of audio is a reasonable length for test audio.
- Absolutely. I am a professional transcriptionist and proofreader. This is my full-time job. I have been doing this long enough to be able to understand how long a project will take to complete and completion deadlines are firm. To be honest, I don’t have other commitments, like a family, that can derail my schedule. Work is really my only priority. I’m the person my clients who have other commitments go to when they or their other typists have to back out of a job and need something done at the last minute.
- Yes. You can also see a list of some of my clients on the home page of this site.
- I travel a lot and my time zone changes frequently. My clients, who are mostly in the Pacific and Eastern time zones, schedule me in their time zone and I make it my responsibility to do the necessary conversion to the time zone I am in so I meet deadlines. I don’t keep regular office hours, but generally work between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm seven days a week in whatever time zone I’m in. I do respond to client emails outside of those hours and if I’m not at my desk during normal business hours. Yes, I work from wherever I am, whether it’s by a beach in Mexico, somewhere in the Bulgarian mountains, or at my rural property in Saskatchewan. The flexibility that transcription affords me is all the motivation I need to perform to high standards!
- I work on a Mac running OS Sierra. I rarely have compatibility issues with clients since a Mac can open most audio and video files. The only issues arise when the client is using a proprietary format, such as from an Olympus or For the Record transcription system, that does not have a Mac player. In that case, the client is normally equipped to export those files to MP3 (using their equipment’s software) and should convert the file before sending it to me. I use ExpressScribe Pro with a foot pedal to transcribe into Word or a Google Doc.
- I usually use a secure cellular connection to access the Internet. I never perform work for clients over unsecured public WiFi.
- Clients send me files through Dropbox (preferred), email, and FTP. I prefer not to use Hightail or Google Drive, but occasionally do. I return files through the same method or by email.
- I never paraphrase unless a client specifically tells me to. This is common in the entertainment industry with an interviewer’s questions. A verbatim transcript is when everything is typed, including ums, uhs, stutters, false starts, and verbal tics like “like” and “you know.” For example:
Uh, that’s, um, that’s a really good question. I think that, you know, it’s, like, easy. Y- — you might even say, uh, that — that it’s a no brainer.
A cleaned up transcript removes that filler material.
That’s a really good question. I think that it’s easy. You might even say that it’s a no brainer.
There are infinite variations on these two transcript types. Some clients may want to omit the ums and uhs, but keep the verbal tics. Others may not want the stutters, but request that the ums and uhs stay in.
- Yes. And I can format them to resemble the originals.
- Thanks for asking! Here are some suggestions: be clear about what you have, what you want, and when you want it; if you are a transcription firm, provide me with an updated, thorough, and consistent style guide/manual; provide clear audio with no background noise and avoid having speakers talk over each other; pay your invoices on time.