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Be yourself in business, everyone else is already taken!

Be yourself in business…

I’m going to start off by being brutally honest (hence the worried face in my pic!).

I haven’t written a blog post for nigh on seven months now, and that fact has been weighing on my mind for quite a while, but for some reason I’ve also felt incredibly resistant to getting it done. I wasn’t feeling the fear and doing it, if you like! I will admit that I was feeling the fear and just hiding. Getting a case of the old imposter syndrome, catching a bad dose of comparison-itis, wanting to hide under a blanket and watch repeats of Sex and the City (they have the entire box set on Sky Anytime, you know!).

Reminding myself to be visible

A few weeks ago I was attending the only local networking group I go to (and again I’ll be honest, this is mostly because I work on my own and like to go along and sit with a cuppa and chat to other grown ups), and the theme for the week was ‘What’s my Quote’. The one I came up with was the well known Oscar Wilde saying, ‘be yourself, everyone else is already taken’.

This was particular apt for me at the time, and I really should write it on a post it note and stick it on my laptop, because I’d forgotten one of the most important rules when you’re running a business – people work with people they know, like and trust! If you can’t be yourself in business, then who are you pretending to be?

I’d got myself all bogged down in despair when I looked at one of the groups I’m in on Facebook (one of the ones I don’t contribute to very often, because I’m scared I’ll say the wrong thing) and saw that a number of people were recommending a cheap and cheerful transcription company to transcribe their audio and video recordings.

I had a look at their website and saw that they are based in the US and use a big team of associates to do the work with incredibly quick turnaround times, plus only charging a dollar per audio minute.

Okay, that was a bit depressing. I know the exchange rate isn’t brilliant at the moment, but I’m a bit more expensive than that.

Then I remembered something (which reminded me that I need to become more visible again, both on here and in groups). I do all my own client work in my business. That means you can always rely on my attention to detail and my pedantic disdain of misplaced apostrophes. You can rely on me going above and beyond the call of duty to Google endlessly to find out how to spell a complicated word. I really don’t like putting an ‘inaudible’ timestamp in unless I have to! I don’t send work out to other people because I would then have to check it against my own high standards.

So effectively my USP is me!

It can be difficult to be in a situation where you actually meet your clients when you work online like I do – hence making the effort to go to networking once a week – but if I do a good job for somebody, I hope that they’ll come back for more, or even recommend me to their friends. And that they’ll do that because they feel they’ve connected with me, and not just with an anonymous and dare I say faceless company.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear yours, so please comment below, or get in touch via my Facebook page.

 

 

 

Lessons learned from an oven clean

What are you outsourcing just now?

oven before

oven afterI’m going to share a couple of pictures with you, and the first picture is a wee bit embarrassing, but the second one makes my heart sing with joy!

As you can probably tell from the ‘before’ picture, it had been a wee while since my oven was cleaned. We’re talking years, rather than months here. Oh, the shame!

I have had a packet of Oven Pride under the sink for some time now – a ‘joke’ gift from my mother in law, but I’ll be completely honest, I really could not be bothered.

I’m not a fan of cleaning at the best of times (getting a cleaner is on my to do list!), and tackling an absolutely filthy oven was not top of my list of priorities, despite what well meaning people always tell me about how you can just spray the stuff on, leave it overnight and the gunk just comes off. I don’t want to be wiping off gunk!

A business lesson learned from an oven clean

A friendly chap from Scottish Oven Cleaning (highly recommended if you’re in central Scotland!) came round on the day the kids went back to school, and he was in and out in an hour and a half, resulting in the gleaming oven pictured above. It seems a shame to use it again, it’s so lovely and sparkling!

I have no idea how long it would have taken me to do the same job. He has specialist equipment – the racks went into the back of his van, and something (I don’t know what) was plugged into a socket in my garage, so I can only assume it was some heated up fancy cleaning gadget that strips all the gunk off and leaves no trace.

I can actually see through the oven door, it’s amazing!

Do you know what I was doing while Kevin (as that’s his name) was cleaning the oven? Getting on with doing the work in my business that brings in the money to pay for the jobs I hate e.g. cleaning!

What’s my point?

There are always going to be certain things that we don’t want to do or don’t get round to doing in our businesses. Creating written content may well be one of these, and yes, I know, this is my first blog post since June, but when I do get started with the writing process, I wonder why it’s taken me so long to get back to it.

If you’re more of a fan of articulating yourself verbally, perhaps that’s recording videos or doing regular Facebook Live broadcasts, don’t let that valuable content just sit there! If you get it transcribed you can use it again for written content.

And if you do want to get that blog started and you feel more comfortable speaking, why not dictate your thoughts instead. Intelligent transcription can help shape your spoken words into written ones that make total sense.

What do you think? What have you outsourced lately, either in business or at home? Please do comment below, or pop over to my Facebook page and let me know!

 

 

The know, like and trust factor

trustThe trust factor

When I started my business at the end of 2010, the first client I got was somebody I already knew. I think that’s probably the case for most small (micro!) businesses – until you get a bit of momentum behind you, people aren’t going to know who you are and they might prefer to use somebody more established and more experienced. Essentially they want somebody they know, like and trust, to coin a well-known phrase.

So how do you get that ‘know, like and trust’ factor?

Know, like and trust – doing business with people you like

Have you ever done business with someone you didn’t get on with? It can leave you with a bit of an icky feeling, can’t it? Even if the service you’re getting is completely fine and the job is getting done, if you don’t gel with that person, the whole process can be uncomfortable.

The thing about my business is that most of it’s done online. In the early days I had to get out to networking meetings (my worst nightmare come true at the time!) to meet other business people, and I imagined that everybody else would be corporate types in business suits and they would all know what they were talking about.

This wasn’t the case at all, of course, and I met some lovely people who couldn’t have been further from the image I had in my head. Meeting people in person is helpful for someone like me who is often taken in by the image that’s often portrayed by businesses on Facebook and the like. The reality is that of course everybody is paddling furiously, regardless of how serene they appear on the surface.

Being ‘authentic’ in your marketing

I’ve talked about this in another very recent blog post, and trying out being ‘the real me’ has certainly given me more engagement on my Facebook page, for example. I don’t think people always want to see some perfect person, it’s a bit off putting when you sometimes feel like you’re flailing about with little or no direction.

Being prepared to admit you’re human and you have to deal with all sorts of stuff in your daily life makes it easier for others to relate to you.

You don’t want to come across as a complete doofus, of course, you’re still an expert in what you do, and it’s important to get that across!

I might not be the best person in the world at always being visible in the groups I’m in on Facebook, and I haven’t always been completely consistent at being regular with my blog posts, but I’m ‘me’ whenever I choose to be visible.

I am also consistent with the service that I give to my clients, and I think that’s why a lot of my business recently has been word of mouth referrals.

If you do what you say you’re going to do, and you’re reliable, you give great value, you’re polite and responsive and always friendly, even if you don’t feel like it, then people will come back for more. I really do think it’s that simple!

What do you think? Please leave me a comment or pop over to my Facebook page and drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Merry Christmas! My 2015 round up…

Merry Christmas!

snowman

Ho Ho Ho! I’m writing this on 18th December, it’s the last day of term, the kids will be home in about an hour, so I’m trying to get all my last minute bits and pieces done before then.

In the midst of attempting to finish my last transcription job of 2015, it seemed a fitting time to look back over the last 12 months and have a look at what I’ve managed to achieve, and what hasn’t quite happened as planned.

What’s gone well?

I’m pleased to say that tracking my time religiously has worked like a dream! There are a load of apps and time tracking thingies available online and on most phones these days, but I’ve gone with the simple stopwatch on my phone. Timing how long it takes me to do a piece of work allows me to see how much time it really takes to get stuff done, and also how much time I spend faffing!

I also started using a spreadsheet to log the results, and this also works out how much I’m earning per hour (as I charge per audio minute), and it gives me daily, weekly and monthly totals, plus an average daily hourly rate. Extremely useful!

The result of this is that I’ve managed to more than double my monthly income from this time last year, purely by being so much more aware of what I’m actually doing. It’s so bloomin’ simple!

What’s not gone so well?

I had great plans this year to get going on an online course, and I’m sorry to say that this hasn’t happened quite as planned. I did get started on creating a number of videos, and I was testing these with some very helpful volunteers, but for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was the content, maybe it was the way I was putting it together, I’m not really sure.

For the time being, I have knocked the idea of course creation on the head, but it’s still something I want to pursue, and I’m hoping to get started at some point in 2016.

What else has been going on?

I have taken on a number of lovely new clients this year and am continuing to enjoy helping them make their recorded content super valuable – because that’s what it’s all about, really!

I’d love to help you if you think your content needs a bit of attention in 2016. It’s so easy to turn your videos, podcasts and audios into completely new content, so please pop over to my Facebook page and send me a message if you’d like to find out more.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and all the very best for a prosperous and abundant 2016!

 

 

 

What’s your time worth?

clockTime – are you using yours properly?

I used to struggle a bit with how to show people how valuable my service was. After all, there are a million and one (or so it seems!) transcription companies out there that will outsource your precious audio and video content to various associate transcriptionists, so what makes my perhaps slightly more expensive service worth more? One word for you – time.

How long?

I’ve posted as such on my Facebook page recently, but did you know that the industry standard for transcription suggests that it can take up to an hour to transcribe 15 minutes of audio? That’s quite a long time to be spending on something you might find tedious, particularly if you have several hours’ worth of audio or video!

Of course there is no hard and fast rule with regards to this and it will depend on quality of audio, number of speakers and so on, but it’s worth remembering that this applies to professional transcriptionists with specialist equipment who are likely to be faster typists than the norm!

Are you trying to do it yourself?

If you’re a coach or trainer and you’re in the business of creating online courses or live workshops, chances are you don’t have an actual hourly rate, but I bet if you were to sit down and work it out, you might find that you’re wasting time when you’re trying to do everything else yourself.

This includes re-purposing your content!

It’s an exhausting business trying to come up with new content all the time, but if your favourite way of doing this is to record videos, podcasts, Periscopes, webinars or any other type of audio or video, there are so many ways you can use these all again, and save yourself time into the bargain.

Using intelligent transcription (i.e. taking out the ums and ers and editing the text so it makes sense down on paper) turns your spoken words into written ones, then you can turn a Periscope into a blog post, use parts of your podcast to put together social media posts or turn a video series into a paid for ebook.

But there’s a caveat here, this all takes time!

If it makes your shoulders sink with the thought of the time it will take you to turn your recordings into completely new and really valuable content, have a think about what you could be creating while somebody else takes away the pain for you.

You don’t need to be an expert in everything, so use your time wisely and do the thing that brings in the moolah, and let somebody else like me help you make your content really valuable.

I’d love to know if you already outsource things in your business, re-purposing content or otherwise – drop me an email, message me on my Facebook page or please comment below!

 

 

 

 

Transcription of content? What do you want to know?

2015-05-05 10.03.31Transcription of content? So…what’s that all about?

I’m not in the business of trying to speak to everyone, I know that. I was at a school reunion the other day and I talked to a few old pals who asked me what I do for a living these days (I have to say, there was a fair bit of one-upmanship going on!). When I told them I was a transcription specialist and that I transcribe content, I got a few blank looks.

I then attempted to go into a bit more detail about business owners creating audio and video content such as podcasts, webinars, online tutorials, Periscopes and so on, and how I can help them re-purpose their content by transcribing it.

I got a few nods and vaguely interested looks from whoever I was speaking to before they went on to talk to someone else about their job as a fund manager (or whatever it was).

Suffice to say they were probably not my target audience!

Questions? Queries? Requests?

I’ve been blogging on a fairly regular basis now for more than a year and a half and I will happily admit that honing my writing skills is still a work in progress!

I also sometimes struggle to think of something new and fresh to write about, rather than re-hashing something I’ve already talked about. I also want to be speaking to the right people and maybe even writing about something that’s actually useful to you!

So this is where you come in!

Frequently asked questions…

For a while now I’ve been thinking about creating a frequently asked questions section for my website, but as is often the way with these things, it has fallen by the wayside and nothing has happened.

What would you like to know?

If you’re a creator of audio and video content and there’s even a teeny tiny possibility that you’ve ever considered getting your content transcribed, what questions would you like to ask first?

I would like to make it my business to be as open and honest as possible, and to be able to answer all your questions as thoroughly as possible. I want to be able to demonstrate just how valuable my service could be to you, and how it could save you a load of time and hassle into the bargain.

It’s easy for me to say that though, isn’t it?!

So my call to action is for you to please, please get in touch, whether that’s via email, my Facebook page or in the comments section below. I would love to hear all about what YOU want to know more about, whether it’s how transcription works, how I share files, what ‘intelligent’ transcription actually means, how the transcripts can be reused or anything else.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Have you got that back to school feeling?

apple and books

Back to school again?

What is it about this time of year that makes us take stock and start making plans for the future?

I don’t know about you, but I always have a certain sense of excitement at this time of year. Okay, I know, it’s still only August, but the schools in Scotland are already back (and no doubt schools elsewhere will be returning in a week’s time), and despite the fact it doesn’t feel like we’ve had much of a summer to speak of, I’ve noticed certain trees are starting to change colour already. I’m very much looking forward to September, which has always been one of my favourite months, the bridge between seasons and the ideal time to start and implement something new.

When is the best time to make plans?

Some would argue that January is a good time to sit down and think about where you’ve been, where you’re going and what you’re planning to do over the next few months. It seems like a natural time because of the turn of the year marking new beginnings and so on, but I don’t see this as the ideal turning point. Okay, so you might be in need of a bodily spring clean following the excesses of Christmas, but otherwise in my opinion it’s winter, it’s dark, it’s dreary and I don’t often feel that inspired!

This time of year, however, is completely different!

If you’ve got kids at school, or even if you haven’t, you might still feel a certain frisson of anticipation about the idea, at least, of going back to school, of starting a new class, having a new teacher and writing out new timetables. Just the idea of a new crisp uniform, a smart new schoolbag and a shiny new pencil case full of lovely new stationery is enough to conjure up memories that may well be a bit skewed by the passage of time!

The point is that the start of a new school year and the change in season always makes me think about starting something new, or in my case, finishing what I’ve started!

You might have read my post a while ago about getting out of my comfort zone and thinking about online courses.

Okay, I admit, this stalled a little bit at the start of the summer holidays.

I’m not going to beat myself up, though!

I’m starting again, and I’ve set myself a deadline of 16th September (my birthday!) to get my beta version up and running. I’m feeling a bit anxious about this again, but I’m going to attempt to push through the fear and Just Do It.

After all, what have I really got to lose?

I’d love to hear about what you’re planning to do now that the school year is beginning again and the seasons are changing. What exciting things have you got in the pipeline? Please do comment below, or pop over to my Facebook page to let me know.

Are you scared of using the phone?

phone boxes (640x480)

A bit of nostalgia first…

Does anybody still use the traditional red phone box? I’m old enough to remember a time when, as a Brownie, we had to have 2p in our pocket along with a clean hanky, a bandage and a piece of string (?). Yes, there was a time when you could make a call for 2p! I can also remember when you would go and meet a friend up the town on a Saturday, and if they didn’t show up, you would debate whether you might miss them if you headed off to the nearest phone box to see if they’d already left.

It’s hard to imagine how we managed before mobile phones, but we didn’t know any better, I suppose!

Phone phobia!

Returning to the 21st century, what’s your favourite method of communicating with your clients?

Telephone, email, Skype or perhaps ping pong Facebook message?

I use nearly all of the above, but almost without exception I will avoid the first one – the telephone!

Faceless communication

I think this has a lot to do with not being able to see the person I’m speaking to.  Although I won’t make a song and dance about being an intravert (I don’t like to label myself too much!), I do get anxious when I’m confronted with a lot of noisy people in a room (give me a smaller number of people I know well, and I can be the life and soul of the party!), and if a number comes up on my phone that I don’t know, I immediately have a physical reaction (think butterflies in the stomach) and I will ignore it.

Before you ask (and as you’re on my website you’ll know already), yes, I do have phone numbers for my business, but I think I must be sending out a ‘don’t call me’ vibe, as nine times out of ten, any business enquiries I get come via email or Facebook, and I can reply to these in a timely manner but also think about how I’m going to respond.

There’s also the issue of being completely focused on what you’re doing, only to be interrupted by the phone ringing and breaking your concentration, and for this reason alone I tend to keep my phone on silent all the time. I don’t think constantly stopping to answer your phone is a very productive way of working, and if you are worried about missing calls, especially if you receive a lot, there are plenty of good call answering services out there.

I do think, however, that as there are so many different methods of communication these days and if you’re not comfortable using the phone, you shouldn’t feel you have to make yourself do it just because you think everyone else is. For example, I am more than happy to schedule Skype calls, the difference being that you can actually see the person you’re speaking to and get the same benefit as if you were meeting in person.

What do you think? I know I can’t be the only one who really doesn’t like using the phone, so let me know if you’re a fellow phone hater!

Making a change – introducing learning tools

April is a funny time of year, one where it seems to be true to say that you really do experience four seasons in one day. Last week we were enjoying 20 degree temperatures (yes, even in Scotland!), and yesterday I rushed through a stinging hailstorm which was closely followed by a blizzard.

The variability in the spring weather patterns has got me thinking about the changes business owners must make on a reasonably regular business in order to keep things moving along and stop things going stagnant.

Change is good!

I know, I know, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day routine of business when you have a few regular clients, a fairly consistent amount of work and you know what you’re doing with whatever product or service you’re offering.

At the risk of sounding like a cliche, however, you have to get out of your comfort zone if you’re going to grow and develop your business. This is what I’m planning in doing in the not too distant future, and I would love to have your feedback on my idea, and if you think it’s something that’s going to work.

Up until now, my business has been purely service-based. In the main I provide transcription services to my clients, along with a bit of proofreading and editing (which, I’m sure you’ll agree, comes with the territory). However, this is very much a time-based business model, and it’s always been my intention to look into ways of creating passive income (I’m not even sure I really like that phrase!) by creating courses or learning tools of some sort.

Here’s the scary bit…

Okay, so I recently made myself accountable both to my coach and to my mastermind group that I would map out a potential course for people who are a bit scared when it comes to writing for their businesses. This could be in terms of blog writing like this, or even just best practice when it comes to contacting clients or posting on social media.

So this is where you come in!

What puts you off writing for business?

Is this you? What are you afraid of when you’re writing for your business?

Do you feel anxious about getting your spelling, grammar and punctuation wrong? Are you worried about your sentence structure? Are you unsure of the proper way to address somebody in a letter? What about different styles to use in different types of writing or correspondence?

Is the whole writing process just not something you feel comfortable with at all and you feel more comfortable articulating yourself verbally than getting your words down on paper?

This is a bit of a scary thing, and because it’s so new for me I can still feel a certain amount of resistance towards it, but by writing it down here, I’m making myself doubly accountable. I would welcome your comments, so please watch this space!

So….how do you make changes in your business? I would love to know!

Lights, camera, action!

If you’ve been following my posts over the last few months, you might have noticed that I’ve been talking about some of the ways you can get out of your comfort zone when it comes to getting your message across, and these have included speaking at a networking event and being interviewed for a podcast.

Some of you might even have noticed that I made myself accountable in my last blog post and said that I would record myself talking on video, so here I am in all my glory!

Yikes!

This is a big ‘eek’ moment for me. It’s one thing getting up in front of people to speak if you can’t actually see yourself, but it’s quite another thing seeing yourself on the screen as the webcam records you speaking.

By the way, this is the easiest way to get started if you want to try and video yourself. We do have a family handheld camcorder, but I imagine you probably need a tripod for this, unless you fancy trying some sort of wobbly video selfie!

I’ve watched quite a lot of videos on people’s blogs and websites recently, and I think they can be a great way to get your personality across. It’s easy to become a bit faceless in business, particularly if you’re largely web-based and might not necessarily meet your clients face to face, and I think the most important thing to remember is that you don’t actually need to look picture perfect. In fact, it’s probably better if you look as normal as possible, as you’re then more likely to come across as a real person, if that makes sense, rather than one of the candidates on The Apprentice.

Hands up if you feel intimidated by highly polished videos with high production values and perfectly groomed business people – I know I do! Okay, so you might not want to appear on video in your pyjamas, for example, and I know that the lighting isn’t going to be perfect on my video and it might be slightly grainy in appearance, but you have to start somewhere.

At this point I’m going to tell you that I will be transcribing my video and putting the text of the content underneath for you to read, so this will give you an idea of how intelligent transcription can add value to your content, especially when it takes out the ums, ers and hesitations of when you’re speaking!

In this very simple example, you can choose either to watch the video OR to read the transcript (or you can do both, of course!). If you’re recording your own videos, you get them transcribed and you want to go back at some point in the future and, for example, turn a series of video posts and blog posts into an e-book, the written content will be there for you to use.

So that’s it for my first video attempt! I hope you enjoyed it, and I will talk to you soon. ‘Bye!


 

So, what do you think?

I’d love to hear what you think about video versus blog and how you can use a combination of the two as part of your content marketing strategy, so please either leave me a comment, contact me via my Facebook page or drop me a tweet.