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My transcription essentials

I think that I really must be suffering from the curse of knowledge!

I have talked to a number of people recently about some of the equipment I use as part of my transcription business, and I would say that a majority of them had no idea that such a thing as a foot pedal even existed, let alone be an essential part of my toolkit!

So this week I decided to record a short video where I explain a little bit about some of the hardware I use in my business. To cut a long story short, I would find it very hard to do what I do without the following:

My headphones 

Yes, you can hear audio through your computer’s speakers, but the wearing of headphones immediately helps to shut out any external noise. I find it also focuses my attention more, and I’m less likely to miss out audio where the sound might dip or one of the speakers’ voices is, shall we say, a little bit mumbly.

My wireless keyboard/mouse

I used the laptop keyboard in the early days, but I don’t really think these are designed for a LOT of typing (which is what I do, obviously!), plus the  keys are too shallow and close together. Using a wireless keyboard also means I can put my laptop on a riser, which takes it up to my eye level and is better for my posture.

My foot pedal

Absolutely essential! I can use this to play, rewind and fast forward the audio I’m listening to, which enables me to focus on the typing part of the job, which is obviously the most important part of transcription. I can’t imagine how anybody attempting to transcribe their audio/video would manage without this tool!

Express Scribe

I don’t mention this in the video, but this is the software I use, which supports audio and video formats such as mp3, mp4, wav and Windows Media files. It also works in conjunction with my foot pedal, unlike other media players, plus you can slow down or speed up the voices.

So, what are the essential tools you use in YOUR business? Have a look at my video, and let me know what you can’t manage without.

I love WordPress!

Hooray, I am up and running!

It’s been a couple of months since I wrote a proper blog post, and there’s a very good reason.

This is the first blog post that I’ve written from my own website, woohoo! My site was re-launched last week, thanks to the very clever WordPress skills of Tracy Swindale from Super Secretary, and I am SO excited to be publishing content on my very own platform at last.

I’ve been blogging for a year now, and lack of a blog prior to the beginning of 2014 led me to setting up a wordpress.com blog, mainly in sheer frustration at the fact I didn’t have one actually on my website. When I started my business, I was in the very fortunate position that my husband was able to build me a website, and for this I will always be eternally grateful, as I would never have got anything up and running in the first place without his support.

But as things developed and my business moved on, this became a bit of a problem.

I was unable to make changes to the site without getting my other half to go in and do the changes on my behalf, and this often meant waiting ages until he had time on his hands. It hardly seemed worth it for small changes, and when it became clear that I really needed to make a lot of updates (when I narrowed down my niche to being a transcription specialist, for example), it really became quite untenable.

I knew something had to change!

I’d already discovered how easy it was to create blog posts on the page I’d set up in wordpress.com, and I am overjoyed to discover that it’s now just as easy to make changes and add new pages on my website.

I certainly wouldn’t say I was an expert yet, not by any means, but I’m so looking forward to the flexibility that it’s going to give me, both in terms of blogging and content marketing, and being able to keep my website looking the way I want it to.





Information overload – what’s your best learning style?

Do YOU have information overload when it comes to choosing which way you learn?

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You can’t have failed to notice that I like to talk a lot about the benefits of using intelligent transcription and how it can help individuals and small businesses make more of their online audio or video content. Your content is valuable and it stands to reason that you’d like to make it even more valuable by turning existing words into new content, such as blog posts, social media posts, online articles and e-books.

But what about online courses and learning information?

Do you buy online courses? Perhaps you create and sell them yourself as part of your business or perhaps you’re thinking about it (in spite of the whole hooha over the new VAT rules due to come in on 1st January, but that’s another story altogether!).

Over the last couple of years I have been a prodigious browser of courses available to buy at the click of a button, and have even bought a few. It’s enough to make your head spin sometimes, there are so many available, and it’s hard to know where to start.

What would make you choose one course over another?

The cost? The blurb on the sales page? Testimonials from satisfied customers?

Content that’s accessible for your own personal learning style, perhaps?!

Things like cost and recommendations are extremely important, of course, but I often wonder if people stop to consider the implications of what’s involved in accessing the course content before they click on the old Paypal button. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the content at all, but I often wonder if buyers of online courses think about how they prefer to access learning material before they buy a course.

I wonder too if businesses that produce online courses are missing a trick when it comes to making their content more accessible to more people.

As mentioned above, I have bought a few courses since the start of 2013 and I’m afraid to admit that (whispers), I haven’t finished all of them. Now, this could be down to various reasons, namely procrastination (horrors!), lack of time, not managing my time properly (cough) and that old chestnut, just not getting round to it. Perhaps you’re in a similar boat!

I’ve realised that I actually prefer to READ my learning material. I have to be in the right mood to listen to or watch a webinar, and I will admit that I’m easily distracted by other things on the computer whilst they’re running. But give me a book and a comfy sofa, and my focus is only in one place.

You might now be able to guess where this thread is heading!

I think it’s always worth considering how your customers are likely to access their learning materials, and provide the content accordingly. If this means providing an intelligent transcript of the audio of a set of webinars or videos, then I really do believe you’ll be adding a lot of extra value to what you’re offering.

What do you think? I’d love to know how you like to access your content online, so please either leave a comment, or pop over to my Facebook page and let me know.

More on the pesky problem of spelling and punctuation…

Anybody who happens to see my Facebook posts on a regular basis won’t have failed to notice that I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to spelling and punctuation. I have talked about the whole issue of apostrophes elsewhere, and I think it’s time to expand on this a wee bit!

If you run a business or if you’re starting to think about it, it stands to reason that you want all your business bits and bobs like your website, your business cards and your social media pages to look tip top. You want to come across as professional and trustworthy without losing sight of your own individuality, so what you’re aiming for is to create an eye catching personal brand, and it goes without saying that you probably want to spend a bit of time working on what you want to say to get the customers flocking in.

Unfortunately it can be very easy to spoil the effect of a lovely website or sales page with a few pesky old spelling and punctuation or grammar mistakes.

Here’s a selection of some of my favourites and a few hints and tips on how to correct the errors.

Although I’ve covered this before, I think the dreaded misplaced apostrophe deserves a recap, and it’s most commonly used in a plural where it is not needed.

To give you an example, how about book’s. The plural of book is books. The only time you need an apostrophe is if you plan to write something like, ‘The book’s an excellent read’ (short for ‘the book is an excellent read’) or ‘The book’s contents’. If you have several books, you might say something like, ‘The books’ covers were all shiny’.  The apostrophe always goes at the end if it’s the possessive of a plural.

Continuing on the subject of apostrophes, it’s is short for it is, where its is a possessive, e.g. ‘the tree has lost its leaves’.

Confusion is common when it comes to your/you’re and they’re/there/their.

You’re is the contraction of you are and your is a pronoun, e.g. ‘you’re going shopping later’ or ‘your mum’s going shopping later’.

They’re is the contraction of they are.

There can be used in a sentence with a verb e.g. there is a bird in the sky.

Their indicates possession, e.g. their house is lovely.

Not to mention the use of should of instead of should’ve (the contraction of should have).

Moving on, what about words that sound the same but have different spellings?

A few examples are…

Accept/except. Stationery/stationary. Affect/effect. Compliment/complement. Principle/ principal.

I accept your apology for eating the chocolate, even though there is nothing left for me in the fridge except cheese.

I bought some stationery before I went to catch the train, which was already stationary at the platform.

She knew how to affect him, and the overall effect was spellbinding.

Her friend gave her a compliment on the beautiful shoes that complemented her dress.

He refused to change his mind as it would be against his principles, despite being confronted by the principal person in charge.

Even pedantic people like me can be guilty of slip-ups – have you ever found yourself looking at a word for so long that it starts to look wrong?

Yup, me too.

The moral of the story is, if you’ve got important words out there that you want other people to take seriously, always get someone else to proofread them before hitting publish!

Do you hate the sound of your voice?

When I was 12 years old, I was given a Philips radio cassette player for my birthday. Remember them?!

If you’re old enough to remember the eighties, you’ll know that not only could you record songs off the Top 40 every week (not forgetting to press pause at the right moment to cut off whichever Radio One DJ was wittering on at that time), but you could also record yourself speaking! My sisters and I had a lot of fun recording the songs and then our own voices to pretend we were the DJs. The only trouble was that it meant I had to listen back to my own voice, and I quickly realised it sounded a lot different in reality to how it sounded in my own head!

Fast forward 30 years and not much has changed!

I posted a few months ago about getting out of my comfort zone. This involved getting up in front of a group of people at a networking event to talk about my passion for what I do when it comes to using intelligent transcription, either to improve the way your words look on paper or add value to your content.

That’s fine, but I still couldn’t hear how my voice actually sounded, not really, and although I thought about recording myself while I was practising, I chickened out.

Then I was offered the opportunity to be interviewed for B50 Radio, the podcast for Business 50, a Scotland-wide networking group. Yikes, this would mean actually listening to the sound of my own voice!

I decided to go for it, of course, as it meant I was able to talk about how I can help people add extra value to their content, and I suppose I could have avoided the recording altogether if I really didn’t want to hear myself speaking. When I received notification that it had been published I realised how foolish I was being, and I clicked on the link to have a listen.

I’d love it if you’d have a listen too and let me know what you think.

The point is, everybody has something about themselves that they feel self-conscious about, but I’ve learned a big secret recently.

Nobody else notices!

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, I hate the sound of my voice”, I would be in the money, plus I always say to them, “Your voice sounds fine, what are you on about?” See what I mean?

Plus getting the opportunity to talk about your business by whatever means, whether it’s via a podcast interview, a face to face interview or speaking at an event, gives you the chance to position yourself as an expert in your field, and what could be better than that?

I’m still feeling uncomfortable with the thought of seeing as well as hearing myself, so my next challenge is to do a video blog post!

Watch this space…