Today’s post is an interview with Janet Shaughnessy, an experienced medical, legal, and general transcriptionist as well as the owner of Zoom Transcription Services.

Today, Janet is talking to us about what general transcription involves, how lucrative the industry can be, and also a little about her new eCourses for beginning transcriptionists currently offered at TranscribeAnywhere.com (with a FREE 7-day intro course!).

Tell us a little about why and how you got started working from home as a transcriptionist.

My beginning as a work-from-home transcriptionist was born of necessity. My husband became disabled and I needed time to take him to various doctors and hospitals.

At the time, I had a high-paying and very high-pressure job at an insurance brokerage. It became impossible to juggle both my career and home life.

I had to start thinking seriously about what I could do from home to earn an income. It was sort of a dream of mine anyway, but I never had the chance to pursue it. Life is funny that way.

Sometimes, what appears as misfortune ends up to be a blessing in disguise. God is good that way. I already had experience as a medical transcriptionist and had training in shorthand and typing in high school.

Who would have thought that skills I learned in high school would end up being the keys to a successful home-based business?

Tell us a little about general transcription and what that involves.

General transcription is simply turning audio and video files into text documents. We use specialized software to playback the audio and type it into a text document.

There are many industries that require the skills of a qualified transcriptionist; authors, interviewers, academicians, podcasters, marketers, financial executives, conference leaders. The list is long.

In the “Information Age,” content is king. All of that audio and video needs to be transcribed.

What are the best things about working from home as a transcriptionist?

The financial reward, of course, is important. But, for me anyway, the flexibility of being able to work when and where I want is the greatest benefit. I couldn’t imagine going back to the 9:00 to 5:00 world ever!

Can general transcription be a fairly lucrative industry, or would you say the amount of money you can earn depends on your experience?

Providing general transcription services has been very generous to me financially. I guess you could say that the amount of money you can earn depends somewhat on your experience. But, in reality, the amount of money you can earn is really dictated by two things:

  • Your willingness to study and learn to be exceptional as a transcriptionist.
  • The amount of effort you put into finding work and providing excellent customer service.

Is general transcription a difficult industry to break into?

No. But, it’s not easy to retain clients if you’re not excellent at what you do. Over and over again, I receive feedback from my clients saying things like, “I’m so glad I found you! I’ve tried so many transcription companies and have been disappointed with the quality of their transcripts.”

There’s a myth floating around that general transcription doesn’t require training. It does. The ability to type is not the only skill required.

Would you say there is a lot of demand for good transcriptionists in this day and age?

It’s so funny that people think that when, actually, the opposite is true. Let’s break it down. Virtually every person in business of any type has a web presence. On the internet “content is king.”

People produce a lot of audio and video content, especially video these days. All of that audio and video needs text to accompany it in order to be indexed by the search engines.

It can also be repurposed into blog posts, books, tutorials or many other forms of written communication.

This, in itself, has lead to an explosion in the need for qualified transcriptionists. Voice recognition technology cannot replace humans because it’s too error prone and completely unable to transcribe more than one voice at a time.

It can’t even transcribe a simple two-person interview. It certainly can’t format it properly or insert time codes.

The only area where the need for transcriptionists has declined is in medical transcription. Medical transcription editors are still needed though. But, I don’t see that as a growing field and no longer offer MT services or provide training.

It becomes boring and dull anyway. General transcription is much more interesting because we get to work with such a wide array of clients and industries. I learn something new every day.

What sort of training and qualifications would you recommend for people looking to break into the industry?

In order to succeed as a general transcriptionist, you must possess:

  • Great typing skills
  • Exceptional spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills
  • The ability to research online
  • Proficiency with transcription and word-processing software
  • A good ear and the ability to sit for extended periods of time (with frequent breaks)
  • Knowledge of how to use the internet to download, store, and send files
  • Knowledge of client confidentiality and security as it pertains to transcription
  • Be familiar with common transcriptionist’s notations
  • The ability to market their services effectively

Tell us more about your course and how it can help new transcriptionists successfully land jobs/clients.

General Transcription: Theory & Practice was initially a compilation of the notes that I used when training my new hires.

Even transcriptionists who had some experience didn’t always live up to my expectations. I’m a nice person, but extremely conscientious about the work that goes out under my name. It became a burden to train everyone on an individual basis.

I originally sold my course as a DVD on Amazon. I later moved it to a digital download and sold it from my Zoom Transcription Services website.

The new course has been revised, updated, added to, and revamped to enhance the learning experience on an e-learning platform. It’s a multi-media course covering all of the above-mentioned skills required of an excellent transcriptionist.

There are over 60 audio and video practice files covering all the different types of transcription and the formatting used in each.

We also offer lifetime access, a community support forum, and email support to help our students master every aspect of general transcription. Students are eligible for a Certificate of Completion upon successfully passing our final exam.

When you train with TranscribeAnywhere.com, our mission is to train you to be an excellent transcriptionist with the ability to market your services effectively. No stone is left unturned.


Thanks so much for the interview, Janet! If you are interested in the general transcription eCourse, you can take the 7-day intro course FREE. After going through that, you can then decide if the full course is right for you before investing in it. The price starts at just $97 with the option to upgrade to a higher-tier package down the line.

Anna T.

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