How to Cut Transcription Costs

Do you wonder why the cost of having your audio or video files transcribed can go up and up?

Let's do a breakdown.

15 minutes of audio (your dictation / recording) takes about 1 hour to transcribe. So if you have a 2 hour conference recorded that equals about 8 hours of transcribing.

Why does it take that long?

I am carefully listening to every spoken word and making sure that I type and spell everything correctly.

I will also need to start / stop the audio for a few reasons:

To look up a word for its proper spelling or definition.

To rewind the audio for clarification.

To pause and differentiate speakers.

Verbatim Style -typing every single sound to include coughing, false starts, laughter, etc. (Legal depositions, insurance claims, where emotions and strict verbatim is needed)

Some recordings I receive are of bad quality, have a lot of background noise and / or have many different speakers and interruptions.

I also do a second pass through to make sure all is accurate but I do not charge extra for this.

This all adds up to extra time; which "adds" up. Pun intended.

Unless one is a magician, a professional transcriptionist has to take the time to transcribe the spoken word with accuracy. It's not possible to type at the speed of a speaker without errors.

What is style?

This is your choice and it is the style of your typed audio / video file.

Verbatim-every spoken word is typed to include all emotions (laughter, anger, high-pitched voice) and distractions (coughing, sneezing, false starts like uhs, ums, stuttering, etc.). This is usually used for legal transcriptions like depositions, as well as claims and recorded calls or for any client that wishes to use this style.

Clean verbatim-this style excludes the coughing and background noises but still includes the false starts and stuttering. (Focus groups, one on one interviews, multiple speakers, etc.)

Intelligent- excludes all false starts and background noises so the transcription has an easy reading flow. (Speeches, student lectures, meetings, operative notes, dissertations, etc.)

Overall, the client determines what style and format he / she wishes to have for their audio / video files.

How much do these extras cost?

The answer varies greatly. Some companies charge an extra 25 cents to more than $ 1 for verbatim, more than 2 speakers, poor quality recordings, heavy accents and rush fees, on top of their base fee. I've seen $ between 3-5 per audio minute base fees. There other companies that charges much less like 75 cents per audio minute too.

Some companies charge per line, per page, per audio minute or per audio hour. I prefer per audio minute so that my clients know ahead of time what the cost will be.

Rush fees are for same day delivery service or within a certain time frame as per the clients request. I only charge a small fee for same day rush.

For example, if I receive a rush request for 2 hours (120 minutes) of audio, that means I have to prioritize and spend about 8 hours transcribing their project. So an extra fee is appropriate.

In summary, do the best you can to cut your costs:

Be sure to make your recordings in a quiet area to minimize background noise.

If you have a focus group or more than one speaker, ask those speakers to take turns in order to alleviate over lapses (start / stop / rewind-adds time).

Speak clearly into dictation equipment / microphone and spell out names, things or places if you have an accent or if you think it may be unclear to the transcriber.

Know how you want to have your document formatted; provide your specifics, and your style (verbatim, etc.).

Know when you want your audio / video files (transcribed) returned to you. Avoid rush fees by allowing a sufficient amount of time for work to be done. 3-5 days is acceptable.

* Most importantly, form a partnership with your transcriber. *

A happy client is what I strive for and multiple projects mean multiple discounts.