I hope your year is going well. Once again there has been a lapse in this blog, business just gets too busy and I simply end up neglecting it.
In my last entry I promised I would give an overview on the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on my website and whether or not I thought it worth the price. First off I found it difficult to find a company that I could trust, there is black hat and white hat tactics used amongst those in the biz. Black hat apparently gets you lots of hits but if the powers that be find out i.e. Google, they penalise you. White hat is ethical and creates good links to your site, so they say, who knows? I know very little. I tried to research this but found it difficult to wrap my head around it to be honest. I'm not a techie. I try to stay somewhat in the loop but I find the whole thing quite convoluted.
I contacted three different companies to compare prices. I was hoping to use a Swindon company if at all possible just because I thought it would be nice to have somebody I could approach locally if all went wrong. Sadly the Swindon company I found did not return my email. I had a lovely conversation with somebody who was an ex cop now working in the field, I can't recall where in the country he was based but the price was out of this world and way beyond what a small business like mine could contemplate forking over. I finally went with a company in Wiltshire, the original emails and telephone contacts were really personable, I liked the guy who did the selling and let's face it, we tend to buy from people we like. The price wasn't too bad, it was in the region of £250 for a one off service that lasted a month.
I specifically stated I only wanted white hat and that I wanted my website to be looked at for any broken links, errors etcetera as I built it myself and quite frankly really had no idea what I was doing. I asked for some specific keywords to generate my site in search results and explained that my site didn't seem to appear at all when I searched transcription services (or so low down the ranks I could never find it). The freaky part is handing over the site to these people with all of your passwords etcetera. Of course I changed all of the passwords to temporary passwords and then changed them again when the SEO work was complete. It still makes me uncomfortable, silly I know. I could see where they were working from on my metrics and noticed that a lot of the work was being done in India. I have no problem in theory with this but I certainly was not happy to have a company purporting to be in Wiltshire to be outsourcing to India without my consent (I mean I could have sought out SEO in India myself for a lot cheaper price I believe).
Long and short the work was done, my site certainly rose in the ranks and suddenly I was getting requests from several local companies who were looking to have their interviews transcribed. I had never been on their radar before so obviously the SEO people did their job. I got a couple of largish clients within weeks of the SEO being done so it certainly paid for itself and much more. The only problem and to be fair they do tell you this, if you don't have the SEO consistently maintained, you will start to slip down the ranks again. Unfortunately this is too large an expense for me to take on. The final issue I had was I signed the contract with the company for a one off service only and the following month they debited me for another £250. To say I was unhappy is an understatement. I immediately contacted them and they reversed the charge. If I were a larger company with lots of different expenses coming out of my account, I could see how that could easily be missed. Next time I would certainly try to get referrals from people I know who have used SEO companies as I found the experience on the whole not quite as stress- free as I would have hoped.
Until next time (if you haven't fallen asleep reading such a dry topic, dear reader)
Well, as I shelled out the money to the SEO people, I figured I'd better take their advice and do the monthly update to this blog.
This month the topic is loneliness when working from home. If you Google this phrase you will find a myriad of articles, blogs, websites that deal with this very issue. Please do a bit of research if this is a problem in your life, you will find a lot of helpful advice. This is an extremely common problem and one that afflicts many of us self-employed at home workers. As many more of us are now working from home, loneliness is having a greater impact on a larger proportion of society, which thankfully means there is a lot of meaningful advice to be found on this topic.
In a way I'm lucky because transcribing interviews means that I get to listen to people speaking all day which can satisfy the need to hear others and tend to make one feel a bit less lonely but let's face it, it's not the same as having a conversation with somebody, no matter how inane some of those office conversations could be.
The advantages of working from home are plentiful, no office politics, no commuting and getting stuck in traffic or dealing with public transport nightmares. Much higher productivity. The ability to construct your day the way you wish. Flexible hours. Reaping the rewards for your own hard work. Greater job satisfaction. And the list goes on. I don't like to harp on too much about how much I actually love working from home and for myself as I don't want to make others feel envious. I always downplay this aspect of my life when speaking to friends that are still doing the office grind.
When I began this venture of starting my audio transcription service, I had my own reservations. Many of my old colleagues and friends felt home working would not suit me due to my friendly nature. I am ultimately a pretty social person and one of my strengths is definitely my people skills. However, I am also an only child and so do not have massive issues with spending long stretches of time by myself, generally am happy in my own company and like to get things done in my own way.
But occasionally I find myself facing one of the two main reasons more people don't work for themselves from home (Uncertainty being the first, will I have enough clients, will they pay me on time etc, but this is a whole other blog topic) The second, loneliness. And when it hits, sometimes you find yourself unaware until suddenly you are actually feeling quite withdrawn and depressed. To combat this I have implemented a number of strategies. These are strategies that work for me, however, as I recently discovered it is really easy to let these slip and find yourself meandering all alone with your self confidence shot as you stumble down Lonely Avenue.
1) Get some exercise. Be it fitness classes, going to the gym, swimming, going for a walk, whatever gets you out of the house for an hour several times a week. It gets the positive endorphins going, it gives you some sort of social contact and helps the mind and body. I found it was easy to neglect this when I was busy but for the last six months I have been scheduling in my diary a time and what exercise I intend to do several days a week. This is a promise to yourself. Yes you can juggle it around if needs must but try to stick to it like you would with any other appointment. You will thank yourself.
2) Make time to meet with friends for a coffee or lunch at least once a week during your working day. Again, this is something I neglected and still do from time to time when I'm feeling the pressure of deadlines. But it is imperative to get out and see people, talk about normal things like books, television, films and be away from your home. I often felt guilty and frivolous making these plans but I now schedule them in as a matter of necessity. You are not good to anyone if you are grumpy, down and burnt out.
3) Do not use self-service check-outs. If I'm at the grocery store, I always check my stuff out with a human. It gives me a good excuse to talk about things like the weather and if provides that needed human contact. Well...also I hate those self-service check-outs, they stress me out to the max. So this might be a tip that only serves me well but give it a try.
4) Give yourself a working schedule, stick to it and finish work on time so that you can spend meaningful time with friends or family. I always try to be at my desk by 8am at the latest so that I can get a good chunk of my work done before getting out of the house for that much-needed break. If you start work late, or you waste time during your working day on social media etc, the day will drag on far too long and you will pay the price by working too late and feeling resentful.
5) Schedule yourself a fun weekday off every month or two, write it in your diary, stick to it. Enjoy your life. This is the ultimate bonus of working for yourself. You can do this. Take a Friday off, hop on a train, be with people, see new things, laugh.
6) Communicate with others. Clients may be helpful here if you need to communicate with them throughout the day, instead of just being totally businesslike you can talk about the weather, holidays or some current event going on (have I mentioned the WEATHER again?! Clearly I've acclimatised to life in England). You do not have to totally be shut down within yourself. I will admit this area can be a bit fraught with danger if you have the tendency to over share. This happens (Okay I'm North American, so this happens to me A LOT!) And admittedly I have ruminated on many a 'Over Share Moment' and palmed my face, but ultimately we all need real life connection to feel happy , alive and less lonely. As one of my clients who is older, wiser, and has been in this working at home lark for many years said to me, 'Just be yourself'. The most simplistic advice, but advice that applies to every facet of our lives if we are to live an authentic fulfilled life. So I'm going with it.
Now who wants to hear my opinion on the state of the world at the moment?
Next month...SEO and splashing the cash was it worth it?
Trusty Transcriptionists is now into its fourth year of business. As usual a blog post has been a long time coming but I gleaned some advice today from somebody in SEO, keep the blog current. But who has the time? Well, this week I have more time than I did last week, so no time like the present I guess. I am finding it staggering how much time has gone by since I first started this enterprise. It has me reflecting back on how it all started and where I am headed. When I first started Trusty Transcriptionists it was on a bit of a whim, as a way to use a skill that I had so that I could work for myself and also to have flexibility to attend voiceover jobs. Voiceover jobs? Yup. I cut myself a shiny voiceover demo in London after I got made redundant from my job with the police. I peddled it out to some agencies and I got a few bites! It was all very exciting. I did some paid voiceover work (corporate stuff) but you know what? I found it terrifying, I got super stage fright. A dream I had turned into a bit of a nightmare and I found it just wasn't for me. In addition, the cost to get to London for jobs with relatively no notice was quite expensive during the week.
So instead I concentrated on running Trusty Transcriptionists and doing a bit of writing (the writing has been on hold for six months now, umm yes, that old chestnut). I feel I got very lucky in my first two years of trading as I had some wonderful clients and many of those clients gave me referrals to others which in turn generated more fantastic clients. Last year, I did not have to spend as much money advertising as I was actually booked up with work for the whole year, this surprised and delighted me. This year however, has seen me having to turn a lot of work away because I have been so booked up and just have not had the capacity to take on the work. I've been lucky because all of the clients I have had to turn away, have always come back to me again (I guess I'm doing something right!) But I always feel bad having to let people down by not accepting their work.
Family and friends encouraged me to take on some self-employed freelance people. Originally I dreamed of hiring some part-time people, getting an office and actually having people to talk to! This was just not feasible, my work comes in ebbs and flows which means I never know how busy I'm actually going to be. The expense of staff and running an office in addition to my other expenses would have probably pushed me out of business. I was also nervous about the decision because my unique selling point was the confidentiality I offer, as in, I am the only one that ever listens to the recordings. I decided a solution to this problem was to offer clients on the Booking Form the choice to have the work done solely by myself or allow some of it to be done by carefully chosen people who have signed a confidentiality agreement, this seemed the most practical solution. And so far this seems to be working out well!
Until next time...
Trusty Transcriptionists has celebrated being in business for two years! What started off as a dream has now become a reality! I am so thankful to all of my wonderful clients that have used my services over the past two years. Just a few weeks ago, my first ever client contacted me to do some work, it was lovely to hear from her again. I am always delighted to have contact from my repeat clients, it's like hearing from an old friend sometimes. This last year has been a very interesting one. I was lucky enough to provide transcripts for several clients who were working on their PhDs. I transcribed in depth and focus group interviews for four different market research companies. I transcribed countless interviews for students doing their dissertations. I was involved in working on some very interesting human resource interview transcripts for various companies. And I also transcribed quite a few interviews for counselling students. Plus many other ad hoc projects in-between! I am looking forward to seeing what happens during my third year in business (three is my lucky number, so fingers crossed!) It took a while to get used to not chatting in the office, having to solely rely on myself to bring in the work and not have holiday pay (That's what I miss the most!) but I feel I have now adjusted to this new reality and I honestly could not be happier. I hope all is well in your lives, dear reader. Best wishes, Kim.
Trusty Transcriptionists has now celebrated it's one year anniversary! This first year in business has certainly had it's ups and downs but on the whole has been successful and I look forward to my second year of trading (now that I actually know what I'm doing in terms of running the business itself!) I intended to make this a bi-monthly blog, but happily I have been very busy with transcription work and have not had the time to do so!
For the past three months I have been lucky to have worked for clients on a number of topics including osteopathy, LGBT issues, social workers and adoption, teachers and Ofsted, social health, probation officers opinions, nurses perceptions of public portrayal, clergy opinion on their working lives and many more. I have learned a lot this quarter!
I continue to market myself to students and professors working on academic research and dissertations. I am also delighted to have picked up quite a few clients who are registered charities (I provide a discount to charitable organisations). I have also been doing a lot of transcribing around human resources issues this quarter.
Cheers! Here's to hopefully another successful year providing transcription services at reasonable prices to new and already established clients!
This will be a bi-monthly blog on the topic of running a small on-line sole trader business. I decided to start a transcription business as it is work that I really enjoy doing and I had many years experience in my working life transcribing audio interviews. This was a completely new venture to me which I started in late March of this year.
The first thing I had to do was come up with a name so that I could register a domain and contact the government to let them know I was now self-employed and trading under my company name.
It was important for me to have a name that conveyed what I wanted to project to my customers, first and foremost, I was trustworthy. I had worked for the Police for 11 years and therefore was very well versed in data protection and dealing with sensitive information. I wanted my customers to feel comfortable sending me their often very private audio recordings in relation to legal matters, disciplinary issues, clinical sessions, dissertations, thesis projects etcetera, of course these all need to be kept strictly confidential.
I bounced a few names off of my husband and several friends and we all agreed that Trusty Transcriptionists had a nice ring to it! Now, I will give you a little advice if you are at the stage of picking a name for your business- go shorter than the name I chose! Yikes, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but every time I have to type it, it is a pretty long winded affair! In addition, I tried to register it on Twitter after a client suggested I ought to, but guess what? Too many characters! Doh! Now I'm attached to the name and the essence, and I already have a lovely bunch of regular customers and so I really do not want to change it. Not to mention the hassle of having to change the domain, the business cards, all of my forms, you get the gist!
I added an 's' onto the end even though I am a sole-trader, as you never know what the future holds. At this stage, I really enjoy doing this on my own, but if I did decide to expand down the line I thought it would be better to already be trading under the plural version of transcriptionist.
So when deciding your name, you may want to consider the following advice. Pick something relevant to your business, choose something you like the sound of, and if possible-- go short!