Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 1 of 4: Introduction and Jobs 1 through 14

When people find out I work at home doing secretarial work, I’m often asked exactly what kind of secretarial jobs I do. The usual misconception is that all I do is type correspondence for customers.

I’ll admit that when I started my business in 1998, that’s what I too expected I would be doing. Boy was I wrong. This four-part article will enlighten you as to the actual types of secretarial work you too can do at home.

In these four articles, I list 43 types of jobs that can be done at home with a computer, a printer/scanner, computer software programs, and at least a basic knowledge of how to use a computer, computer software programs, and the internet.

There are brief descriptions of the various jobs I have actually done at home. In my two future books titled How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts (expected publication in 2018), I go into more detail regarding required equipment, computer software programs, experience, training, billing, how to price the jobs, how to deal with customers, hiring and paying sub-contractors to help you with overflow, advertising, marketing and other important topics all based upon my 20 years of personal experience running my own home-based secretarial service.

If you plan to do much transcription, and you probably will, consider investing in two cassette tape transcribers; one for regular size cassette tapes and one for mini-cassette tapes. Even though we are now in the age of digital recordings, many people still have and use cassette tapes recorders. Investment in transcribers with foot pedals is well worth the cost and will pay for themselves in just one or two jobs.

Regarding the references below to call-in dictation, in one of the chapters of both of my books I go into detail regarding what is required and how to set up a call-in dictation line using your phone, your computer and an inexpensive computer program that answers the phone and records the call up to five hours in various sound file formats that can be transcribed using a free computer transcription program. I also cover internet voice mail services.

Please note that as you read through the job descriptions, some of the jobs are easy while others require more knowledge in specific areas. My advice is to keep up with the latest technology. In your spare time learn all you can in the areas you would like to become more proficient in so you can attract more lucrative jobs.

To learn more about the content of my books and publication progress, click on the URL’s to the book pages in this blog.

The first three parts of this series list a total of 43 secretarial service jobs you can do at home.

Part 1 lists jobs 1 through 14.

Part 2 lists jobs 15 through 29

Part 3 lists jobs 30 through 43

Part 4 lists the types of customers you may receive work from.

1.  Bible Scripture: Typing verses of Bible Scripture. I’ve worked for 17 years for a man who writes Christian books and Bible teachings. He calls-in and dictates to an answering program on my computer or mails me standard cassette tapes to transcribe. (My business line is connected to my computer.)

Typing verses of scripture requires special punctuation and formatting. In order to facilitate copying verses of Scripture correctly, I downloaded from the internet a free version of The Amplified Bible (which my customer preferred) in PDF format.

As I transcribed his dictation and he mentioned a verse of Scripture (the name, book, and verse number), I looked up the verse of Scripture in the PDF file, highlighted it and copied/pasted it into the document I was transcribing. All I had to do then was change the font to match the document’s font.

You will need to learn how to type/format a partial verse of Scripture. There are other special steps you should learn as well before tackling this type of work.

2.  Blogs: You may get a request from a customer who doesn’t have time to keep up with their blog. They may dictate what they want you to enter into the blog site on a regular basis. They may also ask you to download email responses and forward them to them to respond to. There are many ways to assist a customer with their blog. If you have your own blog and web site, this experience will be invaluable.

3.  Book Cover Design: This type of work is usually done by professional designers. But if you’re proficient in graphics design using programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Paint and other design and desktop publishing programs, you can do it too. All it takes is a good imagination for designing and knowledge of graphic design. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the covers and instructions as to their requirements.

4.  Book Formatting: As the years went by and digital self-publishing became more and more prevalent with authors, I realized I had to educate myself on book formatting for both ebooks and print versions. By the time I wound down the business in 2017, I had transcribed, typed, formatted, and uploaded to online publishers 24 books for customers now on sale in Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and many other major bookseller sites worldwide.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn how to do book formatting. It’s not as difficult as you may think IF you are proficient in Word. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the various size books and instructions as to their requirements

5.  Brochures and Business Cards: Many small businesses don’t have the funds to pay a large advertising firm to create Brochures and/or Business Cards for their business. This kind of work does require that you know how to work with columns, and text boxes. Word has many templates with layouts for brochures, flyers, and business cards. I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) brochures. The layout can also be used for catalogs and may include the insertion of images and photographs. This kind of work lends itself well to building a regular relationship with the customer when it comes time to updating their brochure.

6.  Cassette Tape, CD and DVD Labels: One my customers sells cassette tapes, CD’s, and DVD’s of his lectures. I designed and printed labels for the tapes. I also designed my own CD and DVD labels for my personal material and for customers. Avery and Roxio have excellent label design programs for CD and/or DVD labels.

7.  Catalogs: Some small businesses need their catalog typed listing everything from parts to video tapes to books. Typing catalogs may require that you know how to work in columns, and the use of text boxes. Word has templates. Check them out or download the free templates from Microsoft Word online.

I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) documents. This layout can also be used for brochures and may include the insertion of images and photographs.

8.  Correspondence, Emails: You could establish a regular repeat customer business transcribing daily or weekly customer correspondence and or their invoicing. This type of work will most likely be call-in dictation that you can transcribe using a computer transcription program. Once you’ve established yourself with a customer doing this type of work, you could be asked to do internet research and other secretarial work.

I had two regular customers for over 18 years. They became the mainstay of my business.

9.  Conversion of VHS and Mini-DV video tapes to PC Files and burn to DVD’s: I have received work from several customers requesting that I convert the videos they recorded using their camcorder on Mini-DV video tapes to a computer file to be saved on a DVD or CD. I’ve also been asked to convert videos on VHS tapes to a computer file that can then be saved on a DVD or CD. I cover in detail how this can be done and the necessary equipment and computer programs in my books; How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts.

10.  Data Input: This type of work requires that you know how to do data input into either a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or a database program like Microsoft Access. Examples of this kind of work: requests for data input of names and addresses for mail merging to create letters, envelopes, labels, reports, lists, etc. I’ve had customers send me templates already laid out and the source material to be input. This kind of work can come from real estate agents, insurance agents, financial and investment services people

11.  Desktop Publishing: Desktop publishing is a very specialized type of work. Desktop publishing is used to create newspapers and books, flyers, brochures and business cards because of the program’s ability to create movable sections, columns, images and many special effects you can’t do in a word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. To do this type of work correctly you need a desktop publishing program such as Adobe InDesign. If you have a creative “nature” and think you would like to get into this type of work, check out the Adobe InDesign internet site for additional information.

If you do decide to purchase one of these programs, be aware they are expensive, but well worth the price IF you have a demand for this type of work. You may be able to purchase an older version for less on the internet just to get you started. Currently, Adobe requires an annual subscription for their programs. Be sure to check out their site and others.

To be honest, I’ve never had much call for this type of work. Most customers looking for this kind of work go to professional publishers.

12.  Dissertations for college students: This type of work will require that you understand the various styles and formats required of the college the customer will be submitting their dissertation to. Most colleges require the APA style of writing.

You can download helpful articles from the internet on the various styles. I have URL’s of these sites in Appendix A of my book How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service. If you plan to go into this kind of work, I highly recommend you purchase the latest versions of The Chicago Manual of Style and the Turabian Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

13.  Flyers: Flyers are pretty straight forward. A variety of templates to create two, three, and four-fold flyers are included with Microsoft Word, Excel and other software programs.

14.  Forms Fill-in and/or Design: This is not the type of job you will get many requests for. However, it helps if you know how to do this kind of work so you can offer it to a customer or if the job you’re doing is one that might require a form to be completed. You might receive a job where the customer has a form that needs to be filled in.

If you have a program like PaperPort, OmniPage Pro, or Adobe Acrobat, you can easily scan the form, create fill-in text boxes in the document then type in the required information. Once the form is complete, save it in PDF format and print it for the customer. Acrobat also has a function whereby if you have the form typed and laid out in a Word document, It will automatically complete a fill-in form for you. (More on this in my book.)

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I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently.

If you have a question regarding dictation transcription or how to run your own secretarial service from home, let me know.

Send me your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the Leave a Reply section below or use the form to send me an email. Be sure to include your name, email address, and clearly state the issue.

Be sure to drop by again. Next week I’ll be posting Part 2 – Jobs 15 through 29.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle)

Making dictated changes in typed documents

Transcribing dictated corrections, deletions, and/or additions to a typed document can be more daunting than typing it from scratch.

If you are a transcriptionist, below are some suggestions to help make your job easier: NOTE: These suggestions can be useful even if you are the one dictating changes to your own document,

1 – To keep track of each Draft or Version, be sure to save each version or draft as a separate file. At the top of each draft or version, type Draft #1 or Version #1 centered in bold print just under the title of the document. IMPORTANT: Do this before you begin making any changes.

2 – Rename each draft or version until the FINAL draft. Below is an example of how you might name Draft #1 or Version #1 of this procedure using Word:

Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents D#1.docx

OR

Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents V#1.docx

Name the next version the same name changing only the number to #2, #3, etc. until the final draft. Either name it FINAL Draft or leave out the Draft version completely leaving only the file name.

Once the final version is complete and approved, you can delete the prior saved drafts/versions.

3 – Double or triple space each draft of the document to allow room for your customer to write in their changes. When you’re all through transcribing the changes and the final document has been approved, you can change the spacing back to either single or 1.5. I would suggest you check with the person dictating the changes first and ask if they would like the draft copies of the document be double or triple spaced.

6 – Ask the person dictating to give you the following information before they begin dictating the changes:

a – Page number

b – Paragraph number on the page. They could also identify a paragraph by saying, “The paragraph that begins with (word or words).”

c – Line number in the paragraph.

d – The sentence – ask them to state a word or two at the beginning of the sentence where the change is to be made to help you find it.

e – Ask them to please repeat the sentence as it is NOW supposed to read AFTER the change(s) has been dictated so you’re sure you didn’t delete something you shouldn’t have or that you DID delete the correct word(s) and type in the changes correctly. This is especially important when making many changes in the same paragraph.

Example: Page two, second paragraph beginning with the word (word), third line, the sentence that begins with (the word).

7 – When the person dictating gives you a word or two to identify the paragraph or sentence, you may be able to use the Find feature to go right to the exact place in the sentence to make the change(s). NOTE: This will only work correctly if you are given two to three words to identify the exact place where the change is to be made. Using the Find feature can save a lot of time.

8 – Ask the person dictating to please pronounce the words clearly. Many people who talk fast or have an accent don’t realize it’s much harder to make the correct changes and/or corrections if they don’t speak slowly. Words and/or letters that sound alike can easily be misunderstood when a person speaks too fast.

9 – If from time to time a word is spelled out and if the first letter in the word is one of the letters that sound alike, b, c, d, e, g, p, t, and z, ask the person dictating to use that letter in a word. Example: A as in apple, B as in boy, C as in Charles, D as in David, etc. If they don’t make the first letter clear so you can make out the entire word, you could find yourself backspacing over and over to figure out what that word is.

10 – As the person dictating is going through the document page by page, if they skip to another paragraph and/or another page, ask that they clearly identify where the next change is.

Example: “The next five paragraphs are okay. There are no changes. Skip to Page six, paragraph #2 that begins with the words ‘There are’, Line #3 and the Sentence that begins with the word ‘Although’.”

11 – If the entire sentence or paragraph is to be deleted, they should make this very clear as well as when they want something added i.e. “Right after the word(s) (words), add this….” or “Delete the rest of the paragraph.” Then they should restate the sentence or paragraph exactly as it should read now (after the changes).

12 – If one or more sentences in a paragraph are to be switched around with no changes, the NEW order they want the sentences placed in should be clearly stated FOLLOWED by restating the paragraph as it should now read (after the changes). The same applies if they switch paragraph order or the order of words in the same sentence. These changes can be very confusing if they are not stated clearly.

13 – In order to ensure these procedures are followed, type a list of the procedures to give to the person dictating. Be sure you let them know that by following these procedures, you will be able to finish the changes and/or corrections much faster and accurately.

14 – Below is a list of directions to suggest to the person dictating to help ensure the correct changes are made:

“Take out everything after…….”

“End that paragraph with…….”

“Continue with….”

“Go on with…..”

“The rest of the paragraph (or sentence) is the same.”

“Underline, bold, italicize, highlight, etc. the words (words)……”

“Switch sentence #1 with #4. I want the last sentence to now be the first sentence and the last sentence to now be the first sentence.”

The next three features are optional. However, when you have long document, it can make your job much easier if you learn to use these features. If you don’t already know how to turn on these features, search the Help in your version of Word or other word processing program for instructions on how to turn these features on or off.

15 – Use the Track Changes feature in Word to track and compare the versions in your document.

16 – Use the Strikeout or Strikethrough feature for text you want to delete. Using this feature, the program will draw a red line through (Strikethrough) the word(s) to be deleted while leaving the word visible for editing/proofing purposes until the Strikeout (word to be deleted) has been approved. If you erroneously used this feature or the person dictating changed their mind, the feature can be turned off returning the word(s) back to normal.

17 – Immediately after NEW text that is to replace deleted text (Strikeouts), the new text should be Highlighted (Red Lined) by changing the text color to Blue (or some other color that stands out) or bolding it to make it stand out. This will clearly indicate that the text to be deleted will be replaced by the text in Blue.

Example: Strikethrough. Red Line

Once your changes have been approved, you can go back and delete the word to be deleted and change the NEW text to the correct font color.

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NOTE: This article is one small part of one of the chapters in each of my two books to be published late in 2016 or early 2017; Dictation Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts and How to Establish, Build and Run a $ucce$$uful Secretarial Service From Home.

I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently.

If you have a question regarding dictation transcription or how to run your own secretarial service from home, let me know.

Send me your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the comments section below. Be sure to include your name, email address, and clearly state the issue.

Be sure to drop by again. Each week, I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” (Norman Vincent Peale)

Timing your work for billing and/or personal purposes with a computer program.

TIME STAMP – A Computer TIMING pROGRAM

Have you ever had a need to time a job or have your employee(s) or sub-contractor(s) time their work for billing purposes? Have you ever wanted to keep track of the time it takes you to perform a task, type a manuscript or other task? If so, then this tip is for you.

When I started my home-based secretarial services business in January, 1998, I was faced with the dilemma of how to charge for my services. I quickly found that charging everything by the hour was not practical especially when you sub-contract typing and transcription work to others. Some sub-contractors type faster (and more accurately) than others so charging customers and paying sub-contractors using an hourly rate didn’t work.

I knew I had to charge either by-the-typed line or by-the-typed page. But how could I come up with a charge that would result in the hourly rate I wanted for both myself and my sub-contractors. I decided on a per-typed-line rate based on a 12 point Arial font with 1” margins, single spaced.

When you charge the customer by the typed line rate instead of by the page, the customer doesn’t pay for a partial page or for more pages because the document is double-spaced. The customer would pay the same rate whether the page was the standard letter size (8 ½” x 11”), legal size (8 ½” x 14”) or any other size. This is fair to the customer and to the sub-contractors.

The only way I could determine the time it takes to complete each of the different types of jobs I do, typing and transcription work in particular, was to keep track of my time and keep records. But how could I do that efficiently, accurately and fairly?

Searching the internet, I found a small, easy to download and install utility timing program called Time Stamp. Time Stamp has many great features I list at the end of this article.

To find the program, click on this link: (URL) Syntap.

Using Time Stamp to time the typing and/or transcription jobs I was able to determine the time it took to do the job. I timed typing and/or transcription work from handwritten material, documents that contained many strikeouts and handwritten notes, documents that contained tables, financial information, technical terms, etc. I timed transcription from cassette tapes, videos, and digital content based upon the quality of the recording and the quality of the person dictating. I timed transcription from meetings where many people were involved and meetings with questions and answers and many interruptions.

I then counted the number of words typed in the timed job and divided the total minutes by the total number of words. Using this formula I was able to determine a fair rate to charge the customer according to the type of source documentation provided by the customer to be typed or transcribed. I paid my sub-contractors sixty percent of what I charged the customer. This worked out perfectly thanks to Time Stamp.

Many of the jobs I’ve done i.e scanning and converting to text jobs, special formatting, etc. can’t be charged by-the-typed line so I use this program for accurate invoicing of those jobs as well.

I used Time Stamp to estimate how long other types of work took to do so I could determine an estimate when a prospective customer called. I made a chart in Excel with all of this information and kept it handy to give customers a quote either over the phone or by email.

If you decide to try the program, go to the web site listed above. Click on Downloads and follow the instructions from there. This program is FREE… well actually, it’s “Donationware” which means it’s free but the author would appreciate a contribution to continue enhancements and support, which I gladly sent because this program is well worth it. If you decide to use the program, I’m sure you will agree.

To use the program after you install it:

1) Type in the hourly rate you wish to charge and click on Timing.

2) If you are interrupted before you finish the job, click on Slacking.

The timer will divide the time into Work (billable) Time and Slack Time listed at the top listing the total time and cost for each.

You can time different phases of a job by stopping the timer then starting it again.

3) To stop timing the job, simply click on Timing a second time.

Each phase of the job you time will be listed on a different line containing the work time, slack time and total of that phase of the job.

At the end of each line under the Notes column, you can type a short explanation of what you did during that time.

The file can be saved using a file (job) name in any folder you wish. When you’re finished with the job, you can print out the entire page showing all of this information.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to cover, let me know.

If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books. I hope to publish my first novel, Road Rage Dolls: Someone is Murdering Road Rage Drivers in January or February of 2018.

My second novel to be published in 2018 is titled Susan’s Stalkers – Double The Fear.

I’ll be updated publication information and excerpts from my novels in this site.

You can leave your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the Leave a Reply section below.

Bookmark this site and check back regularly for more valuable tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts as well as articles on specific topics regarding transcription work and working at home. The Schedule of Future Postings page will be periodically updated.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” (Ralph Marston )

Take the time to proof your work properly; what to look for.

PROOFING YOUR WORK

I cannot stress enough the importance of carefully proofing your work when you are done. Even the very best typist/transcriptionist will make mistakes. It’s very easy when you’ve finally finished a long, time consuming and arduous job to give in to the temptation to not go back, read it over and check for problems.

I mean let’s be honest here. By the time you’ve finally finished the job, you’re sooooo tired of this document you just want to be DONE with it and move on. DON’T give in to this temptation. I’ve done this more than once and been sorry and very embarrassed later when my customer returned the document for corrections. This does not give the customer or your boss a very good impression of you as a professional. Most likely, you will not have a repeat customer or a good reference when that happens.

In addition, it is NOT a good idea to go back over and proof your work right after you’ve finished it especially if it was a long and tedious job. You’ll most likely have a tendency to rush through it and increase the chances that you won’t catch some of the mistakes you made. If you can, wait a day. If that’s not possible wait a few hours, get away from the computer and do something else to clear your mind. Then come back to it.

Things to look for: Continue reading “Take the time to proof your work properly; what to look for.”