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)

Please leave me your comments. If you have a suggestion or a question, I'll get back to you soon. Thank you for you interest. Gail

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