Transcription: Save Time & Money

As a business owner, saving time and money are top priorities.  One way many, many business owners can accomplish these, and more, is by utilizing dictation and transcription, and specifically utilizing a virtual assistant for the transcribing. “How?” you ask. Keep on reading and I’ll tell you.

Headphones are used for transcribing documents either from tape or digital sources.

Headphones are used for transcribing documents either from tape or digital sources.

Let’s think about all the ways business owners lose working time: commuting, traveling, waiting/idle time (before/after meetings, court hearings, etc.), lunch breaks (if not taken at desk), personal errands, etc. Lost time=lost money.  One easy and simple way to make use of this typically “lost” time is to utilize dictation and transcription.


Simply, dictation involves speaking into a voice recording machine, and transcription is the process of converting the spoken words into print.  I often use “transcription” to mean the process of both dictating and transcribing.  This process used to be (and occasionally still is) accomplished by using an analog voice recorder that would record spoken words onto a small cassette tape, which would then be played back from a special dictating machine and transcribed.  However, in this increasingly digital age, it has become much more commonplace for voice recorders to be digital; that is, the spoken word is recorded digitally (as a .WAV or similar audio file), then downloaded to a computer, after which it is transcribed using computer software.  There are even apps nowadays that can turn your cell phone into a voice recorder!  Watch this video to learn about the amazing benefits of digital dictation over the old analog dictation with cassette tapes.

The act of transcribing is simply listening to the audio (whether on a tape or a digital audio file) through headphones and typing what is heard into any desired program and format (for example, a Microsoft Word document as a memorandum).  A foot pedal is usually used, which connects directly to the transcriptionist’s playback machine (in the case of dictation on a tape) or computer (in the case of digital dictation) and controls the audio playback by manipulating the speed of the speech, allowing one to rewind, fast forward, pause or stop, among other functions, all without fingers having to leave the keyboard!

Foot pedals are used to control playback of dictated audio.

Foot pedals are used to control playback of dictated audio.

The foot pedal has revolutionized transcription and made turnaround times immensely faster than they once were.


The answer is: nearly anyone!  Transcription is exceedingly helpful for many professionals in a variety of industries. Two industries/professionals who frequently use transcription are doctors and other medical professionals (for dictating office notes, operative notes, correspondence, reports, among others) and lawyers (for dictating pleadings, memoranda, correspondence, outlines/digests, among others), but nearly any professional can benefit from transcription.  Some situations where using transcription could be beneficial include: lectures/speeches, meetings, brainstorming sessions, digesting voluminous information, reports, correspondence and memoranda.  Here is a great article titled Ten Great Uses for Transcription Services that I really like, as it’s a little bit “out of the box” and gives some other great examples of situations in which transcription could be beneficial.

Doctors use transcription frequently to dictate their notes.

Doctors use transcription frequently to dictate their notes.

Even students can benefit from using a transcription service, especially working students.  Imagine being able to listen to a lecture, while recording it with an audio recorder, and then after providing the audio file to your virtual assistant, being provided with a note/outline prepared for you with the pertinent points to study from!  There are so many uses for transcription I couldn’t possibly explore them all here.  Open your creative mind and I’m sure you will come to realize how transcription could benefit you personally.


Save Time

First, using dictation and transcription can save you time, by allowing you to make use of what would otherwise be “down” time” – sitting in the airport waiting for a flight, during a flight, driving or commuting to and from work, working from home without your assistant, idle time during errands, etc.  Since I’m willing to bet that 99.99% of people speak significantly faster than they type, transcription can save a great deal of time versus typing or writing the same information, which can take anywhere from 3 to 5 TIMES as long as it would take you to speak the content.

Save Money

Second, utilizing dictation and transcription can save you money.  You pay for only the services you need, as opposed to paying another employee (with benefits) who you may not utilize enough to be cost-effective.  In addition, your transcription needs may ebb and flow, making an employee further disadvantageous.  Not to mention, what are you to do if your employee is out sick and you need a project completed immediately?  Also, an experienced transcriptionist will be able to perform the job faster, which will also save you money.

Free Up Your Existing Staff

Third, utilizing a virtual assistant for your transcription needs will free up your existing staff to work on other projects and utilize their other skills which may better serve your needs of an in-house employee.  In addition, a virtual assistant who is only doing your transcription can likely turn around the final product to you faster than your assistant or secretary, who may be inundated with a hundred other tasks on their to-do list such that transcription is placed on a back burner.


Even if you have very rare transcription needs, or have an employee who generally performs your transcription but you occasionally have an increase in work load which is too much for your employee, you can still utilize a virtual assistant for those times that you need one!  See above, you only pay for what you need!


You dictate whatever you need transcribed on a digital audio recorder.  The .WAV or similar file is then downloaded from the recorder to your computer, where you can easily post it to a network that your virtual assistant has access to, or email it to her. 

Some digital audio recorders come with a dock that both charges the machine and (once a one-time initial setup is complete) automatically emails your audio file(s) to whomever you have set up to receive them – you don’t have to do anything except set the device in the dock – amazingly simple!!!  

Once your virtual assistant receives your audio file, she opens the .WAV or similar file on her computer utilizing one of a number of available transcription software programs and, along with a foot pedal to control playback, transcribes the spoken word to print in whichever format you require (memorandum, digest, verbatim transcript, agenda, meeting minutes, etc.). 

There are many software programs transcriptionists can utilize.  I have used in the past and loved Start Stop’s Universal Transcription System – it’s super easy to use and reliable.  Start Stop also sells digital audio recorders (as do a multitude of other places).   .

Lizzy’s Lending Hand would love to help with your transcription needs.  Pricing is fair and competitive and is generally priced at $1.00 per minute of audio.  For example, one hour of audio, which will take approximately 3-4 hours to transcribe (including proofreading, formatting and editing) will cost $60, which translates into approximately $15-20 per hour.  We feel this is the most fair pricing policy, as there is no disputing how much time was spent on a job – there is a concrete amount of audio.  In addition, this pricing structure makes it feasible and economical to use for small and large jobs alike.  Regular turnaround time for average-size jobs (up to 3 hours of audio) is 48 hours, though can be completed in as few as 24 hours (for an additional fee) on a rush basis, pending availability.  We look forward to helping with your transcription needs!


  1. Good article highlighting the need and uses for transcription.

    • Thanks for your comment – I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Check back, as I will be doing similar articles for other services we offer in the near future!

  2. Reblogged this on Virtually Yours PA and commented:
    I’ve been going through some blgs and came across this post about transcription. If as a business owner you ever wondered how this service might help you improve your business, then please read.

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