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How to Choose a Professional Transcription Service Provider

Updated on August 13, 2015

What is most important to you in choosing a professional transcription service?

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There are several factors you should consider when searching for a professional transcription service. The first is often overlooked- do they employ native speakers in the language of your audio or video recording? It's easy to see just the bottom line and make a decision based solely on the lowest cost, but if the quality of the transcript is going to be compromised, it's not worth the savings. It's one thing to say they can transcribe English, but are they native English speakers of your specific dialect of English? The English spoken in India, for example, is very different from English spoken anywhere else.

Pros and Cons of hiring a freelance transcriber vs. a professional transcription service

Hiring a freelancer is hit or miss. You may find an excellent one on sites like freelancer.com, fiverr.com, or elance.com, but for every excellent one, there are at least a dozen that won't work out for you. Freelancers have lower costs, so they can offer their services to you for a little less than a service, but they don't have the quality assurance aspect of a service. Services have more than one worker listening to your audio, which improves the quality of your transcript. A freelancer may also be more difficult to work with, because they are a transcriber first and aren't necessarily business people or customer service specialists. The freelancer route can be full of frustration, or a lucky find. So the question is, do you have the time, and is the cost of your time worth it, to weed through freelancers until you find the right one, if you ever do?

Price Comparison

The first thing to consider when looking at price, is whether or not the business spends a lot on advertising and web design. Do you want a transcript, or the most beautiful website and lots of ads all over the internet and trade magazines? If you're looking for competitive pricing, it's best to scratch the largest transcription services off your list. That being said- you don't want to choose a service with poor use of language on their site. Look for typos, misspellings, verb agreement, and the clarity of the verbiage. Odds are, if they can't write high-quality copy for their site, they won't deliver high-quality transcripts.

The next things to look for are that they clearly display their prices upfront and that there are no hidden charges. Many services require that they speak to you first, and one of their first questions will be, "What is your budget?" These services want to set their pricing to use your entire budget. Look for a price list on their website, and read it carefully. Some services charge extra if the audio is "unclear" (by their definition, not yours), the speakers have an accent, if special terminology is used, if you need your transcript formatted in any way other than their template, or to include timestamps in the transcript. A few even charge extra to transcribe video, or if your file isn't one of their approved formats.

So what is a good price? Check out the price comparison chart below of a few leading transcription services.

GetTranscribed.com
GetTranscribed.com

A quick word on quality

It's nearly universal for transcription services to offer 98% or greater accuracy. That shouldn't impress you. What you should look for is, how do they back that up? Do they offer a guarantee? Do you get to see the transcript before you pay? How do they handle disputes?

There's only one 'Free to Try' service that I know of, and that's GetTranscribed.com. You don't have to pay upfront, and you get an invoice when you get your transcript. You don't pay until you are satisfied. They put their money where their mouth is with their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!

Will they still be a fit if your needs change?

Over time, you may find that your needs change, and you need more than transcription. For example, you may need videos captioned or a book, or article, proofread and edited. Or, you may be expanding your business into a non-English speaking market, and need translation skills as well. Does the service you're looking at offer those services? Those add-on services are usually much cheaper, and easier for them to do, at the time of transcription. So, you could save big by using the same service for this.

What about capacity? Are they prepared to take on more audio or video from you in the future? Do they offer contracting or membership plans for on-going clients? Membership plans and contracting are a great way to lower your cost, if you need transcription on an on-going basis.

Compare Transcription Rates

 
Get Transcribed
Castingwords
Verbalink
Scribie
Base rate per minute
99¢
$1
$1.50
$1.05
Expedited 5 days
Standard delivery is 5 days
50¢ for 6 days
Standard delivery is 3-5 days
15¢ for 7 days
Expedited 2 days
49¢
$1.50
75¢
not available
Accent/ Difficulty/ Terminology
no charge
75¢
up to $1.25
50¢
Multiple Speakers
no charge
no charge
up to $1.50
no charge
Timestamps
no charge
10¢
25¢
no charge
Verbatim
no charge
30¢
25¢
50¢
Maximum possible cost
$1.48
$3.65
$7.50
$4.00
Details
No hidden fees. Most file types and links to third party hosting accepted. Long files are split to handle within deadline. Try it free, pay only when satisfied.
Link to your audio/video hosted elsewhere not accepted. Only MP3, WAV, and MP4 files accepted. Pay before delivery.
Project cost may differ from quote given when ordering. Pay before delivery.
Limit 2 hours of audio per day, 10 hours of audio per week, per client. Pay before delivery.
Based on site information as of October 2013
Source

Disclaimer

I, Matthew Ryczko, the writer of this article, am the owner of Get Transcribed, an American online audio transcription and video captioning service. The information I share here comes from researching our market, and from speaking with our clients. Whether you choose Get Transcribed or another service, we want you to find the best transcription service for your needs. I hope this information is very useful to you! Thank you for reading!

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    • Theresa Jonathan profile image

      Theresa Jonathan 2 years ago from Maseru, Lesotho

      Thank you again. This information enabled me to meet the target we set with my coach for me to get a practice and a sense of connection of how the career I am engaging in will require. Yes, I have a valid Paypal account and it is good news to me to know that I need to practice until I could pass the test. I still have to learn time coding the document and increase my typing speed.

    • Matthew Ryczko profile image
      Author

      Matthew Ryczko 2 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for your comment, Theresa! That is a frequently asked question here at Get Transcribed. While our transcribers are primarily American or Canadian, we do work with native English speakers elsewhere. We conduct testing and accept only the top 3%, approximately. It is apparent in testing if you are not a native speaker. The only other consideration to location is if you are able to receive payments via PayPal.

    • Theresa Jonathan profile image

      Theresa Jonathan 2 years ago from Maseru, Lesotho

      A helpful Hub. I have been looking for information and tutorials on transcribing and therefore I am grateful for your contribution. I have noted that most organizations require American or Canadian citizens. I live in Lesotho, Southern Africa and would really like an opportunity to learn with a purpose to starting work at home virtual assistant with transcribing services.