I’m often asked how someone can, not only establish, but also succeed as a home-based transcriptionist. This is a difficult question to answer -- even after more than 18 years in the business. There are so many different factors to consider, not the least of which includes YOUR experience, training/education, skills, and “homebase” (area of the country you operate from) as well as your specialty.
My first piece of advice is to obtain the necessary skills from an educational program or on-the-job training. You cannot market your services and/or expect to earn a salary with inferior skills or no skills at all.
After you’re gained the necessary skills, you should learn to market your services. Even the most highly trained transcriptionists cannot succeed in the business without effectively marketing their services, which can prove to be a real challenge -- but not insurmountable!
No matter what your level of training, education, skills, and abilities, these basic steps can help you get you started:
1.) Create a business name -- something catchy that is easy to remember while summing up the “heart” of your business. Register your business name and obtain a business license (optional). While registration isn’t a necessity, it screams professionalism.
2.) Arrange financing, if needed. In addition to the traditional small business loan, there are numerous (and very competitive) contests for new business grants – as well as companies and organizations that offer venture capital.
3.) Draft a well-organized, effective business plan -- one that clearly states your purposes, goals and why your services would be chosen over local competition. Great tips plus free email counseling can be requested from the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE).
4.) Get some home-office space. Whether your office is a converted guestroom, garage apartment or a sectioned off area in your living room, this area should be off-limits to kids, spouses, parents, and nosey friends. It should be cozy, relaxing, and quiet -- a refuge where you can concentrate entirely on the transcription project at hand.
5.) Launch worldwide and local online advertising campaigns. Invest in a domain name and banner-free hosting. Go Daddy offers domain names for less than $10 per year – one of the most cost effective prices I’ve found yet. Locally, send professionally printed postcards to private and public corporations, law firms, and physician practices that may be interested in your services. My personal opinion is that busy office managers are more apt to look at, and possibly save, a postcard advertising your services than a lengthy letter of introduction.
6.) Develop a website or a blog. Once you’ve acquired a domain name and hosting account, develop a simple, functional website or blog to compliment your services. There are numerous hosting companies that offer basic packages for as little as $7.95 per month, with a 98-percent uptime guarantee. I recommend limiting your information to two pages detailing your services, skills and qualifications, email and mailing addresses, fax and phone numbers. It's also a good idea to have an online resume -- simply an electronic version of your traditional resume – no bells, whistles or cutesy graphics. Be sure to include an email address and phone number.