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Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Welcome to an update to Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing, working full time as an editor with a dose of writing on the side. We first met Jane in November 2013 and updated ourselves on her new business venture in December 2014 – when I asked her where she wanted to be by now, she replied. “I hope my latest book will have been published, but nothing is ever certain in publishing. I would like to have a couple more corporate clients under my belt. I am very conscious I don’t make as much use of social media as I could, so I am putting together a plan (using your book!) to improve this. I’m also working on my CPD (Continuous Personal Development), which has been a bit neglected this year, and am researching courses and accreditations. To sum up, I want to be doing what I’m doing better, and taking it to more people”. Well, it’s always nice to have my own books mentioned, and let’s see how Jane has been doing … Oh, and don’t forget the EXTRA BONUS QUESTION – Jane’s got an interesting perspective on that!

Hello, Jane! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Pretty much! Corporate work continues to be my bread and butter, but I’ve also edited some excellent books, which I’ve really enjoyed.

The writing side of life has hit a minor block. My children’s book hasn’t been published as the publisher is experiencing something of a hiatus, but I am not, I find, particularly upset about that. I was asked on the back of that book to write another, but I absolutely hated it. I really don’t like writing fiction, and I now know that for sure. I have to say it’s a lot easier for my family if I’m not writing fiction, as apparently it was like living with a black cloud of gloom while I was attempting to write. I have started researching another non fiction book, and have written a proposal for it which is currently out with knowledgeable friends being assessed before I launch forth with it! And I am a cheerful happy bunny when researching, which I’m not when doing fiction, so that’s a win for everyone.

On the marketing side, I’ve done a new website, which I’m pleased with, had some professional pictures taken of myself (something I have put off for years because I loathe being on the other side of the camera), and so now have something I’m happy to direct people towards for more information.
I’ve also joined the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and will start their courses in the New Year.

As for social media, which I’d planned to make more of an effort with, that is still a bit of a slow burn. Doing a new website was the main thing I needed to achieve in order to kick start it. That I’ve done, so I’ve worked on my LinkedIn profile, and have planned a series of blog posts that I hope will prove useful to my clients. I have kept up with my social media profile as an editor/pony book expert, and that’s brought me some work.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still doing a lot of corporate work, but have also written and delivered a training course  on common punctuation and grammatical mistakes. I spent some years as a freelance trainer, so was relieved to find out that I could still do it! Technology has moved on somewhat since I last trained, and it has undoubtedly made life easier.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

One thing I’ve learned is not to discount skills you haven’t used in a while, like training, because they might well still be useful. I’m still thinking over whether I want to do more training – I hadn’t expected to do any at all, but I was asked and said yes. I don’t want it to become the mainstay of what I do, but as a controllable small element, I think it could work.

What do I wish I’d known a year ago? If you know you have a problem doing a certain thing (in my case, it’s marketing) you are going to have to keep chipping away at it and not assume because you’ve managed to overcome your aversion to doing it that that’s it – you’ve solved the problem. Because it is still there, and you still need to be aware that it is, and that you need to keep your eye on it.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Always be open to new suggestions – even if you dismiss them, investigating them can open your mind to other things you could be doing with your core business.

Extra question: What question would you most like to ask your fellow small business owners?

I always want to know how things are going for people, and this series answers that admirably! There isn’t, I think, any one particular thing that I want to ask people. When I talk to other small business owners, there’s often something they’re doing that I’m not, or they do something in a different way to me, so I ask them about that and how they find it works for them. That doesn’t mean that it’ll work for me, but it does give me more information on which to make a decision.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Still growing, I hope.

Jane seems to be doing admirably well, and I really like the way that older skills and interests are still playing a role in her business. I’ve used all sorts of things that I learned about years ago in my business – I learned how to do audio typing in 1992 and started using it for transcription jobs in 2010, for example!

Find Jane’s new website at janebadger.com

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Simon Middleton

Small business chat update – Simon Middleton

Welcome to an update with Simon Middleton from Shackleton Design and Manufacturing, who sell knitwear, outerwear and banjos (as you do). Oh, and do watch out for the extra bonus question, and please answer it in the comments if you can! We first met Simon back in September 2013, when I joined my first ever KickStarter campaign for producing a new British banjo. The company expanded into building a traditional British brand in clothing, as well as the banjos, and things were going well when I re-interviewed Simon in December 2014. At that point, these were his plans for the next year: A year from now we will be a fully fledged men’s leisure brand, exporting to several countries. We will have electric guitars as well as banjos being made here. We’ll have added food products and outdoor gear to our Shackleton range. I’ll be (I promise) better supported, more relaxed, exploring new ideas. And I will be close to finishing my book about the journey! And hopefully will have published my long-standing children’s novel.” Well, that was a lot of plans for one short year – let’s find out how he did!

Hello again, Simon, and it’s lovely to meet you again. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Well we’ve actually moved the brand and company even further forward than I had hoped when I spoke to you a year ago. Not all the plans we had ended up being pursued, but other more exciting ones took their place.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

We set out a year ago to raise £500,000 in equity funding, and we’ve just achieved that, plus a second highly successful KickStarter crowdfunding campaign. We now have a much broader range of handmade banjos being made in our factory in Norwich. I’ve been joined by four more staff in the past twelve months, a Commercial Director who is running the business alongside me, an Operations Manager who handles day-to-day operations, a Digital Marketing apprentice who handles our social media, and a very experienced fashion designer who has developed all of our clothing designs.

Those developments have allowed us to create our first complete clothing collection, which is all made in Britain and includes outerwear, knitwear, shirts, boots and accessories. The range is growing all the time. We are now stocked in four London stores, including The Natural History Museum and The Dandy Lab, and we have our own Norwich shop and our online store.

We have taken part in a range of fashion trade shows and have been featured in fashion press, and I was recently named one of the UK’s Top 100 Manufacturers for 2015 by The Manufacturer magazine.

We’ve combined our banjos and our fashion and lifestyle products into one website www.shackletoncompany.com and we have a new visual identity, and new product photographs.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I wish I had known that the process of raising funding wouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult as I’d anticipated: I needn’t have worried so much!

And I’ve learned that the founder alone can only take a business so far. The most significant moment of the year was meeting and then hiring my Commercial Director.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I would just restate what I’ve always believed, that a strong brand story told with absolute conviction is your strongest asset by far. Get the story straight and make sure that it’s distinctive, authentic, and emotionally compelling, and everything else follows.

*** Extra question: What question would you most like to ask your fellow small business owners?

It’s true that I run a small business, but I don’t see my job as running a small business. My job is to create an internationally recognised brand, so I don’t tend to focus on the small business sector. The people I’d rather ask questions of and learn from are those who have created breakthrough brands. I’d ask those people how they made the critical decisions about what “not” to do. There are so many possibilities at every stage that it seems to me that the most important thing to decide is which things to not pursue! But making that decision is far from easy.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

A year from now we intend that our profile will be much higher. We will close to opening our first London store, we’ll have a new website, and we will most likely have engaged a professional PR company, communications agency, and the beginnings of a trade sales team. We will also be about to launch our second collection, this time moving from premium to luxury clothing.

Simon’s really been going from strength to strength with Shackleton in the last year – from banjos to boots and more. It’s interesting that he’s answered Yvonne Donald’s Extra Question from last week’s interview as he’s answered my questions (that is totally coincidental, as they sent their replies at the same time!). The order in which they are hiring people and growing and developing is very interesting, and surely a template for other similar companies.

You can find Simon and everything to do with Shackleton Design and Manufacturing at www.shackletoncompany.com.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Yvonne Donald

Small business chat update – Yvonne Donald

Welcome to a small business update chat with cake-maker extraordinaire, Yvonne Donald of Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and caught up with her in October 2013 and then November 2014. At that point, when I asked where she wanted to be by now, Yvonne replied, “Kake and Cupkakery, one website instead of two: I’m very excited about that. I want to focus on doing some online tutorials and face to face workshops for home bakers and those more experienced. I still want a shop front that will be a bakery and that is still a work in progress. Basically, I want to continue to take the business forward. It’s here to stay, and no going back.” Fighting talk there, so let’s see how Yvonne is doing!

Hello again, Yvonne! So … are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year and a bit ago?

I think looking back at my answers, I had set myself some clear goals which I wanted to achieve to establish the business, and excluding the shop front I feel like I have progressed quite a bit and come a long way.

I now have just one website (which I am proud to say I built myself) and have closed the other two sites. I’ve also had another logo redesign. The previous logo I realised didn’t properly represent me or my business, so I had a proper consultation and rebranded, and its exactly what I wanted, a simple design that does what it says on the tin.

I’ve done a couple of tutorials using Periscope [an online service where you can post tutorials and other video content]: that was interesting. I’ve yet to properly venture onto YouTube, but I’ve also focused on my blog and have produced some tutorials on there which have gone down very well and got a nice lot of hits, as I post links to my blog posts in specific cake forums and groups on social media sites.

I’ve found a kitchen for the workshops, but have been too busy to prepare any! I did do a children’s one, which was fabulous and is another market to explore.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I am still juggling the full-time job with my business, and people are always amazed how I do it all, but in reality a lot of cakers start and work this way, so I will just need to continue to be disciplined, build leverage and get on with it.

Back in the early part of the year I began supplying another coffee shop, I didn’t think I would again, but I did and soon realised that this is definitely not the route for me and the business. Being a wholesaler is challenging and time-consuming, and the commitment is huge, I decided to give notice on the agreement and go back to focusing on my core business of supplying the end-user and not supplying another business. There is a real market for this, and I know some businesses are doing it very well and that is their core business model, but it’s not for me at this time (never say never). I also felt I was neglecting my core customers, and if it wasn’t for them there wouldn’t be a Kake and Cupkakery, so they deserve my full attention.

I was recently nominated as mentee of the year for by the IOEE (the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs), is an organisation that provides mentors for small businesses, and I was invited to an event to celebrate this as well as being asked to give a talk on my experiences. Considering it was to a room full of bankers, I wanted to convey my passion for my business and think I did OK.

I entered the Flavours of the Neighbourhood competition back in February with the Hotel indigo chain, which was great for exposure. And once again, I was a National Cupcake Championship finalist. I entered at the last minute, so that’s three years in a row, always a finalist never a winner (I’m like the Leonardo diCaprio of cupcakes: he’s always nominated but has never won an Oscar).

I’ve also really focused on my blog, which is getting some big stats as I’m posting in specific cake groups so that’s been good and very enjoyable, even though I’m a few blog posts behind.

Basically I’m so busy that I spend more time working in the business than on it, but everything is ticking along nicely, my head is full of ideas and areas to explore but there aren’t enough hours in the day. I really couldn’t be more pleased how everything is going.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learnt to listen to my gut, don’t be afraid to say no, (this is a recurring lesson) and to set clear boundaries for myself and the business. Even though my business is run from my registered home kitchen, it is too easy to answer emails and calls/texts at all hours or try and take on more orders that I can manage etc. I realise this isn’t good for me, and sends the wrong message to my customers that I’m always available or that I can pluck a cake out of a hat.

One of the biggest things I’ve learnt is how productive I can be before 7am; I’m hitting the gym at 6.30am before the day job to get in some me-time, or doing a bit of admin,so that has been a revelation. The social life could be better, as I do still make sacrifices (ask my friends) but it’s all for the greater good.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think no matter what business you are in, people will always buy from people. If they like you, they will more than likely love your business and not only buy from you but recommend you to their friends and family, so for me it’s so important to engage with my customers in whichever way I can, whether it’s face to face or through social media. I like to think I give 100%, and I want to continue to offer fab customer service as well as great cakes.

The new question: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

I would like to ask other small business users … if you were to recruit your first employee, what do you see as being the most important role you would need to recruit to move your business forward? Would it be a finance person, marketer, operations, etc.?

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

In another years’ time I think the main goal is to take a massive step forward with Kake and Cupkakery being my full-time job. All the other times when I thought I was ready, I really wasn’t, but now I feel more established as a business and a little local brand, the winds of change are beckoning to help me sail on out to my next adventure.

Yes! I think it’s time, don’t you? The thing I admire most about Yvonne, apart from her extraordinary work ethic, is her willingness to get out there, whether that’s asking Alan Sugar for business advice (see her blog) or entering competitions. I think she’ll go from strength to strength once she branches out on her own … watch this space (and if you need any cupcakes, celebration cakes and layer cakes, you know where to go!).

You can find Yvonne and Kake and Cupkakery online at www.kakeandcupkakery.co.uk. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Welcome to an update with the lovely Amelia Wilson of Localisation Translation, offering copyediting, translation review and localisation services (and someone I recommend to prospects for these areas when I can’t fit them in to my schedule. We originally met Amelia in November 2014, when her plan for this year was this: “I’d like to have some products to offer besides the service-based side of the business, whether that be e-books or training courses, I have a few ideas floating around. I’d also like to network more, and build relationships with other professionals in my field working in similar ways. I’d like to outsource some of the less exciting tasks (I hate invoicing!), but overall I’m looking forward to taking a look at the data from being a year in business, seeing what goals were met and finding new ways to improve.” Let’s see how she’s doing now …

Hello again, Amelia! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I think so, or at least well on the way! It’s been a really busy year, I’ve been steadily growing my client base and at the same time becoming more secure about what I’m doing and creating with my business.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’ve really niched down in my offerings. Before, I was a bit of a jack of all editing trades; I was offering all the services I used to perform while working as an in-house editor – which was a lot! But over the second half of this year I’ve become much more specific and cut out a lot of the things that I don’t enjoy. This allows me to be more engaged with the work I’m doing, and helps my clients by not overwhelming them with a thousand different services. I’ve also dipped my toes in the water of outsourcing and working with virtual assistants (a god send!), started email marketing, joined a small mastermind, and I’m working on two products, one of which is a bit ambitious (why not!) and the other I hope to launch in the first half of next year.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned how important it is to say no, and to create boundaries in your business. When I started out, I would very rarely refuse a project, and I ended up spending time on things that weren’t as profitable or enjoyable as they could have been. It’s actually really powerful to be confident in saying no sometimes, because it frees you up to focus on areas that are important and ultimately much more rewarding.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think it’s super important to know your own mind, and what you want to achieve. I’ve had a lot of business advice over the past year from friends and mentors, everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing and how you should develop and grow. It can be overwhelming, so I think it’s important to know exactly why you went into business, for me it was freedom and autonomy, and what you want to achieve with it. It helps you take everyone’s advice into account but stand firm when it comes to your personal goals. And deciding what they are in the first place can be tricky!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

That’s a great question, because for the first time since I started I’m setting goals and intentions for next year. I feel like I’ve got ground beneath my feet now, and I can start building. I would like to niche down even more, and package my services into something very specific, with my products to go alongside. I keep overhauling my website, it’s quite basic at the moment but I’d like to create an online home I can be really proud of, and which better serves my clients and readers. I’m also setting revenue goals so that I can improve on last year and continue to grow. Here’s to an exciting 2016!

I firmly believe that specialising and learning to say no are two hugely important tasks as you develop your new business – I’ve certainly refined my offering since I started, as well as branching out into new areas to test the waters. I think Amelia’s definitely going in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing how she does in the next year!

You can find Amelia online at www.localisationtranslation.com and email her, of course. She’s also on Twitter

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Small business chat update – Liz Dexter

Welcome to another Small Business Update, oh, and it’s with me! I always take the quieter slots around Christmas and New Year slot for myself, because it doesn’t seem fair to leave someone else languishing here, and I find it an interesting exercise in setting objectives and seeing what I’ve been up to. I started doing this in December 2011, then updated in December 2012, December 2013, and most recently, December 2014. At that point, this was my plan for the year ahead: “I will be reading more: my reading slipped a bit this year and that’s not good. More on my reading blog on 1 January about specific reading challenges for 2015. I’m getting back into my running and hope to be running longer and more regularly in 2015. And I aim to keep up with my crafts a bit more. I’ve already ramped up my volunteering to include parkrun and I’ll be making sure I keep up with that and other volunteering activities.

I want to finish writing up a longer-form version of my Iris Murdoch research and getting that out there somehow, whether that’s placing it with a publisher or creating an indie book again.

Although sales have dropped on Amazon for everyone (lots of people blame the boycotts or their new KDP Unlimited programme but no one really knows), I’m planning to rework my business books to create a self-mentoring guide for editors, produce a mentoring guide to go with the original books and also put together a guide for authors on working with editors, all to be out in … well, let’s say the first half of the year!”

Wow – that was a lot, let’s have a think about what I actually achieved.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Hm, I think there will have to be some bullet points for these:

  • Reading more – Yes, achieved! I read 10 more books in 2015 than I had in 2014, and I wrote a report about it over on my book review blog, here.
  • Running longer and more regularly – Yes, achieved, I joined Kings Heath Running Club and have made some lovely running chums at my pace and distance. I ran four half-marathon distances, once a month from October, and got a personal best time in the Birmingham Half Marathon and at parkrun in December.
  • Crafts – Not really. I made a small stuffed Christmas tree for a Crafternoon in aid of Mind, and did some colouring in. Running and the gym were great relaxation tools for me, though.
  • Keeping up with volunteering – Yes! I continued volunteering for parkrun, winning a certificate and commendation from my running club for the efforts I put into that. I continued to help out at Social Media Surgeries. I ramped up the volunteering a bit when the Conservative Government got into power and started eroding the support for the vulnerable in society even more: I joined and helped with a local Action for Refugees group and also offered my editing services to a few volunteer groups pro bono, and should start doing stuff for them in earnest soon. I also helped collect up some goods for women’s refuges and homeless shelters that were being helped by friends in the running community.
  • Finish writing up my Iris Murdoch research – The research is almost finished but I’ve been stalling writing it up.
  • Create a self-mentoring guide for editors, produce a self-mentoring guide to go with the original books and put together a guide for authors on working with editors – I’ve half-done the self-mentoring guide for editors and that will inform the self-mentoring guide to go with the others. I’ve canned the working with an editor guide, it just doesn’t fit in really with my business books theme.

Hm, not tooooo bad.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Not much has really changed in terms of the work I do. I lost one big contract because the agency I was doing the work for lost the contract – nothing to do with me and a hazard of working with companies in between you and the client. I managed to make up most of the work.

One thing that really changed was that I’ve earned a bit less this year, because I’ve had MORE TIME OFF! My new hobby of running has taken up time at weekends, doing all sorts of fun things like travelling around doing cross-country races, and I’ve ended up taking whole weekends off quite a lot. This is A Good Thing.

Another change was that I moved all the detailed info on my business (and cholesterol-beating) books to their own website, Liz Broomfield Books, back in August 2014. I have had some guest posts from other writers and tried to keep it up with reviews and other bits of news being posted. I forgot to mention that last year, so that’s one change for the last couple of years.

While we’re on websites, this one continued to flourish. I’ve kept the small business chats going, and I’ve been blogging about social media stuff a bit, as well as Word and business tips. The blog has seen over 1,000,000 hits in the past year (although that meant I had more people contact me about guest posts!).

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’m  not sure that much has changed or provided learning experiences for me this year – the business has settled down, most of my work is from regular clients, and it all runs fairly smoothly. I’ve proved the world doesn’t end if you go on holiday, have flu or take weekends off. I’ve also learned that however mature your business is and however smoothly it’s running, you do still end up working every evening after dinner for a week somewhere in the year.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I said this last year, too – trust your gut instincts. I didn’t, and I ended up in a slightly difficult situation which I have now resolved, but took time and energy.

Also, overthink your terms and conditions. Even if you don’t think somebody could possibly ask you to do x or y that you wouldn’t be happy to do for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean somebody won’t do that. Write it into your terms and conditions before you have to face that situation.

And watch your jargon – you might know what you mean when you send a customer accompanying information, but think about it from their point of view and explain what you send to them in clear terms.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

OK, I’m going to be reading more because I started to make more time for reading over Christmas and I’m continuing with that.

I’m going to keep running a half-marathon distance or more a month, and hopefully (very carefully and slowly) running a marathon later on in the year.

I’m going to complete the self-mentoring for editors guide and produce a print and e-book version by the middle of 2016.

I might write up my research or I might not!

You can find me here, of course, and also on my books website and my book reviews one for more personal stuff. Happy New Year!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Transcription tips: How do I transcribe a tape with multiple voices?

keyboard earphonesAlthough transcribing interviews by journalists or students that only involve two voices is the most common work I do, transcribers often have to work with tapes with more than two voices on them. How do you tell the voices apart so that you can differentiate them on your transcript? This article shares some tips I use to tell different voices on a tape apart.

What’s the problem with transcribing multiple voices?

I was transcribing an interview with two fashion designers today; my client had said it was OK not to differentiate them and the women themselves said that their voices were often confused. How did I tell the voices apart so I could produce a transcript that had the correct words attributed to the correct people?

Although it’s sometimes very easy to tell the people who are talking on a tape apart, for example if they’re a man and a woman, or one has a very strong accent, sometimes it can be difficult. Because it will help my client to know who said what, it’s important for me to try as hard as I can to differentiate the voices and make the transcript as useful as possible.

Before the interview: who are the interviewees?

If you know it’s going to be an interview with more than one participant, you can ask your client to help you from the very beginning.

Either they could ask their interviewees to introduce themselves by name at the beginning of the tape. Even if they are all, for example, young male voices, you can pick up a lot of information from this that will allow you to differentiate between them …

Or they could ask people to introduce themselves every time they make a point (this works in a more slow round table discussion at a conference, for example)

Taking the first option once led to a very sweet tape where the musicians in a band introduced themselves by name to me, mentioning my name, at the start: “Hello Liz, my name’s … and I hope you can understand me”. Aww!

After the interview but before you start typing: checking who is who on the tape

If you didn’t get the option to ask your client to get the interviewees to introduce themselves, it is OK to ask them who is who – for example, who speaks first, who has a voice that is distinctive in some way. They might also mention that, for example, the lead singer talks most and the person who only talks about one track is the drummer.

If you’re working on a discussion at a conference, you might be able to get some information from the conference website. For example, there might be a video up already that time stamps each person’s speech with a note of their name. Play the video, check the speech against your tape, and there you go.

When you’re transcribing: how do you differentiate between the different voices?

If you have no clues about who is who or who says what, there are still ways in which you can differentiate between voices on a tape. It can take time to get used to doing this, but it is useful.

  1. Check the video. This one sounds obvious, but if you have a video to transcribe, do look at it carefully. There may well be captions stating who is speaking, at least for the first time, and you can recognise who is who by their appearance. If there’s the option of a video for a conference or marketing meeting / focus group, do take it, even if it takes longer to download.
  2. Check where people are in space. In the tape I’ve been working on most recently, the speakers were sitting either side of the tape recorder. So, even though their voices were similar, one came from the left and one from the right. Result!
  3. Check the sound level/volume. If one person is sitting further away from the recorder, they will sound fainter.
  4. Check for even slight accents. There may be a non-native-speaker or regional accent on the tape: listen for different vowel sounds or intonation.
  5. Check the ums, ers and filler noises. These really vary across speakers and can make a difference. Person 1 might say “like” constantly, while Person 2 “ums” and “ers”.
  6. Check for clues in the environmental context. Does Jane order food but Sally just have a coffee? The one talking through her dinner is likely to be Jane.
  7. Check for clues in what they say. I often switch off from the content when I’m transcribing, just letting the words come into my ear and out of my fingers. But people will refer to each other by name, and this gives you a good clue to who is who, or reinforces your first thoughts (If the person you think is Pete refers to “Pete”, unless you have several interviewees with the same name, he’s unlikely to actually be Pete!).

I have two other handy hints to add, which I use all the time …

  • Draw a plan or write notes! When I work out who is who, I will write a little diagram out or make notes – “Bella … Jean” for the left/right ones, “Jim: high-pitched. Bob: rumbly and quieter” etc.
  • If you can’t put a name by each participant, at least try to break the text up into paragraphs spoken by different people. You might be able to go back and add the names if Julie says, “As Veronica said earlier, it’s difficult opening a tin of Spam”, for example.

It can be challenging when you find you need to transcribe a tape with more than one or two voices on it. As you have seen, there are things you can do to make this easier before the interview even starts, once you receive it and during the transcription process.

If you’ve found this article useful, please click to share! If you are a transcriber and have any tips to share on this topic, please do comment below!

If you want to learn more about Transcription as a career, buy my book: A Quick Guide to Transcription as a Career – buy from Amazon UK or visit the book’s web page for worldwide links and news.

Related posts in the series:

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute and not per word?

How do you start a career in transcription?

Why you need a human to do your transcription

Being a professional transcriber – software to use to help

Ten top tips for transcribers

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Business, Jobs, New skills, Transcription, Word

 

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Small business chat update – Sarah Goode

Small business chat update – Sarah Goode

Today I have an update I’ve been waiting for a while to post! The lovely Sarah Goode who makes jewellery as Pookledo, has been waiting on purchasing and opening a shop for what feels like (and probably is) several years. FINALLY, it’s all gone through and she’s installed in the lovely Purple Pumpkin Patch in Loughborough. We first met Sarah back in her in August 2013 (although I’ve known her for a few years more than that) and last featured her in September 2014, when this was her plan for the year: “Hopefully we will happily be trading in our own business premises but until then, I’ll be travelling to different venues, making contacts, and meeting lots of lovely people.”
Well, she’s got that shop, but let’s see how she got there and what’s happening next.

This is also the first interview to feature my NEW QUESTION! If you own a small business yourself, please scroll down and answer in the comments to get a bit of a conversation going …

Hello Sarah. So (and I think you are), are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Finally we are. Hooray! We got the keys to our new shop on the evening of Monday 23rd November and decided that we should open on the day they switched the Christmas lights on in Loughborough which was Sunday 29th November which meant a lot of hard work cleaning, painting and then getting all our lovely crafters’ stock in place ready for customers to be able to visit.

I’m still going to various craft fairs and festivals, but I’m going to slow down on the events now and stick to the bigger festivals and events I like to support, as being in a different venue every day really does take its toll. I’m going to stay with my market stall every Friday at Coalville Indoor Market, though, as it’s a lovely place to trade. This year I will be focusing on the shop and selling items for other local crafts people as well as myself.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’ve met so many lovely people on my travels around all the fairs and markets I’ve attended. It’s been a great experience which I have loved.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned that customer service is one huge advantage that small businesses have over larger companies. The flexibility, personal touch and listening to what a customer says gives a small company the edge.

SPECIAL EXTRA QUESTION: What question would you like to ask your fellow small business owners?

If you have a business idea that you think would work, what is stopping you and can you think of a way around it to make your dream a reality?

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Hopefully we will have regular workshop bookings and events in the shop, which is another thing I am aiming to progress with in the year ahead. Supporting local crafts and handmade artisans in getting their work out there for sale on the high street.

I’m so pleased to be able to report on Sarah’s shop being open at last! See below for a couple of tantalising images!

Sarah’s new shop is at 102 Ashby Road, Loughborough, LE11 3AF and the website is at www.purplepumpkinpatch.co.uk, and you can also find her at www.pookledo.com and on Facebook. Her lovely products are also available via Etsy.

Purple Pumpkin Patch craft shop gift shop Loughborough

Shop window looking good!

Purple Pumpkin Patch craft shop gift shop Loughborough

Christmassy goodies in store now

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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