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What are the types of transcription?

What are the types of transcription?

There are many different types of transcription, and when you work as a transcriber, you might be asked to do any or all of them. Later in your transcription career, you may choose to specialise in one, and this can be useful for your career. It’s important to know about the kinds of transcription so that you can provide the best possible transcript for your client – if it’s important to them to include everything everyone says and you do an intelligent transcription, your transcription might not even be any use to them!

The different kinds of transcription

These are the main types of transcription. Be careful, however: some clients might describe these different types in different ways, using different language or explaining what they want rather than using a particular term.

Phonetic / linguistic transcription 

Phonetic or linguistic transcription is a highly specialised form of transcription which records not only the words used but the tone taken by the speakers and the exact overlap when two people speak. It is used when the client need to record what is said and how it’s said, because they need to analyse speech acts by a speaker or the exact nature of the interaction between two or more people.

I have encountered this kind of transcription being requested by linguists or clinical psychologists. In fact, I’ve also seen it in books and academic works about speech and interaction.

In phonetic transcription, you record the pronunciation of the words and the rise and fall of the sentence, overlapping utterances, etc., using specialised notation. Linguistic transcription does everything except the phonetic aspect.

For both kinds of highly specialised transcription (which is so highly specialised that I don’t offer it), you will be expected to use a range of symbols and probably a special template.

Time and pricing This is the most time-consuming type of transcription by far – expect to take twice as long as your normal speed, if not more. However, as a highly specialised type of work, the rate per audio minute is higher.

Video / descriptive transcription / captioning

If you’re doing video transcription of a film which is not simply of one or two people speaking, you may be asked to provide descriptive information or take down the text that appears on the screen. The purpose can be either to provide captions on the film in the same language, or to provide a script for translators to translate into another language.

This can involve two different aspects:

  1. Recording the wording in any information that appears on the screen: this could be marketing information, information about the speaker’s job and company, wording on diagrams, etc. This is usually requested when you’re producing text that will be translated.
  2. Recording the movements of people and other noises than speech, e.g. slamming doors, a car pulling up outside. This will usually be requested when your client is captioning the film.

Captioning itself is a specialised art and I refer any true captioning jobs over to a friend and colleague who is experienced with it.

Time and pricing: This again is specialised work and takes extra time to do; for example, the words on the screen might appear at the same time a voiceover is saying something else, so you might need to go over the same tape twice. Therefore there’s an argument that you can charge a little more. Captioning is a specialised art and commands higher rates, but you really need to know what you’re doing.

Verbatim transcription

When we do a verbatim transcription, we record every single the speakers say, but using standard typing and symbols.

This is used by, for example, legal clients, researchers and marketing companies and anyone who wants to get the full flavour of how the person was speaking. Many of my ghost-writing clients also want verbatim transcription so that they can catch the exact way the subject speaks and capture that to write their book to sound as if it’s written by the subject.

Time and pricing: I use standard pricing for these three kinds of transcription from here onwards, as they actually take around the same length of time to do: the time typing errs and ums and repetitions can be used up by thinking about how to rewrite someone’s words!

Edited transcription

An edited transcription is a slightly tidied up version of a verbatim transcription. It is usually requested by general interviewers and journalists, and also some academic researchers and writers. Ghost-writers might ask for a small amount of editing just to limit the number of ums they have to remove before they can write up their book.

So the editing can have various levels, but usually means removing ums, ers, and repetitions, as well as any “speech tics” such as repeatedly adding “you know” or “d’you know what I mean”.

You do the editing as you type, as it would be far too time-consuming to type out a verbatim transcription and then go back and edit it. Once you’re used to it, it’s quite quick and easy to do.

Intelligent / smoothed transcription

In this type of transcription, you will typically turn non-standard or non-native English into standard English. You are likely to be altering grammar and even wording, as well as doing the activities involved in an edited transcription.

I have two types of client who ask for this kind of transcription:

  1. Companies that produce conference or meeting reports – they want standard English throughout, and any speaker who is a non-native English speaker or even one that is a native English speaker but has a very idiosyncratic way of speaking will be smoothed out and standardised.
  2. Marketing companies that are doing research on a client’s product with its customers, for example. All they want is what the client thinks, straight and simple, to report back to their client, and may well ask me for an intelligent transcription.

Time and pricing: This is quite a specialised variety of transcription, as you need to be very confident in your own ability to write a good, grammatical sentence, to understand what someone has said and rephrase it. As a by-product of the kind of speaker whose words you are smoothing out, you need to be good at understanding non-native English accents. Not everyone is skilled at this, but if you are, it’s really fun to do, as it involves more thought than the other standard varieties of transcription. It does take a little longer than verbatim and edited transcription if the speaker is hard to understand, and I may charge a little more on that basis.

How do I find out what type of transcription my client wants?

If a client wants captioning or linguistic transcription, they will usually know this and provide templates and instructions: they will also check you know how to do this (don’t try to guess if you don’t have any training in this: it won’t work and it will end in tears!) and might give you a test.

To find out whether my client wants verbatim, edited or intelligent transcription, I include this question in my initial questions to the client:

“Do you want the transcription to have a complete record of all ums and ers / to be tidied up of ums and ers and repetitions / to be tidied into standard English and complete sentences where possible?”

This will usually get them to confirm what they want, even if they don’t use the specific terminology.


This article has explained what the types of transcription are and when they might be used, as well as examples of what they look like and some information on their particular challenges. You now know about linguistic transcription, film transcription and captioning, verbatim, edited and intelligent transcription.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

How long does transcription take?

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Welcome to an update with  Sophie Playle from Liminal Pages,  We first met Sophie in December 2013, at which point she’d only been going for eight months, Sophie updated us on how she was getting on in January 2015 and again in March 2016, where this was her plan: “I’ve decided that I’d like to expand the Liminal Pages team. Ideally, I’d love to work with a few excellent editors who share a similar work ethic. And while others take on more of the editorial work, I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in marketing and growing my business while also developing and running more courses. For the first time ever, I feel very clear about the direction I want to take my business. Knowing me, though, this time next year I’ll have done something completely different!” So, did she do what she hoped to do, or change her mind as she thought she’d do? Read on to find out …

Hello again, Sophie! So, the big question: Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

As I predicted in last year’s chat, I changed my mind about where I wanted to take my business – which was to build a team of editors so I could take on fewer projects myself. I don’t feel bad about this, though. Having the flexibility to change my mind is one of the best things about running my own business.

I thought long and hard about whether I really wanted to start building a team, and it was an idea I kept at the forefront of my mind while I attended the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ conference in September – I chose sessions that were all about expanding and developing your business.

After the conference, I felt I better understood the logistics of managing an editorial team – but then I crunched the numbers. And I realised that I wasn’t currently getting the volume of enquiries I would need to make it work for me financially. I would need at least ten times the number of clients for my percentage to add up to a reasonable salary, and that just wasn’t going to happen. I was getting too ahead of myself.

Not only that, but I realised I relish the personal connection I make with my clients. If I were going to have editors representing my brand, they would need to provide the highest quality work and match my values. I’m not going to rush into this. I need to be patient and let this branch of my business grow organically.

Other than expanding my team, my other goal was to create and run more courses – and this is something I’ve achieved. Back when we last spoke, I had one available course – Conquer Your Novel, which is all about novel writing, funnily enough. That’s been on the back burner for a while, though – it wasn’t where I wanted it to be, so I’ve been letting it lie while I focus on other projects. I plan to revive it soon, though, now I have a better idea of what it should look like.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Last year, I created a new course in collaboration with my good friend and talented business owner Karen Marston. It’s called Start Fiction Editing and teaches editors how to set up and run a fiction editing business. I ran it twice last year and both times it sold out.

The idea for the course came about when I was talking to Karen about adding editors to my team. I complained that though there were lots of copy-editing training courses out there, there wasn’t a single one that taught all the specific lessons I wanted a new editor to learn – such as how to edit fiction while respecting the author’s voice, how to use Track Changes and query using comments in Word, how to use time tracking to set rates that work for the individual … Karen suggested I create the course, and so I did. Together, we expanded the premise so it would help new editors set up their businesses (rather than just teach editors how to work for me!), making it useful to a wider audience.

Aaaand I’m currently in the middle of creating a new course called Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory. I’ve realised that I love talking about the mechanics and business of editing perhaps more than I like editing itself – so I’m dipping my toes in editorial training, and I’m enjoying it.

In terms of what’s stayed the same, I’m still editing novels, though slightly fewer than before since I’ve started building and running online courses.

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

This is an interesting question to ponder because one thing I’ve learned over the years is that we have to go through our own experiences to learn our own lessons. I’m not sure if present-me could travel back in time and give past-me a piece of advice that would be helpful – because I wouldn’t have gone through the process of learning the value of that advice. And that’s what matters most.

Perhaps, then, what I’ve learned is that I can read business books and blog posts and listen to others give me advice until my ears fall off, but that can only take me so far. Advice can be incredibly valuable, but it can also become overwhelming, which is something I touched on in last year’s post. However, it’s only through experiencing the particular challenges of our own businesses – through the prism of our own personalities – that we can learn the most valuable lessons.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. I’ve found myself looking at other people’s businesses and then creating an amalgamation of them in my mind that becomes this grand idea of what a successful editorial business ‘should’ look like – then I measure my business against it and either feel like a failure or feel anxious about branching out in a way that doesn’t fit the mould.

Obviously, this is absurd. It leads back to what I was saying at the start of this post: as business owners, we have the power to be flexible. Just like a blank page can seem paralysing to a writer, this idea – that we can build our businesses however we want – can be scary, and so we play it safe and follow convention. But we don’t have to. It’s not even about taking risks – it’s just about thinking outside the box a little, and not comparing our businesses to others that aren’t directly comparable anyway.

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

This time around, I’m not going to make any grand statements or plans. I’m going to get my head down and continue doing what I’m doing – providing editorial services to authors and online training to editors – and see where it gets me. I share my most personal thoughts on being an editorial business owner in my Liminal Letters, which I send out roughly every fortnight, so if anyone wants to keep up with my journey, feel free to subscribe!

Sophie’s a good and generous colleague to have – she contributed a guest post to this blog back in January, sharing her experience and support on how to move into fiction editing if you want to do it and she’s one of my recommended editors for fiction work. I love how she really thinks about what she’s doing and, indeed, the answers to my questions, and can’t wait to see what she gets up to this year!

Visit Sophie at her Liminal Pages website: http://liminalpages.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook!
Facebook:

Sophie’s rebranded website is at liminalpages.com and that novel-writing course can be found here: Conquer Your Novel

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. 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 March 18, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Hooray – it’s update time with the rather marvellous chap, Paul Alborough, aka Professor Elemental. I know he’s been at Crufts recently, helping out with a dog charity, so it seems a good time to post this update! Although I first met Paul back in the 1990s, we first met him in this context in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015 and most recently in March 2016. At that point, this was his plan for the upcoming year: “I will probably keep things slightly more simple this year overall. In amongst the busiest year of shows yet, I’d like to try to diversify – try more writing and some voice work beyond the Professor. I still love life on the road, but it might be nice to see what I can achieve without leaving my house.” So, did he actually leave his house, or did he spend the year making diagrams in his lair? Read on to find out …

Hello again, Paul! Splendid to “see” you again in Libro Towers. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Slightly ahead of where I’d hoped to be, which is nice. Something I’ve started doing (and highly recommend) is making a huge spider diagram of all you want to achieve and how you are going to get it done – then hanging it on your wall for the year ahead. It worked a treat for 2016!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

One big change has been introducing Patreon, which is a way that fans can support you to keep creating art on a monthly basis. It fits my fanbase and work rate perfectly and has been a lovely way to connect with listeners, while providing a way to create more ambitious projects.

I’ve also grouped shows together in two ‘tours’ and ringfenced off certain months, so we are actually able to take family holidays this year. It has made the world of difference.

Oh and the voiceover work I’d been aiming for is taking off. Usually some variation of the Professor character, but I am not complaining. There’s also a podcast which I’ve recorded with a great cast and a new novel in the works, so plenty to keep me busy. In amongst that, things remain consistent – weird adventures, silly songs and a solid underpinning of relentless administration.

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

Five important things I have learnt in 2016:

1. Plan out your year ahead and how you are going to achieve your plans in various stages. Tick off each thing so you feel like you are progressing.

2. Speak about things you want to do in the present, rather than future tense; ‘I *am* doing more voice work’ rather than ‘I would *like* to do more voice work.’ Sounds a bit silly but it works wonders.

3. When things are going well, don’t get too cocky. The moment you think you are doing well, you might have three terrible shows in a row. And I mean really bad. The sort of shows that make you want to have a little cry in a darkened room afterwards.

4. Always work with people whose company you enjoy, that way, no matter what the result – the work will have been worth it.

5. Every live show is made better by the presence of a sword swallower, team of Cambodian breakdancers, fire breather or all three.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Make sure you get plenty of sleep. And cake. Regularly eat cake in bed to be as efficient as possible.

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

I have a really big project that I want to complete this year. I want to use a new album as a springboard into making a creative hub where people can share ideas and tips (much as you are doing now I guess). Plus I have a plan to use some of that to fund charities. It’s very ambitious, but achievable with the help of friends and collaborators. We’ll see how I managed it next year. 🙂

“Weird adventures, silly songs and a solid underpinning of relentless administration” – I love it! You can always see from Paul’s interviews that although he’s immensely creative and has so many avenues that he’s going down at the same time, he still supports that with good, solid, sometimes boring organisation. You really can’t have one without the other, and I see through these interview series that this is something our creative friends have to take on board. I think having had experience in other fields helps here, for all of us – I certainly wouldn’t be as successful as I am if I hadn’t learned to be a good administrator first. So good luck to Paul with his new ventures! It’s interesting to see Patreon is working for him, by the way – this is a crowdfunding programme, a bit like KickStarter but with a regular payment rather than an one-off, which gives the subscriber access to special and exclusive material. However, you do have to have an audience in the first place to do really well with it – something Paul obviously has in oodles. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to in the next year!

Here’s Paul’s Professor Elemental Patreon page, and do pop and have a look at his website, www.professorelemental.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, of course.

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. 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 March 11, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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What is verbatim transcription?

What is verbatim transcription?

Transcription clients often want different levels of detail and accuracy in their transcriptions. They sometimes ask for a verbatim transcription. This article explains what verbatim transcription is.

What is verbatim transcription?

The dictionary definition of verbatim is “In exactly the same words as were used originally” (Concise Oxford Dictionary) and this really explains what verbatim transcription is.

In verbatim transcription, the transcriber types out EXACTLY what is said, including any pauses, mistakes, repetitions, stumbles, fillers (er, um, you know what I mean) – everything.

Why would a client request verbatim transcription?

The three reasons I find for a client requesting a verbatim transcription are:

  • A researcher looking at the way people talk about a particular subject might need to know exactly what was said and how it was said
  • A market research company might need to drill down to the specific way in which people talk about their product, including stumbling over the product name or searching for ways to describe it
  • A legal transcription will usually need to be a highly accurate description of what was said and how

How is verbatim transcription different from other kinds of transcription?

Verbatim description is quite different from other kinds of transcription. A journalist interviewing a subject, someone doing general research or a company producing conference reports will not want every single false start, um and er recorded. They might even need you to smooth out the transcription for them so that it reads more clearly.

Here are the main types of transcription in order of their accuracy or match to what was actually said, going from most exact match to loosest match.

  • phonetic / linguistic transcription – this is a very specialised form of transcription used by, for example, linguists or clinical psychologists. In phonetic transcription, you would record the pronunciation of the words and the rise and fall of the sentence, overlapping utterances, etc., using specialised notation. Linguistic transcription does everything except the phonetic aspect.
  • verbatim transcription – as discussed above, this records everything the speakers say, but using standard typing and symbols.
  • edited transcription – this can have various levels, but usually means removing ums, ers, and repetitions, as well as any “speech tics” such as repeatedly adding “you know” or “d’you know what I mean” as you type.
  • intelligent / smoothed transcription – in this type of transcription, you will typically turn non-standard or non-native English into standard English, altering grammar and even wording as well as doing the activities involved in an edited transcription.

All of these can be complicated and take extra time and effort, and you may find that you’re better at one kind than another. Personally, I really enjoy doing Intelligent Transcription, but do all of the types except the highly specialised Phonetic/Linguistic Transcription.

How do I know if my client requires verbatim transcription?

Many clients will tell you up-front if they require verbatim transcription. If they don’t specify, then do ask. I have a standard set of questions I ask all new clients to get their preferences – this includes asking if they want me to transcribe the recording absolutely accurately, or smooth out the ums and ers, etc.

More to come! Watch this space for more details on the types of transcription, with examples!


This article has explained what verbatim transcription is and why you might be asked to do it.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

How long does transcription take?

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Small business chat – Suz West and Alan West

Small business chat – Suz West and Alan West

I met Suz West through the wonder that is parkrun (a free, timed 5k run that happens every Saturday morning in locations all over the UK and, indeed, the world) but I hadn’t realised she ran her own business, SB Pet Sitting Service, until recently. Although obviously she keeps fit with dog walking, too, running is a really great activity for the self-employed person, as you can fit it in any time, anywhere, you just need your trainers and a bit of kit. I certainly wouldn’t be without it. Anyway, Suz and Alan have a well-established business, but of course they have learning points to share and still have plans for developing the business, as any sensible business owner would. Let’s meet Suz and Alan!

Hello, Suz and Alan, and welcome to Small Business Chat! First things first: what’s your business called? When did you set it up?

Hello! It’s called SB Pet sitting Service and I set up in 2005.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I had worked with animals since I left school, I always worked with rescue animals, working with RSPCA and Battersea Dogs Home. I moved back to Birmingham after working for the RSPCA in South Wales. I really wanted to still work with animals but in a different way. I felt the time was right to set up and see where it would lead (no pun intended).

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

My background is in Animal welfare and it gives me great pleasure seeing those pets who have been through a tough past being in loving caring homes.

Had you run your own business before?

No.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I started off part time and also worked in retail part time. I worked in shop work in the evening so I was available for dog walking.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

That things don’t happen overnight. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is patience, persistence and hard work all pay off.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Always believe in yourself and what you are doing.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Taken breaks and time out when it was needed. This is a lesson I have learnt: self care is important. Probably the hardest lesson to learn.

What are you glad you did?

I’m glad I never gave up!

What’s your top business tip?

Look after your customers, they are the important ones. Don’t forget the clients you have by trying so hard to get new ones, as chances are, new clients will come your way from happy clients. That is what I find.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

SB Pet Sitting has grown since I started out, with my partner also working in the business, as there was too much work for one person. I have, since starting this business, become a qualified counsellor. I offer a pet bereavement counselling service too.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

We are working on promoting our cat feeding and my Pet Bereavement Counselling Service. Our dog walking side I hope will stay about the same as we offer a unique one-to-one dog walking experience.

I completely and utterly agree with Suz and Alan’s top tip. I quite often ask new enquirers to wait for quotations, etc. until I’ve finished the job in hand, and always put my existing clients first. And I haven’t had to advertise or do a huge amount of marketing (apart from maintaining this blog), because the vast majority of my work comes through recommendations and word of mouth. I’m excited to feature this lovely small business and thank them for their insights!

You can find out more about SB Pet Sitting Services on their website www.sb-petsitting.co.uk, email them or call them on 0121 628 8648.

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 March 4, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

We’re welcoming the lovely Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing (she’s also a writer) to the series again today. We first met Jane in November 2013 and updated ourselves on her new business venture in December 2014 when she’d launched her editing business full time. When we updated again in January 2016 and I asked her where she wanted to be by now, she replied, “Still growing, I hope”. Short and to the point, then! Let’s see how she’s doing now. 

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

Pretty much. Growth has been unspectacular, but growth there has been — at least on the proofreading and editing side. My regular clients are all still sending me work, and the fact they are expanding is helping me too.

I followed through on my plan to look at my continuing profession development, and took a series of courses run by the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders). That meant I could upgrade my membership of the SfEP to intermediate level, which was very satisfying!

Writing is in an in between state. Writing anything has been difficult, as the increasing volume of paid work means it is difficult to devote the time to it that it needs. However, I’ve found an interest in railways that surprised me: I haven’t become a train spotter, but have started putting some pieces together on the horses who worked on the railway, and the people who worked with them. One blog piece, on women, railway horses and the war, hit a spark, and was my most successful blog piece of the year.

I have also managed to complete a couple of smaller research projects that I’d been wanting to look at: horse stories published during World War II, and the horse stories published by Puffin books. The World War II project I did for a conference on girl’s fiction. I’d just about managed to retain my knowledge of how to present things from when I used to teach, so it went reasonably well.

On the academic front, I was also part of a conference run by the University of Cambridge on horse stories: Pony Tales: Writing the Equine. That was an excellent event, where KM Peyton (author of the Flambards series) and Meg Rosoff (Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner 2016) spoke.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Speaking at conferences was another of those things that I had thought were well behind me, so it was good that those opportunities came up.

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

I’ve learned to say no to clients! I recently turned down a large and lucrative book edit because I felt the book was not yet in a state where it could be edited. I’ve also become better at recognising red flags for when clients might prove tricky: for example, a prospective new client initially said they were happy to wait for me to be able to fit their work in, but when they sent their test edit chapter, it very soon became obvious that waiting for me was precisely not what they were prepared to do. I politely declined the opportunity of working with them.

At last, I managed to go to a local networking event where I met actual people rather than communicating over the internet. My plan is to carry on with local networking now that I have faced the fear and done it. One really useful thing that emerged from the event is that it’s not just about getting business for yourself, but also about looking out for the interests of everyone in the room.

I’ve also set up a backup for when I can’t take work on, for whatever reason, and that’s worked well. I find it does give clients more faith in you if they know you can recommend someone else who is as good as (or better!) than you.

What do I wish I’d known a year ago?

I am always learning, and clients always provide something new for you to learn about. Fortunately, I am a member of a couple of internet-based groups who are very good at providing support and help if you have a problem.

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

If you are an introvert, what do you find helps you to get out there and network?

Any more hints and tips for people?

Get out there and look for support and help in whatever form it comes, whether it’s local business networking groups, or internet-based groups.

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

I’m hoping to have some local clients.

The SfEP courses I did were really worthwhile, and my plan is to work on upgrading to advanced membership through doing more training courses, looking in particular at developing my editing skills.

I will get the rights back to Heroines on Horseback, my book on pony books, later this year, so am investigating how I’m going to proceed with that. Whatever I do, it will be a steep learning curve, so I’m looking forward to that. The Society of Authors runs workshops on e-book publishing, so I’m planning on doing one of those.

Fabulous progress from Jane here. To pick up on a couple of points, it’s SO important to learn to say no – and so difficult. When you’ve only been going a few years, you tend to say yes to everything, just in case it all goes away. But saying no is important – both for you and the client, if you’re not going to be a good fit – and listening to that gut feeling is also vital. In addition, having a back-up is, in my opinion, vital. I have a list of people (including Jane!) who I refer clients on to if it’s not a good fit or I can’t get them into the schedule, and have a couple of people who cover my work in case of illness or holiday. Well done, Jane, and I’ll look forward to seeing how you get on this year.

Find Jane’s 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 4, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business update – Yvonne Donald

Small business update – Yvonne Donald
I’m very pleased to be saying hello again to the lovely Yvonne Donald from delicious cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014. and most recently January 2016. What I love about Yvonne is that she’s always trying something new and always then assessing whether that was a good idea – so often we either think about new things but don’t do them, or we try something out but forget to take a good, hard look at the consequences for our business. In January last year, Yvonne’s plan was this: “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”. So, let’s see how she’s getting on!

Hello, Yvonne, it’s lovely to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Well, I felt I was making positive moves with the business in having a store front which was the main goal for me to run kake and cupkakery as my full-time job, and 2016 seemed the perfect time after a very busy year for me in the world of cake, I decided the time was right to make a serious move towards fulfilling my goal of owning a shop front, even viewing a property local to me and looking into gaining some extra financial support through a local organisation, but in the first couple of months of 2016 there was an unexpected illness in the family that threw us all. Thankfully, everything is fine and dandy now, I’m very happy to say, but it was a stressful time that threw my concentration and focus and  made me re-evaluate my aims and goals, it sounds doom and gloom, but it really wasn’t: if anything it was a  bit of an epiphany really, and a little sign for me to focus on the things that are truly important and think about how I want to live my life and run my business in the future.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My online presence has changed massively, so much so that it has made me reassess my business model from having a store front coffee shop style bakery to rethinking and looking into having a business unit instead to run the online business from, or even build upon my home to keep overheads as low as possible, which for me has always been an issue with running a storefront like it is for any business. With every step of my business, it has dictated where it was going. I would like to think it was me guiding it but it really isn’t, when demand grows for a certain item that I offer I tend to follow my gut and give it more focus and that’s one of the reasons (as mentioned in my previous update) I decided not to do wholesale orders to coffee shops any more, as it just didn’t feel right for me or the direction of the business.

I have continued to listen to my customers new and old, who seem to like the fact they can order cakes online and have cupcakes/celebration cakes delivered to their door or sent to friends or family, all done virtually, saving them time in having to go to a store to order or collect from a shop.

This is something I have realised more than ever in 2016, so because of this I decided to give the website a tweak and  researched a little about SEO and meta tags and got some nifty advice from someone I met at a networking event to make my website show earlier in Google searches.

In May I had one of my own cupcake recipes (blackberry Mojito) featured in a national baking magazine, to say I was over the moon was an understatement and then to top it off I was featured within the Birmingham Mail online as one of the best places to buy cupcakes in Birmingham, I’m still smiling about that as I type, as one of my ambitions was always to make one of these type of list, and after 5 years of hard work my business did, which in turn really helped raise my online profile which has me now gaining more orders via my website. I always get a little thrill when I get a form submission from my website for orders (simple pleasures).

Because of increased web orders, members of my family deliver orders for me when I’m not able, but I need to look into making my delivery and admin more streamlined and efficient so am going to get one of my sisters to help with that.

My blog called Adventures in Kakeland is still going and I’ve added a feature called “Meet the Baker” ,which was inspired by you Liz and your business updates. I basically send out questions to other cake business and bakers who can shout about what they do, the products they use and issues that we all share and feature them on my blog. I’ll be starting it up again for 2017 with a new batch of bakers. This helps me to create blog content which is linked to my business and will help increase web presence.

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

To not equate my vision of success with someone else’s vision of success.

Any more hints and tips for people?

  • If you have a website, work on keeping it updated with fresh content and make it as user friendly as possible
  • Think about writing a blog, you never know, you could become an influencer
  • Network and always seek out opportunities that will help raise the profile of your business
  • Listen to your customers: we can get so romantic about doing things that we want to do rather than what the customers want
  • Always let the customer be your focus and always try to add a little value or exceed their expectations
  • Get some balance in your life: this has been my number one tip with each of my updates as I’ve learned the hard way
  • We are all time poor and time is precious, so anything you can do to save someone (a customer) time is a win-win situation
  • Look at other industries as well as your own to see what innovations are taking place, I’m a little bit inspired by how Uber and Air bnb have dominated the market in what are pretty much traditional industries with the main focus I believe as saving (us) the consumer time in making booking a taxi or accommodation, just a click of an app away

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

What time-saving online tool or app would you recommend for other small business users?

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

After all this time I finally realise my main priority is to see kake and cupkakery grow and flourish whether that’s online, through a store front or both.

So for the year ahead I want this to be my main focus as I see Kake and Cupkakery as a brand which I would like to become stronger within the local community and Birmingham as a whole.

I want to have more of a presence amongst the wedding market as I still have a little concept that I haven’t given my full attention to.

And maybe look into having an app, as we all have mobiles and I think an app alongside my website might be a good idea to save customers even more time and have ease of access for ordering.. So if any fellow small techy businesses reading this can help with this, I would love to hear from you: I’m happy to give you cake

I love Yvonne’s learning points above and the time and trouble she takes to share them with us. Having a blog is certainly key: giving the search engines something that’s regularly updated means they are more likely to show your results high in the list and a blog is the easiest way to do this. I can’t wait to see what Yvonne does in the coming year!

Website: www.kakeandcupkakery.co.uk and blog Adventures in Kakeland
Twitter @Cupkakery
Instagram@KakeandCupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604
 
 

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