Spotlight: How Christopher Became a Successful Work-From-Home Transcriptionist

Spotlight: How Christopher Became a Successful Work-From-Home Transcriptionist
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Today, our Team Spotlight series highlights one of our transcriptionists, Christopher Thornton. He is an expert transcriptionist who has been transcribing for GMR Transcription for the last 1.5 years. Learn more about why Christopher is such an invaluable resource to GMR Transcription! 

1. How long have you worked as a Transcriptionist for GMR Transcription?

I have worked as a transcriptionist for GMR for about a year and a half.

2. What's the most challenging project you've worked on so far with GMR Transcription?

The most challenging project I have taken so far is a difficult question. The most challenging with respect to audio was a project I had where there were many teenagers in a room being interviewed. The similarities to accents and voice timbers really made depicting who was truly speaking very difficult for me, whereas every other project up until that point had a very clear distinction between speakers (even with multiple speakers). It took many listen-throughs and renaming speakers, but by the end (and before the deadline!) I was pretty happy with the ultimate result.

3. What's the best transcription-related lesson you’ve learned while working for GMR Transcription?

The best lesson I have learned really is to develop a system that consistently allows you to create great transcripts. Without a system, your work will be inconsistent and untrustworthy. It really is as simple as doing all of the recommendations that are in your transcriptionist packet. Don't use earbuds (It is so easily distorted that I found my transcripts with earbuds were glaringly wrong once I was able to use over-the-ear headphones!), find a quiet space, don't attempt transcripts when you are extremely tired or sick (again, errors abound), and always go back through your final transcript, because once you have a feel for the speakers, you will find quite often things that need to be changed in the beginning (whether speakers or what they said since you now have a feel for their voice).

4. What do you think it takes to be a good transcriptionist? 

I think in order to be a good transcriptionist, it takes a great deal of patience. Patience with yourself, patience with the project, patience with the drafting process, and patience with things that may be difficult to understand at first. If you take the time to learn how to overcome an obstacle (removing noise/noises/listening through crosstalk for each conversation/etc.), then it truly becomes a fun puzzle that looks its best when completed. Seeing it as an enhancement to the experience of transcribing as opposed to something in your way really makes all the difference, and is near impossible without patience.

5. How do you manage errors and inaccuracies in the file?

As soon as I notice them, I contact management. If it is an error in a file that I have created, I try some other means of correcting the issue before contacting management. Always communicate as soon as possible, no matter what.

6. How do you handle heavy workloads and meet deadlines?

This is something I have truly struggled with. In order to handle this effectively, you have to really know yourself and what your limits are. When I first began, my typing speed was incredibly slow, but I still enjoyed and could do projects on a limited basis. As my time with GMR went on, I got faster and faster. But in those increases, I would frequently overestimate my capacity, and it often led to tardiness. Now, I know my limits and ask for assignments accordingly. By knowing how to set realistic expectations for myself and for my workload, I can now accurately project how many audio minutes in total I am able to transcribe over a given time period. This has been the greatest asset in making sure I always turn in quality work ON TIME without the added stay-up-all-night-to-finish stress of overestimating workload.

7. How has transcribing for GMR Transcription impacted your life?

Transcribing for GMR has impacted my life by bringing awareness to so many issues happening around our country. I often see surveys and studies that have been done that quote the final results of issues, but those are distilled into just numerical representations of all of the data points that they had to research. The files that I have transcribed for GMR are often a collection of exactly these: people's data points for the research they are doing passionately. Whether self notes, solo interviews, podcasts, informational videos, phone conversations, or any number of other mediums, each individual piece of the puzzle shows a new story that uncovers something happening in our country that deserves insight and investigation into. Hearing the individual data points has changed my life in making me more aware to the challenges we are all facing every single day. It has added compassion for people I see outside of work because I have a clearer understanding of something they may be going through. I can't tell you how many times projects I have worked on directly correlated with someone outside of work that needed compassion, encouragement, empowering, or understanding in EXACTLY the area that I was transcribing or had just transcribed. Transcribing for GMR has made me a better husband, father, neighbor, and friend through this understanding of different points of view that the projects have offered through their content.

8. What advice would you give anyone thinking about becoming a transcriptionist?

My first piece of advice for anyone thinking about becoming a transcriptionist would be to find the software and method that works best for you physically. Find what physically works best for you, because if you are distracted/frustrated by anything that you have to do just in the mechanics of transcribing, you will not be as effective, nor enjoy it as much as you should. Also, have patience with yourself, and be open to finding ways to continually improve as you spend more time with the projects. FOLLOW THE TRANSCRIPTIONIST PACKET!!! There is true gold in those pages. They really help you begin on your best possible footing. And if you are having ANY trouble, contact management right away so that the best measures for you, the project, and the assignment can be handled sooner rather than later. I can't tell you how many times I have gotten myself into trouble trying to "power through" issues myself when it would have been in everyone's benefit to contact management right away.

9. What’s your favorite thing about being a transcriptionist?

My favorite thing about being a transcriptionist is the stories. Each project is always an exciting adventure. From truly heart-breaking experiences to random concept learning, to business development, to celebrations of breakthroughs for people, my belief patterns have been increasingly changed with each and every project I transcribe. Listening to the voices of our nation as they bear their true thoughts, feelings, experiences, emotions, frustrations, anger, misunderstandings, confusion, or passionate investigations has dramatically changed my perspective in a way that is beyond words. With each assignment, I am transported into a new way of thinking or understanding that only enhances my capacity for growth as a person. Just simply having that opportunity through GMR has been an incredible experience.

10. Would are tools that you use and recommend for transcription?

The tools I use are:

  • Microsoft Office (Word/Excel/etc.)
  • Headphones: Any Over-the-Ear Noise Canceling Headphones (do not use earbuds)
  • Footpedal: I've used a foot pedal, and used keyboard hotkeys for rewind/fast forward. There wasn't much of a difference that I have found. It really depends on what works best for your efficiency.
  • Workspace: Physically comfortable, but not relaxing. A desk has been the best for accurate production, but I have transcribed everywhere from a car in a parking lot, bus, train, plane, street curb, coffee shop, in bed, on stairs, lobbies, etc. I have found a quiet desk is truly the best for me.
  • Planned and forced breaks: Know your limits. Don't destroy your hearing. Keep it at a reasonable volume that you can hear effectively while also realizing when you are becoming focus/hearing blind to projects. Take the headphones off and do anything else for 10-20 minutes. Let your ears refocus and then get back to it. Pay attention to your body. This will greatly reduce fatigue and errors.

11. What do you like most about transcribing for GMR Transcription?

What I like most about transcribing for GMR Transcription is the company itself. Not only do they have the right people in the right places, but they also have the right systems in place to make working for GMR smooth and seamless. There are very few gray areas if any, and that leaves every problem with a solution! What a breath of fresh air working for GMR has been. Each member of their team is friendly, knowledgable, experienced, and human in their daily interactions with the entire organization. A true example of organizational leadership and culture that anyone interested in such topics would benefit from learning through GMR.

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.