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Atomic Scribe

Why It Matters That the Transcription Industry Leader Is Raising Their Rates

Why It Matters That the Transcription Industry Leader Is Raising Their Rates 2500 1407 Atomic Scribe

The transcription industry is a quiet corner of the internet. But in November of 2019, an explosive Twitter thread revealed that Rev (a leader in the industry) was paying their transcriptionists extremely low wages and mistreating workers.

We have actually written about Rev previously, specifically about how their $1/audio minute catch-all service ensured low quality and low payment for workers. The Twitter comments and resulting news coverage only strengthened our argument.

Perhaps as a result of the bad publicity, Rev has recently announced that they will raise their rate to $1.25/audio minute in an effort to heighten accuracy and to pay their workers better. This is, honestly, almost unheard of in recent years, where rates have been getting lower and lower to stay competitive against other companies and AI. So what does this mean for the industry and for consumers?

1. Fairer rates = more happiness.

In their announcement, Rev cited that some customers were angry with the increase. That’s understandable, as no one likes to pay more money. But imagine it’s your family member who is the transcriptionist in this equation. If they’re making $4.50/hour for difficult work, would you be happy? Increasing what transcriptionists make is good for everyone – the worker makes more money, the company makes more money, and the content is more accurate for the client. So, yes, paying more sucks. But paying a fair rate for something you can’t or prefer not to do yourself is right.

2. AI isn’t king yet.

At Atomic Scribe, we’ve introduced a $1/audio minute AI option that uses human editors for basic, simple files. The reason there are restrictions on what type of files we include in this program is because AI is nowhere near 100% accurate yet on all files. AI has problems with accents, multiple speakers, slang, proper nouns, and so many other factors that affect accuracy. So, while the industry is trending towards using AI more and more, there is still a huge part for humans to play in the transcription process.

“Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work.”

“Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work.”

3. Transcription is boring and hard.

We will be honest here: transcribing sucks. The number of clients who say they started to transcribe a file, realized how hard it was, and found us to finish the file is innumerable. Imagine you’re transcribing a focus group. You have to listen to multiple people talk over each other, be able to identify each person by their voice alone, construct a transcript when slang and bad grammar is used, and sit for long periods of time while doing all this. It’s tough, and it’s tiring, and it’s often easier to pay someone else to do it rather than waste hours of your own time.

So the transcription industry isn’t going away anytime soon. On the contrary, thanks to the internet there is more content than ever that needs transcripts and captions, and the difficulty of the work means human transcriptionists are necessary.

4. Customers care about quality, for the most part.

In this industry, higher rates usually mean higher quality. Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work. At Atomic Scribe, our biggest rule is that all of our work must be high quality. If it’s not, we’re going to transcribe it again until it’s as close to perfect as it can be. Because if it’s not, then what’s the point of spending your money on it?

With the advent of low-rate companies like Rev, quality in the industry has been declining in recent years because low rates = low pay = low quality. So Rev increasing their rate is a welcome reprieve, where finally workers are seen as vital to a company’s success. But customers need to do their part, too. Demand high quality, pay fair rates, and call out injustice in the workplace.

A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s

A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s 2560 1707 Atomic Scribe

Welcome to 2020! To celebrate, let’s looks back on how the 2010s changed the language services industry, for the better and worse.

The Rise of Machine Translation and Transcription

One of the biggest impacts on the language services industry in the 2010s was the growing use and accuracy of machine-generated transcriptions and translations. Companies, freelancers, and consumers can use software (like Google Translate) for free or very cheap to get language services, and many companies are developing their own software. Even here at Atomic Scribe we’ve introduced an automatic transcription option for $1/audio minute that combines human quality with machine efficiency.

The good news is that this is helping speed up services, and a lot of software is widely accessible. The bad news is that the accuracy for most files and texts is nowhere near 100%, which can especially be worrisome if the software is used on medical records, legal documents, or other files that need to be correct. It’s also hard for software to offer nuance and localization instead of a direct translation of content, which can cause problems (like in the case of Norway’s Olympic team mistakenly ordering 15,000 eggs).

So what can we expect next? The use of such services will surely rise, though some fear that computers will erase humans from the equation entirely in this service sector. Fortunately, the ability for machines to be 100% accurate on every transcription and translation is far from a reality, as humans are still needed to ensure accuracy. But we can leverage the positives of this software to help human workers perform better and more efficiently.

Increased Outsourcing

Outsourcing for transcription and translation definitely grew in the 2010s. However, where it grew to is troubling to some.

With the internet making communication so easy, globalization is taking hold in the language services industry as well. While before companies would outsource to local U.S.-based companies, now many are finding much cheaper alternatives in countries like India and the Philippines. Some U.S. companies are also using non-American labor that they pay peanuts to avoid having to pay Americans a living wage. While that’s great for a company’s bottom line, U.S. workers and service accuracy is suffering.

Take Rev, a popular company in the industry that was recently exposed for their poor pay and treatment of workers. While this allows them to charge little for their services, it also means their quality is far below Atomic Scribe’s, and that their workers have little incentive to do proper work. Unfortunately, the lowering of rates was a common theme throughout the decade, but it was promising to see more speak out about workers’ rights.

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

Loss of Quality Control

The problem with outsourcing on the internet is that it requires a great deal of trust. If you pay a company to translate an English advertisement into Korean, you need to trust that they will provide you a translation that is both accurate and localized. So how do you know it is correct if you don’t speak Korean and have no means to double check the work?

That should be a question we all have in mind in the 2020s, because the standards for quality control are diminishing. While now the cheapest option is usually seen as the best, that means there is likely no or little money spent on a second editor or translator checking the accuracy of a translation.

Because of this, we suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust. A nameless person behind a huge company that is paid very little has no incentive to provide you great work. But someone you trust and can speak with and ask questions about their work will.

Easier Access to Services

So far everything we have reviewed has had both positives and negatives. However, we will always celebrate how the 2010s ushered in a new wave of accessibility for those seeking translation and transcription services.

For example, while there is still work to do, YouTube provided an option of captions on their videos. This has helped Deaf and hard-of-hearing people enjoy more videos, and it makes translating of content easier. Google Translate has also been successful at helping people with basic translations or has been used by travelers to foreign countries. This helps with communication and accessibility worldwide.

As we’ve said, accuracy is still an issue. But the increased normalization and importance of accessibility is helping people worldwide, and we hope this trend will grow exponentially in the 2020s.

Language Services Make Sermons Soar

Language Services Make Sermons Soar 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

In the olden days, churches operated very differently than their counterparts of today. It used to be many congregated on a Sunday morning to listen their pastor, and that was the only way to experience the teachings of their church.

But today, the Internet has revolutionized how information is disseminated. Now pastors can record and upload their sermons, turn their messages into podcasts and live streams, and they can interact with their members through social media and their web sites. While this may be daunting to some, it has a huge benefit: it ensures your message is spread near and far. So how can you make sure you’re reaching all those that you can?

Transcription

At Atomic Scribe, one of our favorite things to work on are sermon transcriptions, which we do frequently. Most of our religious clients transcribe their sermons so they can put the text on their web site, which is useful for Deaf followers and those who just prefer reading to listening (which is many).

Using the transcripts can also allow your sermons to be picked up by Google searches, and you can use the transcripts for books, newsletters, blog posts, and for keyword searches. It’s really a small price to pay to have your words indexed so that more people can find you and so that you can reach more people.

Translation

One of the U.S.’s greatest strengths is our diversity. And as we have no official national language, the need for translation services grows as the immigrant population does.

Many churches now have Spanish-speaking followers, among other languages. To make your sermons accessible to these followers as well, use translation services so they can follow along in their native language. It’s a great way to expand your congregation and to be more inclusive.

Spread the Word

In the end, it’s a church’s decision if they want to grow and to take advantage of the new routes the Internet provides to communicate with and reach more people. We promise you’ll find language services useful in spreading your word, and we would love to help. Get a quote today to get started.

For Creators, Patreon and Language Services Are Linked

For Creators, Patreon and Language Services Are Linked 6000 4000 Atomic Scribe

It’s no secret that the Internet is uncharted territory that holds possibilities we can’t even dream of. Look back 20 years ago and it would be hard to imagine how much of a hold YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming content providers have today on our everyday lives.

As these platforms become more and more entrenched in society, how we interact with creators too has changed. For example, Patreon is a website that allows fans of creators to give money to aid creativity. The platform has helped podcasters, artists, musicians, and more earn a wage from areas that used to be more difficult to get revenue from.

What this also means is that creators can also use this income to fund language services that may have been too costly before, such as transcription and translation.

Real-World Example

An example of this is Easy German, which was created to help people around the world learn German through YouTube videos (with almost half a million subscribers at the time of writing this article). These videos are available free online.

But to receive extra benefits, you can pay as little as $1 a month through their Patreon. These benefits include interactive worksheets, vocab lists, and best of all, transcripts. Transcripts are important for the Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or just for people who prefer seeing the words as they learn.

“It’s imperative to be able to reach as many people as you can with your business. So instead of waiting for a huge percentage of the population to learn English, isn’t it more efficient to translate your materials into popular languages?”

“It’s imperative to be able to reach as many people as you can with your business. So instead of waiting for a huge percentage of the population to learn English, isn’t it more efficient to translate your materials into popular languages?”

So, if you’re a creator, should you also transcribe your audio and video? We say, resoundingly, YES!

Doing so is a huge benefit to your supporters, and it also helps creators as well. Now you have a document of all that has been said, which is helpful for searching through text. The text can also be put on your web site to help more people find you through search engines. The same can also be said for translations, which opens up your content to millions more people around the world.

Best of all, Patreon can help fund transcripts and translations. If you’re interested, we recommend starting with our $1/audio minute automatic transcription service, which marries technology with human power to reach 100% accuracy. It is true that language services is an extra cost, but we guarantee that the reach they provide is well worth it.

Introducing Automatic Transcription from Atomic Scribe

Introducing Automatic Transcription from Atomic Scribe 4846 3431 Atomic Scribe

Atomic Scribe is beyond excited to announce that we are introducing a new business service: automatic transcription!

This service will help with efficiency, lower costs for clients, and faster turnaround times.

How Does It Work?

For this service, we use an outside machine transcription platform to do an initial transcript of the audio or video. We then have a human Atomic Scribe transcriptionist go over the entire transcript to fix any errors and fill in inaudible words. Together with human and machine power, our transcripts average 99% accuracy.

Best of all, our automatic transcription service is only $1 per audio minute!

Without Editing

Using IBM Watson without human editing, this transcript has 31 errors in a minute-long audio clip.

With Editing

Atomic Scribe has fixed all errors. The transcript is now readable, correctly punctuated, and 100% accurate.

Since this program is in its infancy, we currently only offer automatic transcription for files that are:

  • One or two speakers maximum
  • Clear audio with no background noise
  • No heavy accents

If you are unsure if your files meet these qualifications, we would be happy to listen to them and let you know before any project has started. Just email us today, or you can register for our free client portal. Alternatively, if you already have an account with us, log in to your account and use the order form.

Your Free Client Portal

Register now for our obligation-free client portal! From here you can access price lists, upload and download files, pay invoices, message a project manager, and more.

We are growing as a result of improved technology, and we hope you continue to grow with us. We promise our devotion to high-quality services will only be enhanced by this new offering.

3 Things Businesses Can Do To Grow Online

3 Things Businesses Can Do To Grow Online 3000 2000 Atomic Scribe

If you own or work for a business, you probably know that new problems are arising every day that past generations didn’t have to deal with. For example, due to the internet, many businesses now have to compete on a global scale and not just locally. But, thankfully, there are some easy ways to set your business apart.

1. Build a cohesive brand

This probably sounds daunting, but that’s why a design-focused company (such as us, Atomic Scribe) is a great partner to have. A business needs a brand to be recognizable, even on a small scale. There needs to be uniformity across a web site and social media so that customers and consumers know who you are and what you do.

In today’s world, you need to stand out. That doesn’t necessarily mean the boldest and biggest. It just means a brand that people know when, for example, you email them. An identity where they automatically think, “Oh, yes, my dentist,” and don’t have to search their mind for how they know you. This also puts you top-of-the-mind for the next time they need to work with someone in your field. So make sure that you have a cohesive brand, and that it hits all points (in person, online, social media).

2. Translate into other languages

As stated previously, the internet has really changed the game for most businesses, for better and worse. Today, your site and brand is capable of reaching people all over the world, which means your audience is no longer only English-speaking consumers.

Most people want to read web sites and buy in their own language. So what should you do to reach these people? Translate your web site. It’s a one-time cost, and you can keep the translation forever. The translation can also be used for social media, print, and more. Best of all, the text will help you show up in search engines all over the world in different languages.

However, be careful. A straight translation from Google Translate may be semi-accurate, but you need to have a human check the translation to make sure it reads like a person and not a robot. Don’t be like the Norway Winter Olympic team that accidentally ordered 15,000 eggs due to a Google Translate error.

“According to a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, 75 percent of participating consumers stated they prefer to buy products in their native language, and 60 percent claimed they rarely or never bought from English-only web sites.”

“According to a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, 75 percent of participating consumers stated they prefer to buy products in their native language, and 60 percent claimed they rarely or never bought from English-only web sites.”

3. Blog content

Visitors do not want to be on web sites that are stale. That’s why branding and web design is so important. But many businesses don’t realize that blog content is a big component to a consumer’s judgement of whether to trust a business or not.

For example, take a look at Patagonia’s official blog. They upload brand-related, unique content frequently, post the published articles to their social feeds, and the blog is easy to find via their homepage. This shows to consumers that they are a thriving business and that they are knowledgable about their industry and audience.

On the other side, imagine an outdated website that looks straight out of 1995. There is only a homepage and contact page, with no blog content to be found. Do you think visitors would believe this business is still operating? Or that, if they are, they are modern and forward-thinking? Is there any reason to deduce that the business is knowledgable about their sector? The answers to those questions are likely “no”.

Growth Potential

Image is important, but it needs to be part of a package that makes your business accessible to as many people as possible. You can do that by:

  • Honing a cohesive brand
  • Making your in-person presence, web site, and social media part of a singular narrative
  • Translating your content to reach people who don’t natively speak English
  • Using your expertise about your business to create blog content

At Atomic Scribe, we can help you with all of that. Contact us today to find out how we can be a perfect fit for your business needs.

Case Study: Atlanta Market Research Company Transcription

Case Study: Atlanta Market Research Company Transcription 4218 2802 Atomic Scribe

The Client

The client was a respected market research company in the Atlanta, Georgia area who required transcripts for eight focus group audio recordings, with five to 10 speakers in each recording.

The Challenge

Our biggest challenge was successfully transcribing and identifying as much speech as possible. The groups all had multiple participants who were young mothers from the same area (and, thus, all with similar accents).

Other challenges included:

  • Southern accents
  • Unfamiliar jargon
  • Broken English
  • No video to help identify speakers
  • Multiple speakers talking at once

The client also needed groups back within four days, which was a tight deadline for the large amount of recordings. As these were multiple-speaker focus groups with difficult audio, the project was not eligible for our machine transcription option and needed to instead be transcribed in-house by our workers.

“Atomic Scribe was a joy to work with. Kathryn kept me updated on progress so that I didn’t have to worry about files being sent back late. Instead, everything was well on time and extremely high quality. 100% value for the money!”

– The Client

“Atomic Scribe was a joy to work with. Kathryn kept me updated on progress so that I didn’t have to worry about files being sent back late. Instead, everything was well on time and extremely high quality. 100% value for the money!”

– The Client

The Atomic Scribe Solution

An Atomic Scribe project manager immediately reached out to the company via the client’s preferred communication method (e-mail) to confirm the project details and provide an estimate for the project cost. We then had the client create a free account through our dedicated client portal so they could upload their files to our server.

Once we had the recordings, we listened to each recording and assigned files to our transcriptionists based on which groups suited each transcriptionist best. When the first transcriptionist completed a file, a proofreader then listened to the entire file again to edit the transcript, if necessary. Our two-tiered approach ensured maximum quality for the client.

The Result

Because of Atomic Scribe’s efficient system and communication, we finished the project within the requested timeframe. Atomic Scribe also:

  • Adhered to a client-specific template
  • Achieved 98% accuracy on clear-audio files and averaged 94% accuracy on difficult files
  • Successfully identified all respondents to the best of our ability
  • Allowed for easy upload and download of files through the client portal
  • Provided a simple way for the client to pay their invoice through the client portal

All in all, the client rated our service five out of five stars, with accuracy and communication as the top two listed services provided by Atomic Scribe. We have continued to work with this client on multiple market research transcription and translation projects.

Good Translation Isn’t Free

Good Translation Isn’t Free 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

There are so many different ways to translate things nowadays. You can hire a company who employs linguists, like Atomic Scribe. You can hire a freelancer you aren’t personally acquainted with off the Internet. But probably the most common method today is using free sites, such as Google Translate, to have a machine translate your text and bypass paying an actual human.

The truth is there are a lot of instances when not paying is the best option. Want an article headline translated without needing much accuracy? Google Translate is your best bet. But anything more than that can cause major problems.

In 2014, the Irish government was in hot water for translating a web site commemorating the 1916 Easter Rebellion using Google Translate. The results were “nonsensical,” readers claimed. Though the government said it was a mistake and the text was meant to be replaced by a real translation, the incident shows how far the gulf still is today between human and machine translation.

Why It’s Worth It

Even human translation is fallible. There are so many different ways to translate a single word—let alone a full text—that it can be difficult to figure out the best way to do it.

That’s why Atomic Scribe uses two linguists for every project. This extra step ensures every word is translated and proofed by two native speakers who have created the best translation possible. But they also look at the project as a whole so that context, tone and meaning are consistent with the client’s vision. That’s something machine translation can’t do, and it’s something lowly paid translators are not willing to do if they aren’t paid fairly or at all.

Communication is imperative in every situation in life. Whether you’re a business, an author, a journalist, or just one person, we all need to be able to connect and understand others and be understood in return. Paying for high-quality translation services ensures that happens, without looking foolish or being misunderstood.

The Rise of the Machines

The Rise of the Machines 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

If you’re fond of ’80s movies, chances are you’ve seen what they envisioned the 2010s to look like: full of hovercrafts, futuristic cities, and murderous robot machines. For better or worse, none of those things have become commonplace yet, but we are making strides in the technology department. The self-driving car will soon be commercially available, and our lives are very much devoted to smartphones and the Internet.

Speech Recognition

But why are we so behind on speech recognition? This is a hugely debated topic in the transcription and translation industries, as many don’t want their jobs to become obsolete. Though while that is a worry, the ability for a machine to accurately transcribe or translate will provide cheap access to many who need language services, which would be a huge step forward.

The problem is that language is so, so difficult (especially English) in so many ways. It may seem like speech recognition should be easy to develop, but just think about an elderly person having a conversation with a pre-teen. Even if they’re both speaking English, it can sometimes feel like conversations between two different worlds due to how quickly language evolves, context, and speaking styles.

Machines have this same problem. While we are extremely close to machines being able to understand monotonous, clear English spoken by a single speaker, problems arise when you have recordings with groups of people (which is what we specialize in).

Where Machines Fail

Here’s an example: a market research company is holding a 10-person focus group with folks who do speak English but aren’t native speakers. The group is comprised of teenagers from the rural south. So that’s 10 people, many talking over each other at certain points, who don’t speak English well, use regional dialect, and also use many newly-created words. That’s hard enough for a human to transcribe. But for machines, at this time, it’s not possible to achieve anywhere near 100% accuracy.

In the future, this will likely be solved in some technical way that my non-scientific brain cannot fathom. When it does, Atomic Scribe will evolve, just as language does. For now, it’s best to use human-powered services if you’re looking for accuracy. The rise of the machines will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Does Size Matter in a Translation Company?

Does Size Matter in a Translation Company? 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

Here’s a question: how many times have you heard a company boast about their size? Can you recall, or is that number too high? It seems as though the biggest grocery store always claims to have the most food. The biggest sporting goods store must have the largest selection of tennis rackets in the world. And, without fail, the most well-known translation companies claim to have the highest number of translators, even numbering in the tens of thousands.

That sounds reassuring at first. With so many translators, surely your translation will be done in a timely fashion and of the highest quality, as there are so many workers to choose from. But is that really the case?

Personal and Professional

A large number of translators often means it’s impossible for an agency to know their translators one-on-one. The translators become a number, just one part of a mass e-mail blast that gets sent out when a project comes in. As such, that means the project manager can’t match up the perfect person for the job. If you don’t know where your translators’ strengths lie, how can you know if they are the best person for the project?

Although some may suggest otherwise, there is always someone more apt for one project than another person. It could be a technical translation that requires specialized knowledge, or it could be a certain dialect or industry. It could be a poetry project that needs someone familiar with literary translations, or a medical conference with difficult terminology.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and translators are no different. Because of this, knowing your translators personally and matching their strengths to certain projects should be a consideration for all companies. That’s why we suggest taking time to select a translation partner and to learn about who you will potentially be working with. It’s a little effort that will go a long way in helping you achieve the most accurate translation possible.