Starting a Successful Home Typing Business

Bobbi McCollum shares how to earn money in a successful home typing business and getting established, including typing skills, equipment, work area, reference works, publicity, legal typing and secretarial services.


| July/August 1975



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Your clients are getting a real break every time you deliver a neatly typed job without any accompanying worry about upkeep of office equipment, sick leave, paid holidays or vacations, personality differences (I've met face to face only one of the people I've typed for), unions, coffee and lunch break scheduling, and all the other headaches that walk in the door with an office staff.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Several months ago, I launched a home typing business based on Gail Williams' article in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 25 and when I wrote MOTHER EARTH NEWS (NO. 31, pg. 128) with an offer to help others get started in the field, I received such an onslaught of letters that I've put together the following notes in self-defense. My remarks are a composite of Gail's tips, my own experience, observations by other typists, and the answers to some questions posed by my respondents. (Many of those who contacted me were relatively new subscribers and hadn't seen the Williams piece, which I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this work at home business should read.)

Typing Skills

You'll be paid for home typing by the page or by the line, and the faster you work, of course, the higher your "hourly" earnings will be. Most experienced transcribers hit 80 to 100 words per minute. If you're now plugging along at 40, though don't despair. A few months of six to eight hours per day at the keyboard will bring your speed up. just be sure your accuracy keeps step! Flying fingers mean nothing if you constantly drop out small words or need to make corrections every few pages.

Much home typing is done from dictation, and if you've never tackled transcription, it's not difficult to learn. This skill, like any other, is built by practice. Simply rent a typewriter, sit down with your back to the television, and pound away as your favorite newscaster talks. If you're unfamiliar with dictating equipment, libraries contain books on the use of business machines.

Typing Equipment

Before you make a heavy investment in equipment, it's a good idea to rent the basics while you determine whether or not you like typing at home enough to make a business of it. If you do buy a typewriter later on, don't let anyone talk you into "economizing" with a portable or a manual, they just won't turn out work that measures up to professional standards. What you want is a full size, electric, office typewriter. I started with an Adler "C" model (which I still have), but prefer the IBM Electric most of all because of its lack of vibration and its interchangeable type styles.

A service contract on whatever typewriter you finally buy will cost slightly more than repair calls initially but will save you a lot of money in the long run. And, whenever your machine will be down for service, notify your clients of the fact and don't take on any jobs in the meantime, unless you can get a loaner that's identical to your own model. If you have to make modifications in the work later on, you can't very well borrow the temporary replacement just for that purpose!

In my experience, all legal typing must be done on a machine with standard pica type, 10 digits to the inch. Gail Williams, who works for court reporters in the Dallas area, suggests a nine-pitch modification (nine characters to the horizontal inch) in localities where this is permitted, since fewer words per page mean a better rate for the typist. None of the deposition services around Los Angeles, however, use anything but a 10-pitch machine.





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