Inside: Curious about the ins and outs of taking on freelance transcription jobs? Get insider tips on starting this work from home job.
Most Moms I know are always looking for ways to pad their budget a little more. They want a way to earn real money, not just little bits here and there. But they can’t commit to a regular schedule while they have young babies and children at home with them.
If you wish you could find a real job that let you work while the kids are napping or after their bedtime, I’ve got just the thing for you. I worked at this job for a while, and I loved getting paid enough to cover our grocery bills. But I know people who are making a regular income from this line of work.
Whatever your ultimate goal is, if you’re a Mom looking for a flexible job, you need to learn about general transcription.
How to Get Freelance Transcription Jobs
What is General Transcription?
General transcription is a job where you listen to audio files and type them into a document. You can’t type as quickly as people speak, so it requires a lot of careful listening, rewinding, and listening again. Sometimes it’s interesting work such as creating a transcript for a TV show.
Companies may want transcripts of meetings, calls, conferences, videos or podcasts, and more. I’ve transcribed MTV shows, undercover cop stake outs (not as exciting as you might think), conferences, lectures, and more.
A very generic rule is that it takes an hour to type up just 15 minutes of audio. So if someone offers you a one hour chunk of audio, it will take you 4 hours of work to type it up and format it correctly.
A “Real” Job
One important note is that freelance transcription jobs are real work. This is more like an actual job (without the boss looking over your shoulder) than something to pick up every once in a while.
If you treat transcription as a “real” job, you can expect to earn some decent money. How do you treat it like a real job?
You can’t expect dive into a new experience without some training. But don’t worry…it doesn’t have to cost money to get that training!
Learn how to do transcription. Brush up on your grammar skills. Learn some tricks to searching on Google (you’ll be doing a lot of searching to learn how to spell new words, places, and names). See how quickly you can type and practice getting quicker without losing accuracy.
Some of these things you’ll learn as you go. But if you have serious struggles with more than one of these tasks, I recommend improving before you start working.
You can practice transcribing a few ways. Sign up for Amazon Mechanical Turk. I wouldn’t suggest you use MTurk as a way to make money, since they pay pennies for several minutes of work. But it’s a good way to get your feet wet learning about transcription.
In the top bar, search Hits for the word “transcribe”. You should be able to find simple jobs that won’t take long to try. Be sure you turn in your best work so you continue to qualify for jobs if you want to practice more.
There are several requirements for this type of work.
- Perfectionism: You need to be a bit of a perfectionist in this line of work. Turning in “good enough” work is a quick way to not earning more work in the future.
- English skills: Most big companies want people who speak English as their first language. Excellent grammar and spelling is a must.
- Equipment (read on to learn more)
- Good listening ability and skills. Sometimes you’ll have to transcribe voices that speak in thick accents or mumble. Companies want to know all the words said, so typing “inaudible” should be done as little as possible.
- Attention to detail. If you don’t read every word of the job expectations carefully, you won’t be get many jobs. Once you get work, continue to be thorough with all expectations.
- Typing skills. You’ll want to be able to type about 70 words per minute. If you’re close to that, keep practicing!
You’ll need some equipment to do this job. Be sure you’re very interested in the work before you invest in expensive equipment.
- A good computer or laptop with audio and Microsoft Word and high speed internet access.
- Noise cancelling headphones like these. (If you get paid for the work and enjoy it, you can upgrade to better headphones.)
- Express Scribe (Free software that most companies use for files.)
Working With Companies
Every transcription company has its own rules. You can work for more than one company if you can handle the load of work that both send you. But it’s important to remember the format preference of the company that sent you work.
Like any other industry, there are scammers out there. Most transcription companies will not ask you for money upfront. Some will ask you to do one job for free. I would be wary of that, too, since a scammer can get free work this way.
More often, companies will ask you for a resume, cover letter, and want you to do a typing test that should take 20 minutes or less.
Tigerfish is one company that takes beginners. They have a good description of what they are looking for. You can find their test without jumping through hoops. That will give you an understanding of what transcription is and if it’s a good fit for you.
I worked with Ubiqus as a beginner. Their pay is fair, but their expectations are demanding. You need to be ready to work hard!
Verbal Ink is another good option to try.
Kinda Sorta Flexible
Depending on your definition of the word “flexible”, this is a nice benefit of getting work in general transcription. You have the flexibility of working from home without a boss watching over your shoulder.
You can take work or choose to turn it down. That said, the more work you accept, the more you’ll be offered. If you want to keep this door open, you’ll need to accept work more frequently. Many companies have rules about the minimum amount of work you need to take per week to keep the job.
The downside of flexible work is the ebb and flow. There will be times when there just isn’t that much work to be had. Other times, there will be such an abundance the company will beg you to take on more than you can handle.
What Does It Pay?
If you choose to try your hand at general transcription, don’t work for pennies. You have the qualifications, you’re a hard worker, and you’re worth a fair paycheck.
I don’t accept jobs that paid less than $10 per hour. If someone wants you to do a one hour file, they need to pay at least $40. And once you have some experience under your belt, demand higher pay than that.
I’ll let you in on a secret.
There is a forum that’s an amazing resource for people serious about getting work in general transcription. BUT, this board is serious stuff. It’s not an open forum to ask newbie type questions or get help with testing. What it is is an amazing wealth of information. Information that I couldn’t fit into 100 blog posts! It’s called Transcription Essentials. If you choose to sign up and are accepted, don’t post anything at all until you’ve read so much that you want to take a nap.
Take These Steps:
- Carefully decide if general transcription is right for you.
- Brush up on skills and try some tests.
- Apply to a few companies and take jobs.
- Bank your savings.
This was day 24 in the Secure Your Savings and Find Peace in the New Year series. Go to the bottom of this post to find all the money saving and money making posts in this series!
And that’s how you get freelance transcription jobs.
My work in general transcription earned our family some extra cash. And, since I was working instead of watching TV and snacking, I even lost some weight. There’s a benefit you don’t always hear about!
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Have you ever worked in transcription? What was your experience?