There are a lot of people who look at making money through transcription. These people image that this is something that isn’t that hard because honestly all you are doing is listening to some audio and typing it up. When you look at it that way it doesn’t seem that hard. The problem is that the whole concept of transcription is misleading because it is actually very hard and a very fickle mistress.
There are a lot of things you need to consider before you delve into the world of transcription. These things include the type of transcription you are going to do, the equipment that you need, who you are working with and just how much you are actually going to be getting paid.
The Types of Transcription
When you think about the different types of transcription you will think that it’s all the same. You listen and type. This is not true and there are a number of different sub-sections of transcription that you have to know about. There are legal transcriptionists, medical transcriptionists and general transcriptionists to name but a few. The big difference between them is that the legal and medical people need to study.
Yes, you actually have to do a course or have experience in the field to get these jobs. This is why they are the high paying ones because not everyone has hundreds to spend on a course that they may fail.
From personal experience I can honestly say that you need to have the right equipment to do this. I started out with the headphones that I use to listen to music. While this offers really great bass and tone it is not actually good for transcription. I ended up buying a pair of transcription headphones from Olympus that are possibly the weirdest things that I have every put into my ears, but the sound difference was amazing.
Not only do you need to look at the hardware that you have, but you need to check out your software. Using Windows Media Player is not going to cut it because the player sucks and is not made for transcription. Luckily you can actually get transcription software for free and this is what I did. I got Express Scribe which offers a free version and a Pro version, obviously I took the free one.
Who You Work With
If you have everything you need you are now facing the tricky part of making money with transcription. Who should you be working with? My first stop was oDesk because that is my first stop for most things. The people on oDesk do look for transcriptionists, but you don’t want to work with all of them. You are going to find the people that are good to work with and then you are going to find the nightmare people.
The audio that you get from people on oDesk will not be the best. There will be crackling, mumbling and large amounts of background noise. This makes it really, really hard to figure out what people are saying. The turn-around time is also generally quite short when you look at these jobs. This is annoying when you think that 1 hour of audio can take up to 4 hours to transcribe if it is very clear.
Steering clear of oDesk is an option because there are a lot of websites that look for transcriptionists. These websites and companies will vary in what they want. Some of them will have you transcribe from your browser and others want you to be onsite. Most of these websites will ask you to complete a test before they put you on their books. The tests are not always very hard, but sometimes they can be a real nightmare.
What You Earn
Now to the important part and that is what you are actually going to be earning. In the world of transcription the earnings vary so much it is both funny and scary. Some people are able to earn $50 for an audio hour while others earn $10 or less. The amount you earn will depend on who you are working for.
I have noticed that a trend with oDesk is to offer around $10 per audio hour. This breaks down to $10 for 4 hours which for some people just does not cut it. Of course, you do find the random oDesk employer looking to pay more, but then you are going to be competing with hundreds of other applicants.
Legal and medical transcriptionists will earn more because of the expertise that they need. For this type of work you should go through a transcription company because they will offer you better rates than freelance sites.
I have found some general transcription sites that offer really good pay. There are also certain sites like Quicktate that offer transcription work for a decent pay. Sites like this are different to normal because you transcribe short messages or parts of a full transcription. You will then get paid for the number of words that you have transcribed. If you hit a busy time with them then you can make some decent money.
Making money with transcription is actually a lot harder than you might imagine. It is also not for everyone as you need to be able to understand a range of different accents and mumbling. Of course, trying it out never hurt anyone.