We sat down with full time transcribers to ask them about where they find work. These are their answers.

Sarah – Transcriber

How did you get involved in remote work?

After running a website for a year or two I realized I needed a different work-at-home gig and found transcription. Once I discovered it, it took over my worklife. It’s my main source of income now. I’ve been finding better and better jobs over the last year.

What legitimate online opportunities are out there for transcribers?

It all started when I saw an advertisement for Rev. Rev is kind of controversial among transcribers because of the low pay I think they are a good place to start. You don’t even have to have Microsoft Word, everything is on their platform. It’s a good place to get your feet wet. I still work with them on occasion, though I had to type fast and work hard to make it happen. It took a month, maybe two, to get over the minimum wage. After that they bumped me up and gave better pay. Now, with them, I earn $10 – $12 an hour.

After a bit of time, I thought ‘I’m pretty good at this,’ so I looked for other opportunities. I found SyncScript. All jobs start at 57 cents per audio minute, but some jobs pay more, especially rush files. I believe there’s room for advancement within the company as well. They’re run by a small group of ladies who transcribed for a long time. They’re good to work for.

With SyncScript, I don’t feel the strong pressure that I do with Rev. Once, when I was working on a file for Rev, one of my kids had to go to the hospital. I was 90% finished with an hour-long file, but because of the emergency I couldn’t finish it by the deadline, so I lost the file AND didn’t get paid for the work I’d done. SyncScript is run by people, not an algorithm, so things like that don’t happen with them. They hire new people who have no experience if they can pass their test. I’ve been with since May 2017.

The standard for the industry is $1/ minute, but most of the big companies don’t seem to be paying that now. Most companies that pay over $1 a minute seem to want you to have 2-3 years experience, and most insist you have certain equipment and/or software. A lot of those companies have a niche, like the medical industry. Personally, I’ll take a job on an interesting topic over a slightly higher paying boring one.

I’ve been building a base of personal clients as well. My kids have conditions that are talked about a lot in podcasts and the psychiatric world. I would pay to take classes from some of these people, so I offer a discount to mental health professionals. I’ve been getting some graduate student clients. I keep my rates fairly low because I’m not someone with years of experience. Private clients definitely seem the way to go.

What is a 5 star job portal for transcribers?

I don’t think any of the big companies with hundreds of files available for transcribers rates as a 5-star portal. I usually find a work from home blog that sends out job links and sign up for their newsletters. Usually there’s at least one transcription opportunity each week listed in the newsletters.

SyncScript is definitely a  5 star company to work for, especially for skilled newbies. They pay well, they’re nice people. For someone with a few years of experience, the pay may not be up to their standards, but the experience of working with them is great, and I personally know at least one transcriber with years of experience who really enjoys working with them.

What is a 1 star job portal??

I’m not sure of the name of the companies, but I wouldn’t work for the companies that come through Amazon Mechanical Turk, for example. Run away from anything that pays under 30 cents per audio minute. It’s a total rip off. Anything less than 50 cents is pretty bad. For new people, 45 cents is ok. I was hired for one platform once that was like 10 cents. Not worth my time.

Big freelancing sites like Upwork often get clients who want to pay nothing.

What advice would you give to newbies/ your younger self?

If you like to type, and grammar and spelling come naturally to you, then it’s a great work from home job. I’m making making between $12-$20 an hour now. Also, make friends with text expansion software or Microsoft Word’s auto-correct function. It will drastically help you up your speed!

The big online companies are a good place to get your start and test it out. I think Rev is the best place to start, but once you find your groove you should find a better company to work for. SyncScript is a fantastic choice for people who are newer to the field, so long as you are comfortable transcribing once you begin working for them there. I would say in 3 months, maximum, you should be making minimum wage and if not you probably want to look into another at-home option. Even if it’s not a career choice, it could be money on the side. Don’t buy any equipment until you want to make it a career. No foot pedals or software until you want to make that step.

Anything else to add?

Watch out for content that’s upsetting or graphic. I opened a file at Rev once and unexpectedly heard the 911 call of a woman who witnessed a murder with no warning about the material. One company announced positions open for transcribing police interviews, and some of those are crimes against children; this is important work, but I’ve heard that this company pays below the industry standard, and for the content you’re working with, that is far too low of a rate of pay. It’s not a common thing, but keep an eye out.

I wish I would have thought about this years ago. I went back to school and got a lot of debt, but it wasn’t necessary. I could have done this and not gone back to school.

The remote lifestyle is working really well. I like to be up at night. I get to sleep in, take my kids to appointments, my schedule is my own. Normal job hours wouldn’t work with the needs my kids have. This is great for people who can’t work a traditional 9-5, or people who just need the flexibility. I can take my work with me wherever I go, which has come in handy for those unexpected hospital stays or other random catastrophes that pop up while parenting children with high needs!

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and see my articles on Medium!

Nicolas – Transcriber, Translator, and English Teacher

How did you get involved in remote work?

I’m  a transcriber, translator, and English teacher based in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve been freelancing for 8 years now. I was a transcriber in-house in Boston until I realized that I could make more working from home.

Transcription expanded into translation a couple years ago, which led to some English teaching work. My bread and butter is transcription and proofreading. I think it’s best to have different income streams.  

For 3 hours of work I get about $30-$40 an hour, working part-time hours. When I first started out I learned the skill through word of mouth from other transcribers, and built from there. I earn comparatively less for translation and English teaching, so I only take smaller jobs in those areas.

What legitimate online opportunities are out there for transcribers?

My advice is to find big companies with transcription departments. Do your research. I did a search on Proz, which is actually better known for translation work, but you can create a profile and get alerts whenever “transcription”appears in an ad on their site. That’s how I got into the database of a couple companies that pay well.

Personally, this is the only way I’d recommend doing it. I’ve been doing this for 8 years, so I try to keep my rates as high as I can. I haven’t bothered with the low paying online translation companies because I haven’t had to. They pay too little. If they pay by the page that’s a sign they don’t pay well.

What is a 5 star job portal for transcribers?

I don’t know a 5 star, but I would say Proz is a 4 star. You can get notifications sent to your inbox and fine tune keywords to be notified right away when a job is posted. They show how many people have applied for a job, so you don’t waste your time. I pay for the membership, which can be written off on taxes in the US. It seems to have brought more clients and payed off.

Something to keep in mind is that Proz is very European – a lot of companies are in the UK. Be mindful of timezones.

What is a 1 star job portal?

I don’t go out there searching for different portals. I’m pretty well hooked up with a constant workflow, so I haven’t needed it. Upwork, to give an example, sucks for transcription rates, and there’s a ton of transcribers that don’t speak English competing with you.

What advice would you give to newbies/ your younger self?

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t reach your goals in freelancing right away. Find ways to self-motivate yourself and you’ll eventually find your niche.

Where can people find you?

My Proz profile: https://www.proz.com/profile/875816

Claire – Transcriber

 

How did you get involved in remote work?

Getting involved in online work happened slowly over long period of time. It started when I was in college and I did all the paid survey sites and a bit of mystery shopping. I’ve kept an eye on things ever since. It’s only after having kids and being serious about working from home that I turned to transcription.

What legitimate online opportunities are there for transcribers?

There’s a bunch of legitimate online companies based in the US or India that hire transcribers remotely, sites like Scribie and Transcribe.me, but the pay is usually terrible. They expect you to work for peanuts, and they expect you to have it done yesterday.

Most people use these platforms because they’re the easiest to find. I used them too. They are legitimate, but they aren’t suitable for a living wage. But bad as they are, they aren’t without their uses. They are good for training yourself as a transcriber, to try it out and develop the skill. Lots of people tell you not to work with them, but that’s the way I did it. A lot of transcribers simply hate these companies and say that they are pulling wages down for the whole industry, but that is how I got my start.

While working with those same low paying, well known companies, I noticed the kinds of clients that they were getting consistently, and went to the source – universities, for example. I researched the research fellows, made a one size fits all email, and sent it out. Research fellows are some of the higher ups in the universities, so I made a lot of contacts through them.

For example, I found a geo-engineering research fellow with about 5 hours of interview recordings to transcribe. It can sometimes be undergrads, but graduate students have much more consistent work. The small companies still have a place for me – filling in client pipeline gaps when I have needed it – but they are NOT ideal.

What works best is is going to smaller companies, universities, and finding your own clients. I found transcription individuals in my area and took their overflow work. There’s a lot of people like this. Look in Facebook groups. Getting your own clients is the best. The only way to find proper work is to go find it yourself. Look for clients who have consistent work, and after that it’s word of mouth.

It was all so worth it. The work/life balance is great. I have my own schedule, I can take my kids to school, to swimming lessons… vastly superior to office life. If you have the drive to do it, do it.

What is a 5 star job portal for transcribers?

I haven’t found one. I guess the best of the group would be Babbletype. Their platform for picking a job is complicated, it’s a massive Excel sheet, but they seem to pay the best out of the low-paying companies. The pay is pretty much the same for all of them.

What is a 1 star job portal?

Scribie is the worst one because of the pay. It’s also one of the better known online companies. It’s something like 30 cents a minute. The platform is well designed – great UX/UI – but the pay is worthless.

What advice would you give to newbies/ your younger self?

Use these platforms for a couple of weeks. Teach yourself the style guides, but go find your own clients. If you aren’t up to snuff on your spelling and grammar, do something else. There’s no point in doing the job if you can’t manage that.

It really is worth it. After knowing the freedom of working from home, there’s no way I’m going back to the office.

Where can we find you?

You can find me at my website! www.snowdontranscription.co.uk.

Conclusion

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