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Transcribing is the typing up of audio conversations so that they can be logged and used digitally. All kinds of audio needs transcribing into text, from the more-formal ones such as HR disciplinary meetings, or interviews with the national press, to other noteworthy events or interviews. But there’s also some really interesting content like audio books, discussions of entertainment or academic content, as well as business meetings and focus groups.
Read on to find out more, or click on the links below to go straight to that section…
Working as a transcriptionist can be a great way to earn some extra money from home. And, as long as you can type, you won’t need much training.
The plus points are that the jobs typically use entirely web-based software, so there’s no need to download anything. The software should also be compatible with all modern laptops.
After an initial training phase, jobs come in on a dashboard and you have to claim a job to start work. You can only claim one job at any one time, and the jobs either need to be typed from scratch or you edit an auto-transcript.
All jobs are paid by the audio minute in US dollars. With rates generally ranging from $0.30 to $1 per minute, however they can range far above that.
The amount you earn is based on the difficulty of audio. Scratch jobs generally pay much higher per minute, but they are very difficult to do: once you use auto-transcript work, you may not want to focus on scratch jobs.
The subjects of jobs vary widely, with a lot of business meetings, marketing focus groups, some media interviews (including nationals), and entertainment & education themes.
Jobs are often sorted by accent, with US accents being the majority of work, however this sometimes means that UK accents can attract a premium and a UK transcriber can find these easier than the majority working the site. So, for example, you may choose to specialise in UK accents and Irish and Scottish ones in particular because of this marginal premium.
The ‘piece rate’ of a job can vary, though. It’s not clear why it might vary, but you will see the cost of jobs going up and down. Often when there are only a few jobs on the site, their value can drop, and at peak points there can be over 1,000 jobs to pick from, normally in the low 100s.
We spoke to transcriber Dan Phillips, who explained: “There is a brief test on grammar and then a training period where you complete some past videos. These are then graded out of ‘5’ on various metrics. You need to achieve on all metrics to pass into the main job site.
“Your work will be graded randomly, though I found it tended to be highly regular and then drop off. Again you need to maintain 4.5 on accuracy metrics. Feedback tended to be pretty good where you didn’t get things right. All these quality controls are done by other transcribers.”
Dan Phillips provided some good advice for getting into transcribing: “Audio from one interview is often split into several jobs sections, so get one done and try to nab the other ones, as that will reduce your need for background info research.
“If you have a subject specialism in real life, try to find clips that reflect that. So, if you know about football, or US sport in particular, that will help target that niche. Initially at least, only pick clips that have two people in an interview situation. Focus groups tend to be very difficult to differentiate as you don’t know how many people are in the room.”
Phillips asaid that transcribing can be a good way to earn smaller amounts such as £50 a week, but it can be harder to earn over £100 without significant time investment or loss of sleep.
He added: “Lower paying jobs do have far clearer audio. I tend to go for around $0.45-60 a minute stuff. Higher ones can be very hard, unless they’re UK accents. Also, the software can speed up and slow down audio if you want to go double-time or slow things down.
“As a UK national, you might find, for example, Australian clips easier to transcribe than US clips (this seems to be quite common), but if you know nothing about Australia, Aboriginal place names can be difficult to identify at first.”
One transcription company (not affiliated with this site: just for example purposes) is Rev, where you can ‘favourite’ different clients. These clients will often regularly post jobs, which helps you narrow down your favourite accents or topic when there’s a deluge of work. Subsequently if you then get good ratings (4.8+), alongside other metrics for meeting deadlines, you can be promoted to Rev+ where you get the first pick of the jobs.
It’s worth noting that these companies take their clients’ confidentiality very seriously, and will ban those who breach it and publish gossip from clips on the web. So although you might be tempted to share something salacious you’ve been privy to, just don’t do it!
MoneyMagpie also has lots of other ways to make money writing here.