Transcription Work From The Beginning

I’ve been doing Transcription for about three weeks now. I’m going to share with you what I have learned along the way and how it is working for some of these transcription companies.


I had some basic knowledge of transcription when I first started, but of course I didn’t know everything there was to know about it. When I do something, I dive in head first and learn everything I possibly can from my own trial and error. If I can’t figure something out, I research it until I do, that’s how I’ve always been.

There are companies that will hire you for transcription without having experience, and of course these companies do not pay much for beginners, but you have to start somewhere and the bottom is where it all begins.

So far, I’ve learned that transcription can be very frustrating at times. I bought a good pair of headphones, along with a transcription pedal and paid for Express Scribe which is typically always recommended. So far, I’m finding that Express Scribe and a foot pedal isn’t always needed depending on the company that you work for, but I will get to that later on, however, a good pair of background noise blocking headphones is essential.

You have good files and you have bad files with transcription. Good files have very clear and precise speaking that is easy to understand, and those are super easy to transcribe. Then you have difficult ones. Difficult transcription files are files that are either very difficult to hear or understand or have multiple speakers. For instance, I’ve had a couple of files that sounded as if they were recorded in the middle of a very busy restaurant, making it difficult to hear every word that is said. Then there are files where the speaker may talk very fast and you can’t decipher what he or she is saying. You can slow down the file but sometimes that doesn't even work. They may also have a very thick foreign accent that can make it difficult to understand.  It can be frustrating to rewind and play a spot multiple times and still not have the ability to decipher what they are saying. These are things that can slow you down and make the transcription process go slower.

Transcription is not a quick money maker and is most likely not a good job for parents of young children to do. When transcribing files, you have to have all of your attention on the audio, with no interruptions. Luckily my kids are teenagers and are in school all day, but can also take care of themselves on the days that they are home and I am working.

The first 2 Transcription companies I have tried are GoTranscript and TranscribeMe.

GoTranscript was the very first company that I applied with. Before I go on, let’s clear things up about pay. Most transcription companies pay by the audio minute or audio hour. One of the reasons I signed up for GoTranscript was because I read that they pay between .30 and .70 cents per audio minute. This doesn’t mean that you will make this amount per minute of work. The average transcription time is considered to be 4 minutes of work for every 1 minute of audio. If you have the ability to work 5+ hours a day, the pay wouldn’t be that bad for working from home when you consider your gas, daycare...etc. expenses that you have working outside of the home.

Each company has their own style of transcription which can become very confusing if you choose to work for more than one company. Some companies require timestamps, specific things bolded, verbatim vs clean verbatim, spelling of OK vs Okay,  and so on. If you don’t get their style right, you will not pass their test or you will get a low rating.

I took the test for GoTranscript which was a huge pain in the ass. I had to transcribe a file with a woman who had a foreign accent and said numerous foreign literature titles and authors. I was told to do as much research as possible to attempt to figure out what is being said. It took me quite a while to transcribe this file and I had a lot of inaudibles, but I passed the test.

I was excited to get started, until I began actually working for GoTranscript. First of all, most of their files are extremely difficult to hear and/or understand. You can listen to a preview of the file by downloading the file before accepting it. This meant a lot of time downloading and listening, only to decide that the audio was shit and move on in an attempt to find a good one. Then once you found a good one you had to go back through your computer and delete all of the files you had downloaded just to listen to. And these were supposed to be the ‘easy’ files, not the difficult, higher paying files. Then I saw the pay. A 10-minute audio file paid $2.33. You do the math. Being a beginner, some 10-minute files took me over an hour to transcribe, research anything I wasn’t sure about, and ensure that the style was exactly what they required, and that was on top of the time it took me to sift through crap files to find one good one.

I did like GoTranscribe’s user interface for transcription. I didn’t need to use the pedal. As soon as I began typing, the recording would automatically stop, then once I stopped typing, the recording would play again.

I had joined a GoTranscript Facebook page and read through many of the posts on there by others who work for them. Whenever someone new asked how much money could be made working for them, the response was that if you work 8-10 hours a day, you could make $12. For fuck’s sake, this is slave labor and seemed to be aimed towards workers from third world countries who felt that $12 a day for 8 hours of work was worth it. My time is worth more than that, so I began looking for something better.

I came across TranscribeMe and decided to apply with them. You have to pass a question/answer quiz, as well as transcribe a short audio. You only have 2 chances to pass both tests and if you fail you have to wait 6 months to try again. You have to have a perfect on the q&a section and a near perfection on the transcription section. I passed the question/answers right away, but failed the transcription part on the first try, I decided that I hadn’t formatted the transcription correctly the first time, and with bated breath, I successfully passed it the second time.

TranscribeMe’s style is very simple. No timestamps (so far, I am hating timestamps), nothing bolded, pretty plain and simple which makes transcribing for them much quicker. The pay is $20/audio hour. Again, that is not $20/work hour, it’s audio hour, but that’s pretty good for a beginner. I’ve done around 10 files for them so far, and I am loving it. Once your pay reaches $20 you can request payout to your paypal account.

Most of their files are smaller (anywhere from 1-4 minutes) and good quality. I like TranscribeMe because when you log in to the jobs area, it automatically begins playing an audio and you can decide whether you want to accept it or cancel it and move on to the next one if you are not comfortable with the sound quality. You can set your own shortkeys, for instance, I have set cntrl+a to play, and cntl+q to rewind.. Etc., so that all of the control letters are close together and after doing it a few times my fingers automatically know where to go and I don’t feel the need to use the pedal.

You can also take tests for certain accents such as British accents and Australian accents or foreign languages. I may try to take a few accent tests. I’m not sure if you are paid more for doing those files or not. I did find out the other day that there are also other ways to make more money with TranscribeMe. Once you complete 50 audio files you can make more money, and once you complete 100 files, you can make more. There are also other positions available once you get enough experience in, so this is what I am working towards right now.

The only downside I have found to TranscribeMe is that they don’t seem to have much work on Mondays, at least in the mornings but more work is available later in the day.

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Right now, I am trying to figure out a schedule for Transcribing and Freelance Writing. I need to set some time off to the side each week for Freelance Writing as well, as I have kind of pushed that to the back while working on Transcription, but I still want to work on my writing career. My book is finished (!) and I am currently waiting to get my proof copy in the mail for approval before it is officially released (which should be soon), so now it’s time to put some more effort into my Freelance Writing business.

Book release should be announced soon!!

In the meantime, chime in if you have some input on transcription jobs and the best companies to apply with!!


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