Three years ago my husband decided to go back to school for an MBA. I was great at saving money, but now I needed to find a way to earn money. None of the income-earning ideas that I read about online intrigued me until I stumbled upon something called general transcription.
Transcription is turning audio or video into a written, typed format. A general transcriptionist works on interviews, podcasts, speeches, forums, sermons, financial calls, etc. There is also legal and medical transcription, but those require either prior legal experience or taking a medical transcription course.
First, ask yourself a few quick questions.
Most transcriptionists contract with large transcription companies. In order to gain a contract with a company, you need to submit a resume with a cover letter and then pass their audio test. Many transcription companies require prior transcription experience, but there are a few companies that will hire someone without prior experience including:
Before you jump into testing for companies, you’ll want to prepare so that you’ll have the best chance of being accepted.
The best way to learn something is to just do it. Download a podcast or a speech from online and play it with your new audio player. Type what you hear, using correct grammar and punctuation. Don’t be discouraged if your first run-through takes a long time. The industry standard is completing an hour of audio in three to four hours, but for beginners it may take six or seven hours.
Unfortunately, some people will try to take advantage of those who desire to work from home. I recommend joining one or two transcription forums where transcriptionists discuss which companies to avoid, the average pay a beginner should accept (hint: try not to accept things below $40 an audio hour), how a transcription resume differs from other resumes, how to become more efficient, and many other topics. It is not unusual for companies to pass along that they’re hiring through the forums.
You will be more confident applying for companies once you have some experience to put on your resume.
Sometimes people on the forums will post volunteer opportunities, usually for a nonprofit. This is a good way for you to gain feedback and a potential referral. Since your time is valuable, I recommend only doing volunteer work once or twice, but it can give you good experience. There is also occasional overflow work opportunities that are posted on the forums for active, contributing members.
Once you feel prepared, start applying to some of the larger companies. Don’t give up if you’re not accepted by the first few companies that you apply to. Keep trying. If you’re determined and you’re skilled then you will eventually land a contract and become a general transcriptionist.
Chelsea Flint is a full-time mother and a part-time transcriptionist. She enjoys reading, going on walks, and helping others earn money from home. She shares her learnings on her blog, athometranscriptionist.com.
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