Online Audio Transcription Jobs: The Reality
Do Home Typing Jobs Really Exist?
Yes, they do, but you have to search hard for them. There are genuine transcription firms out there offering genuine opportunities, but there are also many scams you need to beware of. The Internet is riddled with false promises of lucrative home typing and data entry work. The rule of thumb is if you are being asked for money, it's most likely a scam. Never pay anyone to give you a job. If it's a genuine opportunity, they should be paying you. That sounds like commonsense, but the fact that so many of these sites exist means that they must be succeeding in hoodwinking people into parting with their money.
Can You Make Money?
Yes, you can, but you need to be aware that, like any home business, it takes time to build up your income. However, I have been doing audio transcription for several years now, and have progressed to become a proof reader. Whilst I'll never get rich this way, my earnings are not insignificant and have become an important part of the household budget.
Things You Need to Know
Audio transcription at home sounds like the perfect job. In truth, however, it's not as easy as it sounds. There are some disadvantages:
- It is often low pay to start with. You have to prove yourself and build up a reputation by producing quality work on an as-needed basis before you are in a position to negotiate a better rate of pay
- Typing is harder work than it sounds
and often requires specialist knowledge in terms of jargon and layout. Depending on your typing speed, speed at which the speaker talks, and quality of audio, the
average time it takes to transcribe a one hour audio recording is three to six
hours. You need to learn quickly and accept and
respond positively to feedback.
- Sitting still for hours on end can cause your back and arms to ache. It's important to have a chair and workstation ergonomically adapted to suit you. It is not a good idea to sit with a laptop on the sofa for hours. If you use a laptop, use it at your workstation, and plug a keyboard into it. Laptop keyboards are not ergonomically designed for touch typing.
- Healthy food is always important, but particularly in this line of work. In really busy periods, you don't have time to stop and eat properly. The tendency is to work 'til you're starving, grab junk food like biscuits, crisps or sweets, and then keep on going. I got into the habit of doing this and found myself turning into a blob. These days I have muesli for breakfast, fruit, yoghurt and a few nuts during the day, and a healthy low fat meal in the evening. It's actually helped me lose a bit of weight!
- The constant need to meet deadlines means everything else in life tends to get put on hold. Paid work takes priority, so housework and family can get a bit neglected. It's important that other members of the household understand the nature of your work and support you.
- Being self-employed means you have no guaranteed monthly income and no paid holidays. The idea that you can work flexibly in hours to suit yourself is simply not true. Companies have busy and quiet periods. If you want to make money from this, you have to take the work when it's available. If you turn down work when the firm most needs you, you are no good to them, and you will be offered less work in the future.
- Having said that, you need to know when to stop. It can be hard to say no when you know the firm is busy and they are depending on you. Whilst it is important that you are available during busy periods as much as possible, it's very easy to allow yourself to be persuaded to take on more work than you can realistically cope with. I've done this many times and ended up working all night at times. The quality of work produced suffers.
- The urgency of the deadlines can cause stress if you don't pace yourself properly. If you get technical glitches such as the broadband going down, or you're simply late getting a job uploaded, this can set your adrenalin pumping and your blood pressure rocketing.
- If you're not careful, your social life suffers. There is no time for chatty phone calls, and when people turn up unexpectedly, it can cause major problems to your work schedule. I used to have dinner parties, but I simply don't have the time or energy for them anymore. If you are a gregarious sort of a person, you might find this work a bit isolating.
- Remember that if you run any sort of home business, you are responsible for declaring your own income to the tax authorities. This isn't as bad as it sounds, but you need to put aside enough money each month in case you get a huge tax demand at the end of the year.
On the More Positive Side
Having said all that, there are advantages to this sort of work:
- It doesn't cost much to set up as a home typist. As far as hardware is concerned, you only need a half decent computer, headset and broadband connection. Some firms will specify certain types of headphones and foot pedals. In actual fact, a foot pedal isn't strictly necessary as you can use hot keys, but having a foot pedal is probably more comfortable and should help with speed.
- You don't need expensive software. Microsoft Word is the standard software that most firms use. Adobe Reader for reading PDF files is free for download from the Internet, as is the software you will need to play, fast forward and rewind the audio file. I use Express Scribe.
- You can work from anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection. I'm in the middle of rural France where there's not a lot of employment. If I go elsewhere for a week, I can take my laptop with me if I like and do a bit of work while I'm away.
- You don't have to dress up smartly to go to work. You can stay in your pyjamas all day if you like. If you look anything like I do sometimes though, just make sure you don't turn the webcam on!
- Of course, if you're not going to work, you don't incur any travelling or subsistence expenses.
- We've already discussed the issue of holidays in disadvantages above, but in theory, if you can afford to, you do have the flexibility to take a day, a week, or whatever off whenever you choose.
- Some people think typing is boring, and it can be, depending on the subject matter of the audio file you are working on. Some subject matter, however, can be very interesting, and if the quality of the audio is good, it can be very enjoyable and educational.
- Audio transcription is something you can do alongside some other jobs such as house-sitting.
- You are your own boss (an advantage worth its weight in gold). You don't have anyone looking over your shoulder. You succeed or fail by your own efforts. Consequently, you are much more motivated to work because it's for yourself.
- And, of course, the ultimate advantage, it's great when the cheques come in.
- As well as being a fast, accurate typist, you must be computer literate and possess some research skills. It's often necessary to track down names and jargon which typically requires you to switch between several open document windows and the Web.
- You need to be a self-starter. When you are in the comfort of your own home, it's very easy to succumb to the luxury of being there and not feel like working. It can take a lot of self-discipline to force yourself to knuckle down to work, especially if other members of the household are all relaxing.
Finding a Job
Applying For a Job
- When you apply for a job of this nature, make sure your CV is up to date. It's useful to be able to list secretarial qualifications and experience. However, speed and accuracy takes precedence over these, and you will almost certainly be tested before you are accepted.
- They will ask you for your typing speed. If you don't know it, you can find out what it is using typonline.co.uk.
- The application process is likely to be online, so your CV should exist as a file on your computer in readiness for sending.
- If you get a test, don't rush it. Take your time and do the best job you can. You'll probably only get one shot at it.
Start Your Own Business
Finally, for those entrepreneurs amongst you, once you get some experience, there is nothing to stop you from cutting out the middleman and setting up your own business as a digital transcriptionist. One way of advertising is to get yourself out there on the Internet. If you don't want to pay someone to design you a website, there are numerous web development software providers to be found on the Internet and you can design your own website. I set up my own website for my own business using the free software Yola.
Questions & Answers
© 2009 Annabelle Johnson