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Working for TranscribeMe: Is It Worth It?

Kristen hails from Modesto, CA. She is self-employed, raises chickens in her backyard, and bakes her own bread.

Transcribing is a great way to earn income from home on your own time. Is TranscribeMe a good firm to work for?

Transcribing is a great way to earn income from home on your own time. Is TranscribeMe a good firm to work for?

What Is TranscribeMe?

TranscribeMe is an online transcription website. People send audio files to them, and other people get paid to listen to those audio files and type them out. They seem to be one of the most reputable and popular online transcription websites around right now.

If you're considering joining TranscribeMe, you might be wondering if it's worth your time. When I was considering joining the site, I did a little bit of research beforehand, and I found mixed opinions. Some people said it was great (if you are good at transcribing), and others said it was a complete waste of time.

Although I was quite hesitant, thanks to the negative reviews I read, I decided to join the site anyway. I've been transcribing with them for about five months now; I think it's fairly safe to say that I've spent enough time doing this that I have developed a well-informed opinion. Here's what it's like to be a transcriptionist at TranscribeMe from someone who's been at it a little while.

The Signup Process

I'll start with what it takes to actually sign up. You do have to pass an exam before you can start transcribing. This test proves to them that you can actually do a decent job. They can't take just anybody now, can they?

Let me warn you, the test isn't exactly a piece of cake. It's designed to make sure you can adhere to their rules and do things exactly the way they want them done. Study up on their style guide and transcriber handbook.

You have two attempts to pass the exam. After that, you have to wait 30 days to try again. I have a degree in English, I've been writing for many years, and I did quite a bit of studying before taking the test. I still failed it the first time. Luckily, I passed the second time and was in.

In addition to passing their test, you must provide a scanned copy of your driver's license or ID. After these two steps, the signup process is complete, and you can begin taking work. Now, onto what it's like to actually do the work.

The Pay

I'll start with the pay because—let's be honest—that's why we're really here in the first place. TranscribeMe currently pays $20 per audio hour. That was the main thing that hooked my attention. Pay is sent to you via PayPal. You can request a payout as soon as you have reached $20, and they are sent every Thursday.

Please note that the pay is based on audio hours, not actual hours spent. This means that your payment is based on how quickly you can type out those files. Some files will be more time-consuming than others, and you will have to play the file back several times to ensure your work is accurate.

When I first started out, I averaged a measly $4 per hour spent. Where I live, that is less than half the minimum wage. It took me about four minutes to transcribe every minute of audio. Now that I've been at it a little while, I'm up to averaging about $10 per hour spent. That's still below the minimum wage in the state I live in.

Granted, I'm in California, and the cost of living is high here. $10 an hour really doesn't get you very far at all. I personally consider this to be really lousy pay. However, in areas where the cost of living and the minimum wage are lower, this can end up being a fairly lucrative gig.

The Kinds of Work You'll Be Doing

If you're new to transcribing, I'd like to warn you that it's not nearly as easy as it seems. You will have to transcribe the words of people who don't speak English very well, who might have thick accents, who mumble, who use strange slang you've never heard before, who speak complete jibberish and can't really form a sentence that makes any sense, who is speaking on cell phones that have crappy connections, who have someone else trying to talk over them, who have music playing in the background, and so on.

It's your job to figure out what the heck is coming out of these people's mouths and type it out so that it can be read and understood. That's not always easy.

The Accuracy Requirements

TranscribeMe wants its transcribers to be as accurate as possible and understandably so. They have to make sure they provide good services for their customers.

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They will have editors checking your work after you turn it in. Their job is to catch any mistakes you may have made. They will make changes to your file if they feel it's necessary. You are allowed to have up to 30% of your file corrected before it's rejected. If your file is rejected, you likely won't get paid for it. If you ask me, 30% is a lot of room for error. Even on my very worst days, I have never had an editor correct more than 12% of a single job.

Don't tell anyone I told you this, but I want to give you a little tip about accuracy. Don't fret too much over it! I've seen other transcribers on the forums spend over an hour on one file because they can't figure out what is the correct punctuation for a certain situation, they can't decide how to get the formatting just perfect, or they can't figure out how a person's name is spelled.

The editors are there for a reason, and nothing bad will happen to you if they have to make a few corrections to your file! Time is money, so be careful not to spend too much time trying to make everything perfect.

"Work as Little or as Much as You Want"

"All work is currently assigned. Please check back shortly for more work, and thank you for working with TranscribeMe." Get used to these two sentences. You're going to be seeing them a lot.

The biggest problem I've found with TranscribeMe is that there is never any work available. When you log in, you are thrown into a queue behind all the other transcribers who are currently online and working. If they log in first, they get first dibs on the work that's available. You have to wait until someone else logs out and leaves work on the table. Sure, technically, you can work as much or as little as you want, but they don't bother to tell you that they like to keep all of their transcribers fighting for crumbs.

I log in daily, first thing in the morning. There is rarely any work available at that point, so I go about my other business and check back later. I usually check several times a day. It is not uncommon to go an entire day or even several days without ever being able to get any work at TranscribeMe.

When I am lucky enough to actually get some work upon logging in, I drop everything and power through it. I work until there is no more work available. I have never been assigned more than eight files in one sitting before I get that dreaded message that all work has been assigned. At that point, I have to log back off and try again later.

Help and Guidance

If you happen to need some help with your account, or if you have a problem of any kind, you're on your own. TranscribeMe does have a support desk set up for users to submit help tickets, although I'm not sure what for. Over the few months I've been using TranscribeMe, I've submitted several help tickets (many of which involve missing payments), and I have never received a response from them.

Let me repeat that. I have never, ever received a single response from TranscribeMe to any of the many help tickets I have submitted. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I have been cursed with invisible emails. Either way, it's incredibly frustrating that they have such a disregard for their transcriptionists.

If you happen to need any help, you're better off checking out the forums. The community of transcribers on TranscribeMe's forums is very helpful and eager to offer advice. You're much more likely to get help from them if you find yourself in that position.

Is It Really Worth It?

So, is transcribing for TranscribeMe really worth it? In my humble opinion, no. I say this because, as I mentioned before, the pay per hour spent is below the minimum wage in my area. Considering it's a work-from-home job, though, I would be happy to overlook that if they actually offered a consistent flow of work. I don't think I've ever made more than $30 a day from TranscribeMe. It's much more common that I'll make nothing in a day because of the lack of work available.

Last week, I decided to try treating TranscribeMe like a full-time job. I took on as much work as possible to try to fill eight hours per day for five days. Of course, there was not enough work to even come close to meeting that goal. Can you guess how much money I made that week? I totaled out at a measly $42.00. So much for making it a full-time gig! I kept getting that dreaded "All work is assigned" message and had to keep checking back.

TranscribeMe is an okay side hustle if you really need to turn your free time into a few dollars, but don't expect to actually make any kind of decent money doing this. Until this company actually has a steady flow of work for their transcribers, I give them a big thumbs-down.

What Do You Think?

What about you? Do you have any experience working with TranscribeMe? What about another online-transcribing company? I'd love to hear your story in the comments!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Anna Heiser on December 06, 2018:

First of all, the test is not THAT hard. I graduated high school 11 years ago, didn't go to college, and have been a stay at home mom for most of those years. I passed on my first try. I imagine that most people could pass by their second try if they took the time to read the style guide. It also helps to download the free chrome browser extension called Grammarly, which helps catch obvious grammar mistakes and spelling errors. It's even trying to edit what I'm typing here in this comment section. =)

I just started working with TranscribeMe 3 weeks ago and I earned $30 my first week, slightly more my second week (even though I took about 2 days off), $65 my third week, and now I've gotten on a team that has raised my pay rate and opened up more work so I expect my weekly pay to continue increasing. I do put a lot of time into it, but I'm willing to because I need the money and because I haven't had a "real job" in years so this is a good way to transition myself back into the workforce.

Yes, everyone gets the 'all work is currently assigned' message from time to time, especially when they first start. But the key is to download another browser extension for chrome that auto-refreshes your page for you. I usually set mine for 40-45 seconds. It keeps refreshing the jobs page and I just keep that tab open while I listen to YouTube or something and usually another job comes up within minutes. Usually another job comes up sooner than I'd like because I don't even get to finish the song I'm trying to listen to, haha. If it's very early in the morning it could take a bit longer, but there's a steady stream of work coming in. They add things periodically throughout the day and night, so there's certainly no need to log out and leave the computer for hours every time you see the message. Also, once you pass exams to open up different types of work (accents, for example) or get onto a special team, the amount of work available increases exponentially. Yes, the exams can be tough, but the more practice you get in, the better you'll naturally get at transcribing. The tests will also become easier after some practice. No, this job isn't good enough to replace a full-time job out in the real world. But it is a legit thing and like everything else in life, it is what you make of it. You can make it into something worthwhile but you have to put in the time and effort. I'm a housebound stay at home mom with no car, and not enough free hours in a day to work a legit job anyway. Who's going to hire someone who's only available 6 hours a day, only mornings and early afternoons, who is NEVER going to be available evenings, weekends, holidays, or summers, and who needs to be able to leave work at the drop of a hat if their kid is sick or something? This job has been a Godsend for me in my situation. And I'm just getting started. As my speed and skill increase, my pay will continue to as well.

Daniel on October 27, 2018:

Hello Kristen,

Thank you for your very much informative article. I was jus considering if this would be a good way to make money, and you just saved me some heartache!

Thanks again,


Tina on September 20, 2018:

TranscribeMe claims to be the best at-home transcription job out there. Is there another company you can recommend?

Red on August 22, 2018:

I never graduated highschool and passed the exam the first time... really, it's not that hard.

GW on May 03, 2018:

Hi Kristen - thank you for writing this helpful and honest account.

Veronica Lewis from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania on March 17, 2018:

Thanks for your hub! Did you take any of the additional exams to qualify for more work?

Veronica Lewis from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania on March 17, 2018:

Thanks for your hub! Did you take any of the additional exams to qualify for more work?

Mubashar on February 19, 2018:

Sir please review I want to apply I'm from Pakistan

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 01, 2017:

Doesn’t sound like a good gig. I think you’re doing a laudable job of warning people.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 01, 2017:

It is pretty bad that they have never responded to one of your help requests. And that no work available must drive one crazy. Thanks for the heads up. I will never try this site. :)

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