Transcription is something that a lot of people take for granted. When you’re watching a movie and struggling to understand the accents, so you turn on subtitles, that’s transcription. Watching an online video on mute and reading along instead? Transcription made that happen. Reading a magazine interview from your favorite pop star? That couldn’t exist without transcription.
Taking audio and converting it to readable text is something that’s been going on since writing was invented. With the rise of the internet, it’s never been more needed, or easier to get a job doing, no matter where you are. One company that is a leader in the space — and often hiring for work-at-home jobs in transcription — is TranscribeMe.
In this article we’ll give advice to people looking to make money by providing transcription services, and dive into TranscribeMe. We’ll talk about working for the company, how to apply, and answer some frequently asked questions, both about TranscribeMe and transcription in general.
A Guide to Online Transcription
Online transcription companies allow people to send in audio files and have them converted into scannable, searchable, digital text. For attorneys trying to work through long depositions, journalists who just recorded an hour-long interview, or medical professionals wanting to review audio notes they took during a surgery, transcription services allow them to get more done.
Audio files are great for capturing, but tough to review. Converting audio files to text allows these professionals something they can scan easily, search, share … or just grab the most important parts without having to fast-forward through many minutes of audio.
A Human Touch
Speech recognition software has made great strides in the last decade. Speech-to-text software powers Siri on your iPhone, and a lot of cable companies are now building speech recognition right into your television remote. But as anyone who has struggled to get Siri to understand what you’re saying knows, the software is by no means perfect.
Human voices have different inflections. Even among people speaking the same language, a word may have several pronunciations or variations based on regional accents, age, gender, and more.
Native speakers tend to be able to pick up on these differences easily, almost without thinking about it. We understand context and can work out what someone is trying to say, even if they say a word slightly differently than we do. Machines, on the other hand, struggle with this.
For example: Some people might pronounce the word “pen” as “pin.” You would be able to understand that from context, or from knowing that certain accents pronounce that word differently. A machine, on the other hand, would just hear “pin” and would struggle to render it accurately.
This all just shows why people are still necessary for transcription. Not to mention humans have a really strong ability to filter out background noise, especially in audio files that aren’t high quality, something that machines will also struggle with. Basically, software is getting better, but people are still needed to transcribe.
How Online Transcription Companies Pay
So yes, people are needed for transcription. But how does it pay?
Transcription companies almost all pay by the audio hour or the audio minute, which is different than the real world hour or minute. No matter what you’re doing in that hour, transcription companies pay for the amount of audio that you are able to cleanly transcribe.
So say you get a six-minute audio file to transcribe. If that takes you 15 minutes to get it done, or an hour and 15 minutes, it doesn’t matter — your pay will be the same.
Thus, the goal of every transcriptionist is to get as quick as possible.
What’s nice about the work is that it often allows for a flexible schedule. You are usually given a few days to complete your assignments depending on the company.
Prices can be multiplied if the project has a fast turnaround time, however. And sometimes, if the file has extremely poor audio quality, you can earn a bit more by working through the crummy audio and figuring out exactly what is being said.
Getting to Know TranscribeMe
A popular transcription company out there right now for beginners to the transcription world is TranscribeMe. They market themselves to people looking to pick up some extra money with part-time transcription jobs.
They offer “fast and accurate transcriptions” for customers for as low at $0.79 per audio minute. They use secure servers to protect the files that customers send in, and offer an easy-to-use platform to submit audio, get a quote, pay, and then receive those transcribed files.
They also offer other services beyond standard transcription, including translation services and specialized transcription like medical transcription. Medical audio files often require industry expertise to be able to understand shorthand and spell medical terminology and pharmaceuticals correctly.
Working for TranscribeMe
Working for TranscribeMe can be a flexible way to bring in extra cash. The way it works is that jobs are posted that transcriptionists can claim, and then they are given a set date to get the project done. Some projects are only posted to certain transcriptionists — if it requires legal or medical expertise, for example, the job will be filtered to people with that background knowledge.
TranscribeMe offers $15-$22 per audio hour, and says that some of its top monthly earners bring in over $2,000. Two things to remember there: $15-$22 is for the audio hour, not the full hour. Expert transcriptionists typically need twice the time to accurately transcribe an audio file, and if the audio file is poor, it could be even longer than that.
The average monthly earner, per TranscribeMe, brings in $250. Basically: This is a good way to bring in a little extra income in your spare time, and can be a good way to enter the field of transcription. It’s extremely unlikely this could work as a full-time job.
Skills Needed for Transcription
Transcription work requires focus. Extreme focus. Again, you’re only paid well if you can transcribe quickly, so if you stay on task, get words down, and move through the audio file quickly, you can make decent money. If you get distracted easily, or dawdle, you can see earnings evaporate quickly.
You also should have strong attention to detail. Most transcription companies have a style guide that they expect people to adhere to, with rules for punctuation, grammar, spelling and more. They will expect you not only to transcribe accurately, but remember and adhere to their style guide while you do so. This is a job that rewards people with a fine eye for detail.
Applying to TranscribeMe
To apply to TranscribeMe, head to their website, TranscribeMe.com. In the top right hand corner of the screen, you should see a link to “Join as Transcriptionist.” Click that. (You can also click on “Sign Up” right below that — both take you to the same place.)
On the next page you’ll see some employee testimonials, information about the company, and more. You can review that, or skip ahead and click up top in the middle of the screen on “JOIN OUR TEAM.”
From there you’ll be taken to an external hiring website where you can create a profile and submit an application. The profile creation process is pretty simple — you fill in your name and email, provide them a PayPal account so they can pay you, and let them know what languages you feel comfortable transcribing in. (English speakers, note that there is a difference between American English and British English, as well as Irish, Scottish, Aussie, etc. — accents are different, yes, but spelling and grammar rules are also different. Only mark dialects you have experience working in.)
Finish filling out the form, create your account, and you’ll be ready to start earning.
Make Extra Cash With TranscribeMe
Transcription is one of the most popular work-from-home jobs because it offers flexible downtime, and the ability to take on projects large or small on your schedule. While it may not work as a full-time job, transcription with companies like TranscribeMe can be a way to make a little extra money online in your free time.