Side Hustle Series #2 – Transcription

In my time I’ve read a fair bit about side hustles on the internet. Many of them involve ethereal concepts that vaguely talk about making more money by e.g. just doing what you love (not unlike my first side hustle article ‘start a consulting business’). It can be difficult to put that into practice. With that in mind I wanted to bring something to the table that could really bring in money in a short time frame. The criteria were:
– Low costs to entry
– Flexible work hours
I forget how I stumbled upon transcribing, but it looked like it could tick all the above list.

Being a transcriptionist means typing audio into word format. Not translating, just transcribing. Word for word.

There are many sites out there doing this, I went to reasonably well known one –

I googled it to make sure it wasn’t a scam – the results were mixed. Whilst the consensus seemed to be that it is certainly not a scam, it had a lot of poor reviews online. The pay rates are low, and I read that many people had their accounts deactivated on a whim. Well, in the name of research I decided to give it a go.

Getting started:
In order to proceed you need to take a test. Transcribe some audio, then sit tight and wait and see if you pass muster.
The test took me around 25 minutes, and I would strongly recommend you take your time and don’t rush. It gives you a pretty good flavour of what to expect if you do pass. It’s quite simple, follow the instructions and type what you hear.

It took two days to receive the results back – I got an automated email saying I had been accepted.


Making monies:
The website is very slick and easy to navigate (I was envious). There are a couple of mandatory training videos that you need to transcribe (which you are paid for). Pay rates increase as you rise through the ranks, i.e. if you transcribe a certain number of minutes with a decent level of accuracy you get upgraded. Having transcribed 10 minutes and 52 seconds, the site tells me I am 24% to the next level. The levels are as follows:

Pay is done on word per minute transcribed. So if you can transcribe perfectly, you’d make a minimum of $0.32 per minute or $19.20 per hour. In reality it takes significantly longer what with poor audio, cross checking work, etc. To transcribe the 10 minutes and 52 seconds I estimate it took me over two hours! However, I am a terrible typist, one step removed from using one finger on the keyboard, and I was being extra militant about being perfect and getting good grades.

Regarding grades, my work was reviewed quickly – almost as soon as I uploaded (this refers to both the training videos and the actual third party piece of work I took on). I received 5/5 excellent scores on everything. This was very helpful, and the feedback was pretty useful (i.e. remove filler words like ‘ah’ ‘like’ and so on.

Payments are made via PayPal, paid in USD, and paid every Monday for the work completed the prior week. I eagerly awaiting my first Monday to see if I would be paid on time. I was, $3.52 received without fail, and a confirmation email to boot.

Ease of set up: 5/5. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
Boredom level: 1/5. Very quickly becomes monotonous.
Support: 5/5 stars. I didn’t have any issues. Once you are a registered member there is a forum that has some pretty interesting topics. I also received great emails with tips on how to improve. I.e. the most obvious would be to up word per minute typing (main tip, go to this website and practice.
Pay: 1 star. I earned less than minimum wage however this is caveat-ed that I am a very poor typist, as above.

Overall 4/5 stars.
Simply put, it is so easy to get started and make actual money. Is this going to make you rich, no. But can it help in times of need? Absolutely. Say you lose your job and have bills to pay, or are stuck in the house because you don’t want to speak to people today, this is a genuine way to put money in your pocket. If it interests you I would shop around for the best transcription website, as I went to the first one I heard of. Take your time at the beginning and don’t be disheartened by low pay, if you’re taking it seriously it’s better to get a good rep from day one and improve your speed over time.

Made any money? Have any thoughts to share? Comment below and let me know

Harry x

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