Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something I have recommended. While clicking these links won't cost you any extra money, they will help me keep this site up and running and keep it ad-free! Please check out my disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Have you thought about working from home as a transcriptionist? As a podcaster, I can tell you right now transcriptionists are very much needed. Not just for podcasts, but for all sorts of professionals: mental health, business meetings, law firms (not in court -- courtroom transcriptionists are a little different. But in law firms). With more and more industries turning to digital means of communication, transcribing those meetings, minutes, and broadcasts is becoming an essential skill. But, and here is the catch, it's a time consuming essential skill that most companies prefer to hire out for.
Case in point? Me. I record my podcast, then send out the audio file to scribie. Now, to be honest, normally I just pay the $2 to $4 to get the file auto-transcribed (takes about 10-15 minutes) and then I can take an hour or two editing the finished transcription. This is by far the fastest way I've found to get a transcription of my podcast. But, sometimes I don't need fast. Sometimes I need "done for me." And that's when I use their human transcription service (they're hiring by the way... so after you're done reading this post, you may want to go ahead and check that out!!) to have someone else transcribe my podcast for me.
Here's the best part...most transcriptionists work from home!! And why wouldn't they? It doesn't take a lot of equipment to get started. In fact, if you follow these five tips, you can start working from home as a transcriptionist as early as today!
First thing's first, while you don't need a lot of equipment to be a transcriptionist, you do need some:
- A computer with speakers (if your home tends to be loud, you may want to consider some noise-canceling headphones to help cut out some of the background noise).
- A word processor (most every company out there will require you to use Microsoft Word. But you may also find some that require Google Docs).
See? Easy right?
Now, you may want to look into some transcription software. But if you're just starting out, then I am thinking you probably want to make a few bucks before you go investing everything into some software, right? But, if you do want to look into software, Express Scribe is highly rated (in fact, you could even save a bit of money by buying the Express Scribe pedal, software, and headphones all in one package). Most of the transcriptionists I've hired swear by this software, especially the pedal. With it, you can control the playback speed, and it works with different audio and video formats. You can even check it out for free if you'd like to practice a bit.
2. Practice Typing
I cannot stress this enough: if you want to start working from home as a transcriptionist, you need to be able to type fast. Most places will require you to type at least 40 words per minute to hire you, but I recommend much higher. I type closer to 100 words per minute, and I still fall behind when transcribing my own podcasts. So, ideally, I would try to aim for somewhere between 50-75 words per minute with high accuracy (accuracy is much more important than speed). The faster you can type, the faster you will be able to finish those projects and be able to take on new ones. And, since most of these are paid by the word, by the minute, or by the page, being able to get them done faster is the best way to maximize how much money you can make.
Typing speed is also something that naturally increases as you get more and more practice in. So if you're sitting at 35 words per minute now, it won't take you very long to get up to the 40 words per minute mark or higher. You can start practicing online for free at sites like Key Hero.
Another trick that really helped me speed up my typing is doing writing sprints. For that, all you need is an egg timer (or a smartphone with a timer on it). Set the timer for 5 minutes, then start writing and see how many words you can get done before the timer goes off. Gradually, as you get faster and faster, you can increase the time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and more. (Pro tip, these writing sprints are an amazing way to stay productive when you work from home with kids, too. They help train your brain to get on a writing roll practically on demand, you'll get several hundred words written within just a few minutes, and doing these sprints reduces the number of times you will be interrupted).
3. Brush up on your Grammar
Yes, know your grammar is going to help you tremendously. Especially when you start transcribing audio with very fast talkers.
Do you know when to use the word "regard" instead of "regards"? How about the difference between "to, two, and too?" Homophones, or words that sound alike but have very different meanings, can really throw you off when you're transcribing -- even if you know the answers. When you're listening to people who speak quickly and trying to type out exactly what they say, you run the risk of slipping in the wrong "to." But a strong understanding of grammar can help minimize this accident.
4. Invest in Some Training
You won't need a degree to start working from home as a transcriptionist, but there are things you will need to learn.
The good news is, your investment doesn't have to be huge. You can start with Janet Shaughnessy's free mini course on general transcription. I've taken this course, and believe me -- this course is enough to get you started with some great information.
If you'd like to check out some other courses on being a transcriptionist, here are a few I've found that you might like:
- How to Become a Transcriptionist on Udemy
- Transcription Skills - Learn Beginning to Advanced Skills on Udemy
- How to Transcribe and Excel in General Transcription on Udemy
- TranscribeAnywhere with Janet Shaughnessy (yep, same instructor as the free mini course I mentioned earlier -- this is her full course that includes everything from how to transcribe to how to market your business and get clients.
5. Find Clients and Start Working From Home as a Transcriptionist
Once you're ready, you can jump right in and get to work! And like I said, there is plenty of demand for work at home transcriptionists.
- Transcriptionist jobs listed at UPWork freelancing service
- Transcriber jobs listed at Freelancer website
- Work with Scribie
- Tigerfish Transcripting
- Transcribe Me
Did you enjoy this article? Here are a few other blog posts about working from home you might like: