Transcription and Why It’s Not For Me


Well, for now anyway. When I started researching ways to work from home a few months ago, through Google and Pinterest, I came across transcription. You can imagine the appeal when the advertisements were going on about earning $25 to $35 per hour. To someone like me, who is eager to get away from the normal day-to-day drag, it was quite exciting… not to mention my ability to stay in my pajamas as long as I wanted. Score!

So I looked around. Most of them do not require any experience to get started. The most popular sites were Rev and TranscribeMe (as far as I could tell). I signed up for both, but ultimately ended up using Rev. Rev seemed to offer better pay as well as more consistent jobs. With Rev, the sign-up included you taking a test and transcribing different audio clips. After you’re finished with that, someone reviews what you have transcribed for accuracy and based on that they decide whether or not you can join the Rev team. It took about 24 hours to get an email confirming that I was accepted.

After getting approved, I took a look around the site. Well, turns out the pay was per audio hour, not just per hour. Silly me. I definitely should have realized that at first. Either way, it still seemed like something I was interested in and could make a pretty decent amount from. Also, they pay weekly which was a big plus! So, I settled in, grabbed my ear buds, and got started. You start off as a Rookie and in the beginning, someone actually reviews what you have transcribed prior to it being sent to the client. You have to follow a fairly strict format and it takes some getting used to. That is honestly what I spent the majority of my time doing.

After I thought that I had a fairly good understanding of how they wanted everything formatted, I took a look at the job board. On average there were about 5-10 available at any given time. There was always something available. Clients could go on and put any clip on there. From what I could tell, they set the price they’re willing to pay. So, to start off, I looked for a fairly small clip. It was only about 4 minutes long and was worth around $1.50. It didn’t seem like much, but I figured it wouldn’t take me long- maybe 10 minutes considering making sure the format was correct (after I was out of the Rookie status, I would have access to better paying clips anyway). Lucky for me, the clip was very clear and easy to understand. There was only a spot or two that I had trouble with. After I finished transcribing it, I went back through the audio to double-check myself and double checked the guide to make sure my formatting was correct. When I felt like it was as good as it could get, I pressed submit and looked at the clock. A whopping 40 minutes had passed! I made less than minimum wage! Definitely not what I had anticipated, but hey, I’m an optimist. It probably just took me so long because I wasn’t used to the formatting.

So, I spent the remainder of my weekend working on different clips. I still ended up with some errors on my first transcribed clip, so I took another thorough look at the format guidelines and then did a few more clips. All in all, I probably spent a good 6 hours working on everything over the weekend. I couldn’t do it all in one day, just because I felt like it was literally frying my brain. I chose longer clips to complete because the pay was a bit better, and I ended up doing a total of 4 clips. How much did I earn, you ask?? $11.70. Talk about disappointing! Was I doing something wrong because it seemed like a big waste to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of pros with transcribing, but my cons outweighed them.


  • Flexibility- You can literally do them whenever you want. I’ve logged onto the site multiple times at different times of the day and there are always available clips.
  • Rookie period (at least with Rev)- Somebody reviews each clip you transcribe, so even if you make a mistake, it will be corrected before going to the client. Kudos to them! They definitely care about quality.
  • You choose what you want to work on- Before you take one of the clips, you can preview it to make sure that you’ll be able to transcribe it. They also categorize their clips so that you can see the topic the clip is about prior to taking it.
  • Weekly payout- A lot of places require you to hit a minimum earning threshold before they pay you for what you did. At least with Rev, you actually do get paid weekly regardless of how much you made. They deposited my $11.70 right into my PayPal account just as promised. I even got an email to confirm.
  • Deadlines- They give you a deadline to have it completed so that they can get it to the client. It is plenty of time, so you can step away and come back later.

My Cons:

  • I’m a perfectionist- Part of the reason that it took me so long to complete these is because I don’t like submitting something before I know that it’s completed to the best of my ability. My name is going on it and I want it to reflect on me positively. Especially in the beginning with Rev, they have the quality reviewers for a reason. Still, I picked over it multiple times before submitting.
  • The whole “frying my brain” thing- None of the clips were particularly appealing to me, so it was kind of boring for me. Not only that, but a few of them, while they started off clear, were quite hard to decipher. Two of the clips that I completed were interviews that people had completed with multiple speakers. At times it was difficult to tell who was talking. Sometimes one speaker would be speaking clearly, but then the other was mumbling. I would have to repeat that piece over and over again to try to understand what they were saying. They do give you the option to say that you couldn’t distinguish what was said, but going back to my perfectionism, I wanted to document everything that was said.
  • It just doesn’t interest me- A big reason for wanting to get away from my current job is so that I can do something that I enjoy. Transcription isn’t one of those things. If you gave me a clip to transcribe about English history, cooking, or dogs, then I’m sure I would enjoy it so much more and would look forward to doing it. But I don’t think that will happen…at least not consistently.
  • Not enough $ for my time- If I had spent more time getting used to it, I’m sure my speed would have improved immensely. But, since it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing, I wasn’t going to wait it out. Yes, I do understand that you’re not going to make money right away and make it sustainable with pretty much anything. Personally though, I’d rather spend my time building something I will love…a blog for example.
  • Losing my hearing- Okay, so this one might be a little bit irrational. I used to wear my ear buds everyday for multiple hours a day since I got my first iPod in 8th grade. I did this up until about a year or two ago, when I started freaking out that I was damaging my hearing. Which, while it may be a little irrational, it’s also probably partly true. So now I try to minimize my ear bud time as much as possible. When I was transcribing, it was incredibly difficult to hear what was being said without them. If I spent several hours everyday doing that, then I probably really would have hearing problems.

While it didn’t work out for me, it might for you. It’s definitely an easy way to make a couple of bucks and once you get the hang of it, you can become really quick. Also, if you have the experience or training you could always get into the medical or legal aspect and probably have a lot more earning potential. Do the pros outweigh the cons for you?



Leave a Reply