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Are you properly intrigued? Excellent.
One of my favorite side hustles is an honest-to-God, work-from-home endeavor that almost anyone can do. I had zero formal training and am earning $500 to $600 a month, with a goal to do more.
I’m talking about transcription.
If you can type fast and decipher audio well, you can transcribe. This isn’t medical transcribing or another specialty, just plain old listening to an audio file and typing what you hear.
I love this side hustle for a number of reasons, and I’ll detail two of them below (of course!). But a few basics first.
How It Works
I’ve been doing work for a company called Rev for a few months. There are others, but Rev is the one I first heard about and is reputable.
You’ll need to apply and pass a skills test and, once accepted, you start on the bottom rung, “Rookie.”
When you’re a rookie, you’re limited to shorter files, which I’d highly recommend anyway. There’s a learning curve involved, plus transcribing can get tedious and tiresome, and it takes some time to learn how to pace yourself.
Rev pays by the minute, generally in the 48-50 cent range; it’s higher for more difficult audio and for verbatim files, in which you type everything, including stutters or umms and ahhs.
The trick is to learn how to transcribe as quickly as possible in order to maximize your time. You don’t want to spend an hour on a five-minute file that pays $2.50!
I feel like I’m pretty quick, and my metrics are excellent, but there’s always room for improvement.
You can find training via Transcribe Anywhere. They have a free course, and more in-depth material if you decide to pursue it further.
Good Training and Feedback, Consistent Pay
Rev has software on its website that you use for the transcription, and a full and detailed style guide. You learn all about each during the application process. I found it fairly intuitive though it does take some practice. Everything is online, so you don’t need to download anything.
When you’re a rookie, you get graded and receive feedback on each project. Then, as you accumulate more minutes and stay in good standing with your metrics (formatting and accuracy being the two biggies), you move on to other ranks where it’s more of a spot check from time-to-time. I’m currently aiming to become a grader, which I’m hoping will make my time even more efficient.
The best part: They pay every week without fail, depositing directly into my PayPal account each Monday.
You can also do captioning work, which is where you learn how to do closed-captioning for videos. I found this fun but slower, so I’ve focused more on transcription because I can get paid better.
And now that I’ve been doing this for about four months, I can offer up my 2 Favorite Parts:
1. Flexibility/True Work From Home
Rev is admittedly not the best-paying gig out there and sometimes it seems more like a minimum-wage job.
However, the flexibility is awesome. I try to find a certain number of hours a week to put into it, treating it like a part-time job. But unlike a traditional job, I can fit those hours in whenever they work for me. And I work on a laptop, so I can go anywhere.
I’ve worked all day Sunday. I’ve sat on my deck and I’ve sat by the fire pit. I’ve done jobs on weekday mornings and at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night (my college self would be exceptionally disappointed).
To me, this is what a side hustle is all about. I’ve always said I’ll work my ass off, but please don’t make me go into an office.
When you first start out, your choice of jobs is more limited and you’re better off trying to fit some time in during weekdays, when there are more files available. I worked to rack up the minutes as quickly as possible, which bumped me to the top level and opened up a bunch of new choices.
Now, it rarely matters when I log in (though Saturday night does seem to be slowest). I typically have at least 50 jobs to choose from, and sometimes a couple hundred.
2. Interesting Listening
I’ve transcribed everything from a discussion on gay porn to an interview with a famous musician, court recordings and interviews with authors or people working on TV or movie projects. I’ve heard church sermons and discussions about race.
You get to choose what you transcribe, and you even get a full hour to “unclaim” a project if you decide not to follow through, whether for personal reasons or because you find it too difficult to complete.
As I’ve worked my way up, I’ve gotten to choose from a much better range of topics. Transcribers at the highest level get first dibs on newly-available files.
In the beginning, I had to slog through corporate conference calls or phone surveys, some of which were difficult to understand. Suffice to say, I earned those minutes I needed to get in order to advance!
Now, with dozens and sometimes a couple of hundred choices, I spend a little time up-front searching for something interesting.
I gravitate toward files with no more than three or four speakers who are easy to hear and distinguish, and for topics I personally find interesting. And again, I have no formal training, but I imagine if I did, I’d likely see better earnings.
So my takeaway? You can certainly earn $300 a month doing this, and that would be with a handful of hours per week. Put in more hours and add some training, and you could earn double that or more. I saw one forum poster who talked about aiming for $100 a day (though I have no idea how many hours that takes him!).
Please comment with your experience at transcribing! And if you are interested in discovering even more side hustle opportunities, read this post that describes 15 side hustles you can start today.
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