Things You Need to Know Before Becoming A Work From Home Transcriptionist

Do you dream of having a job where you get to work at home? How about becoming a work at home transcriptionist. Are you ready to start making some extra dough while you‘re sitting around the house? Got a computer? What about a pair of headphones? All right. That’s a good start. First, there are a few things you should know.

Female hands typing on laptop keyboard
Female hands typing on laptop keyboard on white table with smartphone, sweets, notepad. Girlish desktop with stationery and plate of murshmallows

There’s a Learning Curve To Transcription

Unless you‘re some kind of turbo typist, grammar freak, there’s no way you‘re going to be able to speed through a 15-minute file in under an hour when you first begin. People talk a lot faster than most people can type, and they also are mumblers. You might have to listen again to a section a few times before you understand what someone is saying.
When I first started, I only did about 50 wpm (words per minute), and my typing was meh on the accuracy scale. Even after just a few weeks, I was getting much faster and more accurate. And if you need some extra help, there are plenty of online typing courses out there, so you can practice for free!
And remember, accuracy is more important than speed. You are going to get faster, but it’s essential to train your fingers to hit the right keys. Soon that muscle memory will kick in, and you don’t want your fingers to remember the wrong keys! Soon you’ll be speed typing in no time.

Study Your Grammar!

And take that style guide to heart. Whichever company you end up contracting with, they most likely will have a specific way that they want you to format certain things. For instance, okay vs. OK. Or using the Oxford comma.
One thing that helped me when I was learning transcription was to print out a copy of the company’s style guide. That way, I could use it as a quick reference if I needed to check something. It’s far easier just to glance next to you than to have to pull up a browser window or open another file every time you need to check on formatting.
Another useful tool is Grammarly. How I love Grammarly. If you are into writing at all, it’ll be right up your alley. It does a contextual spelling and grammar check and is a lifesaver for those of us who are still working on our grammar. It comes in a free and a paid version. I started free, but I love this app so much I ended up forking out for the paid version. I regret nothing.

Invest In Some High-Quality Headphones

Confident businesswoman typing on laptop keyboard
Confident businesswoman typing on laptop keyboard

This is probably one of the most important things if you want to get good at transcribing. I can’t tell you enough how big of a difference quality headphones make when you are trying to listen to a tricky file. It’s unreal.
When I first started, I went through several pairs. My first pair were the ones that came with my phone, which worked all right. They were definitely better than nothing. Then I got a cheap but super cool looking pair. I mean, they were baby blue. Yeah, let’s just say the audio quality was less than ideal. That $5 Target pair, not gonna cut it.
Next, I was given a pair of Bluetooth Plugfones. These things were amazing compared to what I had been using. They’re like earplugs, but headphones. The only problem was the Bluetooth. If I were working on an unusually large file, my battery would die before I could finish.
Finally, I decided to invest in a pair of over the ear transcription headphones. Transcription headphones are made for listening to voices, not music. They’re USB so no worry about the battery, and reasonably priced. They are my new best work friend, and my accuracy and speed has improved dramatically. Just being able to pick out those tricky words and softly spoken voices significantly enhanced the amount of time it took for me to finish a file.

You Usually Have to Work Your Way Up

Don’t expect to be making $1.00 an audio minute on your first job. And probably not your second either. When you first start off, the pay rate’s going to be low and the files short. But don’t give up!
The more you practice, the faster you’re going to get, which means the more money you can make. And the better you get, the more opportunities you will have to work for higher paying transcription agencies, or maybe even take on some of your own private clients! Once you’ve been at it for a while, don’t be afraid to buff up your resume and send it out.
And if you get turned down, try, try again. You’ll get there.

Do You Think You Have What It Takes To Be a Work at Home Transcriptionist?

The job is not for everybody. But if you‘re capable of sitting in one spot for a while, you like to listen to other people’s stories, and you‘re a grammar hound, this could be your chance to start a new career. One other word of advice, don’t quit your day job until your sure you can bring in enough cash. When you start, the pay most likely will be low.
But don’t let that discourage you. A year after I started, I quit my crappy day job and started bringing in more than I ever have before! But it will take time, dedication, and practice, but with a little work, your work from home dream job could be yours.

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Lauren is a work from home Transcriptionist and loves the freedom freelancing brings her. She is currently learning about web design and graphic design and hopes to branch out into branding/brand management. In her free time, she makes her own jewelry.

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