In a nutshell, Transcription work requires almost no experience, and not many skills (nothing you can’t get better at fast). All you need to do is listen to audio and type out what you hear. That’s it. And for that, you can earn up to $25 an hour.
I first saw this idea in 2015 from The Penny Hoarder. That article currently has 2.9m views and can you can see why. I doubt the blog was the first to popularise the idea, but I’ve since seen the idea explode. Just about every “make money online” or “work from home” blog has hit on this idea (including mine now). The reason is how easy it is to do!
You will be unlikely to ever hit a million dollars a year (never say never), although I will share an idea on how to make this into a full business later. But, making a livable income while working from home is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it could well be the ticket out of your 9-5 misery/poverty trap you’ve been dreaming of.
Don’t get the wrong idea, it is mind-numbing, and it is not guaranteed, but it does work.
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Pro’s & Con’s
Ability to work from home!
No guarantee you will get enough work
Able to earn a livable income
Unlikely to ever hit a million dollars a year
Fairly simple, anyone can do it – low barrier
Low barrier means there is lots of competition
The good news is most of that competition is low quality, so it’s easy to stand out!
Repetitive, gruelling and mind-numbing work means you will get sick of it
You can earn enough on the side while working your main job to start your real business!
First of all, the only things you need to get started is a computer and an internet connection. And of course the usual attachments (mouse, keyboard, etc…) I would also advise getting a decent pair of headphones. Listening to the audio can be difficult over loud speakers. You really need to be able to HEAR the words properly. Some audio can be hard to understand, so a good pair of headphones or earbuds will help a lot.
If you are looking to make a more long-term career and command higher wages, there are certifications available online from various institutions. Typically, you can pay a fee, run through the course and take the test very quickly (in days usually). If this is your ticket to exiting the cubicle, then go ahead and invest in a certification after taking a few jobs first (to see if you like the work). There is likely to be plenty of real world, office jobs available too. But we are trying to avoid that, right? Though they do usually command higher wages and benefits (such as a guaranteed salary). Your choice.
Expect to make $15 an hour to start, to start. Once you have some experience you can work for higher paying companies. Also, note that many jobs are paid based on how long the AUDIO file is, not how long it takes you to finish transcribing it. So, while many jobs may pay $40, $50, or even $100 an hour, it may take you several hours to complete the work. Hence, we will use the $15 an hour number.
To give credit where it is due, here are several lists of different websites to find jobs:
If we assume a $15 an hour wage, then you only need to work 6.66 hours per day. So, slightly less than a full-time job, but without the politics, travel and hassle!
This will, of course, increase if you can increase your accuracy and speed! It is quite realistic to hit $25 an hour, thus working the same 6.66 hours a day, you’d be around $166 per day.
Scalability – Can It Become A Million Dollar Business?
On your own? No. Trading your time for money will almost NEVER earn you a million dollars.
Okay, I promised a method to turn transcription into a million dollar business. Aside from running a job website for transcription jobs, acting as the middle man and connecting employees and employers, there is another way. This could work, but it’s a hard slog! And there is a lot of competition.
What we are going to look at is productized services. Start by reviewing the series from Tropical MBA here. Scroll down to find them towards the bottom of the page. I would then also read through Brian Casel and WP Curves material.
To sum up the idea, a productized service is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a broad term, but just about any service you can perform in a uniform way can become a product. Which then opens it up to other business types, such as a subscription model! It also means that you are able to outsource the work.
For example, Design Pickle productized graphic design services. For a flat fee per month, they offer their clients unlimited graphic design work. Need a brochure? Send the job in! Need a logo? Send the job in! And they are now able to outsource the work to employees or freelancers and focus on growing and scaling the business. I cannot be sure of numbers, but I’d reckon they are heading towards, if not already at, the million-dollar mark.
By the way, any time you can profitably outsource the work, your job becomes growing and scaling the sales and marketing of that business. Once you can do that successfully, a million dollars a year is easily within reach.
In sticking with the idea of transcription services, what you are going to do if productize your transcription services. How? That’s up to you. Find a pain point or a gap in the market and fill it!
Some ideas off the top of my head, think of a subscription service for