I’ve done a lot of transcription work in my (many) freelancing years. In that time, there’s only been one opportunity that I thought was completely reasonable in terms of both guidelines and pay, and that was the late, great, Demand Media Studios. I still try, here and there, to find transcription opportunities as a means of backup.
However, when I came across TranscribeMe via a third party microtasking platform that I use, I was impressed. The tasks were exceptionally short (as in less than a minute), clear, and added up quickly enough that I decided to investigate as to whether or not it had a main website with more job opportunities, and indeed it does.
First, you must use Google Chrome – the only browser that’s configured to work with the TranscribeMe website. As with most of these transcription websites, it’s easy enough to sign up with the usual profile information. The dashboard itself is streamlined and quite navigable, even without the initial access to actual jobs. There’s a list of exams potential transcribers can take based on languages/accents, and special teams that work on longer projects, for those who pass the main exam.
It’s important to note that the exams might not always be available. For example, when I first signed up for TranscribeMe at the end of 2017, I got an email stating that there weren’t any opportunities available at that time regarding, for me, the necessary English Entrance Exam, but that more opportunities would be available soon. I moved on to other things, revisiting the site almost a year later to find the exam available again.
Taking the Exams
The main thing that can be frustrating about the TranscribeMe entrance exams is that the system tends to be glitchy (and TranscribeMe admits to this). So, although there’s an option to save your progress after you’ve completed a section, it’s better to get the whole thing done in one sitting. I can’t speak to what the rest of the exams are like, but, as of this writing, the English Entrance Exam consists of 5 multiple choice questions, 3 sentences to edit for correct punctuation, and transcribing 3 audio clips (each of which are about 4 minutes long).
Even if you think you’re good to go with all of that, don’t be so sure – it’s still necessary to review the documents that are provided for download at the beginning of the exam, particularly the Style Guide. You need to get all of the multiple choice and sentence corrections correct, and score in the high 90s for the audio clips. If you fail a section, you can retake that section, but again, watch out for the glitchy system, because you might just end up doing the entire test again. If you fail after your second attempt, you can try the exam again in 30 days.
Really Getting Started
If you pass, you’ll be activated by a member of their team within a couple of days – if, and only if, you’ve completely filled out your profile information, including a photo ID. If you have trouble uploading the ID (again, there’s that glitchy system!) just keep trying until it sticks. Should you not upload a photo ID, you’ll be required to, and the onboarding process will take longer.
With everything squared away, next, you’ll get an email invitation to join Yammer, which is their online community. Here, you can network with fellow transcribers, get TranscribeMe’s latest news/updates, and communicate with the support team, not to mention review their latest resources.
Here’s where I got disappointed. There’s usually work, but, unlike the TranscribeMe clips from a third party microtasking platform that got me interested in the first place, these are mostly poor audio and/or heavy accents. There’s no previewing option, you’re just sent the next available audio file when you click on the Jobs tab in your dashboard.
TranscribeMe’s rules state that if you don’t complete a certain amount of files within a 4-week period (this varies by role), your account could be deactivated. They’re understanding, though. If you need to be away for a long period of time, just be sure to notify them.
At least from what I’m seeing in here, it’s almost impossible for me to accept a job that’s decipherable enough for me to complete adequately. So, although TranscribeMe looks to be a great side earner, I suppose my account could be deactivated and it’d be out of my control. If that happens, the English entrance exam would have to be retaken to reactivate the account, and that’s not something I’m willing to spend time doing again.
UPDATE: I ultimately decided to close my account, which only took one email that was promptly attended to; they’re a great bunch of people, it just wasn’t a good time/money ratio for me.
After completed files successfully make their way through the QA process, their respective amounts go into your Balance Summary, and can be withdrawn to a PayPal account once you’ve reached a $20.00 threshold.
TranscribeMe is a multilayered sort of transcription company that requires adherence to their (very reasonable) guidelines, and has great online community opportunities. However, due to the mostly poor quality of their audio files, you’ll need excellent hearing/deciphering skills to make this worthwhile.
You can sign up for TranscribeMe HERE.
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