Want to transcribe for the entertainment industry? Here’s what to know first.

If you’re a freelancer with fast typing skills and good ears, then perhaps you’ve done some transcription work. There are a decent amount of companies on the Internet regularly hiring freelancers for things like business and medical transcription. What about the entertainment industry, though? Those jobs are more elusive, and require exceptionally fast typing, accuracy, and formatting skills.

Exceptions to the newbie rule…

Don’t immediately assume that this is the domain of strictly seasoned professionals. If you’re talented enough, it’s possible to transcribe for the entertainment industry with little previous experience. More specifically, some companies will state in their applications that if you can learn quickly and do well with the test samples they send you, they might still be willing to hire you.

Lightning speed is preferable.

I’m not kidding when I say that transcribing for the entertainment industry will only be worth your time financially if you can type above 80 words per minute. Studio schedules are such that you might have to transcribe 1+ hours of audio in under 24 hours, and that’s allowing for possible differences in time zones.

Tip: You can get a general idea of your typing speed here.

So, let’s say that a company pays $0.70 per audio minute, and you have a project that’s 60 minutes long. You’d earn $42.00 for that project. A very fast typist could probably finish in around 2 hours, averaging $21.00 per hour, which is pretty good! However, typing at an average speed could result in the same project taking the better part of a day to complete.

Accuracy is a must.

Get ready for verbatim transcription, since many companies in the entertainment industry require it. That means you have to correctly transcribe every “um, uh, mm-hmm,” every mispronounced word, and every stutter.

Since these transcripts – be they interviews, television shows, or even movies – are part of the editing process, timestamps are part of the process, too. If you get a job that utilizes software with built-in timecoding, consider yourself very fortunate. Other companies might require manual timecoding at specific intervals.

Formatting can be formidable.

This goes along with accuracy. If a company uses predetermined software, you’ll have less to worry about. However, other companies might send you templates that vary by project, so you’ll have to become adept at switching among them accordingly.

For example, there can be very specific fonts, spacing, headers, and footers. Don’t be surprised if you’re required to use earlier versions of word processing software, or at least to save files so that they’re compatible with earlier versions – it’s a way the entertainment industry saves money.

Where (and how) to start searching…

Job boards such as Indeed or Rat Race Rebellion sometimes have worthwhile possibilities. Get thee to your favorite search engine, too, with a phrase such as “entertainment industry transcription jobs” and sort through the sometimes-have-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-what-you’re-looking-for results to at least get ideas. Don’t count out general transcription companies, either, since sometimes various production companies might go through them if they’ve earned a reliable reputation.

Since this is one of the more competitive niches within the overall transcription industry, it’s important to have a cover letter and resumé at the ready for the moment you spot an opportunity. Don’t be surprised if you’re met with silence amongst the deluge of applicants – just remember that the more you (mindfully) apply, the better your chances of receiving responses.

Exhausting, yet enlightening.

Transcribing for the entertainment industry can be exhausting, but it’s a great way to hone your time management skills and attention to detail. You’ll also have the privilege (get ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement) of transcribing things that have yet to be released to the general public, and gain knowledge of how the production process works.

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