DISCLAIMER: This blog post is in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned below.
HAPPY 2018 TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS TO WORK DAY!!! Today I accidentally learned about this holiday when I brought Reila to The Roasterie to visit her dad and grab lunch with him. You see, I’m lucky enough to take my daughter to work every day because I work from home.
This time last year, working from home hadn’t crossed my mind. I was five months pregnant slaving away for the weekends at my corporate, cube farm job. If you had asked me, I would have assumed only an IT whiz or genius fluent in more than three languages could enjoy the luxury of working from home. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong.
There was a shift in my perception when I realized daycare costs would nearly wipe out my salary. It seemed like a bad trade, going to work to pay for daycare. Not to mention the number of times my coworker, mom to a then three-year-old, would have to leave work because the childcare workers called and said her son “fell and couldn’t move” or “needed a clean pair of pants.” She’d tell me about the number of times they wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom, so he’d sit in his pee for most of the day and come home with a rash down his leg. Or how every morning he cried and begged her not to go. I didn’t want to put myself or my daughter through that.
Realizing daycare was no longer an option was the ultimatum that finally helped me kick into gear. I was going to stay at home. But I knew my family couldn’t comfortably live on one income, so I would have to keep working.
I found myself on WAHM.com, a forum and online magazine for work-at-home moms. The site is always updating and has tons of valuable tips, resources, and reviews. The link I’ve included will take you right to the job search page, where you can plug in your zip code to see the various telecommuting companies that are actively seeking employees.
I knew I didn’t want to be on the phone all day, which meant no call center or sales rep jobs. Although teaching English to foreign students has always intrigued me, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to video chat reliably with a newborn. And that’s when I stumbled upon my path: transcription. If you’re interested in a transcription career, I’m planning to write an entire post on how to get started.
As far as I can tell, medical transcription is the highest paying gig but it requires certifications I didn’t have. However, my familiarity with legal jargon thanks to my out-of-college law firm jobs meant I could expand my search to both general and legal transcription. I also was lucky to have previous transcription experience from J-school, so I knew I could put that on my resume. But I wasn’t sure if that was enough, so I sought out transcription jobs that required no experience.
Although I sent out a ton of applications at once, the ball started rolling with TranscribeMe and Scribie the fastest. As soon as I passed the initial tests for each company, I was able to start working for them in about a week after my account was activated. After each assignment is approved by an editor, you get paid for them and you can withdraw your earnings whenever after meeting the minimum requirement, which I think was about $20. Both sites embed their own audio player/transcription software, so I didn’t have to download anything and I also didn’t need to buy a foot pedal.
The audio segments at TranscribeMe were 2-3 minutes in length and the quality was usually pretty good, so it was great for a transcription beginner. Pay wasn’t great, though. If I remember correctly, it was probably about $20/audio hour. Often times, it takes a beginning transcriptionist about four hours to complete one hour of audio. Taking that into consideration, that means the pay might average about $5/hour.
After completing 100 assignments on TranscribeMe, you can take a test to become a reviewer. I hear the pay is much better, although I had moved on to my current job by then. Jobs are automatically assigned on TranscribeMe and it can be hard to get work. I remember days where I would smash-click the refresh button until something popped up. Other times, the “all work is currently assigned” page got so discouraging I would just consider myself out of luck.
Scribie, on the other hand, always has work available. Audio is broken down, into 6-minute segments but it’s usually poor quality. Users make between 50-cents and $1 per audio assignments, meaning the average pay is really low – about $10/audio hour. That being said, users can become reviewers after completing an hour of transcription, which is a much faster job once you’ve mastered the style guide. If you find a good flow and are blessed with transcriptions that aren’t riddled with errors, you can make up to $10/hour. But again, I suggest only using this site to build experience.
Then there’s Rev, which also has its own audio player/transcription software embedded on site. They weren’t hiring when I started looking around at transcription jobs, so I didn’t use them much, but my ounce of experience with them was good. Pay is much better and deposited into PayPal every Monday. I think if you’re committed, you could make a decent wage working for Rev. But like the other two sites, work isn’t assigned so there’s no guarantee there will be anything available.
Two months after I started transcribing for these sites while still working my full-time day job, I started hearing back from some companies to which I had submitted my resume and a cover letter. Of course, they weren’t emails saying, “You’re hired!” But rather, “Transcribe these files following our style guide and formatting, then we’ll talk.” I bit my lip, submitted my tests and waited. And waited. And waited.
A few weeks later, I conducted phone interviews with wordzxpressed, Verbal Ink, and ASC/Morningside. I only took on the jobs with Verbal Ink and ASC/Morningside because they didn’t require the use of any specific operating systems, transcription software or foot pedals. Nor was there a minimum/maximum audio requirement per week, which I needed since I had no clue when Reila would make her entrance into the world.
It took about a month to get started because, like all jobs, you have to get through the whole background check/paperwork process, so I was thankful to still have my day job. Everything was squared away by the time my maternity leave started, so I was able to see how working at home compared to my day job with the security blanket of knowing I could return to it if things didn’t work.
I was beyond happy with my work at Verbal Ink. Each week, my paycheck was reliably direct deposited into my checking account and the pay was amazing. It ranges based on the assignments but can be between $55 to $115/audio hour. Whoa! ASC, on the other hand, paid by check in the mail and it took almost two months to receive my first paycheck. Not to mention they pay in bytes rather than by audio hour. I was shocked at how low my paycheck was for how much work I had completed. That was the first red flag.
The second (and final) red flag came when Reila was born, about a month later. If you’re a mom, you know birth is never predictable unless, of course, you’ve scheduled a C-section well in advance. My daughter arrived on a Sunday night and I had a few Monday morning deadlines to meet with both ASC and Verbal Ink. I got the files done and emailed them a few minutes after the deadline, apologizing while explaining I had just given birth to my daughter. My supervisor at Verbal Ink congratulated me, told me I should not have apologized and asked if I needed time off. The woman at ASC, on the other hand, scolded me for submitting my file late. So that was it – I quit working for them which, in the world of independent contracting, means I just didn’t ask for any more work.
It’ll be a year in August since I started working with Verbal Ink and I am beyond happy. Although the pay fluctuates based on the availability of work, it has actually exceeded my previous salary. The best part is I don’t have to worry about my daughter all day long because I am right here to take care of her. I can breastfeed her whenever I want, change her diaper when needed and take breaks to play with or read to her. Can you say “dream job?”