TranscribeMe Review: A Good Transcription Service?

Since our Transcribe Anywhere Review, a few people have been messaging me asking for a TranscribeMe Review. Over the past 10 to 15 years, there has been a drive towards outsourcing the most mundane tasks that a company can come across. Usually, these were tasks that were handled by temp personnel and part-time workers, who probably had decided to do this kind of work so they could have time to do other things such as raise a family or go to school.

As internet speeds improved, so did the abilities that came with the improvement. From live video calls to instant messaging, this opened up a new avenue for people to accomplish tasks. And thus, a new culture was born; the work from home culture.

The aforementioned mundane tasks could now be handled by personnel who were far away from the office, and still hand in those tasks that very same day. This was a boon to companies, businesses and other organizations who periodically required the extra help.

Tasks like data entry and transcription could be handled without having to call in temp personnel into the office. This was great for both the workers and the companies. This was a significant reduction in employee costs, and the personnel could work from home while watching their children sleep.

This dynamic also worked great for the entrepreneurial minds out there. What if they could connect qualified personnel to the companies that needed them, and vice versa? How about instead of working in a poorly prepared environment, they could work on an online platform instead?

Thus, online work platforms were born. These offered a variety of tasks that people could complete and be compensated for their efforts. Of course, there always were bad apples in society and they seized upon this opportunity to fleece people of their hard-earned money.

This is probably the reason why you are doing extensive research to find out whether you’d be falling into such a trap if you were to try and sign up to TranscribeMe.

So, is it? Let’s find out.

What Is TranscribeMe?

You may have heard from friends, read on your social media pages or even came across it in your Google searches that people could work online turning audio into text. Whether you dug further or not, you do realize that this was talking about transcription.

Now, transcription is the process of turning spoken speech into either a written, or electronic document. This speech could have been spoken live, or would have been recorded for further reference or presentation. The most common way you may have come across it is by the people who sit in court rooms typing quickly into a small machine.

Well, as it turns out, it’s not only the justice system that needs written documentation of these speeches. Transcription can also be used in other fields such as medicine, journalism to write down interviews, and in religious contexts such as transcribing sermons.

During the process of transcription, the transcriber is expected to listen to a recording and then type down what they hear. In certain cases, the audio could have been recorded poorly. In such a case, the recording will have to be cleaned up by either boosting the volume, cutting out background noise and equalizing among other methods.

As the work from home culture arose, crowdsourcing companies arose. These companies operate by spreading work to a large number of people. This allows large files to broken down into sections. These sections are then passed down to different workers who will then complete and return the work, where it will be put back together to form the complete work.

This gives ordering clients the possibility of having their work done in a very short time, and is great for work that is urgent. The downside is many cooks can spoil the broth. To keep quality consistent all throughout the order, companies have to rely on a set of guidelines that each worker has to follow religiously.

TranscribeMe is one of these crowdsourcing companies. Their address is found at TranscribeMe.com. The website has a client facing webpage, as well as a webpage meant for workers who currently work there, or would be interested in working there.

What TranscribeMe does is it accepts orders from clients. These orders are for audio that they want to be transcribed into text. TranscribeMe has their own proprietary system with which they will put the audio into. This system includes speech recognition software which will attempt to make out what was spoken. The software, however, is not perfect and human intervention is needed. The audio will then be graded according to quality. The good quality ones are immediately broken into sections and then passed to the workers who will complete them.

The poor-quality audios will undergo an improvement process, to try and make it easy for a worker to make sense of. Some improve, other don’t. Here’s the kicker. The good quality audios are deemed easy to make sense of. The poor-quality ones are left for the experienced transcribers who can make sense of them. However, the poor-quality audios are better paid than the clearer ones.

How Does It Work?

If you haven’t worked as a transcriptionist before, you may be wondering what you need to do to e able to work there. You may have observed what a court stenographer does and concluded that you may need various equipment to work from home.

If you have worked as a transcriptionist some place, you may be familiar with the various transcriptionist tools out there. Some of these include a laptop, PC or Mac in good shape, software to load the audios into and probably a foot switch to control how the software operates.

TranscribeMe decided to rely entirely on tools on their website to be able to do what most of the physical equipment can do. Instead of downloading audios to transcribe from your laptop, they have built an online platform from which you can transcribe the audios into. This platform allows you to listen to the audio as well as control the speed, rewind and forward the audio. You do get a workbox in which you can type in and format what you hear.

With this simplification, all you need is a laptop, a pair of good headphones and a stable internet connection of 5 Mbps or greater. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use, whether a Chromebook, Windows or Mac. As long as it can run a web browser, that’s all you’ll need.

How Do I Join And Start Earning?

The good thing about online crowdsourcing platforms is they don’t really require a lot. Your dedication to keeping time and maintaining quality according to their guidelines is the key thing to making it in these online platforms. As such, you don’t need any special qualifications or years of experience to be able to join. You don’t even need to have The Flash level of typing speed to be able to join.

To join, you will simply need to navigate to their website, that is transcribeme.com.

  • Right at the top of the page, in high contrast to the royal blue landing page is an orange button written “Join as a transcriptionist.”
  • From here, you will be directed to another page that will give you a break down on what working at TranscribeMe is like, what they can offer you and how you can do it. Once you are sold on the benefits, you can click another orange button written “Join Our Team.”
  • If you are using browsers such as Firefox or Opera, you will be greeted with a message telling you that TranscribeMe is best experienced when using Google Chrome browser. You might need to copy the link address and paste it into your Chrome browser, that’s if you already have it on your laptop. If not, you will have to download and familiarize yourself with it. Don’t bother trying to mess around, the message won’t go away and you can’t get that message to go away.
  • Once there, you will need to create a new account that will enable you work. You will have to enter your particulars into the registration form. Make sure the email address you use is the same as the address you use for your PayPal account. Due to some fraudulent activity by people from various nations, any mismatch might get your account blocked after you’ve began working, and you may end up losing your hard-earned money.
  • Also, enter your details truthfully. Ensure they closely match what is on your identification documents. Yes, they will ask for account verification in form of your government identification, whether an identity card or a passport.
  • In this form, you can also pick your level of experience, as well as the accents you are familiar, or comfortable with. If you do speak and understand foreign languages (lucky you) you can tick the languages you are familiar with. What this means is that there will be extra work available for you aside from just English language files. This is an opportunity to earn more from the site as some languages do have higher paying files.
  • If you have special skills, then you also have the chance to upload you resume. This goes for those who have prior experience in the legal and medical transcription fields.
  • Enter your phone number and your Skype address. These will be used to contact you to confirm whether you really are the person who registered on the website. Unscrupulous people have used photo IDs of people who aren’t them and proceeded to cause havoc.

After you’re done with this part, it’s now time to move on to the next part.

Then, What Next?

Ah yes, it’s now time to prove what you claim. Yes, the website is newbie friendly, that doesn’t mean they will allow shoddy work. You have to show that you at least have impeccable grasp of the English language and its rules of grammar. You also have to show that you can follow instructions to the letter. Finally, you also have to demonstrate that you have excellent listening skills.

To prove all these, you will have to set aside some time to complete a series of tests. No, they’re not that many. The test comes in two parts. The first part is a grammar test. The second is an actual typing test. Before you begin the tests though, you will need to take a thorough look at their guidelines.

The guidelines, also known as a style guide, will give you all the information you need to know before you take the tests. Among other things, it gives you guidelines on how to format text, entire sentences, paragraphs and other information such as dates and time. It will also guide you on how to use punctuation and where to use or not use things such as exclamation marks, ellipsis, colons and many more. Numbers are also formatted differently. The guide will also list references for technological terms and websites you can use to check your grammar and formatting.

The first part of the test can be quite tricky if you don’t pay attention to the style guide. It is ten questions testing on grammar, sentence formatting and other general information found in the style guide. Many who don’t pay attention end up getting frustrated as they pass all questions except one each time they take the test.

The second part is the typing test. Now, you don’t need to be lightning fast to do this work, but you have to do this work within a set time limit. Most of the audios you will encounter on the platform range between two to four minutes in length. TranscribeMe allows you three actual minutes to complete one minute of audio. So, for a 4-minute audio, you are required to complete it in 12 minutes.

Please note the first test you will do will have to be completed in American English.

This part will also test your formatting. Pay special attention to things like date and time, how the different speakers are labelled as well as the use of numbers. You will have to complete three different audios, of which a percentage score will be made.

Now, for you to be deemed to have passed this test, you will need to get ten out of ten questions right in the first part of the test. For the second part, you will need to achieve at least 90 percent accuracy. If you fail any of the two parts, you are allowed to retake the test at least three times.

If you had signed up for multiple accents and languages, you will have to go through the same process. If you do pass, you are then guaranteed a lot more avenues of earning from the website.

I Passed The Tests. What Can I Expect In Terms Of Pay?

How much you earn will depend on several factors.

  1. First of all, the pay rate is per audio minute. The audio rate per minute will also depend on the difficulty of the audio file. The pay ranges from $0.25 to $0.36 per audio minute. This translates to $15 to $22 per audio hour.
  2. The second factor to put into consideration is how many audio minutes you complete per day, and how they accumulate towards the end of the week. Some people are capable of typing more than three audio hours a day, others will struggle to even complete an audio hour in a 24-hour period.

You might also type three audio hours on Monday and not work again until Thursday, of which you might do only an audio hour. Someone else will work an audio hour a day from Monday to Friday. That is five audio hours, and the former has accumulated only four hours. The latter will definitely earn more.

Here, it is your typing skills and your concentration that will aid you in how much you will earn. If you are a scatterbrain, you had better learn to put away all the creative flair and rhetorical questions until you are done with the work that’s in front of you. If you also aren’t that great at typing, this will be a challenge to you to work on increasing your speed.

  1. The third factor is the type of audios will you be transcribing. As mentioned earlier, the more difficult the quality of the audio is, the higher the payout per audio minute. The same also goes for audios in foreign languages. The other types of audios that get higher pay are the medical and legal recordings. These require extra knowledge and research skills that may just not be for newbies.
  2. The fourth factor is how much work is available on the platform. Online crowdsourcing platforms are excellent for the people ordering the work and the companies, but can be terrible for the workers. TranscribeMe can sometimes have very little work on the platform. What this means is that not all the workers will get a chance to earn money. No work, no pay.

Also, the little work can be directed to the workers who have higher ratings and the newbies are left out to wait until the system is overflowing with work. Yes, TranscribeMe has a rating system for workers. People who work consistently for a period of time get promoted up the ranks. This means that they get access to work when there are none in the system, and when it is overflowing, they get the higher paying audio files. People who have high ratings also get a chance at becoming reviewers.

The rating system doesn’t only depend on the length of time you will have worked on the site. It is also dependent on the quality of work that you produce. Whenever you submit work, a reviewer will take a look at the quality of your work and grade it how they see it fit their interpretation of the guidelines. If you consistently get high scores from reviewers, your ratings will go up. Poor scores will keep your ratings stagnant, downgrade you or even get you kicked out of the platform.

There have been cases where reviewers have consistently given poor ratings to good work, according to their interpretation of the guidelines. This has led to people being kicked out of the platform even though they have been doing good work.

However, if your work is good, you can request to join special teams. These teams get specific work assigned to them. These teams are usually by region or by language and you can generally ask for help from your team mates whenever you are stuck while working on your audios.

TranscribeMe also has a community of workers from where you can ask for help on general issues such as platform errors. In case you submitted a task you were doing and you were not done with it, you can request it be returned to you so that you can complete the formatting or the typing, whichever one it was. If not, a reviewer is likely to give you a bad score, and with it chances of getting more work from the platform.

How Do I Get Paid?

With money, of course. Sorry, that was crass. Unlike other websites that offer payment in arbitrary things such as useless points that are meant to be redeemed but actually aren’t, TranscribeMe pays out in real dollars, US. Remember that PayPal email address that was required of you? Yes, that is what they will use to pay out.

For you to get your first transcription dollars, you will have to have transcribe at least $15 worth of work. This work must also have passed through a reviewer’s microscope for approval. Once the audios have been approved and the money credited to you, you can request for a payout from your account preferences page. The money is paid out once a week, or you can request a payout if you have achieved the minimum threshold before payday.

Conclusion: TranscribeMe Review

Don’t dare quit your day job. You may have the skills and the opportunity to work from home may be enticing, but it is just that; enticing.

If you already are at home, you may need to augment your earnings by engaging in other sites such as SwagBucks or Verbit. Also, if you do  make mistakes on the tasks, you are likely to lose money.

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