This is a guest post from the wonderful Amy over at Transcriptress.com. Amy and I met on Twitter, realized we had a lot in common and have learned so much from each other! Since the writing of this post, Amy has moved on to other endeavors, but still offers great ideas here for those just starting out working for transcription companies.
Say you’re working on getting some momentum going in your new VA career. It’s exciting stuff, and you’re looking forward to it all taking off. Still, it’d be nice to have some extra money coming in for now. You feel you should be choosy, though. After all, you don’t necessarily want an ongoing commitment. That could get in your way, once you start meeting the clients you intend to keep.
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be a dilemma. Having some extra space in your daily work schedule means it’s an ideal time to set yourself up as a transcriptionist on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.
Lots of people around the Web are convinced that Mechanical Turk is a waste of time when it comes to making money. You’ll find plenty of articles about how you can only make pennies for your time. But to someone familiar with Turking, most of those articles are loaded with inaccuracies and misunderstandings about how the Turk system works.
For example, contrary to popular belief, the top pay available from the four main Mechanical Turk transcription companies is right about $90 per audio hour. Granted, you’ll have to work your way up to being eligible for that work, and for the more frequently available work that pays $60 per audio hour. But for a skilled transcriptionist, this can be done in a few to several weeks, depending on how much time you have for Turking.
Here are a few more reasons that your VA startup period is a great time to get started with Mechanical Turk:
- Mechanical Turk transcription is a reliable sideline to keep around. Turk transcription companies will be happy to have you take as much or as little work as you wish, as often or infrequently as you want. This can mean you only transcribe 30 seconds of audio a month, or even a quarter! There’s truly no minimum work output required, and no penalty of any kind for being inactive or low-producing for as long as you wish, and without any notice required.
- The pay is fast. Turk transcription companies often pay within a day or two. (Yes, really.) And Mechanical Turk’s minimum payout is $1.00 (as of the writing of this post), so any time you reach that amount, you can ask for a transfer into your bank account. Amazon charges no fees for this.
- Although the audio on Mechanical Turk is sometimes rather terrible, training your ears on it can be a great way to become a more accurate listener.
- Before your schedule becomes fully booked, you have more time to learn a few different style guides. Each of the main four Mechanical Turk requesters has their own, so if you learn them now, it’ll be easy to come back to a little Turking whenever you need to.
Having an extra source of income is one way to smooth out the new VA ride. Transcribing on Mechanical Turk can provide a very flexible source of it, as well as some useful (and interesting) experience. Whether Turking ends up being something you stick with, it’s certainly worth a try!