Hi, I'm Mae and I'm a freelance transcriptionist. I found my first gig through Craigslist. I was scared of scammers, so I decidedly responded only to straightforward ads that don't ask for "free jobs". If somebody required a long "test", then I turn them down. AMA.

Mae Polito
Jun 17, 2017

An AMAfeed on how I mined Craigslist for legit transcription jobs

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when did you start working as a freelancer? what languages do you speak

Jun 23, 8:33AM EDT0

what is RSVP you i see when i create an AMA? should i keep it blue or gray when i press on it?

Jun 23, 7:34AM EDT0

Do you have any tips for beginners who are getting started with freelance transcription?

Jun 17, 4:46PM EDT0

Hi TImothy,

-- I highly suggest focusing more on the quality than the speed.  If you have developed the smart habit of doing things right, speed eventually will come. 

--Submit on time

--Communicate promptly with clients.  Especially if you encounter a hiccup, communicate with client and come to them with solutions. They will appreciate your being a problem solver/project manager.

--Do your best with every job -- regardless of whether it pays more or less.  You need all the good reviews you can get to amp up your profile.

Have a blast freelancing! Let me know how it works. :-)

Jun 17, 8:36PM EDT0

Do you get regular jobs from the Craigslist?

Jun 17, 12:53AM EDT0

Craigslist has yielded two regular contracts for me so far -- one from a PR boutique firm who assigns me pharma interviews, magazine interviews, and advisory boards.  The other one was a transcription group , but I had to let go of that one eventually to make way for a higher-paying gig I found on Upwork. If I could pass that work on to my teammates I would have done that, but It required a unique log-in ID, so I'll be breaking protocols.

Jun 17, 8:39PM EDT0

Can you share any tips to ensure efficient and fast transcription work?

Jun 16, 9:41AM EDT0

Hi, Lisa.  The following works for me:

I eliminate distractions so I could focus on my work.  A designated time and work area is important for me so I could get "into the zone".

I make sure my equipment are in good condition because I don't want technical hiccups while working.

And I practice first in, first out, so it's easier to keep track of deadlines. I don't make shortcuts like, "Oh, I'll do this first. it's easy and I can finish it fast, then I can focus on the harder files." 

Jun 17, 8:49PM EDT0

How has been your experience so far as a freelance transcriptionist?

Jun 15, 3:07PM EDT0

Very fulfilling! It was not easy because I do have to do a lot of things on my own -- marketing, accounting, the transcription and QA, plus training & recruiting for my team, but it was worth it. The challenges give me a sense of purpose and the rewards are enough to keep me pushing to achieve more.

Last edited @ Jun 17, 9:30PM EDT.
Jun 17, 9:30PM EDT0

Also when I started, I was mainly addressing my own needs and wants, but now I'm even helping out friends and family become freelancers (the people in my small team) so they could achieve theirs.

Jun 17, 9:31PM EDT0

Which is the best way to handle multiple speakers in the audio?

Jun 15, 8:33AM EDT0

Hi, Robin.  I hope I understood your question correctly. If this is not the answer you're looking for, please feel free to inform me:

For multiple speakers, I ask clients every single reference they have which could help me identify the speakers -- maybe they  have it captured on video, or they have a sequence list.

Also, when transcribing, especially during parts where they introduce themselves, I try to associate each voice with a description -- like speaker 1 is a male, sounds somebody 50-ish and a teacher.  Speaker 2 is a male, sounds 50-ish, says "uh" a lot.

I observe for defining speech characteristics or speaker mannerisms to help me identify them.  Then, of course, I use contextual clues, like somebody would address them directly with their name.

When it's difficult though and they sound too much alike, then I just stick with the general "Male:" or "Female:" tags.  In short, I only go specific  when I can confidently name my reasons why I said it was so and so who was speaking.

Jun 17, 9:00PM EDT0

Is there any decent and free software available to help with transcription jobs?

Jun 14, 11:51PM EDT1

Hi, Monica.  I wish I could say Express Scribe, but I believe they have since implemented a limited trial.  If you're using Windows 7 though, there's still downloadable old version of Express Scribes you can use.

Maybe you can try ForTheRecord because the one I have is still a free version and I just downloaded that from the net.

Also InqScribe.

Jun 17, 9:04PM EDT0

Are you monetarily secure that you can meet any emergencies if you are out of work for a month due to sickness or other problems?

Jun 14, 10:39PM EDT0

Hi, John.  Right now, what I have are just the basics -- social services, government health insurance memberships that I contribute to voluntarily.  I'm looking into purchasing additional health insurances.

I'm also building up my team, so that I have a system in place to continue the work and it will allow me to earn passively on days I have to go on leave.

Then it's important to put aside token amounts for emergency funds, and I do look into other passive investments like rental property and stocks (the latter are goals I yet have to achieve though)

Jun 17, 9:12PM EDT0

Do you have any measures in place to ensure you are not duped and get paid for your hard work?

Jun 14, 7:15PM EDT0

Hi Suzanne,

With Upwork, I don't worry too much.  As long as I have an Upwork contract with the client, then I just focus on doing an excellent job because by then the only thing that will not get me paid will be sloppy work.

Outside of Upwork, I do due diligence -- I research on the company offering the job and especialy the individual I'm in contact with. If there's something I'm not comfortable about, like they're testing me with a rather long file, I try to settle it with them. I would ask if I could do just 10 minutes of it max.  If they don't agree and I feel like my hand is being forced, then I don't go ahead. I'll be polite but I turn it down.

I ask for contracts too with established rules because they can help me resolve or avoid conflicts.  If the contract sounds too generic, I ask for specifics to be added.  If they accommodate me, then for me that's an indication of goodwill. Otherwise, it's good riddance. 

So I guess basically, I don't work without contract and/or established guidelines because it's like you're giving them a freehand on how they will handle payments.

Jun 17, 9:27PM EDT0

How was your first experience as a freelance transcriptionist at Craigslist?

Jun 14, 5:23PM EDT0

Hi , Jill. The first one was horrible because a lady duped me. I worked for her for like 2 weeks, but she disappeared when it was time to collect payments.

I decided to be more careful the next time around, and I researched on the company/individuals first and asked for a contract, and that second attempt remains to be a loyal client up to now.  They're one of my regulars, that is I get work from them everyday, unless they're on a company leave for team building or if I go on leave myself.  They pay me twice a month through PayPal at a rate that's twice the industry standard here in the Philippines.

Jun 17, 8:15PM EDT0

How do you mange to transcribe recordings with disturbances or too much background noise?

Jun 14, 5:04PM EDT0

Hi, Jennifer. First of all, I try to avoid poor audio. I advise clients that audio is too poor for a decent transcript. If they say, "That's fine, we know it's a poor recording, just please transcribe the audible parts," then I would run them through noise-cancelling filters that's built into the Express Scribe or ForTheRecord. I give it a decent try to transcribe everything, but I don't stress or waste time too much over noisy parts.  I wouldn't even transcribe unless it's a complete sentence or if the phrase doesn't give context. 

For instance:

Male: I get the point. The audio [inuadible] after [inaudible] for it.

I'll transcribe as:

Male: I get the point. The audio [inaudible]

Jun 17, 8:07PM EDT0

Do you use any software to eliminate background noise and reduce disturbances?

Jun 14, 3:36PM EDT0

Hi, Sheila. I use ForTheRecord.  I find that eliminates background noise better than Express Scribe's filters.   Generally though, if it's a very noisy audio, I advise client that recording is poor and I wouldn't be able to  produce a decent transcript despite using filters.  So it's their call -- if they're okay with huge chunks of the audio missing or marked as inaudible, then I conitnue

Jun 17, 7:47PM EDT0

Do you use any specific software to help you with your work?

Jun 14, 1:22PM EDT0

Hi, Lisa. I alternatively use Express Scribe Pro and ForTheRecord as a media player. I find that FTR reduces background noise better thant ES.

If I'm doing SRT/subtitling, I use DivXLand Media Subtitler.

I'm still on the hunt for a text expander.  I used to have Sylvan's Soft ShortCut For Windows, but they discontinued that, which was unfortunate because it was really efficient -- worked across all programs, including in web browsers and Windows Folder. It totally cuts production time into half.

I'm studying the use of voice recognition softwares thinking that could be a time-saving tool also, but found nothing impressive so far.  I still end up doing heavy editing, which makes you wish you had transcribed from scratch than use the VR.

Jun 17, 7:41PM EDT0

How many years have been working as a freelance transcriptionist?

Jun 14, 7:57AM EDT0

Freelance, going on 4 years now. But I've been in the transcription industry for 15 years already. I went to work inhouse for a Philippine-based company 4 days after college graduation.

Jun 17, 7:26PM EDT0

Would you recommend freelance transcription to your family and friends as a decent source of income?

Jun 14, 6:04AM EDT0

Hi Zachary.  Interesting question. I would recommend freelancing, but not necessarily transcription.  I believe you need to identify where you're good at and leverage your skills.  I have friends who are into online teaching, writing, photography and even translation, and they're just as happy.

If you're linguistically inclined, do not mind repetitive and detailed work, and enjoy learning new things everyday, then yes, be a transcriptionist! :-)

Jun 17, 9:37PM EDT0

Do you make enough with this job to have a decent standard of living?

Jun 13, 10:15PM EDT0

Hi, Tyler. Fortunately, yes.  Even on my low months, at the very least there will be enough to cover our monthly expenses -- electricity & water bill, cable, phone and internet subscriptions, gas, food and groceries, even school expenses.

Jun 17, 7:08PM EDT0

Have you ever had a regular desk job with the associated perks?

Jun 13, 5:08PM EDT0

Hi, Gabriel.  I worked in-house with transcription companies (12 years) and a premedia firm (1 year) before I went freelance. I served in various capacities, worked my way up from being an entry-level transcriptionist, to being an editor, QA supervisor/training officer, and eventually production manager.

In all those jobs, I had medical/dental insurance, allowances (clothing/food/transportation/communication), paid leaves, and performance bonuses.

Last edited @ Jun 13, 9:24PM EDT.
Jun 13, 9:09PM EDT0

Have you considered trying your hand at other freelance work apart from transcription?

Jun 13, 5:00PM EDT0

Hello, there.  I've actually done online ESL teaching, but it was too high-energy for me.  I want to do more editing and data entry jobs.  I like data entry a lot because there's a plethora of jobs you could do, they're quick to finish, and you truly could do them while on the road.  I could be on a bus, and as long as I have decent internet coverage I could do some text analysis, or internet research, or tagging.

Jun 13, 9:31PM EDT0

Have you had any bad encounters as a freelance transcriptionist?

Jun 13, 4:35PM EDT0

Hi, Phillip.  Only one so far -- a lady had me transcribed like 2 week's worth of files, but I never got paid. I've since learned not to start working without any contract, and to ALWAYS do due diligence -- research about the person and the company he/she represents first.

Jun 13, 10:01PM EDT0