From Stay-at-Home Mom to Transcription Business Owner

success interviews Jan 08, 2019

For many women, it's a dream to get married and be a stay-at-home mom.  Yet, contributing to the household financially is just as important.

So, what can you do?

Meet this determined mama, Allyson.  From odd jobs to mini career, this mama fulfilled her dream of finding a flexible, work from home job that would allow her to be at home with her baby.

She now earns around $20/hour with her own transcription business.

This is how she did it...

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background? What did your life look like before TA?

Theater, choir, and dance were my life. I went to Brigham Young University and majored in theater (specifically stage makeup and hair design) and minored in ballroom dance. I love performing and being creative. But I wanted to get married and be a stay-at-home mom.

That didn't happen. Upon graduating in 2014, my life wasn't where I thought it would be, and I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I didn't want to go to New York City or LA to pursue a major theater career, but I still loved the arts. For a few years, I worked odd jobs: retail, call centers, receptionist at urgent cares and vet clinics, trying to decide if I would go back to school.

My husband and I finally got married in August 2016 (we dated for years) and found out shortly thereafter that we would be having our first child. That would fulfill my lifelong desire to be a mom and have that as my full-time job! I thought all would be well.

Q: When did you start doing transcription, and what made you decide to learn it?

Transcribing Interviews: From Stay at Home Mom to Transcription Business OwnerSince my husband was still in law school, we were nervous about having a child right away with debt to pay off. Plus, I was still thinking grad school, especially since I knew I needed some sort of marketable skill in case something were to happen to my husband. I decided I would try and find something to do while at home to help out in any way I could. I was looking up at-home jobs one day and came across transcription. Like most people, I thought that this could be an easy mini-career to have at home. I found Transcribe Anywhere and enrolled in the General Course.

Q: What was the most challenging part of getting started?

The most challenging part of getting started was making the time to go through the course. The first few chapters were easy. Once I hit the practice parts, it became a lot harder. I was working a full-time job at a vet clinic and pregnant so by the time I got home at night, I was tired and didn't want to do much. I still managed to make a little bit of time to practice. But then after having my cute little boy, time definitely got away from me. Luckily, that summer we lived with my parents and in-laws, so I had help with the baby. I was able to practice while he napped or whenever they had him.


Q: What have been the most valuable things you learned during the course?

Grammar. And time management. Actually, I'm still learning both. I didn't realize how much grammar I had forgotten until I got down to it. As for time management, I had to constantly adjust to my son's nap/sleep schedule, especially when he would only nap 30 minutes at a time. But by prioritizing things and communicating with my husband, I was able to complete the course and start practicing.

Q: How long did it take you to find your first client? How many clients do you have now?

For the first little while, I had no clients. I worked as an independent contractor for a transcription firm. I got real-world experience. And I made some money. But it was awful. The pay wasn't great (all said and done, I was making $7-9/hour, not including taxes). And there were no opportunities for client interaction or to pick my clients.

Once I realized that I'd learned all I could from the firm and that my time was worth more than they were paying, I struck out on my own and started my own business. I did my first trial-run with a client in May, and they officially hired me on in June.

Here's the catch with my client: my husband, who works in the legal field, is the one who put my name out there to the organization. It's all about networking. Once they knew about me, I reached out to the organization and was able to arrange a trial-run.

After I finished the project, though, they didn't just lavish me with work. They initially told me they were using a larger transcription firm to do their podcasts. So I had to be persistent and continue selling myself to them.

After a few weeks, the organization reached back out to me and asked if I could help them since they were inundated with podcasts that needed be transcribed. I helped out, and they liked my work much better in comparison to what they were getting at the firm—hence, the training pays off.

So it took me about a month of consistent effort to land my first steady, institutional client. And for now, it's my only client. They provide me with enough work to keep me and one contractor busy. Other law firms and organizations have expressed interest, but I have actually declined those leads just because I'm too busy with work and family. I get that that's a good problem to have and makes me lucky. I may look into expanding more in the future. But for now I'm pretty content.

Q: How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?

Not long. I recouped the costs while still working for the firm. As I said, pay at the firm wasn't great. I made 65 cents/minute of audio, which normally meant I made about $7-9 per hour of work. And I was doing it part-time. So it took me about two months to recoup the costs. I could have recouped it faster had I not had a newborn at home and been moving across the country. But that's life.

But business has picked up considerably since starting my own business and finding a steady client. I keep my operation pretty lean so I can keep my rates low. So I charge $1.50/minute of audio and make $20 or so per hour of work. I bring in anywhere from $250-$400 in a normal week, working part-time. This year I'm expecting to make about $9,000-$10,000. So I'm not getting rich, but I'm paying for our car, food, and bills; saving for school; and making a little fun money on the side. Not bad for a job where I set my own schedule, work from home, and enjoy what I'm listening to.

Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about becoming a transcriptionist? Is it worth the money for training?

I'll answer these in reverse. It is absolutely worth the money for training. First, training provides a wonderful refresher on grammar. No matter how good you think you are, I promise that you've forgotten (or never learned) many of the grammatical and spelling conventions that will help you to create a professional, readable work product. Most people with enough time can accurately put the words they hear in order on paper. It's much harder to punctuate and format those words into a comprehensible work product.

Second, training sets you apart. There are so many cheap, knock-off transcription services out there. And you have to compete with them. Being able to say that you have training and a credential in the field signals to clients that you know what you're doing and that you're worth the rates you charge.

As for other advice, I offer this: network. Lots of places need transcriptionists and don't even know it. Law firms. Businesses. Government agencies. Doctor's offices. Make phone calls. Write emails. Print business cards and go to industry events. Be proactive. That's what my husband and I had to do before finding my steady client. But it all paid off.

Q: What do you think it takes to be a GOOD transcriptionist? How about a GREAT one?

A good transcriptionist is someone who can listen, type, and turn in what they heard. A great transcriptionist is someone who pays attention to detail, someone who takes the time to review their work, re-listen to trouble spots, and isn't afraid to ask for help. Clients will recognize a great one. My client comes to me now asking to transcribe various things for them that weren't in our original agreement.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a transcriptionist? What about your least favorite?

My favorite thing is the freedom and flexibility it gives me. Plus, I like learning from what I type. Sometimes the subject matter is really interesting.

My least favorite thing is the time. It does take a while to type out a transcript and then go back and read it, edit it, etc. And that's really difficult when you have a child and are looking to grow your family. That's why I have help and want to go back to school to learn another skill. I utilize the Facebook group and have found a friend who helps me transcribe. As for the skill, I plan on learning the steno machine to help me with my transcribing. Time is money in this business. And any way I can find to work faster without sacrificing quality is a worthwhile investment.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? Anything else you’d like to share?

A typical day is I wake up around 6:00 to try and get in at least an hour of transcribing. My son wakes up between 7:00 and 8:00. Then we drive my husband to the train station, where he catches the train to work. From there, it's all taking care of my son. Some days, he'll take two naps—a morning and afternoon, but now we're transitioning to just one. Usually, during those naps is when I work, along with doing one or two other odd jobs around the house. After getting my husband in the evening, having dinner, and putting the little guy to bed, I will do a couple of hours of work before going to bed.

My last piece of advice is take some time for yourself. You want to be in a good state of mind when doing this. Take a break if you need to. You will work faster and more accurately in a good mood than in a bad mood. And, finally, be honest with your client. I try to let mine know whenever I have something come up so they don't think I'm slacking. Communication is key to maintaining that good relationship and most people will be understanding of your other commitments.

Our Take

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story, Allyson.  It looks like you have achieved your dream, creating the best of both worlds: being a stay-at-home mom and a successful business owner.  Well done!

Your Turn

Are you looking to build skills that you can use to start your own business?  Looking for a rewarding, flexible work from home job with great pay?  Check out our free mini-course to get you started.

Explore a career in transcription with our free workshop

Enroll in our free workshop