How this Stay-at-Home Mom Makes Money as a Part-Time General Transcriptionist

success interviews Nov 06, 2017

Being a mom is a lot of work. And sometimes it's easy for us moms to get overwhelmed with taking care of our kids while trying to juggle getting our work-at-home hustle on. But it IS possible! And I have just the grad to help encourage you on your journey to work at home as a transcriptionist.

Meet Laura! She only had a few hours a day to work as a part-time general transcriptionist while her son napped. But she made it work and now makes extra money for her family -- all while staying home with her kiddo.

And THAT'S what I love about my students. Laura could have told herself she didn't have the discipline or the time or the energy, but instead, she pushed on. She wanted to start her own freelance business bad enough that she found a way to make it happen.

Read her full story below and see if it inspires you as much as it inspired me :-)

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

I've been an occupational therapist for about eight years. When I started the course, I was working 40+ hours a week in a very busy rehab center. I had been on the lookout for jobs that I would be able to do from home because I knew that once I started having kids, I wanted to be able to stay home and take care of them.

Q: Sounds like a good plan! So when did you start doing general transcription, and what made you decide to learn it?

I started the course at the end of 2016, and I decided to start with general transcription because I thought it might be more interesting than legal transcription. Finding out that I was expecting our first baby was the incentive to take the leap into taking the course. I was really motivated to find work that I could do from home!

Q: Babies can be great incentives ;-) What was the most challenging part for you in getting started?

I was really tentative about taking this course. To be honest, I hemmed and hawed for a long time before I decided to go for it. I had taken a different course geared toward working from home that ended up not being the right fit for me for a number of reasons. After spending money on that investment and it not working out, I was really leery about trying again. I did a lot of research on what kind of work would be available after finishing the course, and I spent a lot of time self-evaluating myself, my skills, and my interests before I decided that this would be a good investment.

Q: Having a previous work-from-home investment not pan out can definitely be a hurdle to overcome. I'm so glad you found transcription! What have been the most valuable things you learned during the course?

I already was a very speedy typist with an excellent grasp of punctuation rules, but I had no idea about the softwares that are used for transcription, transcription-specific rules like how to write numbers, or shortcuts for Word like find & replace -- those things really helped me realize that transcription is a skill that takes training. It's not just typing fast. When I started looking for clients, I was able to say, yes, I know how to do timecodes; yes, I'm comfortable with strict verbatim; yes, I can work with accents. Getting experience with all of those different things you run into when transcribing was invaluable. The practice transcripts covered everything. I can honestly say that I haven't run into anything, as a working part-time general transcriptionist, that I didn't already have some experience with in the course.

Q: I'm so happy to hear that! I make sure to throw everything I can at students WHILE they're learning to prepare them for the real world. How long did it take you to find your first client? How many clients do you have now?

It took me about a month to get my first client (a contract company). I freelance for two contract companies (I don't have any personal clients right now outside of that). I think people should know that it can be a bit of a process to get a client because of the time that it takes to apply, test, interview, and get started. But I used that time to organize my home office and set up some accounting systems so that I would be ready to go when work started coming in.

I spend most of my time working for just one company, but I take on work with the other when I have some extra free time. The thing to keep in mind is that different companies or clients can have very different formatting guidelines, and you have to keep them straight. That being the case, I chose to focus my work with just one so that I'm not constantly switching back and forth between formats.

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

It is absolutely worth the money for the training! I earned back the cost of the course in my first month of working, and that was only working approximately 15 hours a week!

To someone who is thinking about becoming a transcriptionist, I would say it's definitely worth it, but like most work-from-home jobs, it is WORK. You need to be prepared to spend a lot of time sitting in one place, concentrating on (and researching) topics that you may or may not have any interest in. Sometimes it's really fun, and sometimes it's quite frustrating. But overall, is it worth it? Absolutely. I'm able to contribute to my family's income and make an average of $600 a month, and that is only working during my son's nap time on four or five days a week!

Q: That's amazing! Who knew naps could make you money?! What do you think it takes to be a GOOD transcriptionist? How about a GREAT one?

A good transcriptionist needs to be able to type what they hear, accurately. I don't think that speed is important. You can be a slow typist but an amazing transcriptionist, although obviously your time will be worth more money if you type faster.

A GREAT transcriptionist needs to have incredibly close attention to detail. I work for a contract company that has an 84-page style guide! Obviously, it covers a ton, and it's so important to be familiar with it and make sure that you're doing things according to client preference. So far, neither of the companies that I work with use the [inaudible] notation; they have their own preferences. So you need to be mentally flexible and realize that sometimes you won't be doing things the way you have been taught or the way that you think is right.

You also need to be willing to ask questions! I send emails all the time to my companies to clarify how they want something formatted or written. It is way better to ask them and make sure that you're submitting a transcript that meets their standards, rather than just making assumptions! It's also important to not assume that you know something. I've typed out names of companies or people before that sounds completely intuitive, as far as spelling, but when I look it up, it can be something completely different. You need to be willing to spend the time looking up anything that's questionable if you want to be able to submit an accurate transcript!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a part-time general transcriptionist? What about your least favorite?

My favorite part is being able to work from home, take care of my baby, and make some money! I've also honestly really enjoyed learning about a huge variety of topics. I've transcribed some incredibly interesting things!

My least favorite part of transcribing is probably when I have a really boring file. They can't all be interesting, unfortunately! And I've gotten really frustrated at times with people who can't seem to finish a sentence without interrupting their own thoughts or saying "um" constantly. But thankfully, that's, again, something I was able to experience and practice with during the course! I also sometimes don't like that I'm spending so much of the day sitting still. To combat that, I try to get outside and go for a walk every day, and be sure to stop typing every hour or so to stretch or do some work around the house, both for a physical and a mental break.

Q: Last but not least: What does a typical day look like for you now as a part-time general transcriptionist? Is there anything else you’d like to share?

On a typical day, my five-month-old wakes up between 5am-6am. His first nap of the day is the best one, so as soon as he lays down again, I try to get my transcription done. I usually ask for a 30-45 minute assignment on days that I transcribe. I can usually get the whole thing completed by the time he wakes up. That way, I have the rest of the day to play with my baby, work in my garden, and take care of things around the house.

On occasion, I'll have some editing to do later on, or if I have a day without much going on, I'll pick up an extra assignment to work on in the afternoon or evening. I go to my therapy job on Mondays and Fridays, so I'm really only transcribing four or five days a week. To be able to make $600 or so a month is an amazing supplement to our income without really much inconvenience to me!

Our Take

I'm so impressed with Laura's go-getter attitude and motivation to start her own freelance business! Some people might make excuses for not having enough time to pursue their dreams, but not Laura. She took her son's naps and turned them into moneymakers. Pretty awesome, right? :-)

Your Turn

See how you can turn any extra time you have into a freelance business just like Laura. Sign up for my free 7-day intro course and find out if transcription is right for you, too.

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