How To Become A Freelance Transcriptionist in 8 Easy Steps

How To Become A Freelance Transcriptionist in 8 Easy Steps

In today’s economy, you may need to find a way to earn extra money or even begin a new career. With jobs at a premium and thousands of people looking for work, you will want to consider an industry that is growing, not stagnant. If you don’t want to go back to school to find a new career, here’s how to become a transcriptionist in 8 easy steps.

1) Practice Your Typing

One of the required skills for any type of transcription is the ability to type fast and accurately. This is mandatory. Most people have general typing skills due to the rise in computers, but many people don’t have the speed and accuracy required. There are several types of free online typing tests and practice sessions such as You will want a speed of at least 60 wpm because your pay depends on how fast you can return the finished product. The faster and more accurate you can complete it, the more you get paid.

2) Quiet Place To Work

Noise is a distraction and since different types of audio mean different clarity, you will want a place where you can work with little distraction and the optimal place to be able to distinguish what is being said.

Along with that, you will want a good set of head phones and if they have noise reduction the better. Depending on your lifestyle and house size, if you can create an office where you can work uninterrupted for a few hours that would be optimal.

3) Make Sure You Have All The Programs

You don’t want to do transcription on your phone. It takes too long and really isn’t secure to save and send. You will need a desktop or laptop computer that has an operating system that is compatible with Word. You will want to have at least Word, but it would better to have the Microsoft Office Suite.

You will also need some type of media player such as Windows Media Player or VLC. You may also want to consider investing in some transcription equipment such as the Infinity pedal which allows you to control the playback with your feet. You may also need DSS player, which you can purchase as a CD for installation into your computer.

4) Become Proficient In The Programs

You can have all the latest updates in the various programs, but if you are not proficient in them, it will do you no good. When it comes to Word, there are several sites out there to help you learn the different formatting functions and keyboard shortcuts. Take a few days and learn more than just the basics. In the long run, it will help you to complete your projects quicker.

5) Set Up PayPal Account

Most freelance sites or private clients pay through the payment system called PayPal. Free to join, you will need an email address, some type of bank account, your address and your phone number. After that, you can use this to send invoices for private clients and receive payments from your private clients and the freelance sites.

I also suggest that you get the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard or the PayPal Debit Card. Here’s my reasoning: When you get a payment in PayPal, you want to be able to spend the money. If you want to transfer that money into your standard bank account, it can take up to 5 business days for the money to get there and that can be a hassle.

The PayPal Debit card is linked to the PayPal account directly, so there is no transferring needed, which can come in handy. The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is like a lot of other prepaid cards, with one exception: you can quickly and for free transfer money from your PayPal account to the card. There is a small monthly fee, but the card can be used like any other prepaid card.

6) Create A Resume

When you first starting out, you may not have a lot of experience to put on your resume, but you can list the skills. You will want to update your resume as your experience grows, but you will want a resume in case you decide to branch out and work for transcription companies. Either way, having a resume is always good.

7) Join Freelance Websites

There are several free online freelance sites you can join, the two biggest being and Both require you to set up a profile, log in your skills and upload a picture (oDesk has certain requirements when it comes to the picture).

Each site has tests that show your skill level and you will want to take these, repeating them when necessary. These tests range from spelling and English Grammar to programs such as Word and Excel. It is up to you which ones you want to join.

After you have done all of this, you can begin to search for jobs. Now on, you can find some in the writing-other category, but most are listed in the Admin/support category, while oDesk shows which categories you have chosen.

With each site, you will bid or apply for the jobs, basing your prices on the client’s specific payment budget. Some will be by the project, some will be by the hour, some by the page, but most will be by the audio hour. When you apply for the jobs, you will want to tell them why you are the best choice and if you have some samples, upload them in the application.

8) Create Separate Files For Your Clients


Once you have won the bid or your application is accepted and you have completed the transcription, you will need to save it so that you can upload it to your client. However, to be able to easily find the correct transcription (especially as you gain more and more work), you will want to create an individual file for each client, naming it with the clients name or something that you will remember that it belongs to that client.


Now, if you have a large project, such as 3 files with 3 recordings each (a total of 9 transcriptions), you may want to save each part of the transcription into a file with the project name under the clients name. For example: Ron gave you 3 files that each 3 recordings. When you save it, you will want to save it in the general file of Ron and inside that general file, save it to a folder name Project 1 (or something similar). This helps for a couple of different reasons: One-it’s easier to find the specific projects and transcriptions. Two-you can compress folders so that you can upload the whole project at once instead of each individual piece, which will actually save you and the client time.


The world of freelance transcription is exploding. With thousands of jobs available, following these 8 easy steps to becoming a freelance transcriptionist will start you on a new and rewarding career that you can do from home.