Anna Thurman - The Penny Hoarder

Looking for a flexible job that allows you to work from home, requires little to no prior experience, and doesn’t involve making sales calls?

Yes, this kind of work exists: You could become a transcriptionist. This job gives you the freedom to set your own hours and, in many cases, work as much or as little as you want each week.

While transcription jobs are usually broken into general, medical and legal categories, the latter two will usually require prior schooling and/or work experience. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start by looking into general transcription -- so that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Lisa Mills, blogger at Work at Home Mom Revolution and author of Jump Start Your General Transcription Career: The Fast & Easy Way to Get Started, started transcribing shortly after separating from her husband.

“l needed to find a job quickly, and I wanted to be at home with my children, so transcription seemed like a natural fit,” she says. “[S]ince time was of the essence, I started applying immediately for [general transcription] jobs. I got lucky and was hired immediately by a super company, and have worked for them ever since.”

If you’re considering giving transcription a try, here’s what you’ll need to know -- plus some of Mill’s best advice.

What Do You Need to Get Started as a Transcriptionist?

Transcription requires listening to audio files and typing out what you hear. Companies that hire professional transcriptionists will usually require a high-quality foot pedal for controlling audio playback with your feet along with the popular Express Scribe transcription software.

However, most of the companies that hire newbies are more laid-back in their equipment requirements, so you'll only need to have a computer and a high-speed internet connection to start working.

Is Transcription Easy?

It sounds easy enough, right? But just like any other job, what's easy for one person won't be for another.

For example, sometimes the files you listen to will be very poor quality, making it difficult to understand what's being said. And other times, you might find yourself trying to interpret unclear dialog spoken in poor English or with a thick accent.

The work is also quite repetitive. You will have to listen to the same audio over and over again in order to be sure you have transcribed it perfectly. If repetition drives you insane, transcription might not be the line of work for you.

However, the flexibility of the work may make up for the fact it can be challenging and repetitive. “My children are grown now. But when they were younger, I did a lot of my work at night, after they were in bed, and during the day while they were in school,” says Mills. If you enjoy a flexible work schedule, transcription might be the right fit for you.

In addition, managing your own schedule means you can plan time off when you need it. “I can take a vacation whenever I like. I just notify the company that I won't be taking work for a few days to a week, and will get back in touch when I'm ready for more work,” explains Mills. “Most companies give you a 48-hour turnaround time on work, so I start something, take a break for a while, then come back to it later. And many companies allow you to take as much or as little work as you like.”

How Much Does Transcription Pay?

“General transcription pays well in comparison to most work at home jobs,” says Mills. “The least I've made per hour is $15. But I often make $25 per hour or more. Those who specialize in legal can make an even higher wage per hour.”

The exact amount you earn as a transcriptionist will depend on the company you're working for, how much work is available, and of course your speed and skill level. In general, most companies that are willing to accept beginners do not pay as well as the companies that require past transcription experience.

While Mills translated her rate for me, note that transcription companies usually pay a rate per audio hour or a rate per page, although the audio hour pay rate seems to be the most common. An audio hour is not the same thing as a regular hour.

For example, if you're being paid $50 per audio hour, this means you'll earn $50 for every hour of audio you transcribe. It could take you anywhere from two to five hours to transcribe just one hour of audio, depending on the complexity of the file is and your transcription skill level.

Experienced transcriptionists often consider rates below $45 to $50 per audio hour too low. But if you’re brand new to the industry, you may find it’s worth working for a lower rate to get your feet wet and learn valuable skills that could help you land a better-paying transcription job later on.

Where to Find Transcription Jobs as a Beginner

Here is a list of legitimate companies that regularly hire newbie transcriptionists. Most of these companies will require that you take short, simple transcription tests prior to accepting you. The company uses these tests to assess your typing accuracy and attention to detail before assigning you work.

As mentioned above, since these companies hire newbies, their pay rates are less than the range for more experienced transcriptionists. If you start working for less than $45-50 per audio hour, you may want to use the opportunity to build paid transcription experience, and then look for a higher-paying job.

1. Transcribe Anywhere

Transcribe Anywhere offers online transcription courses that not only teach students how to transcribe, but also how to start their own freelance transcribing businesses.

The online course features modules, practice dictions and quizzes. It even shows you how to create a website and how to secure clients. 

2. TranscribeMe

If you can pass TranscribeMe's short transcription test, you will be put on the waiting list for their transcription projects. These are short, 10-second audio files that you can work on whenever you want, with no deadlines.

The company pays $20 per audio hour, and they do not require any special equipment for transcription prior to getting started. You’ll be paid weekly by PayPal for the work you complete.

3. Quicktate

Quicktate will hire newbie transcriptionists once they pass a skills test. Most of what you will transcribe for Quicktate are short voicemail messages, although there may occasionally be other types of files as well.

After you have done transcription for Quicktate for some time, you may be promoted to iDictate -- a sister company that pays slightly more for transcribed files. Quicktate pays approximately one cent for every four words transcribed, while iDictate pays two cents for every four words transcribed. You can work as much or as little as you want, and they pay weekly by PayPal.

4. Rev

You’ll need to pass a skills test prior to claiming transcription assignments from Rev. Like TranscribeMe, you are free to work as much or as little as you like.

Rev’s pay works out to about $24 to $39 per audio hour. They pay weekly by PayPal, and don’t require any special equipment apart from a computer with a reliable Internet connection.

5. Tigerfish

Tigerfish is an older transcription company that has been using home-based transcriptionists to transcribe audio files for their clients since 1989. You’ll need to pass a skills test prior to working for Tigerfish.

Unlike some of the companies mentioned above, Tigerfish prefers that you use transcription software and a foot pedal. However, the company doesn’t share information on pay rates, method, and job frequency until you apply.

6. Crowdsurf

Crowdsurf specializes in providing transcribed media files to the hearing impaired. If you work for Crowdsurf, you’ll have to create an account with Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a popular crowdsourced work platform where Crowdsurf houses their transcription tasks. (Make the most of your mTurking time with this trick.)

You’ll earn about five or six cents for every 15 seconds of audio transcribed. You’ll be paid through mTurk, which means you can have your earnings direct-deposited to your bank account at any time provided you've earned at least $1.

If you’re looking to earn a little extra money online, give transcription a try with one of these companies. You won't break the bank, but you will be getting paid to learn how to transcribe audio files -- and this could open the door to much better-paying transcription opportunities in the future!

Your Turn: Have you tried working as a transcriptionist? What was it like for you?

Disclosure: We appreciate you letting us include affiliate links in this post. It helps keep the beer fridge stocked in the Penny Hoarder break room.

Anna Thurman is a work-from-home mom and blogger. Each week, she researches and reviews the best work-from-home opportunities on her blog, Real Ways to Earn Money Online.

Update 3/24/15: Unfortunately, Google just announced that "Helpouts" will be closing down on April 20, 2015. 

When you think about getting paid to teach what you know, what comes to mind? Putting up a poster in a local coffee shop and hoping for the best? Posting an ad on Craigslist?

Lucky for us, we’re no longer limited to our local area when it comes to getting paid to teach our skills. Thanks to online learning platforms like Google Helpouts and Udemy, anyone, anywhere, can teach anything.

What Can You Teach?

If you think you don’t have any skills to teach, think again. Most of us are experts at something, whether it’s putting on makeup, baking brownies, or even making balloon animals!

Drawing a blank on what you could teach or help others with? Here are some ideas:

  • Music lessons
  • Photography lessons
  • Web programming lessons or services
  • Computer repair lessons or services
  • Social media consulting
  • Cooking or baking lessons
  • Fitness instruction
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Academic tutoring
  • Life coaching
  • Style consultations
  • Beauty consultations
  • Gardening help

How to Start Teaching Online

Sites that help you get paid to share your expertise are popping up left and right in response to the demand from the average Joe to learn new skills online. We’ve already covered using a YouTube channel to earn money by teaching others, but here are two more great options to use.

Google Helpouts

If you have a Google account (and let’s face it, most of us do) and are over 18, you can sign up to teach your skills through Helpouts -- basically, video chat tutorial sessions. You’ll need a computer with a webcam, though you could probably work with your smartphone’s video camera as well.

Google Helpouts cover a variety of different subjects, including art, music, computers, cooking, education, fashion, beauty, fitness, gardening and more. For example, the top-rated Helpout under the Art & Music category as I write this post is for beginning and intermediate singing lessons. Under the Cooking category, the top-rated Helpout is for help with canning, freezing and dehydrating foods. And yes, there is someone on Google Helpouts offering to teach you to create balloon animals, so thinking outside the box is welcome.

How Much Money Can You Make on Google Helpouts?

Charge whatever you want for your lessons, and set your availability so that potential students can only schedule sessions when you’re ready for them. You’ll charge your students either per minute or per Helpout session, and they’ll pay you via Google Wallet. Google deducts a 20% commission from your earnings (similar to sites like Fiverr), unless you are a healthcare provider offering medical advice, in which case there’s no commission.

If you are unsure what to charge for your Helpout, browse similar listings to see the going rate. In the Art & Music category, most people are charging around $25 for 30 minutes. In the Cooking category, most people are offering 15-minute sessions for $10 to $15 each.

Consider what your time is worth; since you’ll be live-teaching every session, make sure you’re charging enough to make teaching the Helpout worth your while. However, you might also start off with a different goal: many people offer their Helpouts for free in hopes of getting positive feedback to help build up their rankings on the site. The higher your star rating is for your Helpouts, the more likely you are to be listed at the top for your category on Google Helpouts -- with more people looking at your listing.

Advertising your Helpouts is up to you. Google does not help with advertising; they simply provide the platform.

Udemy

Udemy is a little different from Google Helpouts, although the basic premise is the same: anyone can get paid to teach others anything they know. It’s hugely popular, with over 3 million students searching their database of 18,000 courses. The main difference is that Udemy is a platform you use to create and sell an online course, whereas Google Helpouts is live teaching.

The big advantage of Udemy over Google Helpouts from a teaching standpoint? You only have to do the hard work once -- when you initially create the course -- and then you can sell it over and over. On Helpouts, you’ll be teaching live every time someone books a session with you. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

How to Create Your Udemy Course

Use the Udemy learning platform to create video, audio, PowerPoint presentations and anything else you need for your virtual course. Then, simply price it and hit the publish button.

Browsing existing courses should help you determine what to charge for your own courses. For example, most of the IT & Software courses are priced between $50 and $100, while courses in the Food & Beverage and Music categories, most courses are priced at less than $50.

As a rule of thumb, the more content you share in your course, the more you can charge. The higher-priced courses tend to have 10+ hours of content, where the courses that are $50 or less usually have just a few hours of content. As on Helpouts, many instructors offer their courses for free to build up good feedback before they start charging, or to become known as experts in their niches.

If you decide to use Udemy to teach your skills, note that they will deduct 50% commission from your sale price if the student finds you through their system. If you market yourself via your personal blog, social media accounts, or any other method using your specific link, you get to keep 100% of your earnings.

How Much Do People Earn on These Sites?

For many, Google Helpouts and Udemy are just opportunities for a little extra money. However, a select few are more than paying the bills using these platforms. For example, Victor Bastos from Lisbon, Portugal was able to earn almost half a million dollars in a little over a year thanks to the web development courses he posted at Udemy.

In addition to making money online, listing yourself on either site as an instructor could help you build your reputation as an expert in your niche. If you do a good job and your customers rate you highly, you’re more likely to attract new customers and become known as a go-to person in your field.

Your Turn: What skill would you teach online?

Anna Thurman is a work-from-home mom and blogger. Each week, she researches and reviews the best work-from-home opportunities on her blog, Real Ways to Earn Money Online.

The process of losing weight is not something most of us consider fun. Sure, it's fun to drop sizes and fit into smaller clothes, but does anyone really enjoy giving up the food they love to get to that point?

If you’re not feeling very motivated to lose those extra pounds, in large part due to the lifestyle change that goes with it, here's a nice little consolation prize that might help change your mind: cash.

What if meeting your weight loss goals actually meant money in your pocket?

Now there's something that may motivate you when nothing else will! In fact, a recent Mayo Clinic study confirms that money is in fact a very powerful weight loss motivator.

Introducing Diet Betting Sites

Diet betting is exactly what it sounds like. In a nutshell, you bet on yourself to lose weight. If you succeed, you win back the money you put up, plus a little more. If you fail, you lose the money you put up. But don't think of this as a bad thing -- the fear of losing money is yet another motivator to keep you from cheating on your diet and should push you that much further toward meeting your weight loss goals.

These betting sites also have a social aspect. You're encouraged to participate in weight-loss challenges with other users. When you're playing with others, everyone puts some of their money into the pot. The people who meet their weight loss goals will split the pot while the people who fail get nothing.

And here's another motivator for you -- consider creating your own betting games with friends and family who are also trying to lose weight! Most people don't like the idea of losing a challenge when they’re playing with people they actually associate with in real life. You may work even harder simply because you don't want your friends to watch you fail.

Does this sound like something you’d be on board with? If so, here are two popular diet betting sites to consider: Diet Bet and Healthy Wage.

About Diet Bet

When you sign up at Diet Bet, you either create your own weight-loss betting game or join one that’s already in progress. DB offers two different types of games: lose 4% of your body weight in four weeks, or lose 10% of your body weight in six months.

If you start your own game rather than join one already in progress, you get to decide how much players have to bet upfront and whether the game is invitation-only or open for anyone to join. Depending on which active game you join, your bet amount may be as low as $10 or as high as $100. Participation can be very affordable, even if you’re strapped for cash.

When betting games end, everyone submits their final weight and the winners split the pot evenly. Payouts are made via Paypal a few days after weights have been verified and winners are determined.

About Healthy Wage

This site is very similar to Diet Bet, but you don't have to play with others, although that is an option. If you prefer to go it alone, you can bet on yourself and Healthy Wage will reward you if you meet your weight loss goal. Bet whatever you like, but the more you put down, the higher the payout if you’re successful. (Like this idea? Click to tweet!)

Healthy Wage’s handy online calculator allows you to determine roughly what your prize will be: simply put in the amount of weight you want to lose, the money you want to bet, and the length of time the betting period runs (minimum six months). The website states that your exact prize will depend on your individual weight-loss stats, but their calculator gives you a range showing what you can expect. In most cases, the prize won’t be less than $100.

If you want to do a Healthy Wage team challenge, you will have to put up the entry fee which is currently $25 per month for up to three months. The team challenges advertise much larger payouts -- up to $10,000. But this is only awarded if your team is the most successful and has a higher percentage of weight lost than any of the other teams that are participating.

Healthy Wage pays out winnings via mailed check, Paypal or Amazon credit.

Are These Sites For Real?

Healthy Wage and Diet Bet are both the real deal. They've each enjoyed lots of great press coverage lately and testimonials are popping up left and right. For example, Halina Zakowicz, a writer at I've Tried That (and contributor to The Penny Hoarder), recently participated in several games on Diet Bet and won some cash. Healthy Wage also has a page dedicated to their press coverage and a link to a testimonial one of their users published.

But Wouldn't It Be Easy to Cheat?

You can't really cheat on Diet Bet or Healthy Wage. Both sites have special verification methods in place to make sure the scale actually says what you claim it does. Healthy Wage requires 30-second home videos showing your weigh-ins, or you can have your weight verified through a doctor.

Diet Bet requires you to take a photo of yourself standing on the scale along with a piece of paper showing a unique secret verification word that confirms it's your weight in the picture.

What Are You Waiting For?

If squeezing into smaller clothes just isn't incentive enough for you to go through the hard work of weight loss, then making money while you do it should be. And when it comes to losing weight, you're going to always wish you got started yesterday.

Good luck fitting into that favorite pair of jeans!

Anna Thurman is a work-from-home mom and blogger. Each week, she researches and reviews the best work-from-home opportunities on her blog, Real Ways to Earn Money Online.