Five Ways to Get Paid for Taking Notes
And while, at this point, you likely know a little about how the gig economy works, you may not know all it has to offer. Let’s say going to the grocery store isn’t your thing. Or you don’t really want to waste all that gas, even if you can get paid to drive. Maybe you want to be a little bit intellectually stimulated by your gig role — after all, we all want to learn something new.
Then let us introduce you to a little-known sector of the gig economy: get paid to take notes. Whether that’s at a public meeting, a college class or at a doctor’s appointment, there’s often little expertise and prior experience required for these posts other than a basic knowledge of note-taking and a willingness to learn. Depending on what organization you work for, you could stand to make as much as $20 an hour or even $125 per college course.
You will be expected to submit coherent and well-organized material on a deadline and need to be able to extract the salient details from the lecture or event you are transcribing. But as long as you can do that and travel to a particular place, these programs are a relatively flexible and interesting way to make a little cash on the side—and do a little good for the world.
Here are five programs that allow you to take notes and get paid for it.
How it works: If you’ve ever wanted to be a citizen journalist, now is your chance. The Documenters Network was started in 2018 by nonprofit civic journalism lab City Bureau as a way to allow the public to contribute something to government accountability. Instead of expecting trained journalists to be the only ones to record public meetings, Documenters believes that any citizen, with the right training, can go to a meeting and detail the relevant happenings. So far, the organization has trained more than 2,200 Documenters and covered more than 5,000 public meetings in 11 cities, paying out a total of $600,000 to, well, regular citizens.
The requirements: One obstacle is that Documenters is currently only based in a handful of cities across the United States — Akron, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, San Diego, California, Fresno, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Cleveland, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, Gary, Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Omaha, Nebraska and Spokane, Washington.
But the barrier to entry to become a Documenter is actually quite low. Simply join the Documenters network and sign up for free trainings, events and, of course, assignments. Once you get an assignment, you’ll be asked to do what’s called “pre-research,” which involves searching for information on the agency of the meeting you’re covering and confirming relevant time and place details.
What you’ll earn: Pay varies based on your city. In Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit, for example, Documenters make about $16 per hour. Chicago and Fresno Documenters are paid $18 and $20 an hour, respectively. But meetings often have a standard default pay — in Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit, for example, that’s $56 for a two-hours-or-less meeting plus pre-research, note editing and uploading. In Fresno and Minneapolis, on the other hand, that’s $70 for two hours or less.
Get started: Create an account here.
Become a university notetaker
How it works: This job has one requirement in particular that won’t work for everyone: you’ll likely have to be a currently enrolled university student. But university note-takers are an important part of the academic ecosystem. You generally work for a school’s Disability Resource Center and have to be able to take “legible, comprehensive and accurate notes for all components of a class,” at least according to University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Office for Students with Disabilities. You’ll also have to be able to upload those notes within 24 hours of the completion of the course, depending on the university. If you cannot attend class one day, you will usually have to get a substitute in your absence.
The requirements: Based on a survey of university note-taking pages, note-takers are generally considered freelancers or independent contractors, meaning they work based on the service and are not seen as part-time employees of the institution. You’ll likely have to be a university student at the relevant university and sometimes enrolled in the actual course for which you are taking notes. You may have to either write notes by hand or type the notes. You may have to respond to questions about your notes from the student, but you should not have to meet with them or tutor them in any way.
How to get started: Most universities expect the note-taker to register through their online system and provide I-9 paperwork.
How it works: Much like university note-taking programs, OneClass is simply a platform designed to help students from all over the world learn by providing study guides, lecture notes and online tutorials. The group is made of more than 4 million students and in general offers a reciprocal relationship — students upload their notes or materials and get credits to view the uploads of others. But the platform also has an official note-taker program that functions similarly to that of a university’s Disability Resource Center. You can get paid per course to take notes for students with academic disadvantages.
The requirements: You’ll need to attend class regularly, take complete notes, upload notes within 24 hours of the course and maintain regular communication with your assigned editor. Although not explicitly stated, you’ll likely have to be an university student or at least enrolled in a local course.
How much can you earn: OneClass has a very clear earning chart. Earn $470 for one course, $940 for two courses and $1,410 for three courses These are per semester rates.
How to get started: OneClass requires you to submit an application and participate in a performance trial period, in which you must turn in a sample of notes from your registered classes. Once approved, you can start note-taking.
How it works: Similar to One Class, Nexus Notes is considered an online marketplace that allows students and professionals to sell their materials to other students. Instead of earning credit for each piece uploaded, Nexus Notes operates on a subscription fee. The site reviews content to ensure quality.
The requirements: Rather than simply taking notes, if you have any leftover helpful study material from college or school, including notes, course summaries, professional materials or study guides, you can upload them to Nexus and offer them to others. Subscribers pay an annual agreement of $5.99 monthly or $29.99 monthly and can access 30 documents a month on the plan. Nexus notes that you can upload “any notes, summaries, templates, frameworks or course guides that you have produced throughout your studies.” You can’t upload any materials created by your university or a third party, as well as assignments, essays or take-home exams. You can also upload a copy of your university transcript, which verifies that the grade you listed that you received is the one you actually received. Notes must be uploaded in PDF format.
What you’ll earn: Nexus Notes can’t offer an exact amount, since it depends on the number of views and the product, but uploaders get a “percentage of the monthly revenue” collected from Premium subscribers each month. The rate of payment depends on how many subscribers have added your notes to their library each month. On average, authors make “hundreds per year” and top uploaders can even make thousands.
How to get started: Register, create an account and upload your notes here.
How it works: If submitting your college notes or taking notes at government meetings doesn’t seem to be for you, then becoming a medical scribe with ScribeKick might be another answer. Medical scribes take notes at patient visits with a doctor in real time so the doctor doesn’t have to multitask. Scribes are trained and can even be focused on specific medical specialties. Scribes enter information into the electronic medical record so doctors can focus on their patients and have access to appointment notes after the fact.
The requirements: ScribeKick works through job postings rather than a totally gig-based system, so you’ll have to search their internal system to see what openings are currently available. A current remote medical scribe opening in Durham, North Carolina, for example, lists as requirements a minimum typing speed of 60 words per minute, a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 3.2 or above, a proficiency in medical technology and reliable Internet connection, among other things. Aside from taking notes, scribes must input orders, like laboratory tests, radiology tests and medications, into the chart and communicate any schedule changes to the client service team. Possible specialties include orthopedic, dermatology, cardiology and pediatrics.
What you’ll earn: This particular listing puts the pay at $12 to $16 per hour based on experience and location. On-site medical scribe positions, including one in Blacksburg, Virginia, also have a similar hourly pay range. Previous medical scribes can also sign up to be a paid scribe trainer for ScribeKick, although pay is not specified.
Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.