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How to Work Online as a Freelance Transcriptionist

One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is working in a job you love. Many people think they cannot make this happen, but that is not true. You can find the right job for you and do the work you love to do!

Working for yourself is one effective way of ensuring that you will love your job. If you work on a computer when you work for yourself, this is called working online. One great and increasingly popular way to make money online as a freelancer is by becoming a transcriptionist. A program called Transcribe Anywhere, founded and run by a woman named Janet Shaughnessy, teaches people how to freelance online as transcriptionists.

I interviewed Janet so you can learn about this truly great opportunity for working online. Here is what she has to say about Transcribe Anywhere and being a transcriptionist.

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

Please tell us who you are and a little about your background.

I’m the owner of Zoom Transcription Services and Transcribe Anywhere, LLC. I actually learned to transcribe using Gregg Shorthand, in high school (back in the dark ages of IBM Selectric typewriters and carbon copies corrected with Wite-Out). LOL! The way we transcribe has changed, but the general principles are the same.

I began my work-from-home career as a transcriptionist providing medical transcription services. However, it quickly became apparent that the demand, along with the pay, for medical transcriptionists was decreasing pretty dramatically with the adoption of the electronic medical record. I transitioned into legal transcription and general transcription. Those are the services and training I provide now.

Janet Shaughnessy, who founded Trancribe Anywhere, a program which teaches people how to work online as a freelance transcriptionist

Janet Shaughnessy, founder of Transcribe Anywhere

Most people have heard of transcriptionist jobs, but a lot of people don’t know exactly what this means. What are transcriptionists?

Transcriptionists convert audio and video content into text documents. Too many people think that all we do is type, but typing is the easy part. Sure, it’s an essential skill, but it’s not the only skill required to provide quality transcripts. Punctuation, spelling, and critical thinking skills are equally as important. You must also possess a good ear to capture the spoken word and type it verbatim.

How much money can transcriptionists earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, general transcriptionists earn $45K/year and legal transcriptionists earn $65K/year. These are averages and will vary depending on region, experience, and number of hours worked.

General Transcription Mini-Course: Transcription Foundations
Transcriptionists are freelancers. Can you tell us a bit about the pros and cons of working in a freelance job versus having an employer?

I’m the wrong person to ask because I’m completely pro freelancing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I wouldn’t go back to a regular j-o-b no matter what was being offered.

The idea that there’s security in a regular job is a very false sense of security. It may have been true one or two generations ago, but it isn’t any longer. No one works for the same company for 30 years and retires with a gold watch and nice pension.

It’s a freelance revolution. Companies are realizing the benefits of outsourcing versus hiring employees. In the digital age, so many jobs that once had to be done in the office can be done anywhere with a computer and internet connection. Transcription is a perfect example. My advice: Build marketable skills!

Transcription work is is location independent, meaning transcriptionists can work anywhere they want. Do you know where your graduates tend to do their work? At home? In coffee shops? While traveling?

Most of us work from home most of the time. We also work while traveling. A laptop is pretty darn portable. We even have some graduates who live the RV lifestyle. Some like to work outdoors in a nearby park. You truly can work from anywhere as a transcriptionist.

How did you come to start your online program Transcribe Anywhere?

My courses developed out of my need to train my new hires, even the ones who had experience. My notes grew and grew until I realized I was actually giving them a complete training course. At first, I sold it as an e-Book. Later I moved to a digital download. You’re now seeing the latest (and best!) incarnation, where we’ve built a solid e-learning experience completely online.

How long does it take to complete the Transcribe Anywhere program?

On average, it takes students about four months to complete our courses.

What do future transcriptionists learn in Transcribe Anywhere courses?

You can view the course syllabi at the website. But, in short, we take them from the very beginning of explaining what transcription is, the equipment needed, typing and punctuation drills, practice dictations of all sorts (there’s a LOT of practice in my courses) and finally, after passing the final exam, training in marketing transcription services and obtaining work is provided.

Once you become a transcriptionist, how do you find clients?

I only share that information with people who’ve completed training and passed the final exam. No one without training or experience will pass a transcription test, so there’s no point in perpetuating the myth that “anyone can be a transcriptionist.” It simply isn’t true and people will be sorely disappointed when they find that they don’t know what they thought they knew. I hear it all the time. People find Transcribe Anywhere after failing to find work on their own because they weren’t prepared.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges of being a transcriptionist?

It’s a lot more difficult than people imagine. Proper punctuation seems to be the biggest hurdle, but once you get it, you’re good. A few, but not many, have found that they just don’t enjoy it. They’re definitely in the minority, but there are some who’ve decided they’d rather stick with a regular job. It could be that whole false sense of security thing I spoke about earlier. I happen to love what I do, but it isn’t for everybody. If you’re not self-disciplined and/or like the office work environment, then transcription probably isn’t the right choice for you.

Why should someone become a transcriptionist?

  • To take control of your time and money
  • To spend more time with family and friends
  • To have the ability to work when and where you want
  • To learn a new skill! Skills = $$$
  • To be your own boss
  • To gain confidence in your abilities
  • To be a role model for your children
  • To learn new things every single day through the transcripts we provide for such a wide variety of clients
  • To stop wearing suits, ties, dresses, and pantyhose
  • To stop paying for commuting, lunches out, and work clothes
  • TIME FREEDOM is the number one reason on my list for loving what I do.


General Transcription Mini-Course: Transcription Foundations


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Cover photo by Kelly Brito

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