In a Nutshell: TranscribeMe provides opportunities for workers to make money by completing short transcription tasks at their own pace. The company developed its own technology to split audio files into multiple pieces that can be claimed by its pool of transcribers before going through QA and returning to the customer. Starting rates for transcriptionists range from $15 to $22 per audio hour. For customers needing files transcribed, rates start at $0.79 per minute and they can select from three pricing tiers. The company is also expanding its business into other small tasks, such as translation, image tagging, and call center work.
In 2013, Heike Friel’s employment options were limited due to medical issues she was experiencing at the time. She tried her hand with a number of companies she found online that advertised opportunities to work from home, but she quickly found the jobs to be scams or severely underpaid
Then Friel discovered TranscribeMe.
The young company offered opportunities to work remotely by transcribing audio files for clients.
And unlike the other work-from-home offerings, Friel found TranscribeMe to not only be a great company but her transcription work led to her rise in the ranks through the company. Today, Friel is a full-time Sales Administrator at TranscribeMe.
“I was in a difficult situation and needed the flexibility of working from home while being able to set my own hours, and TranscribeMe was there when I needed it the most,” Friel said. “The work has been challenging and rewarding, and it has been great seeing the company grow.”
Friel worked as a transcriptionist for four months before being promoted to TranscribeMe’s Quality Assurance team. From there, she continued moving up in the company, which led to her entering her current role in September 2018.
TranscribeMe was founded in 2011 when Co-Founder Alexei Dunayev’s wife was swamped with audio files to transcribe as she worked her way through a Ph.D. program. She found the automated transcription technology at the time lacking and other services were too expensive.
Today, TranscribeMe not only offers reasonably priced transcription services but its curated crowd management model offers opportunities for individuals to earn money from the comfort of their homes.
We recently spoke with TranscribeMe’s COO Nathan Pikover to learn more about the company’s crowd management approach, its transcription services offerings, and expanding into new territory.
Work As Much or As Little As You Want While Determining Your Own Schedule
“What TranscribeMe does differently from other traditional transcription models is we’ve developed a platform that uses technology to micro-task the content,” Pikover said. “So, if you have an hour-long interview, we intelligently break it up into about four-minute chunks that are distributed to workers.”
Workers can pick up the tasks at any time and work on as few or as many as they would like.
“Files get completed faster, and it’s a lot easier to transcribe a four-minute piece of audio than to sit there and transcribe for an hour,” Pikover said.
Many of TranscribeMe workers are stay-at-home moms, retirees, or other people who aren’t necessarily looking for full-time work but just a little extra cash.
“They’re able to put in 10, 15, 20 minutes and complete a task and come back later when it’s convenient for them,” Pikover said. “It’s an effective way for them to generate some income on their schedule, not on our schedule.”
TranscribeMe has the industry’s best rates, according to the company website. Starting rates range from $15 to $22 per audio hour (that’s for each hour of audio transcribed, not for the length of time it takes to transcribe it).
Transcriptionists with specialized backgrounds in areas like medical and legal are paid at a higher rate, according to the company. Average monthly earnings are $250 but some have earned as much as $2,200 in a single month.
And for those looking for opportunities beyond the initial micro-tasks, TranscribeMe’s structure can provide more in-depth work and experience.
“We believe in promotion from within. Our transcriptionists enjoy their work and have career advancement opportunities,” according to the website. “Gain insight into various industries and boost your resumé for any job market. Develop your skills, and grow into higher paying projects and positions.”
The company pays regularly and securely via PayPal.
To become a TranscribeMe transcriptionist, workers just need a reliable Internet connection and the ability to transcribe audio and video in one of the languages it supports. New transcriptionists will be guided through the company’s style guide and will have to pass an exam before receiving their first assignment.
Valuable Transcription Services for Individuals and an Array of Industries
At the other end of TranscribeMe’s services are the customers who need audio files transcribed. Anybody who’s ever had to transcribe a lengthy interview or audio file will likely agree that it is not a fun process.
TranscribeMe offers fast and accurate transcriptions starting at $0.79 per minute for its First Draft pricing tier. This is the company’s most popular offering and provides approximately 98% accuracy rates and is delivered in one business day. As with all of its offerings, speaker IDs and timestamps are available options.
Next, the Standard tier transcription starts at $1.25 per minute, provides at least 99% accuracy, and is delivered in one to three business days. And TranscribeMe’s Verbatim tier starts at $2 per minute, provides 100% accuracy, and is available in one to three business days.
TranscribeMe also offers machine transcriptions starting at $0.10 per minute.
Certain types of files, such as those coming from industries with a lot of very specialized language or jargon, may require a higher level of expertise to provide the most accurate transcriptions.
TranscribeMe can take these on as well — the company offers transcription services for market research, medical, consulting, and technology. All transcriptions are secure and confidential, no matter the field, but TranscribeMe’s medical transcriptionists can take it a step further.
“Workflows can be tailored to meet your requirements and ensure sensitive PHI and medical information is properly handled and compliant with HIPAA guidelines,” according to the website.
And for jobs that don’t fit conveniently into one of the existing pricing tiers or categories, customers can use the TranscribeMe pricing calculator or request a quote from the company.
The Advantages of Human Transcriptionists
Although TranscribeMe customers can select the less expensive automated transcription option, the company acknowledges this isn’t the best option when transcriptions need to have a high degree of accuracy.
“Speech-to-text technology is really smart, yet it can’t produce perfect transcripts,” according to the website. Users can help to ensure the highest accuracy, however, by uploading audio files that feature distinct speakers who do not overlap one another, clear audio quality, and low ambient noise.
Pikover said a machine transcription program may get anywhere from 70% to 90% accuracy. He said if a client simply needs to get some baseline information from an interview or a general overview of its content, then the automated service may be the best way to go since it is cheaper and faster.
“But if you need near-perfect accuracy and high readability, or if the audio itself has a lot of crosstalk or is of poor quality, you will never, ever get good quality output out of a machine,” he said. “If you have a human do it, then you won’t need to edit anything because it’s going to be at least 98% accurate every time.”
Human transcriptionists are also extremely valuable when it comes to those specialized fields such as medical and legal, or if a speaker has a particularly thick accent.
Pikover said that, if the company is aware that an audio file contains a speaker with a thick accent, it will be routed to a worker who is suitable for the task. If the company is not aware of it, the file may be rejected by a worker who has difficulty understanding it. The platform can detect when files are rejected and someone can manually route the file to the appropriate person.
Branching Out Into Other Crowd Managed Services
Pikover said because of the technology TranscribeMe developed to manage its workflow, the company considers itself more of a crowd management company than a transcription company. That’s why the company is exploring other applications for its tech.
And they are not having any trouble finding new types of use cases, he said.
“Our goal is to be able to give people who can only work for small amounts of time a whole bunch of different tasks to choose from,” Pikover said. “They could do transcribing, translation, image tagging. We’re also building a call center business, so if someone wants to answer phones and read off a script for a half-hour, they can do that as well.”
Not only could TranscribeMe’s numerous use cases create more opportunities for people who have to work from home, like Friel, but it could also change the way people approach earning altogether, with small pieces at a time — on their schedule.