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The Truth About Transcription as a Work from Home Career – 15 Myths Dispelled by Expert Janet Shaughnessy

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“Whether you’re a true entrepreneur and want to build a big income, or just want to work part-time and bring in some extra cash while staying home with the kids or caring for a loved one, it can all be done with transcription.” – Janet Shaughnessy

Welcome to Janet Shaughnessy of Transcribe Anywhere! Janet is an expert transcriptionist who provides general transcription training, as well as legal transcription training. A lot has changed in the transcription world in the recent past leading to misconceptions about transcription as a work from home career. In this post, Janet reveals the truth about transcription by dispelling 15 common transcription myths. Learn if transcription is right for you!

By: Janet Shaughnessy of Transcribe Anywhere

Hello, there! I’m thrilled you’re taking the time to join me in chatting about the real truth about transcription.

There’s a LOT of information out there on the internet about working from home as a transcriptionist. Unfortunately, a lot of this information is misinformation.

While I’d like to tell you that this misinformation is just an honest misunderstanding of what a career as a transcriptionist actually entails, I’m afraid that most of it is generated by training companies who simply want your money.

Transcription is challenging work, but you can train AND work from home or anywhere you have access to a computer with an internet connection. Transcription is not, however, a get-rich-quick-while-laying-around situation. You will have to train and practice before you can begin to enjoy the benefits of a work-at-home career as a transcriptionist. 

If you’re willing to put in the work and master your skills, you’re in the right place. So let’s get started!

A Little About Me

So who the heck am I and what do I know? And, more importantly, why should you listen to me? Great questions.

I’m not going to bore you with my entire life story, but here’s some background so that you know that I’m a real person who has lots of experience in the transcription world. 

My name is Janet Shaughnessy. I started working from home as a transcriptionist in late 2006. Zoom Transcription Services was born in 2007, and I grew that into a six-figure-per-year business. When hiring needs arose, I found that I needed to train and/or retrain my transcriptionists. I developed a pretty comprehensive training manual. That material developed into a DVD sold on Amazon. Later, I went to digital downloads of my training courses and, finally, took it to the web. Transcribe Anywhere, specializing in general and legal transcription training, was launched in 2016. It’s evolved into a completely separate business and one that I enjoy immensely. It’s both financially successful and personally fulfilling. There’s no better feeling than having people thank you for changing their lives!

Can Anybody Be Successful at Transcribing?

I’m going to start off with a hard truth: only certain people can make it in the transcription industry. It isn’t easy, and it requires some hard-core commitment to master the skill. But in the end, it can really pay off.

Now don’t get discouraged! Like I said before, transcription isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. And that right there turns a lot of people away. They want easy money with very little effort… and they’re not going to find that with transcription.

There’s a lot of information floating around cyberspace claiming that anyone can become a transcriptionist; all you need are fast typing skills. This is so far from the truth. So before you quit your full-time job to work your dream job from home as a transcriptionist, let’s dispel some common myths about transcription.

15 Common Transcription Myths and Misconceptions

Let’s be frank: there is TONS of misinformation out there about transcription and working from home.

I want to target those negative opinions people have and break the belief patterns and objections toward working from home as a transcriptionist.

I’m here to set the record straight about what transcription is and what it isn’t.

Here we go!

Myth #1: Transcriptionists Must Have Exceptional Technology Skills

You don’t need an advanced degree or be a tech wizard to provide transcription services from home. I don’t have a college degree, nor am I even interested much in technology. I love what I can do with it, but I don’t really care to learn how it works. It’s like driving a car. I’m a good driver (some may disagree), but I don’t know how the engine works and I don’t need to know to be a good driver. 

So don’t worry about things that you don’t need to know. Concentrate on what you do need to know and get really good at that! There are other people to help you with things you don’t understand and aren’t necessary for you to learn.

Myth #2: All Transcriptionists are Medical Transcriptionists

When asked what I do for a living, my response that I’m a transcriptionist is usually met with either a blank stare (i.e., what’s that?) or the automatic assumption that I provide medical transcription services. Although I began my work-from-home career as a medical transcriptionist, I no longer offer those services and I certainly don’t teach it. Why? The demand for medical transcriptionists has declined pretty dramatically with the adoption of the electronic medical record. When I visit my doctor, he writes his notes directly into his iPad while in the exam room with me. This is pretty much the norm nowadays. And the jobs that are left don’t pay nearly as much as they once did.

Fortunately, those of us who read the handwriting on the wall years ago transitioned into general and/or legal transcription, where the demand is actually growing. On the one hand, I feel sorry for those who are still struggling in medical transcription. On the other hand, I wonder why they haven’t made the switch.

And let’s not even get started on the abundance of online medical transcription training programs still touting it as a great way to earn money from home. They’re lying! I receive emails all too frequently from graduates or current students of these unscrupulous schools who have learned, only after spending thousands of dollars and wasting countless hours of their precious time, that the jobs just aren’t there. I hope you aren’t one of the unfortunate people who fell for their persuasive, yet dishonest, advertising.

Myth #3: The Only Skill Transcriptionists Need is a High Typing Speed

Being a fast typist is definitely PART of the skill set required to become proficient as a general transcriptionist, but it isn’t the only skill required. In addition to excellent typing skills, you will need:

  • An above-average grasp of English grammar and punctuation
  • To be highly skilled in using word processing software
  • To be highly skilled in using the internet
  • To have the ability to sit for long periods of time
  • To be self-motivated and self-disciplined

Myth #4: Transcriptionists Need Little or No Training 

Let’s expound on the above “all I need to know is how to type” myth. Hmm… do you know how to properly format a document? Do you know how to notate? How do you handle difficult or crappy audio? How do you get your audio and video files? Where do you find work? Do you know an ellipsis from an em dash? How do you insert time codes? How do you research unfamiliar words and phrases?

Get the picture? There’s a LOT more to transcription than most people realize. We’re not typing monkeys! No matter how great of a typist you are, you’re going to have to train before you can begin a career in transcription. It’s more than “listen and type.” There are so many variables involved with the types of work produced by general and legal transcriptionists. Training is essential. And no, a course offering three sample exercises is definitely not enough!

Myth #5: Transcriptionists Will Be Replaced With Speech Recognition Technology

Quite the opposite is true! Speech recognition has been around for some time already, and yet, it still isn’t able to transcribe audio to text with any acceptable degree of accuracy. When you’re dealing with multiple speakers, as we often are, you can forget about it altogether. It just doesn’t work. Period. There is now, and for the foreseeable future, a need for human beings to perform transcription services.

Myth #6: The Popularity of Video Will Replace the Need For General Transcriptionists

Again, this is completely untrue. In fact, the exact opposite of this myth is what’s true. The rise in video popularity has only increased the opportunities available for qualified transcriptionists! Why? Because search engines cannot index video. Anyone who is doing anything online, whether they’re marketing, training, or interviewing, needs written text to accompany their video presentations.

Myth #7: Most Transcription Work is Being Outsourced Overseas

Some work is being outsourced. There’s no question about it. People are looking for cheap labor. But, with over 30 years of experience, I can assure you that anyone who does outsource is almost always disappointed with the results they receive. There just isn’t any way that a non-native English speaker can understand and transcribe all the nuances of the English language.

Myth #8: Transcription is For Women

What? Ridiculous! More and more men are coming onboard every single day. Where once any occupation that required “typing skills” was considered secretarial in nature and performed almost solely by women, that’s no longer the case. The change in our economy and lifestyles have lured many men to look outside the box for employment. It’s an open playing field for both sexes.

Which leads me to:

Myth #9: I’m Too Old to Learn to Transcribe

Baloney! We have just as many mature folks as younger folks working as transcriptionists. I could retire, but I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. Why would I? I work from home or anywhere I want to be, set my own schedule, and make a darn good living. It’s the perfect part-time gig for those who are at or near retirement and just want to make a little extra income without the hassles of a “job.”

Myth #10: I’m Too Busy

If you seriously believe that you’re too busy already, then maybe transcription isn’t for you. Who was it that said, “If nothing changes, nothing changes”? It’s your choice. You can stay where you are and complain about the lack of free time and the demands put upon you by your work and family life. Or, you can do something about it and get off the hamster wheel. Sure, it’ll take time and effort, but the payoff is huge. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re stuck where you are and that the “good life” is for other people. You’re only stuck if you think you’re stuck. Look outside your comfort zone. There’s a world of opportunity out there!

Myth #11: Transcription is a Low-Stress Occupation

Ummm… not really. Yes, transcriptionists enjoy the many benefits of working our own schedules and from the comfort of wherever we’d like, but get a gig with some rough audio and you might want to pull your hair out. When I first started, I had this crazy idea that typing was a very “Zen” activity. Ha! It might be if you were just typing while listening to some meditation music or something, but that’s not what we do. You must have a very good ear and the ability to focus. Some of the garbled language that comes out of our headphones can be a challenge — to say the least.

Myth #12: Training is Too Expensive

Well, that’s only true if you get scammed into training for medical transcription as mentioned in Myth #2. But the real question is, what’s too expensive? Everyone’s situation is different, but our courses are very reasonably priced and we even offer payment plans. I started my work-from-home career when my husband became disabled and we were deeply in debt. I’m debt free now and I’m able to help my family, friends, and church. I don’t live for money, but having more than you need is a heck of a lot better than not having enough. Again, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” 

Whether you’re a true entrepreneur and want to build a big income, or just want to work part-time and bring in some extra cash while staying home with the kids or caring for a loved one, it can all be done with transcription. It takes commitment to study and practice, but once done, you’ll have built a lifelong skill. 

So what’s too expensive? A college degree that gets you an entry-level job (if you’re lucky) and puts you into debt for thousands of dollars or an online course that costs way less, takes much less time to complete, and builds solid skills. Skills = money.

Myth #13: All Work From Home Opportunities are Scams

Everyone who’s fallen for a work from home scam, raise your hand. You’re not alone! Unfortunately, there ARE a lot of work-from-home scams. When I first set out to work from home, I fell for some of them. Yeah, as in more than once! They all sound so easy and appealing. What I learned from these “pay me to purchase this program that’ll teach you how to sell this program to other people” is that they’re all basically that same setup, and all designed to take your money and leave you with nothing but a bad feeling. And selling products (i.e., Avon, Young Living, Norwex, etc.), they’re legit, but the pay stinks. And you have to bother your friends and family, throw home parties, purchase and stock product. Nope, not for me. I want to fly under the radar and let everyone wonder how I make my money. ☺

Myth #14: There Isn’t Enough Work

I don’t even know how this one got started. Hello, did you know that 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute? At the time of this publication, there are 525,000 active podcasts… and those are only the ones available on iTunes. There are other podcasters who aren’t even included in that figure. Over 100 million court cases are opened every year. 

These are only a small sample of the types of work we transcribe. There are also conferences, interviews, authors, bloggers, academicians… The list is long! Virtually, anyone who has recorded audio or video needs a text document to accompany it.

Myth #15: The Pay is Low

The pay is low if you’re untrained and work for one of the big-box companies. That’s not what we’re about and that’s not our target market. Clients can and will gladly pay you what you’re worth when you solve their need to take that audio or video content they produced and make it into a text document for them. Subpar work equals subpar pay. Be the best and you’ll earn the money you deserve. 

Transcribe Anywhere graduates are highly qualified and sought after by well-paying clients. Our training is rigorous, and they know that, by hiring our grads, they’re getting the best of the best. AAERT (American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers) has fully vetted our legal transcription course. Our general transcription course is highly valued by a host of bloggers and online businesses. 

So… How Do I Become a Successful Transcriptionist?

If you’ve made it this far and still want to become a transcriptionist, congratulations!!

I know I gave you a lot of warnings, but that’s really for everyone’s good. We don’t want just anyone enrolling in our courses because, well, transcription isn’t a good fit for everyone.

We want to share the nitty-gritty, sometimes not-so-pretty realities of life as a transcriptionist because it’s our priority to help you every step of the way — even before you get started.

You have a few options at this point:

  1. Do nothing. Forget you ever read this guide and go back to what you were doing before.
  2. Go it alone. You could try your hand as a transcriptionist by yourself without the step-by-step and guided practice.
  3. Try something else. If transcription’s not for you, maybe you’ll move on to another work-from-home opportunity. Maybe an MLM or a phone job.

Wait… those are all pretty lame options! You’re reading this because you’re looking for better options, right?

Well, here’s a better option for you. You can choose to enroll in our free 7-day course and get on the fast track to excellence and success as a transcriptionist!

“Clients can and will gladly pay you what you’re worth when you solve their need to take that audio or video content they produced and make it into a text document for them.”– Janet Shaughnessy

A big thank you to Janet for taking the time to uncover common myths about transcription as a work from home career! If you are looking for free general transcription training, check out her free training here.

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