Simply put, transcription is the process of converting audio into written words. This is a necessary process for many employers, including television and radio producers, legal offices and consultants in various industries. The facts are these: Transcription services are solicited every day, and freelance writers possess the necessary tools and equipment to make money online this way.
Finding Transcription Work
You can find clients easy via Odesk and other freelance networks, as well as by sending introduction letters to busy offices that hire contract workers. I know this because I used to do it frequently when writing work became too tough to come by. Be ready to supply your prospective employer with a sample or two of your transcription work - there's no excusable reason not to have a sample! Make one from a 30-minute episode of a television show if you have no previous experience.
Keep in mind that when transcribing personal interviews, it is customary to delete any "ums," "ahs," and otherwise redundant, nonsensical vocalizations. Use a clear, easy-to-read format that makes sense.
Pay Rates Versus Time Spent on Transcription
Here's the tricky part - contractual employers like to hire transcriptionists on a per audio hour basis. That means that for each hour of audio that you write up, you'll be offered a specific amount of money, often as low as $10. It is your job not to accept anything less than $60 per audio hour! Why? Believe it or not, it will take you about 1 hour to transcribe the average audio clip that is 10 minutes in length.
Equipment and Software
Most employers ask that their transcribers have headphones, a foot pedal and some version of transcription software. Is this necessary? Not when you are just starting out, no, but it is if you want to make a career of transcription and earn some good money.
Although you can forego the foot pedal for now, I do recommend that you use a trial version of transcription software, such as InqScribe, to help you work more quickly. Most types of this software are very similar in that they take an audio file and allow you to slow down playback by a certain percentage so that your fingers can keep up with the dialogue. Try out a few and see what you prefer.
Now get out there and transcribe!