•           Home
  • Getting Started
  • Working at Home
  • Productivity
  • Grammar & Spelling
  • Research
  • Text Expanders
  • Earnings Calls
  • Product Reviews
  • Podcasts
  • About

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Getting Started – Tara's Story

We had some really interesting comments last week about how some of you got started transcribing. For instance, Margi got started when she posted her résumé on HotJobs and received a call from an international law firm. Sondra's actually been transcribing since she was a junior in high school! And Wendy started out as a legal secretary and recounts her experience of watching her mother type on a manual typewriter when she was little. I can totally relate to that because I can remember my own mother practicing typing, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy brown dog," over and over on a manual typewriter when she was trying to increase her WPM while job hunting.

We'd love to hear more of your stories, but we also didn't think it was fair for you all to share while we didn't. So I'll share my story today.

Working from home was the furthest thing from my mind when I graduated from college. I held a fairly lucrative position with a résumé database company when I got pregnant with my first son. It was a startup company with a very young workforce which grew very quickly and was bought out by a very large, well-known career database company. Shortly after the buyout, they announced that they were closing the office that I worked in and moving it to WV. I had the option to move there and continue my career; however, I didn't find that to be a viable option being seven months pregnant and having no family there. I half-heartedly looked for a job, but my chances of being hired at that time were pretty slim obviously.

I had my severance and was able to draw unemployment for the next two years to help us get by. I fully intended to seek a job outside the home after a short maternity leave, but I got pregnant immediately after having my first son, which was quite unexpected and made job hunting near impossible once again. When my unemployment benefits were almost tapped, I knew I had to find something to do. The price of daycare for two such young children was quite a hindrance to working outside the home. I had been looking online, but nothing came to fruition, so I took a seasonal position with Gap's credit fraud department. Unfortunately, since I was only able to work part-time in the evenings, they were not able to keep me on as an employee after the holidays.

As fate would have it, just a few days later, I received an email from a legal document coding company that I had applied with previously. I took their test, passed it, and they then offered me a quality control position immediately based on my high scores on the coding test. So that was my very first work-at-home position! Shortly after I took another position as a customer service rep taking phone calls for various company, as well. So I did those two jobs in tandem for about two years. I later was hired by a second legal document coding company, which eventually became my main income and is also how I met Mandi. This company ended up restructuring their pay scale, however, which effectively reduced their top earners' incomes by about 50 percent. So we both had pretty much no desire to continue our contracts with them and began to look for other options.

It was at this time that I was chatting with a girl that I met on WAHM.com who mentioned that in addition to legal document coding she also did transcription. She offered to take me on as a sub and kind of teach me the ropes. Transcription sounded interesting to me, so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it. I learned some very valuable lessons from that relationship. To put it mildly, it didn't end on a very good note. I had done my due diligence to the best of my ability, but there weren't many good statistics available online at that time in regards to pay, and she was basically taking advantage of that and paid me far less than what my work was worth. Once I wised up, I applied directly with some of the companies and acquired contracts of my own almost immediately.

I've now been doing transcription now for the past three years, and I've contracted with many of the well-known companies in the industry. I've become more confident in my abilities, and I've learned what type of schedule and style works best for me. For example, I hate strict verbatim work, and while I love earnings calls, the extremely fast turnarounds are simply not feasible for me right now without causing me an immense amount of stress. An important thing I've learned is to be honest with a contract when things just aren't working out.

In case I haven't mentioned it previously, I now have five children, ages six and under, so I've whittled my contracts to two that pay me well and have material that I enjoy working on. I average between 90 to 120 minutes of audio per day, and I try my hardest not to work weekends anymore. It's easy to get burned out if you're trying to transcribe every day, so if there's one piece of advice that I would give to people getting started in this business it would be to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. If you get caught up in taking more and more and more work, you'll probably soon find yourself being a stressed out mess with no time for anything else, which kind of defeats the purpose of working from after all!