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For five years straight I wandered the world as a full time nomad, living out of my backpack, wild camping wherever I could find a quiet spot, and using my thumb to hitchhike as my main mode of transportation. As great as it was, I still needed some money to fund the lifestyle, and I by no means come from money. Quite the opposite, actually; when I began my adventures I was a whopping $5,000 in debt. I’m not quite sure why Australia let me in on their working holiday visa – which at the time required you to have at least $5,000 to prove you could support yourself – but I always joked that $5,000 in the negative was the same thing.
While I paid off my debt rather quickly by doing working holiday visas in Australia and New Zealand, $5,000 was a rather large amount to pay off. By the time I left New Zealand, I was doing well: I had zero dollars. I mean, it was better at least.
I headed back to Canada and decided to hitchhike from coast to coast, and in fact made it from the West coast to the East coast on $40. (Don’t ask me how I did it, because it still boggles my mind, and I haven’t a clue how it worked out without utter starvation.) I wasn’t done hitchhiking, though, and decided to hitchhike down to Mexico.
At this point I was dead broke, and started looking for a job in Mexico under the table. While I had no success, my boyfriend at the time did score a job in a local surf shop, making a whopping $2/hour for 5 hours of work per day. So between us, we had $10 a day. We were camping for free on the beach, and cooking our own food with a travel stove, but $10 was still far from sufficient. I had to find a way to make money.
One day I planted myself down at a local café with good Wi-Fi. I bought a coffee – all I could afford – and the kind waiter allowed me to stay for hours on end despite only having spent a buck or so. I scoured the internet, with a new idea in mind: I have always typed ridiculously fast. Perhaps there was a way to earn money off of this skill. That’s when I landed on it: transcribing. After applying to over 100 transcription companies (because I was determined, and hadn’t a clue what the response would be) I received a few emails back. They gave me short test transcription tasks to evaluate my abilities. I aced them.
Transcription can be a great gig for anyone looking to earn extra income either while on the road or working from home. While I’ve been home for a year now, settled into the sedentary life of brewing my own alcohol with my wonderful moonshine still, I still transcribe here and there. The fantastic thing about transcription jobs is you don’t usually have to commit to doing 40 hours a week. You get sent a job, you accept or decline (promptly so the client is always happy if this happens, and can find another transcriber), and there you are. I’ve transcribed over 40 hours a week at times, or done a simple four-hour task for the week; it just depends where I’m at.
The biggest thing to keep in mind with transcription work is that the speed at which you type – accurately – indicates your pay rate. Of course, your typing speed will go up with practice, but it’s important to bear this in mind. You get paid per audio hour, rather than per hour worked. So if an audio hour takes you four hours to transcribe (I type about 100 wpm and four hours per audio hour was my average, varying depending on accents and the speed at which the speech was) you have to factor that in. For someone with a lower typing speed, one hour of audio may take six hours. That being said, though your hourly pay may be lower at first, you will get faster as you practice.
In all, transcribing is a great way to make extra cash whether you’re a full-time nomad or a stay at home mom. Or, maybe you just hate working 40-hour workweeks in a desolate cubicle. Transcribing is absolutely for you. Find transcription companies online, and send your resume off to all of them. Sites like upwork.com or freelancer.com also have transcription opportunities, but the competition tends to be unreal, so you can only win a job if you are willing to make an extremely small amount of money. So just remember: one audio hour will probably take you four to six hours, depending on how fast you type, so always divide the audio hour rate by the estimated number of hours it will take you to see if the hourly rate you’ll be paid is worth it to you.
Now, get typing!
About the Author:
Danielle spent five years straight living out of a backpack, wild camping, and hitchhiking around the world. She made it to over 30 countries on a shoestring budget, picking up jobs along the way as well as finding work online. While she returned to the lovely land of Victoria on the west coast of Canada a year ago, she is still passionate about writing and travel, and always planning her next trip. You can read all about her adventures on her blog, Like Riding a Bicycle.