wage project

ERROR 404 - Chapter 1 - feedmetothepolarbear - Wolf 359 (Radio) [Archive of Our Own]
An Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
By Organization for Transformative Works

My fic is officially up! Inspired by this post.  

Doctor Alana Maxwell has had a rough few months. From former mission commanders returning from the dead to Hilbert’s pet project waging war on her circulatory system, all she really wants is a bit of quiet time. But by the looks of things, she’s not going to get it. Wolf 359 has just turned blue, and the ensuing chaos has left her stranded in space. The quiet time she so desires might be a little more than she was bargaining for. Plus, jumping out the rear hatch, duct tape, battle drones, breaking Jacobi’s ship, and Pong.


Do you want to make money without having to see or speak aloud to another human being? Transcription is a good place to start. There’s better money in it if you’re one of those self-starting, cold-calling little shits, but the kind of money I’ve been able to make not being one of those ($400-1000/mo) has been enough to hold up my end of shared living situations.


  • Native-level fluency in American English*
  • Typing speed above 60 wpm**
  • Significant and predictable stretches of being functional in hearing and correctly interpreting speech
  • Ability to send and receive email, play audio files in a client, deliver about 5-8 hours of work in 2-4 days
  • Ability to follow simple instructions independently

* - There is a large transcription market outside of English, but I’m not personally familiar with it or how it works
** - It’s very possible to do my job at a slower typing speed, but English speech averages something like 200 wpm and taking into account processing and correction time at 60 wpm this comes out to around 1 audio hour per 4.5 realtime hours under optimal conditions, or $11/hour. At 30 wpm it would be more like 1 audio hour per 7 realtime hours, which at my pay level is a ceiling wage (some projects take way more work) below the state minimum wage


I work for a firm which compensates me for around $50 per hour of audio I transcribe, prorated to the minute, twice a month. What they charge depends on the complexity and difficulty of the project and can range from $75 to $150. I am compensated the same either way. This is, as I understand it, how they make their money. My firm has been pretty patient with me because they make a lot of money off of me, but I’ve still had to do some grovelling and apologizing which is kind of rough on me.

I receive emails which say “X Min [day of the week]?” and have a file attached, and have to confirm or deny that I can do it. I’m then on the hook to download that file and have a transcript emailed in by the deadline.

I set aside some time. I relax and get some stimulants in me (I have ADHD and panic issues, it sort of helps). I work in blocks of 1-2 hours, aiming to finish 15-30 minutes of audio in bursts no shorter than 5 audio minutes. When I’ve got enough done to take a coffee break, I do that. When my hands start hurting or I start transposing words, I take a longer break. I let myself off for the night after I’ve done a whole file, or 60-90 minutes. This is a workday for me which is around 4 hours. Some days I can pull two of these shifts, and I’ve pulled two and a half before. It’s rough on me, though, and it’s not like I get overtime or insurance or anything.

To transcribe the files, my setup is actually really simple. I use my regular computer; I play the files, as I would sound or video files I was playing as leisure, on VLC Media Player. You can look up how to add to the VLC toolbar a slider to adjust playback speed; figuring this out was the biggest leap I’ve made with this job. Speech doesn’t stop making sense to me until it’s slowed down further than about 30%, and at 50% at 100 correct words per minute I can usually transcribe speech in realtime. In VLC this doesn’t deepen the pitch; it makes everyone sound drunk, which is initially funny but you get used to it.

I type my transcripts into notepad, not wordpad or any fancier text editor. When I’m done with them, I run them through OpenOffice to apply find-and-replaces and macros (I like typing with single spacing and my boss wants double spacing; I find it easiest to type in names which I need to anonymize with /mmm or /fff and to type in our standard way of saying “this segment is not intelligible” as ??? and find/replace it with [unintelligible] later on.)

I output as plain text, and send off transcripts as plain text.


I did a Google search through people offering advice on how to get into transcription and applied for the firms they recommended as backup for their normal, freelance transcription work. (I’m really bad at putting myself out there, and would like to receive all of the money I’ve earned by making transcripts but got too little work to make much that way.)

A legitimate operation will probably:

  • Ask you to transcribe a file as a test, paid
  • Pay between $.75 and $1 per audio minute, or $45-60 per audio hour
  • Not demand you sign up to any mailing list or pay for any program
  • Ask you to sign confidentiality papers and keep what you learn from projects a secret
  • Ask you for information for direct deposit or possibly W2 information
  • Request that you download certain clients or software to perform certain high-security jobs to clients’ specifications (this is always utterly arbitrary and has generally been totally optional)
  • Allow you to work at your own pace in your own hours as long as you provide clear feedback and respect deadlines
  • Not put you in contact with clients

It’d be reasonable to expect time between sending off an application and first paycheck to be about 4-6 weeks, although it may be less.

Good luck!

flyrobotfly  asked:

Hello! I'm an illustration student who's going to be graduating soon and diving into the world of freelance. I was wondering if you had any advice about how to price commissions and where to start with that? Thanks!

I’m actually not sure I’m the best resource for school-to-life transitions in terms of freelance since I did not go to art school/did not study illustration or comics/am not working in this field as a primary source of income, but I’ll do my best! In terms of freelancing and doing commission work, I have often referred to this lovely gem of a handbook: 

It’s the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

It covers everything from business practices and contracts to professional relationships and copyright law. Beyond the broader professional guidelines, it also gives some pretty helpful information about comparative pay and loose etiquette and protocol for professional practices. 

It runs about forty bucks for the most up-to-date edition (it’s on edition 14 right now, I think), but you can find older copies for pretty cheap. 

Personally, since I’m not really a hard-nosed career illustrator, I think about a base hourly wage, scale of the project, and skills-for-pay. What skills will I need to utilize for this project, and how competently can I fulfill the requirements of the job? Approximately how long will it take to complete this project, and how much of it will be considering actual desk/easel time? They’re a couple things to consider, and I’m still working on developing a formal system - I’ve mostly got it down, and I’ve taken to creating formulas in an Excel spreadsheet to help me calculate certain skills being utilized by scope, scale, and turnaround time. That might be a little elaborate, but I find it helpful.

For a long time I leaned toward the ridiculously cheap end of pricing since I didn’t think my mostly autodidactic visual development and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History at a liberal arts university would be a strong enough foundation in the development of my formal skills, but not considering your work competent enough to earn or at least meaningfully contribute to a living wage sort of devalues the heft of your skills - and no matter how experienced you are, your skills are often ones most people just flat-out do not have.

Anyway, I’m not sure if any of this long-winded response is news or if it’ll be especially helpful, but that’s the best I got for you from where I am. Congratulations on graduating, and best of luck to you!