How to Recognize a Freelance Transcriptionist?



In today’s internet era,  the digital audio and video files can be transmitted anywhere in the world at the click of a mouse button. But the same technological advancements have also produced challenges in recognizing established professional transcription services.

The wide availability of website templates now allows anyone to purchase a domain name and open a business as a freelance transcriptionist. There is nothing wrong in that. But the problem is, potential clients remain confused as to whether the operation is one person working at a kitchen table or a large company of experienced transcriptionists, quality control specialists, and administrative staff occupying an entire office building!


Supporters of the freelance economy argue that this is a good thing. That there are plenty of opportunities for people looking to work-at-home to build a thriving freelance business in a specific niche such as business, legal, medical, or academic transcription.

All that’s needed, they argue, is some basic training, some social media marketing, and a few credible clients to help you get started, and you’ll be up and running in no time at all. This is a tremendous opportunity, especially if you happen to be selling a transcription-training program, but the reality for potential clients is dramatically different.


Transcription websites can promise anything in terms of remarkably low pricing and amazingly fast turnaround times.

They can also back-up those promises with testimonials from companies you may have never heard of, or, worse still, “Joe K., from Omaha,” who just loved the work that Interplanetary Transcriptions, Inc. did for him.

However, once you explore the website a little further, you find that there is no evidence of specific qualifications or experience in any particular field. Interplanetary may be the cheapest option in your pool of potential candidates, but you can probably anticipate extensive requests for additional information and clarification of specific terminology. How that will be achieved within the heavily promoted fast turnaround time will definitely be interesting!


The greatest concern when working with freelancers is that you only have one set of eyes and one set of ears reviewing both the source file and the transcription file.

Professional transcription services offer, at the very least, a review by a second set of eyes to bring a fresh perspective and to catch simple spelling and grammar errors.

The best services go one step further in their quality control and pass the file through review by a subject matter expert to ensure that the finished product is as accurate as it can possibly be.

If you are in search of a transcription partner, you will find that the market is blessed with a multitude of vendors promising accuracy, speed, and competitive pricing. If your budget is especially tight, you may be tempted to give the lowest cost option a try, but you should do so with the clear understanding that compromises have been made to achieve those lower costs.

Experience and expertise are earned over time, and accuracy is best achieved through detailed quality control. It’s in your best interest as the client to make sure that the promises being made on that shiny website will translate into an accurate transcript that you can use with confidence in the future.

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