How much should my wife bid on a transcription job?
September 19, 2007 3:07 PM   Subscribe

My wife is looking to do freelance transcription work while home with our newborn and needs bidding guidance.

Background: My wife wants to bid on an interview transcription job - about 30-35 hours worth of tape. This is broad transcription, requiring no phonetics training. She has no appreciable experience transcribing academic research, but does have an appropriate educational background - meaning that there will be a learning curve. She would have 3-4 months to finish the job.

Question(s): How many hours, on gross average, does it take to loosely transcribe one hour of good quality tape with a digital transcription machine? How many pages of standard script (give or take 25%) does one hour of interview video usually come out to?

Any help would be appreciated!
posted by mrmojoflying to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I conducted a 1 hour group interview with five women for my master's thesis. I'd say it took me about six hours to transcribe (not all at once). I believe the finished transcript was about 30 pages long, so approximately 2 minutes per page, Times New Roman 12 pt font, single spaced, with a space between each separate speaker.

The details:

I was the one who had conducted the interview, so I knew the context of the conversation and I remembered the general discussion well.
It took quite a while to differentiate between the voices and attribute each statement correctly.
I was trying to be very accurate--it was not loose transcription.
I didn't have much transcription experience.
I am a very fast typist and I was using a transcription machine with a foot pedal.
The tape quality was quite good.

Perhaps this might help give your wife some idea.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:49 PM on September 19, 2007

Best answer: I co-own a transcription business, though I no longer actually do the transcribing. I picked up freelance transcribing work for years. It drove me up the wall but it was occasionally a good way to make a quick buck from home.

When you get good at transcribing, you can do about an hour of footage/audio in four hours time or 3.5 if you're awesome. If the audio quality is bad, make that five hours. It's hard to say how many pages per hour, because people talk at different rates. It also depends on your formatting style. It could be anywhere from 8-22 pages when typed out.

Tell your wife to charge by the minute or hour of audio/visual material she is to transcribe. Also, I strongly suggest that she not charge less than $100 per hour of audio. This will end up working out to about an $18-25 an hour salary, with breaks and lags. $90/hr of material is also fair but the work is so tedious I'd say it's not even worth your time.

If audio quality is bad, it makes the job horribly difficult. Accordingly, let the client know bad audio attaches a higher price tag. I would charge $120 per hour of footage for bad audio. If they want the material timecoded, that should also be priced out.

Ten to twelve hours of footage a week is a good goal to shoot for, and pretty doable. Good luck and I'll be watching this thread in case you have any other questions.
posted by Lieber Frau at 4:54 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh, additionally, those are Canadian price tags . I'd charge about 10% more when working in the States.
posted by Lieber Frau at 4:57 PM on September 19, 2007

Lieber Frau, one question to tag on: where did you get your jobs from?
posted by loiseau at 10:53 PM on September 19, 2007

Consider charging by the word. That way the client is not dependent on her typing speed, and if she is fast, she and not the client gets the benefit of it. SpeakWrite charges a penny a word for general typing and 1.5 for the legal market.
posted by yclipse at 3:06 PM on September 20, 2007

Response by poster: UPDATE - My wife won the bid with an offer that was comparable to the median rate for academic transcription in our geographic area. Thank you all for your thoughts.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:55 PM on September 25, 2007

AT&T ripped my internet access away, sorry I'm not replying til now to your question lolseau.

I advertised online, sometimes paying but mostly through various film/tv sites where people search for crew and other services. Also, free listing in the yellow pages doesn't hurt.
posted by Lieber Frau at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2007

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