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How to Make Money from Home Editing Transcripts for 3Play Media

Updated on January 3, 2018

A Legit Work-from-Home Job

Are you looking for a way to make some extra money working from home? Are you a fast typist? Do you have a good ear and a strong command of English grammar, spelling, and usage? Then you might enjoy working for 3Play Media, an online transcription company that hires independent contractors to edit transcripts. This is an especially ideal job for stay-at-home moms like me who would like to earn some extra cash while the kids are napping or at school, or anyone wishing to supplement his or her income.

What Is 3Play Media?

3Play Media is a company that provides captions, subtitles, or transcripts of video or audio files. The transcript is synced to the video or audio file word-for-word so that readers can follow along as it plays.

Here’s how the process works:

  1. A client submits a file to 3Play Media.
  2. The file goes through automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to produce a “rough draft” transcript.
  3. Then a transcription editor reviews the transcript and makes corrections, adds punctuation, and adds speaker tags.
  4. Finally, a quality assurance editor reviews the transcript to check for any remaining errors.
  5. The client receives a complete, accurate transcript.

An Overview of 3Play Media's Process

What Do Transcript Editors Do?

As stated in the last section, transcript editors make corrections to the initial draft of the transcript. Because some files may have poor audio quality or a lot of background noise, the ASR may produce a transcript with a lot of errors. It’s the editor’s job to listen to the file and read along in the transcript, making corrections along the way. The editor can flag difficult-to-hear words for QA to double-check later. The editor’s goal is to produce a clean transcript with as few errors as possible.

What You Need as a Transcript Editor

  • High-speed, reliable Internet connection
  • A computer and headphones
  • Fast typing skills
  • Strong knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and usage
  • A quiet place to work
  • Good research skills (for looking up unfamiliar names and terms)
  • A broad knowledge of a variety of subjects (not required, but helpful!)

What Languages Should I Know?

Currently, the company transcribes only files in English or Spanish. So if you're a fluent Spanish speaker, you have the opportunity to edit Spanish-language files in addition to English ones.

How Much Does 3Play Media Pay?

3Play Media sets a rate for each individual job based on the difficulty of the job and the audio quality of the file. The easier it is to understand what’s being said, the lower the rate will be, and vice versa. Jobs that require a lot of research (e.g., looking up difficult medical terms) will also generally have a higher rate. Jobs with a short deadline often include a bonus to incentivize editors to choose those jobs quickly. You can see how much each job will pay before you select it.

Rates range from about $0.55 per minute to over $1 per minute (“per minute” means the length of the file, not the amount of time it takes you to complete it). 3Play Media’s website says that you can typically earn between $10 and $30 per hour, depending on how quickly and efficiently you work. I’ve found that the more files you complete and the more familiar you become with the system, the faster you will become over time, increasing your earning potential.

The company pays twice a month through direct deposit.

Can you make this job your primary source of income?

Some contractors say they have. It depends on your skill and the amount of work available, which can fluctuate. Other contractors are happy just working when they can and bringing in a few extra hundred bucks a month. It’s all up to you!

How Can I Be a Successful Transcript Editor?

Practice. Take on a variety of jobs to get a feel for the different work available, and to find your particular strong suits. If you’re a sports buff, for instance, you’ll enjoy editing sports clips much more than a person who has little knowledge of sports teams, players, and terminology.

3Play Media has a handy practice center where you can work on practice files and get used to the software shortcuts, which speed up the editing process. You can also view your performance statistics—how many files you’ve edited, how long you spend editing on average, quality scores, deadline compliance, et cetera. So you can get an idea of how much you’re improving and how much you’re earning each month.

Periodically, a random file you completed will go through an audit, in which an auditor evaluates how accurately you edited the file and followed the standards. You’ll receive a score and will be able to go over any corrections and helpful tips for improvement. As long as you consistently score well on your audits, complete your jobs on time, and adhere to the standards, you’ll be able to enjoy working independently from home and making some decent money.

A Mini Test

Do you have a background in English, or do you simply like to read a lot? You might be well suited to this type of work. See how well you can edit the following paragraph, separating the sentences, adding appropriate punctuation and capitalization, and correcting errors.

Does that look easy? Remember that sometimes you will have to look up unfamiliar names and terms, or replay sections of audio that are difficult to make out. But whenever you're not absolutely sure of what's being said, you can flag it or mark it "inaudible," and QA will double-check it later.

See how you did on the mini test.


The variety of editing jobs

You will find jobs on every type of subject: entertainment, news, finance, arts and humanities, economics, math, medicine, college lectures, films, technology, et cetera. One minute you might be transcribing a sports clip, and the next you’re working on a computer programming instructional video. So if you like variety and get tired of doing the same old thing over and over, then you’ll probably enjoy this line of work. You’ll learn a lot of new, interesting stuff, too.

The flexibility

One especially great perk of the job is the freedom and flexibility. There is no minimum number of hours you have to commit to. You can work virtually as much or as little as you wish. You also get to preview and select the jobs you want, so you aren’t stuck transcribing files that are too difficult or boring for your tastes. And, of course, you can set your own hours. If you’re a stay-at-home mom with babies or toddlers, you can get some work in during nap times or at night when everyone’s asleep. Jobs can pop up at any time of the day or night, so you can almost always find something to work on.

Length of jobs varies too. Some are just seconds or minutes long, which is convenient if you only have a little time to spare. Others can be hours long. The nice thing is that you can save your progress in a job and come back to it whenever you have the time—just as long as you finish by the deadline!

The reliable pay

As soon as you complete a job, the money goes into your invoice account. You can see your current invoice at the bottom of the market page, so you can track your earnings easily. The company pays twice a month through direct deposit. I’ve found the payment system very reliable. You’ll even receive emails letting you know when the payment is on its way and when it’s been delivered to your bank account.

Communicative staff

You’ll receive periodic messages and updates from the staff, and you can message the team at any time with questions and concerns. I’ve found the staff to be friendly and helpful.

Remote work-from-home opportunity

3Play Media says you can work from anywhere in the United States—anywhere with a strong Internet connection! Because you don’t have to interact with coworkers or clients, you can work in your PJs if you feel like it!

Streamlined training process

I’ve worked for some transcription companies where the hiring and training process is very complicated and drawn out. Not so with 3Play Media. The application process is straightforward. You give your basic information and describe any transcription experience, and you complete a short transcription sample, following some clear instructions. The company will contact you if you’ve done well. I heard back within a couple days, which was faster than I expected.

Then you go through training. Again, the training process for the company is more straightforward than what I’ve seen for other transcription companies. You’ll familiarize yourself with the standards guide and practice using the company’s proprietary editing software. And you’ll complete five test files, on which you’ll be graded. I made it through the training in a weekend. Once you’ve passed the training, you’ll gain access to the market, where the jobs are posted.

You don't even need a home office. With just a laptop and headphones, I can pick any comfy chair in the house and get to work.
You don't even need a home office. With just a laptop and headphones, I can pick any comfy chair in the house and get to work.


Unpredictability of work available

As with many contract jobs, you cannot always depend on the volume of work available. While there are stretches of the year with a steady stream of jobs coming in, there are also slow periods. The staff is good about giving contractors a heads up if they anticipate an especially busy period approaching, such as when they sign a new client. But because you will occasionally find the job board empty, it’s good to have alternate sources of income to rely on.

Solitary nature of the job

If you prefer to work independently and stay focused on a task without interruption, then this is an ideal job for you. If, however, you need human interaction to feel stimulated, then you may have trouble adjusting to the solitary nature of the job. You have to spend time in a quiet room with headphones on, listening to people talking, but you’re not talking back!

Requires self-motivation

You don’t have a boss standing over you, making sure you stay on task. Now, you might see that as a positive! But unless you’re a focused, self-motivated type of person, getting jobs done efficiently may be difficult, especially if the subject matter of the files doesn’t interest you.

No benefits

Because the company hires you as an independent contractor, not an employee, it does not offer benefits.

No taxes withheld

As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for your own taxes. If you earn more than $600 in a year, the company will send you and the IRS a 1099-MISC. Because taxes are not withheld from your pay, you’ll need to figure out how much to set aside for tax time.

Personal Tips

As a freelance writer and editor, I've found 3Play Media to be a good side job to work on in between other jobs. I like that I can simply log on to the website and check the market for available jobs, any time of the day.

I don't always start working right away, either. Sometimes I "load up" on files so I know I'll have something to work on when my daughter's at school or napping.

What kind of files do I look for? I actually prefer the long ones, because then I can get into a rhythm. I get used to the speakers' voices and become familiar with the terminology they use. College lectures are a favorite of mine, because it's usually just the professor talking, and professors usually enunciate and project their voices! And the subject matter can be fascinating, particularly for medical school lectures.

My tip is to find the subjects that interest you the most, and to just keep at it. Of course, you won't always be able to choose your favorite kind of files. Sometimes jobs trickle in, and you have to jump on whatever's available. But learning something cool while you work gives you a great feeling and keeps the tedium away!

Interested in Applying?

If this overview of 3Play Media sounds like the perfect job for you, then apply here:

Do your best on the transcription sample, and good luck!


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