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Speechpad.com, and Why I Left
Listening to My Own Voice
It seems that Speechpad.com is more popular than I ever expected it to be. To be fair, I haven't returned to it since I found it three years ago. But, that’s because I've really had no reason to go back to a platform that, after my first couple of jobs, didn't seem to be worth the time that it demands.
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Speechpad, like a lot of other transcription and translation and content sites on the Internet, is a place to work on jobs that the website makes available for its workers. Your task as a Speechpad worker is to transcribe streams of audio (from as many voices as there can be on a particular recording), to check some other worker’s transcription of a piece of audio, to add captions to a video, and to complete other jobs along these lines. Moreover, you are also given a rating based on your previous Speechpad performances and accuracy. The lower your accuracy rating, the fewer jobs you have access to. Basically, you are on the typing end of a conversation that you aren't a part of.
If you've never done this sort of thing before, it sounds a little exciting, right?
"I can do that!" you may be thinking to yourself. This article is meant to restrain some of that enthusiasm and tell you a little bit more about online transcription work.
What’s for certain is that as a beginner, which I’m fairly certain that many people working for Speechpad are (as I was), the concept of earning money online overwhelms the rationality of how much you’re actually earning for the time that you’re investing. My first job I took because the audio sample sounded the clearest out of the ones that I could listen to (you are given a 15-second sample) and there seemed to be ample time for me to try my first transcription project. And as the excited newbie that I was to try to earn some money online, I took an audio file that was around 90 minutes long and that provided over nine hours to complete.
Little did I know that on the Speechpad platform I would need almost every minute of those nine hours to transcribe a 90-minute audio file— and the pay was under 20 dollars. And the document I was typing ended up being over 10,000 words long. I was exhausted and helpless by the time I reached the end and I only forced myself to finish because I did not want to lose the progress that I had made and all of the work that I had done… It was a form of punishment, but it was a painful and educating lesson. And what I learned was:
- There is a legitimate way to be given money for doing things online;
- It’s not as easy as it sounds and it’s often not as enjoyable as it sounds;
- You can work very hard in the wrong place.
That final point is the biggest lesson that Speechpad left me with, and why I haven't returned since. There is too much opportunity out there, waiting in the depths of the Internet, for us to slave away and work that hard for relatively small rewards. Maybe it was because I had no transcription experience, but it was the most difficult online work I have done in three years...
Saying that, I have since learned that there is a revolutionary piece of equipment specifically designed to make transcription work easier. It is a that works via USB and lets you stop/start and control audio play with your foot so that you do not have to go back and forth with your mouse to catch up with the audio. It includes rewind/fast forward pedals so that you can be exactly where you need to be in the audio file to transcribe accurately. foot pedal
Transcription Foot Pedal
If you are going to work on transcription jobs, I think this is the only way to do it. The time you lose and waste otherwise going back and forth with a mouse is too much. This is the only way to type faster and to respond to audio more effectively.
However, the central point here is that if you are good at typing fast and are looking to earn money online, there may be better ways out there for you to accomplish that.
Putting the Foot to the Pedal
Speechpad.com is the type of site that you would turn to if you are desperate for cash and if you had a lot of spare time on your hands. But, it is with that in mind that takes us back to lesson number 3: If you’re working too hard in the wrong places, you’re going to miss the right ones. I left Speechpad because my first experience was very unsettling, and because I have managed to find some right places. I have never had the need to look back.
Yet, nonetheless, we have to give credit where it’s due for Speechpad. A quick look at its Twitter feed looks like this:
These links follow to a resourceful website that guides Internet marketers and content creators about the best practices for today’s growing online world. And I think it is with these links that Speechpad sort of reveals its true purpose: it is an online money maker for its owners. In much the same way that many of us work away on the net to earn some spare spending money, Speechpad is just one of the big fish outsourcing a lot of its transcription work to other online workers.
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The issue is, though, they seem to be giving too little in return for a lot of work. And this is the only part of the process that is truly disconcerting. Although passing the initial tests that are required to start any transcription job is relatively fast on Speechpad.com (your test is checked automatically and immediately), there is a huge style guide to understand and abide by. This is part of the challenge.
The second challenge is that not all of the tests are open for you to access higher paying or different work, and some are by invite only. This means that you are sort of left in the dark until you have “[checked] back in 6 months.”
The third challenge is really the rates. I recently returned to Speechpad.com and found these types of rates:
Speechpad Example Jobs and Rates
Type of Job
Online Earnings Opinion Poll
Do these rates look appealing to you?
Although that $/Minute quote sounds extremely appealing, I want to ask you to pause for a minute and really think whether you can type out multiple peoples' words in real time. That is the only way that you can earn that rate. And because you have to keep your rating up and follow the rules of Speechpad's style guide, you have to make sure that you are accurate.
If you don't think you can do that second for second, then that $/Minute rate is slashed dramatically.
Payment itself is relatively regular through PayPal every Friday. However, once you have completed an audio transcription job, you have to wait for your own work to be reviewed by another worker, like yourself, who has access to the ‘reviewer’ qualification. This means that you wait for an undetermined period of time.
Working Smart, Not Hard
Speechpad is a great website for consumers. It provides a double-checked, high-quality audio transcription of their files at relatively low cost. It is very effective for transcription needs.
When it comes to earning through transcription, workers come up a little short. If my experience has taught me anything, it's to move on from the work that drains you and to find things online that you love doing. As I now explore the Internet further to find more opportunities to earn online, lesson 3 comes back to me over and over again.
I was recently accepted as a worker on Amazon Mechanical Turk a long time after first working for Speechpad.com. And some of the first “Human Intelligence Tasks” that I saw on MTurk are Speechpad transcription jobs. This online stuff is a circle sometimes, so it’s important to remember the teachings that we’ve picked up from the start and to keep moving forward. Indeed, you are now even able to do "HITs" directly for HubPages.
Beyond transcription work, there are incredible content creation sites out there waiting to be discovered and hungry for talented writers. There are translation websites for bilinguals and multilinguals. For grammar junkies, there are places that are in need of proofreaders. There are even online markets where you can offer whatever services you are good at, including transcription work. There are infinite possibilities, so don't get stuck with one or two places that end up consuming your energy and passion for working online.
With that in mind, I leave you with a wish of good luck and with a linking article about my own Perfect Summer Job, which quickly helped me move forward from Speechpad and onto bigger and better opportunities. There are always better things out there if you're not too distracted to look.
Do you think working for Speechpad is worth it?
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