What It's Like Working for Rev
The frustrations of finding freelance work
I know a lot of people who are trying to find any job they can do from home, whether freelance or taking a position with a company. After exhausting all open positions that I could physically perform in the area where I live, I searched online for a way to make money from home. Most sites that tell you they have lists and lists of ways to make money are either outdated or severely over exaggerating the amount of money one can make performing freelance work or random tasks.
I had already tried FlexJobs, a paid site that claimed to have work-from-home opportunities for everyone. After a few weeks, I canceled my membership and flat out told FlexJobs that it was not right they advertised this when it was not true. Every single job I saw required either several years of experience, a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree, or both.
Since I am attempting to change fields thanks to my declining physical capabilities after a strange illness that was maybe Lyme disease, I lack professional experience in the positions to which I am applying. As for education, many people are surprised when I tell them I only possess an Associate’s Degree—everything else I learned through years of experience, general curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge. It is the funding that holds me back from that piece of paper—that really expensive piece of paper that certifies that I know how to do a job I am already doing. I would continue with business management, my true interest, if I ever decide to diver deeper into student loan hell.
I have a few years of experience as a retail store manager, plenty of experience in retail overall, and have started my own e-commerce business. Alas, none of that matters in the eyes of a corporation intent on hiring only those with a four-year degree (or more), and I have no desire to fall deeper into the pit of student loan debt, so I continued my search for random work, preferable work-from-home due to my inability to drive thanks to my health, both mental and physical.
For years I had to follow a schedule and strict dress codes. I now struggle to have the patience for that and prefer freelance work that allows me to set my own schedule. I had performed tasks as an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker, but that usually averages out to be between two and five dollars an hour when you are on the lower end of qualifications. It felt like I was taking endless surveys to receive a meager four dollars a day, if even that. I would find that tasks were limited without higher qualifications, and the only way to qualify was to complete more tasks. I still do it on occasion, even if just to pay for a streaming service or two for the month.
A couple of months back, I saw a suggestion online about freelance transcription. I am not the greatest typist, my mild dyslexia often slowing me down. However, I figured I would give it a try and checked out two suggested sites: TranscribeMe and Rev. TranscribeMe require multiple tests that I was hesitant to take. Rev was easier to apply to but had a waiting list of at least four weeks. I was not sure I would ever hear from them after taking their assessments—I never know with my typing speed, ADD, and dyslexia. However, about a month later I was invited to take the training with Rev and get started as a transcriptionist.
The main difference between the two is that Rev usually has computer-generated text that you must edit versus TranscribeMe, the latter requiring you to type what you hear. I timed myself with a test audio clip on TranscribeMe and calculated that I would make about a dollar fifty an hour—certainly not worth it. Rev does not pay much either, but since I am not a fast typist, it would pay more than TranscribeMe.
I went into my training with Rev expecting the job to not be the greatest. I knew the pay was low and past experience told me that these types of freelance jobs are a grind for barely any money. I was hoping this would not be like WordAgents where it was “freelance,” but you were told when to work and what to work on.
Rev’s interface is fairly easy to use. I know a lot of transcriptionists use foot pedals, but I never intend to be that hardcore. Besides, as a gamer and tech geek, I am perfectly content with keyboard shortcuts. They give you a few training segments to help you get used to the interface and to better understand what is expected of you. I started to get frustrated early on when the style guide did not match the training explanations, especially when it came to tagging.
After training, you are advised to take on jobs that are less than ten minutes and have no more than two speakers, then they bump you up to “Revver” and let you work on anything. Your work is graded in the beginning until you are cleared to work unsupervised, which makes sense with a new employee. However, this is where I started to run into problems and realized that, once again, this was not worth the time.
As expected, work is first come, first serve. If you are not sure about a project or hesitate, it will be gone. You can "unclaim" a job if it isn’t going to work out for you, and as long as you unclaim it within a certain amount of time, you will not be penalized. Basically, that means that you have to just grab whatever job you see and then determine if you can perform the transcription. Twice I managed to snag something only to discover that it was audio I could not transcribe without frustration.
Remember that I said they advise you to take shorter segments with only two speakers? Those hardly exist. Perhaps you can find one if you are sitting at your computer for hours hitting refresh every time a new job is available. Or maybe you can just get lucky. The job is completely freelance, meaning you can work as much or as little as you want, whenever you want, but you are not likely to find jobs in the beginning. I felt it was a waste of time for me to sit there waiting for a job to come along, so I often did things on the side until something pops up. Even then, I would still miss them because I was not jumping on jobs as they became available.
If you are able to snatch a job, chances are it is one nobody else wants. Often the speakers have heavy accents, talk over each other, or the sound quality is just bad. The training gives you a few examples of these types of audio clips, which I found just frustrating.
I have been with Rev for about a month and have yet to complete a job because there just are not any available. I debated closing my account multiple times just to remove the idea that maybe I can find a job I can complete. So far I’ve left it open and do check it occasionally, hoping that someday maybe I can make use of the nice cat-ear headset I bought for myself to better hear audio clips.
If you are content with sitting at a computer screen, waiting for work without getting paid, then perhaps this is something for you. I keep my account with them for now in the hopes that someday I will find a job that I can do, but I have mostly lost hope and have certainly lost interest. I was originally so interested in becoming a transcriptionist, and now that interest is dead. I make more writing than transcribing, and I barely make anything right now.
Until my business makes enough to fully support me or my career as an author takes off, I will continue to search for other work. I would still recommend Rev over TranscribeMe but realize that you are not going to make much in the beginning, if anything at all.