What Transcribing Audio Has Taught Me About Blogging

Tumors ain’t cheap, so I got myself a job. Really more of a side hustle, as the kids say, but it’s work and I get paid for it. Mind you, it’s not raining Benjamins over here, but I’m contributing. Do the kids still say raining Benjamins?

I’ve never worked. Allow me to clarify. I work. I’ve always worked. I raise children. I cook. I clean. I pick up my dog’s shit. I homeschool. I write content for the internet’s 8th least popular blog. But the last time I received an actual paycheck was way back in high school.

The husband and I have been discussing our financial future. We still struggle with some lingering debt from the years I was ill and our retirement fund is not where we’d like it to be. It’s clear that either one of us was going to have to win the lottery or I was going to have to get a job.

I tried to convince him that the $25 this blog has earned would keep us from having to eat cat food when we’re retired, but he wasn’t having it. So, I set out to search for jobs I, a middle aged woman with a community college degree and zero work experience, am qualified for.

Too road ragey for Uber.

Essential oils? Not my bag, baby.

Watching kids. Uh, no thank you. Been there, done that, had the shirt puked on.

I had another homeschool mom suggest trying out for a job transcribing audio. Huh. This option had promise. Fast typer? Check. Grammar skills? Uh-yup. Live to spend my days in pajamas? Hell to the yeah!

So I went for it and, lo and behold, they wanted me and I’ve now been gainfully employed for a little over a week. I’ve been listening to interviews, phone calls, conference calls, and basic nonsensical ramblings while typing words as fast as my slightly arthritic hands will allow me.

Just like life itself, this transcription job has been an equally pleasant and stressful experience. I enjoy contributing financially to the household and not feeling guilty when I want to treat myself to a new purse, but I also find myself waking up in a cold sweat at three in the morning thinking I’ve taken a job and fallen asleep before completing it on time.

This job is fairly flexible. I set my own hours and, did I mention the part about wearing PJs while I do this? But, still, it’s a job. It requires my time and cuts into other things like dishes, laundry, watching trash TV, and writing content for the internet’s 8th least popular blog.

Despite the drawbacks gainful employment has, I’m getting paid. So, mama better figure it out. And I am. Slowly. I’m learning.

I’ve learned a thing or two about life in the process. Basic lessons we all have to learn during the course of adulthood. Like time management, balance, handling the added stress.

But, what I didn’t expect this transcription job to do was to teach me about blogging. Surprisingly, though, it has. And since I’m a giver, I’m going to let you in on what I’ve learned. First off,

  • Take the verbosity down a notch, kid

I’m wordy. That, I cannot deny. Hell, it took me a dozen paragraphs to get to the first lesson I’ve learned. I have a problem. I can’t get to the fucking point already.

I’ve noticed in the interviews I’ve transcribed, people love the sound of their own voice. So, it makes sense writers love the sight of their own words. In both cases, the more words, the better, am I right?

As a writer, it feels orgasmic to see that I’ve knocked out 1,000 or more words for a blog post. One thousand. “That’s a lot of words,” she says greedily. But I never stopped to think if they were all the right words or if I could have said what I needed to say in 900 words. 800, 700.

Every day I listen to people yammer on. And on and on and on. Blah-di-blah-di-blah-di-blah. I’m often left thinking to myself as my fingers click the keys, “Get to the point!” So often what is said in 100 words could easily be conveyed in half that many.

It’s the verbal equivalent of Easter grass, filler material. Your basket’s too big and your chocolate bunny is far too small. So, you make it look bigger, more grandiose than it really is.

As a transcriptionist, it’s a tedious slog through ohs and ums and verys. Lots and lots of verys. And, now I see it may well be that way for many blog readers, including my own.

Just give your readers the chocolate bunny. Don’t make them dig for the jelly beans. Don’t bury the point of your blog post in word salad. Write it. Mean it. Make it worth their time.

  • The boastful ones are usually the least fascinating

Most of what I’ve transcribed, so far, are interviews. And only one of them left me wanting more. Most of them are filled with people ceaselessly bloviating about how fascinating they are. As time wears on, you begin to realize they’re anything but.

They’re boring. Shallow. Empty even. They talk a good game, usually about themselves, but often don’t seem to end up delivering the goods they spent up to an hour swearing they’d deliver.

In blogging you will find that person, many times over. They talk a good game. They know about building a brand. They’ve done it themselves successfully, so let them show you how.

So you sit, with rapt attention, and you wait. And wait. And watch. And wait some more as you dutifully follow their lead. Until you realize the only brand that has been built under their tutelage is their own. Then, poof, off they go to the next one.

Good content is out there. As are helpful, supportive, and loyal bloggers that want nothing more than to see you succeed. I know. I’ve been more than fortunate to find them. And you will know them when you find them, you will feel it in your bones.

They are usually the quiet ones, they don’t need a song and dance. Their experience speaks through their quality content. If you find a blogger with bland, beige, boring content trying to sell you on their internet prowess, let that be your first red flag.

If they ask for your support, speak of connection and kindness amongst bloggers, but their behavior doesn’t mirror the advice they’re giving, run far and run fast because the real ones aren’t full of all that hot air. 

  • Nothing great happens overnight

I’ve always been a fast typer. I write regularly, so editing is natural to me. Even still, after transcribing 300 minutes of audio, I am slow as molasses. At this point in the game I’m practically paying them to do the job.

Every time I get my meager paycheck deposited, I wonder if this is worth it. As it stands, it’s not worth it. But the thing is, I’m learning. I can type. I have a firm grasp of the English language, but putting the two together while trying to decipher what folks are saying is a separate skill all its own.

As I get better, if I get better, in time I will be able to make more money per audio minute. But, I have to prove myself. I have to acquire the skills necessary and that only happens over time.

Blogging is exactly the same. I’ve been fairly frustrated with my blog’s lack of growth this year. I’m a great writer, after all. It should just happen. Cream rises to the top, and all that nonsense.

The truth is, I’m not a great writer. I’ve read great writers. I’m not yet there. I’m a good writer. I have some skill. I have something to build on, and I feel pretty confident I will. I’m not there yet because I’m not supposed to be there. I haven’t earned it.

When I look back at my past two years here I realize how quickly it’s gone. When I read that very first blog post and compare it to my latest I see how much I’ve improved. Then, it dawns on me, there’s more improvement to be had.

I’m not earning much as a transcriptionist now. I’m earning far less as a blogger. But there’s room to grow and it won’t happen overnight. Blogging is a slow journey. And just like transcribing, I’m learning as I go.

Each transcription job is timed and I always feel a need to rush. But I’ve learned the hard way that getting hung up on perfection in the beginning eats up my time and energy and usually ends up in a subpar job.

I’ve had to learn to take a deep breath and let things unfold, the final edits will come in time, but they aren’t where you start. Just like blogging, you need to give yourself permission to screw up a little bit in the beginning and trust you’ll find your way.

While they both have tedious aspects to them, I still love both jobs. And now that my job as a transcriptionist has made me look at blogging with a fresh set of eyes, I feel better prepared to fit both into my life and let lessons from one carry over into the other. Then, maybe, hopefully I can progress at both and let the Benjamins fall where they may.