Help! I’ve run out of work!

I’m very lucky as a freelancer because I tend to be able to organise my work so that I can take holidays throughout the year, but have a steady flow of work when I need it. However, there are some squeaky bum times of year when my contract comes to an end and there isn’t much around. January is a rubbish time of year to be looking for work in TV, so I usually try and get jobs to take me over the difficult Christmas break period and new year.

However, this year I finished up a lovely job (tune in to Farmer’s Country Showdown and Mary Berry’s Classics folks) with a couple of weeks until Christmas. Then, come January, I had a diary full of tumbleweed – AAAGH! And despite normally having a nice healthy emergency fund for out of work periods, this year my emergency fund got used up by some emergencies… Sigh.

All is not lost because I’ve got a contract in Spring but in the meantime, how to fill those empty weeks? Time to explore the options…

Option #1 Get last minute TV job.

I’ll keep plugging at this as right now because it’s my best source of income, where I can use my skills for maximum pay.

Option #2 Get someone else to pay me to do something.

Time for a side hustle!

Typing from home to earn money!

Now, in the past, I’ve turned to temping to bring in extra cash, so I wondered if my speedy typing skills can be put to good use online.

I did a bit of research and there are plenty of places out there who will pay you to transcribe at home. It looks like the pay is £8-11 per hour depending on your typing speed and experience. To be honest £8 an hour doesn’t seem that great to me, but on the other hand home working and flexibility does and maybe I can tip it towards the £11 end…

It’s not something I’d replace my every day work with, but definitely could work to fill a gap.

type from home to earn extra money

In order to get typing work there a few things you have to get sorted, like:

Find out your typing speed

So before I could put myself forward as the speediest typist in the west I needed to know how fast I could type. A few years ago, I could do 90 wpm (words per minute), which is pretty darn fast. If I needed to be super accurate my speed came down a bit.

But even though I type a lot for work now, I wasn’t sure how fast my speed was.

Googling typing speed I found

Disappointingly I discovered that I am a lot slower these days – struggling to get 70wpm. There’s not much point going for typing jobs if you can’t go fast otherwise you get paid peanuts. However, it turns out 10 fast fingers is quite addictive, so I kept practicing until I hit the jackpot 86 wpm score!

What if I can’t type but I want to learn?

If you can’t type there are various programmes you can use to learn. I learned on Mavis Beacon a trillion years ago, however there are now much more up to date programmes like Typsey. There are also a lot of free alternatives out there, but if you are serious about learning how to touch type I like Typsey because it’s intuitive, addictive and has lots of hand holding to get you from typing with one or two fingers to ten fingers. It’s also a hell of a lot more gorgeous looking than the programmes I learned on. Design has moved on in the last couple of decades…

Work out who will take you

The peachiest typing jobs seem to be typing for the medical and legal professions. If you’ve got any experience in these worlds go for these jobs because they pay out a few more dollars/ pounds per hour than the jobs any old Tom, Dick or Harry (or me) can do. As a regular person, I had to look past these plum gigs – but there is a lot out there.

Sites to look at for home typing jobs include:


Take 1

Sterling Transcription

Take Note

I started with Take 1, because I work in TV and they transcribe TV rushes and interviews. No pay rates were advertised on the website, so I assumed it was probably pretty rubbish pay. However as a TV producer I am perfect for this job, so I thought start with someone who will probably take you and it doesn’t stop me applying to others.

Next I applied to Sterling Transcription. They were less TV focused although there was some media work on there. But as I have also temped in the financial sector I thought they might take me on for some of their finance work, which hopefully could be a bit more lucrative…

Finally I looked at Take Note. The pay for Take Note is only 46p per audio minute and that involves typing audio with more than one person in e.g. focus groups. The chances of me being able to earn a minimum wage at this pay level is small even with my typing speeds because typing groups word for word is slow (people talk faster when they are having a conversation and so there are more words to type per audio minute), but I applied because if they are happy to let their typists try out higher level work e.g. legal or medical then it might be a chance for me to break into better paid typing that I wouldn’t otherwise have the experience to do.

Before you start the applications sort out your CV

My typing CV is not that impressive, but I’d done just enough to flesh one out. I did a course in typing 20 years ago and then I temped for a few months after university, for a few months when I changed career in my twenties. I also do a lot of typing for my job, logging rushes and interviews, which I flagged up in my covering letter and CV because that’s exactly what companies like Take 1 are looking for people to do.

If you don’t have a lot of “secretarial” experience you can either:

– try and draw attention to the fact you type regularly in other ways

– apply for places that are willing to take you on your current typing ability rather than your experience. e.g. Take Note.


Most companies will have an online application process. You will get asked your typing speed and more often than not have to do a typing test to prove it. You need to be accurate as well as fast. Take 1 asked me to check my speed at Type Online It was REALLY hard – the site chucked up passages from Shakespeare and Rudyard Kiping, with lots of punctuation marks and capital letters in weird places, so my speed was really slow. But you can get faster doing it again and again plus they don’t check your speed so once I was happy I could do it fast, I put 80wpm in the application and moved on.

They also wanted to know how fast my internet is and whether you have any equipment.

Typing Equipment – consider buying a pedal

Typing at home to earn extra money

It is much much easier to type with a typing pedal because then you don’t have to lift your hand off the keyboard to go forward and backward through the audio you’re typing. I am still researching the best value pedal, but if you don’t want to commit, you can try and get by without one or just get a cheap second hand jobbie from Ebay.

You might have to do a hearing test

Sterling Transcription wanted me to do a hearing test (which I thought I would fail but I didn’t – phew!) and it consisted of listening to words with lots of background noise on and selecting the right one. I struggle to hear against a lot of background noise, so I didn’t enjoy this much, but it turned out my hearing is pretty normal.

… and a copy typing test

They also asked for the results from a copy typing test. Obviously you could lie if you filled it out as they don’t check it, but there really is no point. They only ask for min 65 wpm and if you can’t type that fast, then you won’t earn enough money to make this job worthwhile.

The Take Note application was by far the most involved of the three applications. The first step was a copy typing test. The text for this is the same as the practice test they offer you, so you can get properly up to speed and nicely rehearsed for this one. I would have done it a few more times if I’d known, but it went OK at around 70wpm and 93% accuracy.

… and a grammar test…

The next stage for Take Note is a grammar test – if you do not know when to use your apostrophes, bone up before this test or you will fail it.

… and a typing CV

Before you can go any further make sure you’ve filled out all your personal details – at this stage you also need to upload a CV and a reference.

The third step is a formatting test. For this they ask you to read all their formatting rules and correct a document that has not been formatted to their standards. There are three documents about the rules – 14 pages in total. By this point I’m really hoping I get this gig as my afternoon is slowly dribbling away…

Get the job. Do the typing

Yay! You got the typing job? Well done. Every agency has their own way of working – some offer shifts that you sign up for when convenient. Others will give you a set amount of audio minutes and pay you per audio minute. They will also give you a deadline. The longer it takes you to complete the transcript the less your per hour rate will be. If you can whizz through in your best typing speed, you will get the max bucks you can earn per hour.

You will also spend time at the end of typing to check and proofread your transcript.

Although it means your first few pay packets are a bit smaller than they could be, it’s really worth going over your initial transcripts with a fine tooth comb. No typos, no bad grammar, and make sure you’ve got the house style nailed. You will speed up with practice but getting it right first time will help with getting regular work.

Get paid

OK… so far working out at aroundn £9 ph for me. Not the best paid, but I get to do it in my pyjamas and no commute!

Brilliant – first side hustle of the year. Tick tick boom!

Work from home side hustle