With 39% more people working from home on occasion now than they did just eight years ago, it’s not surprising that crooks caught on to the trend and have flooded various work-from-home niches with scams.
And because transcription is a common target for online malefactors, it’s easy to see a company like Rev and wonder:
Is this just another scam? Rev is a well-known online transcription service that hires transcriptionists, captioners, and foreign subtitlers to work on files from companies like Amazon, Visa, and CBS. They pay anywhere from $0.30-$3.00 per audio/video minute and reliably make payments via PayPal on a weekly basis.
Read on to learn more about what Rev is, how you can get started, who’s behind it, why they’ve garnered so much (negative) media attention recently, and more!
What’s Rev About?
Rev is an online transcription service that allows typists to work from home with a focus on one of three main categories:
- Transcription: Converting audio and video to text
- Captioning: Adding captions to a video
- Subtitling: Translating videos with subtitles in a foreign language
Rev is a fairly large company, being used by recognizable companies and organizations such as:
- Duke University
- The US Department of Justice
Rev is available to people who want to be independent contractors for transcription. They hire freelancers – not employees.
This means that you’ll be responsible for all your own expenses and taxes. You’ll also get to set your own schedule and have flexible hours.
How much Rev will pay depends on which of the three categories you apply and get hired for. The basic pay structure breaks down like this:
- Transcribers: Earn $0.30 to $1.10 per audio or video minute
- Captioners: Earn $0.54 to $1.10 per audio or video minute
- Foreign Subtitlers: Earn $1.50 to $3.00 per audio or video minute
So, as you can see, you can earn a similar amount as a transcriber or captioner, but you can earn a significantly higher amount if you know a foreign language and decide to use those skills.
There reason there’s such a wide range of pay and not just a set number is because it depends on the difficulty of the audio/video. The harder the audio/video, the more money you make.
However, for subtitling, what you earn is determined by the language needed. One of the lowest paying is Chinese at $1.50 per audio/video minute, and one of the highest is German at $3.00 per audio/video minute.
So, to put that all into perspective, it generally takes a transcriber three hours to complete one audio/video hour. So, assuming that speed on a one-hour file, you’d earn anywhere from $6 to $22 per hour as a transcriber.
While $22 an hour is enough money to provide a full-time income from home, $6 per hour is only enough to substantiate a part-time side hustle.
And, since there would be no way to ensure how much you earn, it wouldn’t be the most reliable full-time job (however there are work from home opportunities that do pay $22 an hour more consistently).
How Does Rev Work?
To get started with Rev, you have to go through an application process and get hired. They aren’t always hiring, and when they are, the application process can be rather difficult.
Starting the sign-up process as an independent contractor, however, is easy.
First, you need to pick if you want to do transcription, captioning or subtitling. You can theoretically do all three – however there is a separate sign up process for each, but they all follow the same basic model.
Then you go to Rev’s website and click the “Become a Freelancer” button at the bottom of the page. Once you choose which type of work you want to do, you’ll have to complete a quiz and a test file that will demonstrate your skills in that category.
After completing this, you’ll have to wait to hear back on your approval or denial from Rev.
Rev states that it generally takes less than a week to hear back from them, but some people say that it took anywhere from 2-3 weeks to hear back with an approved application.
Once you’ve been approved, you can start working immediately. With Rev, there is no minimum commitment, so you get to choose how much or how little you want to work. As long as there is work available, you can do it any time of the day.
There is generally a lot of availability for jobs on Rev, so it’s reasonable to expect a steady amount of work from them.
Once you chose and completed a job, you will be paid via PayPal. This payment is made weekly on the week following the completed work.
Rev doesn’t have any direct deposit, check, or other online money transfer options besides PayPal at this time, so you would need to sign up with PayPal to get paid.
Who’s Behind Rev?
Rev was founded in 2010 by CEO Jason Chicola and Josh Breinlinger.
Both Chicola and Breinlinger were workers on the early oDesk, which is a company that many people now know as the freelance marketplace UpWork.
With the fact that UpWork is a huge freelance company, it’s no wonder these two guys decided to find a niche of freelancing and make something more out of it.
According to Rev’s website, their mission is to “create great work-from-home jobs, powered by AI.”
As we already noted, Rev has some very big companies and organizations that it works with, which is no wonder why PC Magazine ranked it “Editor’s Choice” in 2018 and the best transcription company in 2019.
This is also why they have an annual revenue of $5 million and are constantly growing with their freelancer team and customer base.
Is It Worth It to Work With Rev?
With all of the appeal that comes with a freelancing, home-based job, many come to the point of asking, “Is it too good to be true?”
As with nearly every company, there’s both positive and negative reviews out there.
Some contractors state that working with Rev is a great experience, being given straightforward training and access to the right tools to make the transcribing process as enjoyable as possible.
Importantly, lots of people also note that the payment process is reliable – so you don’t have to worry about them gypping you on your pay.
However, some people strongly dislike the lower end of the pay scale, saying that they shouldn’t be getting paid less than minimum wage. Which, it’s important to note, that Rev did just lower their pay rates in November 2019.
But there is one thing that happened recently that has brought some media attention to the company.
As we just noted, Rev angered some of their freelancers by lowering their minimum pay by $0.15 per audio minute (which is potentially equivalent to lowering the minimum pay by $3 per hour).
However, that’s not the only issue that’s come to light. Apparently, Rev freelancers are required to transcribe some extremely disturbing content.
For example, there have been reports of people transcribing police body cam footage that revealed dead bodies in the video. Others have reported transcribing audios of sexual assault victims, graphic police descriptions of murders,
The issue arises with the fact that there was nothing that told the freelancers what the videos or audios would be beforehand – they only found out after having started the audio/video. Freelancers should be forewarned of disturbing content before choosing to accept a job, not after.
What’s even more problematic is that, before these disturbing reports came out, there was no age requirement for working with them. However, recently Rev updated their Terms and Conditions, making it so you now must be 18 years or older to work with them.
What I Like
- Most people claim there’s enough work available
- It can provide at least enough for a part-time income
- The people who founded it were a part of a successful freelance company (UpWork) beforehand
What I Don’t Like
- There’s no warning on graphic content
- They recently cut their minimum pay rates by $0.15 per audio minute
- It can take a long time to hear back from them after you apply
My Overall Opinion
Even though Rev is an established and legitimate company, that doesn’t mean they’re the best company to work for.
In my opinion, the fact that there’s literally no warning at all for graphic files – coupled with the fact that you can get penalized for returning them after you’re already in the middle of it – is a huge negative.
If you have the English skills to be a transcriptionist, you probably have the skills to do something else – like becoming a freelance proofreader, which can give you higher pay without the graphic content.