CastingWords enlists freelancers to transcribe audio but pays such low rates that you can only consider this a decent side hustle if you live in a country with a rock-bottom cost of living.

Expected pay: $1 – $10 per hour

Husl$core: $

Commissions & Fees: NA

Where: Most U.S. states and in many countries around the world

Requirements: 18 or older, PayPal account and the ability to legally work as an independent contractor

Review:

CastingWords pay structure nearly guarantees below-minimum wage transcription work. To be specific, the site pays a base rate that starts at 8.5 cents per audio minute. Transcription experts say that any given audio minute could take between two and six minutes to transcribe. So you’re earning between 1.5 cents and, say, 4 cents per minute or $1 to $2 per hour.

Tapes go to graders, who then pay — or don’t pay — bonuses based on how well the transcription was done. If you get an average grade, you get the base rate. If you get a top score, you’ll get three times that. But you’re still talking about earning less than the U.S. minimum wage.

It’s only after you work for this company for a long time that you might be offered work with higher base rates, according to people who have worked with CastingWords. Not surprisingly, U.S. workers rate the company poorly on pay. But, several transcriptionists in Kenya were enthusiastic.

CastingWords pays freelancers once a week via PayPal.

Recommendations:

Transcriptionists from the U.S. can earn more with Transcription Outsourcing and GMR. Non-U.S.-based transcriptionists should consider Rev. Rev doesn’t pay particularly generously, but it pays better and more fairly than CastingWords.

What their users say: (from Glassdoor)

Low pay, especially at beginning. A glut of new workers can mean little to no work available for long stretches of time. The same can be said for higher paying jobs. It’s feast or famine, but most of free-lance work is anyway. Editing pay too low. One grader in particular can be difficult to please, perhaps due to the volume of work he takes on.

LOW PAY FOR SO MUCH WORK INVOLVED. NOT WORTH IT AT ALL.

You can’t really make a living wage at first, you need to prove yourself to be allowed to do better jobs. It’s an investment. Your wage is basically tied to how quickly you can type, which can cause strain on your wrists. This just comes with being a transcriber, a career no one should really pursue.

Low pay. Low, low pay. BUT you are getting paid in experience. If you stick with it, you can move on to higher-paying companies.