If you’re looking to make money from home, you often don’t have to look much further than your keyboard. Online typing jobs are widely available and often don’t require a ton of experience outside of being an efficient typer.
One of the best ways to get paid to type is to become a captioner. People have always read captions or subtitles while watching videos and the demand for closed captioning services is steadily growing.
If you’re asking yourself, “what is a captioner?” and you want to know how to become one and get paid to write captions for a variety of video content, this is a full guide to help you get started.
What is Closed Captioning and How Much Do Captioners Make?
You might have heard the terms closed captioning and subtitles used interchangeably but they are not exactly the same.
Closed captioning is when you transcribe the dialog you hear along with any other audio that could help the viewer understand what’s going on.
Captions are often intended for audiences who are not able to physically hear what is going on in the video.
Another reason why someone might want closed captioning is to help them better understand what’s going on in a video or television program.
Meanwhile, subtitles are a translation. If you’re watching something in a language you don’t speak or understand, viewing subtitles at the bottom of the screen can help.
Closed captioning can allow you to earn a living working flexibly online and also impact so many people’s experiences when they’re watching videos. Here’s how to get started.
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Educational Requirements & Skills
Before you can make money captioning, there are some basic requirements you may need to meet to start this new career.
First off, you don’t have to go back to school or earn a certificate to become a successful captioner.
While a degree in English might help you, what most captioning jobs require is some experience and the ability to pass a typing test.
Start by improving your typing skills first and making sure you can accurately type out the things you hear or see.
To practice and improve your typing speed and accuracy, check out TypingTest.com which is a free site to use.
You can always practice writing captions for videos you watch online and use these to serve as samples of your work.
If you’ve done any transcription work in the past, this is the perfect way to transition into online caption writing as well.
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8 Steps to Become a Captioner
Ready to become a captioner? You will need a few things to start but by following these specific steps, you will find that you can make money captioning in no time.
Step 1: Choose a Captioning Niche
Niching down is important in most professions including captioning. While you may think you can find more work by marketing yourself as a captioner who can work on any assignment, you may find more steady work from home jobs and better pay by narrowing down your niche.
Choose what type of services you wish to provide and who you want to work for. Maybe you find that you like writing captions for YouTube videos or entrepreneurs and influencers. Or, perhaps you want to work on TV shows or movies.
Figuring out how to become a captioner for television programs may take you down a different path than writing captions for short videos online.
Still, having a niche will make it easier to plan your career path and become known for specializing in one or two things.
Feel free to try a little of everything to start, then narrow down your favorite niche from there.
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Subtitling Tools
There are many tools you can use to make captioning projects easier and more efficient to do.
That said, it’s important to realize that you don’t always have to write your captions from scratch.
Wondershare’s Uniconverter is just one of many tools that will help sync captions and subtitles for videos so you can edit the results.
This tool is free to use and can help you get a head start with creating, adjusting, synchronizing and translating your video captions.
You may need to manually check and adjust the captions that are generated from the system but doing this work is lighter than having to write captions for a long video from scratch.
Step 3: Decide Between Clients and Captioning Jobs
The next step to become a captioner is to decide what type of jobs you’d like. To obtain work in this field, there are usually two main options: apply for captioning jobs or find your own clients.
Online captioning jobs may seem like the easiest option for beginners with little experience. If you can find a site that pays people to write captions, you won’t have to go through the process of trying to find your own work.
However, these sites can be competitive and may not offer the highest-paying assignments. Still, it can be a great way to get your feet wet and improve your captioning skills especially if you are able to receive regular work.
Another way to find work is by reaching out to your own clients by either sending cold pitches or asking for referrals. There are tons of businesses, video creators and other individuals who may need someone to write captions for them.
When you find your own clients, you have much more control over the rate you offer, how many hours you work and what types of projects you take on.
On the flip side, you may find it more difficult to juggle multiple clients and keep steady work coming in. Realize you can also do a balance of both options when it comes to securing jobs as a work from home captioner.
Step 4: Set Your Prices
How much do captioners make?
According to TypingTest.com, the average rate for a closed captioner is $12 per hour to start.
As you narrow down your niche and gain experience, you can increase your rates and expect to earn around $50,000 per year doing general captioning work full-time.
Independent surveys indicate that broadcast closed captioners can earn $70,000 to $80,000 per year. Some sites have set rates that they pay captioners.
For example, Rev pays between $0.54 to $1.10 per audio/video minute for captioning. This means you could earn up to $11 to caption a 10-minute video.
If you’re looking to set your own rates for captioning, be sure to compare market rates and also to price based on the nature of the job.
You can set an hourly rate, charge per project or charge per video-minute for each captioning project you take on. If you can translate your captions to another language, you may be able to charge more.
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Step 5: Build a Portfolio
Whether you’re thinking about finding your own clients or applying for captioning jobs online, you may want to build a portfolio of work samples to help you land new jobs.
One of the best ways to display your skills is by publishing your own content on a blog or website. Check out this tutorial guide to help you set up an online portfolio website.
You can film short videos and write captions to share on your website. Or, you can even take license-free media and caption it and share your experience or thoughts in a blog post.
Be sure to update your portfolio regularly and include a link to work samples when applying for online jobs.
Step 6: Market Your Talent
Don’t expect people to come to you with work. If you want to become a captioner, you’ll also need to market your talent and skills to the right audience.
Once you have a niche, it will be easier to determine who you may want to reach out to for work.
Utilize social media to warm up to leads and connect online. You can also optimize your blog or a portfolio website for SEO by including relevant keywords in your content like ‘closed caption writer for hire’ for example.
Consider connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn and sending an introduction email about yourself and your work interests.
Step 7: Never Stop Learning and Practicing
As with any career, you’ll want to continue learning and practicing so you can gain new skills along the way. The more experienced you become, the more you can expect to earn as a captioner.
Take courses, attend online trainings, and challenge yourself with advanced projects. Not only will captioning work seem easier with practice, but you’ll also become more efficient.
Step 8: Check Your Work Twice
With captioning work, accuracy is crucial. Clients want their captions to be error-free and the people reading them will appreciate accurate sentences that are easy to understand.
Plus, taking pride in delivering exceptional work is never a bad thing. It can often lead to you receiving more work and referrals.
Some companies or websites require a certain level of accuracy in order to send you more work. Doing a great job means you could be more likely to earn a consistent income from writing captions online.
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Where to Find Captioning Jobs for Beginners
Getting started by finding captioning jobs online is not a bad idea. Doing this can easily help you build your portfolio online and lead to recurring work.
The sites below are great for getting connected with clients and businesses who need captioning work.
Rev is one of the top captioning and transcription websites around. Over 170,000 customers are using Rev and there are plenty of freelance captioning jobs.
Rev allows you to select from a variety of projects that interest you and they will provide a steady stream of work from week to week.
Captioners are paid between $0.54 to $1.10 per audio/video minute and between $0.30 to $1.10 for subtitle work.
If you are fluent in another language, you can write foreign subtitles as well and make $1.50 to $3.00 per audio/video minute. Rev lets you set your own schedule and pays weekly via PayPal for completed work.
To apply, you’ll need to fill out a form online and take a quiz to demonstrate your language and grammar skills. You will also need to submit a transcript which will be reviewed to ensure it meets customer expectations.
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FlexJobs is an online job board dedicated to people looking for remote and flexible jobs. You can upload your resume or even browse jobs on the site once you become a member.
FlexJobs posts tons of opportunities from legitimate companies daily and you can even personalize your search so you can receive jobs for captioning and subtitle work only if you wish.
Use Upwork to connect with clients who might be looking for a remote captioner. Upwork is a freelance marketplace where contractors can offer their services and apply for active jobs.
With Upwork, you can set your own rate and choose which client projects you work on.
You will be communicating with clients one-on-one and negotiating your rate and pay for each project. The great thing about Upwork is you can build your own profile and gather reviews from past clients.
This helps potential clients learn more about your service and what it’s like to work with you. The more reviews and positive feedback you have, the easier it will be for clients to book work with you.
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Are You Cut Out to Make Money Captioning From Home?
As you can see, there are several steps in learning how to become a closed captioner, but this shouldn’t discourage you from trying to work from home writing captions. There is plenty of work available and with experience, you can earn a decent living.
Start by practicing your typing and caption writing. Then narrow down your niche and consider creating a portfolio site to showcase your work.
Once you feel comfortable, start applying for closed caption writing jobs online or start with Rev. Before you know it, you could be making money as an expert caption writer and enjoying a flexible work from home schedule.
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Virginia Nakitari is a full-time blogger and a work from home expert. Join Virginia and 200,000 monthly readers on EarnSmartOnlineClass to learn how to make money online, even as a beginner. Before starting this blog, Virginia worked as a freelancer, specializing in general transcription and virtual assistance. Her wide clientele comprised of business coaches, podcasters, bloggers, and other online entrepreneurs. It’s through these interactions that Virginia developed a knack for writing and showing people how to work from home, make money online and attain financial freedom.