Year-End Review: 2021

by Dee


Another year goes by still with the pandemic looming among us. To be honest, I’m already fed up watching or reading the news about COVID every day. Don’t you? Personally, I stopped reading or looking at this type of news cause I didn’t want it to get on my nerves more than it already has.

Nevertheless, I can say that I am quite blessed this year. Work-wise, most tasks coming into my list were of good quality audio and/or video. I believe the widespread usage of Zoom and the likes supported this type of recordings. People started to get the hang of how to record properly using these platforms and utilising them to get the best recording they can—which I am thankful for as a transcriber.

Looking at the situation across the globe, there is a good chance that this type of recording will continue. But as people start to meet in person again, I might as well be ready to familiarise myself with background noises in the recording. To be fair, those are unavoidable things and can still be tolerated to a certain degree. So, no worries there.

2021 in Stats

I’d like to highlight several aspects as I evaluate my 2021. The stats on this year’s workload and results are pretty satisfactory, to say the least. I can’t believe I got more than 3.5 million words transcribed! Insane!

Though it’s a rough start on the first two months, I’m happy to report that my accuracy rate is 99.9%, which is also an achievement! I remember I was stressed out when it was 99.4% a few years ago. But again, I figured that the accuracy rate relates closely to the quality of the recording. Believe me you, even AI can’t decipher audios with lousy quality. If that’s the case, don’t ever expect to get a shiny clean transcript at all.

My stats showed that I worked on 544 files this year with a total duration of ca. 462 hours of recordings. All materials were in English with a tint of European, North American, East Asian, and Australian dialects.

Audio hours
0 %
Accuracy rate
words transcribed

The busiest month of 2021 was July and October; I figured this was because students began to catch up with their theses during the Fall and Spring.

2021 was the year when I started to look outside Upwork. Without being ungrateful to the platform, I managed to have direct contracts with several clients. This is a big move for me, choosing not to rely so much on the platform. Of course, there are pros and cons to this decision, but so far, everything is manageable. 65% of my tasks were now direct contracts with the respective clients, and the rest of them are still managed through Upwork.

Divided by topics, philosophy seemed to be the most popular in 2021, followed by business & management, science, current affairs, environment & climate, and personal coaching. COVID has yet become a popular topic. I think I should expect more COVID-related materials as studies about it may start next year or the year after.

I did an overview of clients acquisition based on their current location/resident/country of origin. Most of my 2021 transcription tasks were from Austria, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. I don’t think this distribution will differ next year; maybe a slight variation, but it won’t be too different.

Stones in My 2021 Shoes

If I should rate myself on a scale of 1-5 (1 is very good and 5 is fucked up), I’d say I’m on a 4 this year. I’m not very satisfied with how I handled some of the tasks and tackled the challenges. Plus, having developed de Quervain’s syndrome made it even more difficult for me to maintain the speed I used to have.

After falling on the stairs, the last quarter of the year was quite hard. I had to adjust my speed and strength and did all the treatment regimes to make the hands work better. It’s all good now, though sadly not 100%. But I can still maintain my typing speed to 74 wpm.

Time and task management—oh, dear me! I might have gone off the rail post-fall. I know I was scrambling through the deadlines and had to, with a heavy heart, inform my clients that I had an accident. That was a tough period, and I felt like I failed everyone. But in hindsight, no one can predict me falling on the stairs. It’s something that I couldn’t control, too, so I let go.

What’s For 2022?

Having been a transcriber for three years, I begin to grasp how much I should target as an annual income. Now that I know the number, I can put it on my Excel dashboard and turn it into a motivation. No, no, nothing that would make a yacht affordable for me.

Do you feel ready to take on more tasks next year? Yes, I do, with notes that I have to find proper pain management for my hands. I remember speaking about this with RG, one of my awesome clients, and he told me that it’s as if I’m an athlete; I have to keep exercising the hands and wrists, so they’re always in tiptop shape.

I feel that 2022 would be a year where I should combine all factors stemming from my de Quervain’s syndrome and invent some sort of balance. In order to reach my income target, yes, I have to work on quite a number of tasks. But somehow arranging them in a way that does not interfere with the physical barriers I have. This should be the biggest goal and challenge for 2022.

Therefore, I need to find a better time management system that works. These past weeks, I have been looking at some project management apps that I hope can help solve this issue. When I find one that’s suitable, let’s hope that I will stick to it. 

Work/life balance is still a myth to me. But I hope I can finally find it in 2022 some way or another. I’d love to have enough time to read again. I skipped my reading in the last months of 2021 and didn’t get to achieve the Goodreads’ reading goal in time.

All in all, I feel okay with how I did in 2021. I can’t wait to see 2022 through and still keep the wishful thinking that this pandemic will be over or at least become endemic. Perhaps at least we can get a taste of normal life again. It’s been a wonderful year with its ups and downs. Thank you, 2021. Thank you to all the clients that went through the year with me. Hope to work with you all again in the years to come. Have a blessed start to the new year. Now, let’s welcome 2022!

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