Frequently Asked Questions
Working for CastingWords
How do I get paid?
What kind of PayPal account do I need?
Can I use someone else's PayPal account?
Do I need to fill out an IRS Form W-9?
I need to send you a W-9. What do I do?
Will you send me an IRS Form 1099?
Using the Site
Where do I start?
What is Streak?
What are Jobs Completed / Pending Approval / Approvals / Rejections?
The Feedback panel
The Pay panel
The Available Jobs List
Can I sort and filter the Available Jobs list?
What does the "Avg Pay" column show?
What does the "Pay/Min" column show?
I don't know if I'll get a 7. How can I tell how much I'll REALLY earn?
When will you add more assignments to the Available Jobs list?
The My Jobs tab
The My Account tab
What is the bio for?
How can I update my email/PayPal info/password?
Getting to Work
How do jobs work?
What kinds of jobs are there?
How can I tell which jobs I can accept?
Why aren't there any jobs for me?
Do I have to take a test? Can I practice first?
I'm ready to try my first assignment. What do I do?
How can I download the audio?
How much time do I have to complete the job?
This isn't working out. Can I return the assignment?
I need more time. Can I get an extension?
I speak _. Is there any work in my language?
Grades and Feedback
How do Grades work? (Transcription and Edits)
Do I have to get certain grades to remain in good standing?
How long does it take for a job to be approved?
Can I see what changes the editor made?
Why did the editor replace a word with the same word?
My grade is unfair! What can I do?
What is Auto Approval and why does it keep giving me 8s??
My assignment expired before the deadline!
I submitted the wrong/blank/incomplete text, help!
My computer crashed/power went out/Internet died and my job is about to expire!
Can I get a job back after I return it or it expires?
Our workers are the (not-so) secret ingredient of CastingWords.com! They do the transcribing, editing, QA and more. They can work from anywhere they have a computer and Internet access, and on their own time. No obligations!
Our workers are independant contractors who most take care of their own taxes in their - in the US they are 1099s in IRS speak.
Probably! You can work for CastingWords if you live in one of the following countries (or territories, etc.):
Andorra, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Congo (Republic of), Congo (Democratic Republic of), Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Niue, Norfolk Island, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Réunion, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Saint Helena, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City State, Venezuela, Vietnam, British Virgin Islands, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen.
In addition to living in one of the places listed above, you must be able to receive the type of payments we issue. See the "How do I get paid?" section, below.
Finally you must file your own taxes as an independant contractor (US: 1099) - and must be legal for you to do so.
No. As an Independent Contractor, our workers set their own schedule, hours, and frequency. You can work all the time, or just here and there, as you like. You can let others use your account - but mistakes made by them always count against your track record.
Yes. Log in, click on the My Account tab, then on the Edit Profile button, then on the Close Account button.
Please note that once you do this, you will be unable to log back in. If you change your mind and want to reactivate your account, you will need to contact Support.
We issue payment via the PayPal MassPay system. We pay the PayPal fees, so you get the full balance of your account when we transfer your funds.
Our transfers go out on Fridays at 10:00 AM Pacific Time (GMT-7 or GMT-8, depending on the time of year). There is also one mandatory payout at the end of the calendar year, for all standard Workshop accounts.
You can let your earnings accumulate from week to week, or request a transfer prior to any week's payout.
If you have at least one dollar in your CastingWords account and want to receive a transfer that Friday, click the Request Transfer button on your Dashboard any time during the week. Your transfer will include the full balance of your account at the time the transfer goes out, including any money you have earned since clicking the Request Transfer button.
The only financial information you provide to CastingWords is your PayPal address; meaning, the email address associated with your PayPal account.
You are responsible for making sure that your PayPal account can receive the money we send you, and that you can then access that money, for example by transferring it to your bank.
Set up your PayPal account so that PayPal considers it fully verified. You will provide PayPal with your address and bank account information, and assure that what you provide to them exactly matches the information that your bank and credit card companies have on file. You will provide PayPal with your SSN, EIN, or other information depending on where you live.
Make sure you follow all of PayPal's guidelines, such as having only one PayPal account linked to your bank account, credit cards, SSN, name, etc. Failure to follow their guidelines could lead to PayPal locking your account.
Depending how much money you make (from CastingWords and other sources), you may also want to check with PayPal to see whether there are limits on how much money you can accumulate in your PayPal account, how you can access that money, or how much you can transfer out in a given time period. Some people have had their accounts locked because they have reached a limit they didn't know existed.
No, the PayPal account must belong to the person who owns the workshop account.
CastingWords is a US company and obeys US tax laws.
While PayPal is considered the payer of record for tax purposes, CastingWords is required to keep a W-9 on file for any worker who qualifies as a "US person" according to the IRS.
For federal tax purposes, you are a US person if any of the following apply to you:
You are an individual who is a US citizen or US resident alien.
You are a partnership, corporation, company, or association created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States.
You are an estate (other than a foreign estate).
You are a domestic trust (as defined in Regulations section 301.7701-7).
If you are a US person, you need to send us a completed and signed W-9 for our records. See the next question for details.
Download a blank copy of the form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
Fill out and sign the form, then send it to us in one of these two ways:
Scan or photograph your completed and signed W-9 and email a clearly legible copy to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to send it from the email address that is associated with your account.
Or, mail a hard copy to the address below. Include a note to let us know the email address associated with your account and mail to:
2144 41st St
Los Alamos, NM 87544
No. Per IRS rule changes that went into effect in 2013, PayPal is considered the payer of record for your earnings, so CastingWords does not send out 1099s. PayPal may send you a 1099-K, depending on the total amount of your earnings. See Paypal's Tax information reporting for online sellers page for more information.
For your own tax purposes, you can always find your total earnings from the Workshop site, broken down by calendar year, under the Pay section of your Dashboard.
Once your account is fully set up, take a few minutes to click around the Workshop interface and become familiar with the different parts of the site.
The three parts of the Workshop site that you will use the most are your Dashboard, the Available Jobs list, and your My Jobs tab.
The Dashboard provides an overview of your account and jobs. Here you can see your badges, read the feedback on your most recent assignments, and check how much you've earned.
The Streak shows how many days in a row you have worked. Many of our freelancers like to keep track of this, or compete with themselves or others (via the Streak Leaderboard).
The Streak is for your reference only, and has no bearing on your grades, badges, track record, etc. The frequency and quantity of work you do is up to you.
These are pretty much what they look like! Each folder contains links to the assignments that fit that category.
These folders are organized by month. The number showing on your Dashboard corresponds to the current calendar month, so it will reset to zero at the beginning of a new month.
When you open any folder, you will find ◄ Previous Month and Next Month ► links at the bottom, so you can navigate to the time period you need.
Assignments in the Pending Approval folder still process normally, even if they move to the "Previous Month" screen before they have been approved or rejected.
This section of the Dashboard shows the feedback on your most recent assignments.
Use the All feedback ► link to see a chronological list of all your assignments, and their grades and feedback.
Use the All transactions ► link to see a chronological list of all payments into your account, and withdrawals you have made from it.
This section of your Dashboard shows how much money is currently in your account, as well as a summary of how much we have transferred to your PayPal account to date, broken down by year.
The Today's Potential Pay figure is an estimate only, based on the average pay for the jobs you have turned in today. Your actual pay may be higher or lower, depending on the grades you receive, and if any jobs are rejected. Pending jobs that were not completed today are not included in this estimate.
See the "How do I get paid?" entry, above, for details on using the Request Transfer button.
You can sort and filter the list in several ways, and combine these tools as desired to further to narrow your results.
Use the Category Drop-Down to show only one type of job. This defaults to "All."
Type in the Search Field to show only jobs that contain a particular word or phrase in the title.
Click the All Jobs and Available Jobs links, below the search field, to toggle back and forth between showing every job currently posted, or only those that you are eligible to accept.
Click on any Column Header to sort by the values in that column. Click again to reverse the sort order.
Important note: The Available Jobs list does not auto-refresh, so be sure to reload the page from time to time to make sure you're looking at the most up-to-date listing.
A lot of our assignments are bonus-based, meaning that the pay will vary widely depending on the grade you earn.
The Avg Pay column shows the total pay you will receive for the assignment if you earn an average grade, which is a 7. A grade of 5 or 6 will earn less than the amount shown in this column, while an 8 or a 9 will earn more.
The purpose of this column is to help you find higher paying jobs more quickly by showing you the per-minute return. This allows you to compare the earning potential of different jobs, even if they are not the same length.
Like the Average Pay column, Pay/Min is based on an average grade, meaning a 7.
This column shows how much you will earn per minute of audio if your work receives the grade of 7. A grade of 5 or 6 will earn less per minute than the amount shown in this column, while an 8 or a 9 will earn more.
The Pay/Min column only applies to jobs such as transcription and editing, where pay is based on the length of the audio file. Some assignments, such as grading and audio assessment, pay a flat rate regardless of the length of the audio.
The main Available Jobs list allows you to compare different assignments to each other, by showing you the pay based on a grade of 7.
Once you have chosen a specific assignment, look for the Understanding Bonus Based Pay box on the Instructions tab for a breakdown of exactly how much you will earn for each possible grade on that specific assignment.
New assignments are posted automatically as soon as a customer places an order and we get the audio file(s) processed.
More orders do tend to come in during business hours corresponding to US time zones, but the system operates 24/7 and new jobs can and do come out at any time.
Get used to checking this tab! The My Jobs tab shows every job currently assigned to you, along with a live countdown clock showing the time remaining on each.
If you lose power or close your browser while working on a job, this is how you can get back to the assignment page.
Especially when you are new, it's a great idea to access all your work via this tab, to avoid working on a job that is not actually assigned to you.
Any time you return or submit a job, you can refresh this tab to make sure it went through.
Check your My Jobs tab before signing out or shutting down for the day, just to make sure there's nothing assigned to you that you don't intend to complete.
Important note: While you can always get back to the assignment page of a job that is assigned to you, our system does not save your work until you submit it, so we highly recommend that you work somewhere that will allow you to save as you go, such as Word or Google Docs.
Leaderboard categories include Streak, Transcription, Editing and Overall. The Leaderboard is updated every hour and includes Jobs that were approved in the last 7 days. Leaderboard position does not affect grades, badges, track record, etc.
The short professional bio is currently used inside the Workshop so your co-workers can learn something about you.
In the future, we'll allow our customers to see the freelancers on their projects, tag favorite workers, and request specific workers. Bios will be shown to CastingWords customers as part of that process.
You can edit your Bio (and other account info) by clicking on the Edit Profile button.
Click the Edit Profile button to update your physical address, email and PayPal addresses, change your password, or close your account. Be sure to click the corresponding "Submit," "Change," or "Close" button to apply any changes you make.
You pick an assignment from the Available Jobs list, and preview the work. If you like it, you click the Work on This button to assign it to yourself. If you change your mind or can't do the work for whatever reason, you may click the Return Job button to return it. After completing the work, you submit it to us.
All work has a time limit and must be completed or returned in the displayed time, or your badge score will be reduced.
Once submitted, most work is then graded by other freelancers and/or CastingWords staff. If it's up to snuff, we pay you. Certain jobs are bonus-based. On these, any passing grade receives the base rate of pay, and then a bonus is applied depending on the grade you receive. A barely-passing grade will receive the base rate only, while the highest possible grade receives a total of up to three times the base pay.
Jobs may receive one or more preliminary grades, but it is the Approval grade that is used to calculate your bonus, counts toward your track record, and may also cause your badge level to rise or fall.
We currently have a variety of jobs, including: transcription, improving and editing transcripts, determining audio quality, grading transcripts and edits, and approving transcripts and edits. Some assignments require higher badge levels than others.
When you look at the Available Jobs list, you can use the "All Jobs" and "Available Jobs" links (under the search box near the top of the page) to switch between showing the full list and only those jobs you are qualified to accept.
There is not always work available at every level, but new assignments are posted automatically when orders come in, so check back frequently.
There are two possible reasons:
There is not always work available at every level. Weekends, US holidays, and the US summer months can see fewer orders coming in, meaning that there may be fewer jobs posted, and more competition for the ones that do come out.
If you have done some work and had an assignment rejected, gotten low grades, or let one or more jobs expire, it may be that your badge score has fallen below the level required to do any work at all. See the "What if I lose my badge?" entry for more information.
You get the beginner-level badges automatically when you open your account, so you can get started as soon as you are ready.
Start by reading the Style Guide carefully, then check out the Sample Transcript page for a fictitious transcript that points out several of our style issues, and two brief audio files that you can transcribe, and then compare your work to ours to make sure you understand the basics.
When you feel ready, you can go ahead and try a real assignment. We strongly suggest working on a short job (1-3 minutes) with clearly understandable audio, then wait to get some feedback before tackling another one.
Go to the Available Jobs tab, then click the Available Jobs filter below the search box to view the list of jobs that you're qualified to accept.
Choose a job and click the title to open it. After closing the preview warning message, you can view the job and listen to the audio to decide whether you want to work on it. It's a good idea to stick to short jobs (1-3 minutes) and clear audio for your first few assignments.
When you find one you want, click the orange Work On This button at the top left of the page. Do not work on a job without accepting it!
Click on the Instructions tab and read the instructions.
Click on the Transcription Job tab, read the Notes from customer and/or CastingWords section and familiarize yourself with the page.
You can either play the audio right in the player on the assignment page, or download it and play it locally. See the next question for download instructions.
We strongly recommend that you do your typing in an environment that will allow you to save as you go, such as MS Word, Pages, Google Docs, Notes, Notepad, etc. You can always return to the assignment page if you lose power or close your browser, but your work will not be saved if that happens.
Once you've transcribed the audio, paste your text into the provided Transcribe (or Transcribe Verbatim) field.
Use the tools on the assignment page to double check your work. If you make any changes after pasting the work into the box, click the Refresh Stats button to update the spellcheck and other tools.
When you are satisfied with your work, click the View & Submit tab to see your transcription in its final format. Review it one more time and type any relevant comments into the Comments field. It's always a good idea to leave comments about anything you were unsure of, and confirming that you have researched proper names, etc.
Before you click Submit Job, please look over the spellcheck & statistics boxes on the Transcribe tab one last time, to make sure any flagged words are spelled correctly, and that all speaker labels are correct. Make any needed changes, review again, and submit.
While you can use the player right on the job page, many workers like to download the file and use a player that provides more options and controls, such as Express Scribe, iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, VLC, MPlayerX, etc.
To download, right-click the Get Audio link to bring up your browser's context menu, then choose Save As or Save Link As. Once downloaded, you can open the file in the player of your choice.
The time allotted for each assignment is shown at the top of the Preview screen. Once the job is assigned to you, that becomes a live countdown clock showing the time remaining. You can also check your My Jobs tab to see the time remaining on all the jobs currently assigned to you.
You must either submit or return the assignment within the allotted time. If you let a job expire, you will lose a badge point.
You can return any assignment, at any time, for any reason, as long as you don't let it expire.
Click the Return Job button at the top of the assignment page to open the drop-down, then select the button that best matches your reason for returning the job. All reasons are valid; we just like to keep track. For example, if a job is returned multiple times because of poor audio, we want to know about it.
Extensions are not generally available to beginners, but once you have some experience you may begin to see Request an Extension as one of the options in the drop-down under the Return Job button.
If the option is there, clicking it will add more time to your assignment deadline. If it is not there, then no extension is available to you on that job and you will need to either submit or return the assignment before the deadline.
Extensions are meant to be used to get you out of a tight spot -- maybe a job turned out to be more time consuming than expected, or something came up and you were interrupted for a while. Extensions are not intended to be used routinely.
Most of our work is in English, but we do sometimes have assignments available in other languages, primarily French and Spanish.
If you speak a language other than English and would like to be able to work on jobs in your language, click on the Request Language Badge link under the badge icons on your Dashboard, and select the appropriate language, if it is listed.
Please note that in addition to having the corresponding language badge, you must also have the Transcriber or Editor badge level required in order to work on any given non-English job.
You will automatically receive the New Transcriber, New Editor, and New Grader badges when you set up your account. You'll get the Beginner badge after your first approved assignment, and a Working Hard badge after completing 10 assignments.
As you submit assignments, your badge levels will rise or fall depending on the quality and accuracy of your work. Good work will eventually earn you higher badges, which will allow you to access more assignments and higher pay rates.
Consistently good grades are the key!
Higher level badges give you access to more time-sensitive work, so doing consistently good work is the key here.
We need to know not only that you can turn in great work, but that you do so reliably.
Yes. In most cases, having an assignment rejected will cost you a badge. Low grades and letting jobs expire can also result losing badges.
Low grades, rejected assignments, and letting jobs expire can all cause you to lose a badge. As long as you still have the New Transcriber or New Editor badge, you can do at least entry-level assignments in that category, and hopefully work your way back up by getting consistently good grades.
If you lose all your Transcriber or Editor badges, you will not be able to access any work at all in the corresponding category. If you want to continue working, you will need to contact Support to ask about getting a second chance.
If you're just working through a learning curve as you get used to our style and format requirements, we may agree to restore your badge so you can try again.
However, your work must meet certain basic standards and demonstrate a good-faith effort to follow our guidelines, or the badge will not be restored.
There are two initial badges that you earn simply by doing some assignments and having them approved when you first sign up. Then there are five merit-based badges (New, Senior, Expert, Master, and Perfect) in each of the three main categories, and a special "Trifecta" badge if you reach the top level in all three.
If you are fluent in a language besides English, you can also request a language badge, which will give you access to assignments in the corresponding language, provided your normal Transcription or Editing badge also meets the requirements of the assignment.
Grades are composed of three parts - your graders' recommendations, your track record, and our automated quality checks.
Our automated checks are used mainly to reject bad work quickly. However, we do have some metrics that influence the grades assigned to approved jobs as well.
Your track record is also part of the grade. The more work you've done for us, the less likely it is that you'll get a poor grade, as long as your work is consistent. This component also has a highly stabilizing effect; if all you get are 7s for months on end, getting a 9 is going to be harder, although an 8 should be easy enough.
The grades suggested by human graders and approvers are the most important part of your final grade. However, not all graders are trusted the same. Some graders' assessments carry more weight than others. Grades with detailed written feedback are also valued more highly.
Finally, graders and approvers have a series of checkboxes that, if checked, can move the final grade away from the number grade that the grader selects.
Most workers get a few low grades at first; that's normal! There is a lot to learn, and nobody gets everything right, right away.
However, we do expect to see improvement once you've had feedback on your first few jobs and can see what changes the editors made. You should not get more than a couple of 5s when you're starting out, and 6s should turn into 7s by the time you've done a dozen jobs or so.
Approvals can take anywhere from a few seconds to a maximum of 30 days.
If you are new, your work goes through more grading and approval processes, and may receive a preliminary edit as well, so the whole thing takes a bit longer. A week or so is common, and longer than that is still normal.
You may already have some feedback, though. From your Dashboard, click on the All Feedback link, then on the assignment number of one of your jobs. You may have suggested grades and some initial feedback, even for assignments that are still waiting on final approval.
Yes, and it's a great way to learn more about our style and format! When it becomes available, you will find a link to the final edit on each assignment's feedback page. If your work received a preliminary edit before the final approval, you can see that too.
Pay close attention to what is changed, especially where inaccuracies have been corrected, but remember that not every change an editor makes necessarily means you did something wrong.
The editor is taking transcript chunks completed by many different workers and creating a single, cohesive document. They will need to remove overlap (usually 15 seconds at the beginning and end of each TC), and may remove or restore filler words, change punctuation and paragraph breaks, and update speaker labels for the sake of consistency among the different sections.
That generally means that the editor changed the punctuation or spacing adjacent to that word.
You can request a grade review by clicking "Disagree with this grade?" on the assignment's feedback page and filling out the form to explain your objection or ask for clarification. Try to be brief but clear.
There is no need to quote the Style Guide or Grade Guidelines in your review request; the approvers and reviewers are already familiar with these documents, and can refer to them if needed.
Your work will be reviewed on its own merits (accuracy and adherence to CW guidelines). The fact that an editor did or did not make changes doesn't factor into the grade your work deserves.
The reviewer can raise, lower, or maintain your grade. If the grade is increased, you will automatically receive the additional bonus pay (if applicable). We do not currently dock your pay if the grade is reduced. In either case, the new grade is the one that will count toward your track record.
The grade review will not restore badge points that were gained or lost in conjunction with the assignment.
The whole purpose of the tiered badge setup is to allow the system to identify workers who turn in consistently top-quality work, so they can be trusted to handle more time-sensitive jobs, with less supervision.
It takes a while to reach the top tier, and that's by design.
One sign that you're getting there is that your work will begin to be auto-approved with a grade of 8. This means that your work has been consistent enough that the system is beginning to trust that it will stay that way.
You will get auto-8s for quite a while, while the system verifies that the quality is consistent and your assignments aren't being downgraded at the edit stage. Eventually, if the quality is there, you'll start getting auto-9s.
If a job expires before it should (or shows as expired as soon as you accept it), check your computer's time and date settings. In addition to showing the correct local time of day, your computer must be set to the time zone where you are physically located.
This setting may be incorrect if you get a new computer, or move or travel to a different time zone. It can also be affected by a power surge or power outage if your CMOS battery is beginning to fail.
Contact Support as soon as you discover the problem. If you have the correct text, include it as an attachment in Word or TXT format so we can update the job with the right material.
If you don't have the right text, you still need to let us know as soon as possible so we can get the job back out for retranscription and prevent incomplete or incorrect text from moving on to the edit stage.
If you can, log into your account using a different device so you can return the assignment before it expires. If you can't log in but can send email, contact Support to ask us to return the job on your behalf. Be sure to email from the address associated with your account, so we can find you in the system.
If you can't do either of those things and the job expires, let us know when you're back online, and we will restore the point(s) you lost.
Assignments that expire or are returned go back out into the Available Jobs list immediately so someone else can get to work on them. If you find the job listed, you may or may not be able to take it again.
AF means Audio File
TC means Transcript Chunk
HIT is a leftover term from when we posted all our work on another platform. It refers to what we now call a job or assignment.
Our Facebook group is a great place to ask and answer questions, and learn from other workers. When you request to join the group, an admin will send you a Facebook message asking for your email address, to verify that you are a CW worker. Once you have provided that, we'll add you to the group.
Remember that all the material you handle is confidential. Never post or share the names of people or companies, quotes or information from transcripts, or any other content on our Facebook group or anywhere else.
Not currently, but we do eventually plan to show customers the team behind any given transcript, and allow them to request certain workers (if those workers are available).
All support is provided by email. Be sure to email us from the address associated with your account, so we can look you up.
If you have a question about a specific assignment, include the Assignment number, TC number, or AF number so we can look it up. We cannot look up your work based on a title or general description of the content.