Online Data Entry Jobs: The Ultimate Guide

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Almost every day, a reader emails me asking about online data entry jobs.

I’m not at all sure why so many people want to do this kind of work. I suspect it may just be because it seems like a simple, entry-level home working option.

This article looks, in depth, at where to find online data entry jobs. It also takes an honest look at the world of data entry. I suspect, in reality, that the kind of data entry work many people visualise doesn’t really exist.

Do Data Entry Jobs Really Exist?

Obviously there are plenty of genuine data entry jobs out there, both in the online world, and in the “real” world.

However, this kind of work isn’t nearly so much of “a thing” as a lot of people think.

The reason for this is the continual advance of technology. Computers can turn speech into text very easily nowadays, and – thanks to advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR), they also prove pretty adept at turning handwriting into digital text.

If you think about it, this eliminates a significant amount of the online data entry jobs that would exist without that technology.

There’s still data entry work out there, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s primarily going to be in areas where humans can still do the work better than machines. 

Artificial intelligence

Examples include transcribing conversations between multiple parties, typing up or summarising notes that include technical terms, and categorising things or assessing their relevance. These are the kind of tasks where artificial intelligence hasn’t yet surpassed what a human can do.

Are Online Data Entry Jobs Legit?

Legitimate online data entry jobs that you can do from home DO exist. However, there are plenty of related scams. As such, sites advertising data entry work with suspiciously high pay are unlikely to be genuine.

You should also run a mile from any site that promises to hook you up with well-paid data entry work – but only if you hand over some money up-front.

The old rule that if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is, is very relevant here.

The reality is that a LOT of the work people would traditionally think of as “data entry” is carried out, nowadays, on micro working sites like Clickworker and Amazon Mechanical Turk (click the links for reviews of these platforms).

When The Work is Really Something Else

In addition, much of the work that many sites cover under the banner of “data entry” is more accurately described as transcription. We’ve covered that in detail here, and it involves listening to audio files and typing them up into text.

Transcription is a distinct skill, and one where you need to be very accomplished to earn good money. I suspect that many of the people who ask me about data entry work aren’t actually thinking about transcription.

With all this in mind, the reality is that most of the work from home sites who claim to have big lists of places to find online data entry jobs are – in fact – just listing a mixture of microworking and transcription sites. Some even include companies hiring proof-readers and editors on their lists – and it’s a bit of a joke to describe this as data entry.

Typist

I say this because HomeWorkingClub is an honest site. Yes, there is SOME good data-entry work out there, but there’s NOT some secret place where there’s loads of it, and it’s all really well paid.

If you’re a very fast typist with a knack for transcription, you could earn reasonably well, but as a rule, entry-level work will only ever earn you entry-level money. (More on this below).

Where Can I Find Online Data Entry Jobs?

If you’re looking for online data entry jobs, here are the main places to look:

Freelance Job Boards

Scan the listings on job boards like Upwork, and you will definitely find individual companies looking for people to do data entry on a freelance basis.

Companies that Hire for Data Entry Roles

Some companies recruit directly for data entry roles. It’s worth checking back regularly as some only have their vacancies open for limited periods. Companies to check out include Working Solutions, Birch Creek Communications and SigTrack.

Micro Working Sites

Lots of online data entry jobs are run through micro working platforms like Clickworker and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Transcription Sites

If you can transcribe from audio recordings, transcription is an arm of data entry worth looking into. Reputable companies include Rev and TranscribeMe.

Traditional Job Websites

Sites like Indeed and Monster can sometimes list legitimate data entry roles. However, you should proceed with caution, because plenty of scammy job ads can find their way onto these platforms. There’s some information on avoiding scams below.

For general advice on finding remote work on traditional job sites, check out this article.

Is There Any Well-Paid Data Entry Work?

Legitimate data-entry work can pay reasonably well, and people often mention a typical figure of around $12-14 per hour.

However, it’s important to be realistic; Low-skilled work is extremely unlikely to pay high rates. As such, if you see an advert for “no experience required” work that promises to pay a really high hourly rate, the chances are you’ve come across a scam.

Data entry big earnings

Furthermore, the people earning $12-14 per hour are typically those who have developed high-level transcription skills, or worked hard to master the micro-working platforms. In reality, the only “easy money” in data entry is the non-existent easy money that the scammers promise.

Avoiding Scams

With so many scams in the data entry world, how can you avoid them and drill down to the genuine work? Here are some tips:

  • Check out this article on avoiding scams – it will teach you various ways to investigate opportunities and websites to check if they’re legit.
  • Don’t get sucked into sites that offer unrealistically high rates. Data entry work is usually “entry level.” As such, unless you’re bringing something additional to the table (such as a second language or knowledge of medical terminology) don’t expect more than entry-level rates.
  • Stick to the golden rule that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t pay for courses or membership schemes that promise to find you work that’s hidden away somewhere – the legitimate work is easy enough to find yourself with a bit of effort.

Skills for Online Data Entry

As we’ve said, data entry work is usually quite low-level – the kind of thing often advertised as not requiring any experience.

However, there’s a stark difference between being able to do the work and being good at it. These are the skills and attributes that will make you a natural for data entry work:

  • Fast and accurate typing skills – many jobs require you to type at a certain number of words per minute.
  • Tenacity – data entry work can get seriously repetitive, so you need tenacity to stick with it.
  • Attention to detail – the work often requires a high level of accuracy. On micro-working platforms you can find yourself suspended from tasks if your accuracy slips.
  • Listening skills – especially relevant to transcription, listening skills are essential when you’re having to accurately detail what people have said.
  • Technical competence – as with any online work, the more skilled you are at navigating your computer, the easier the work becomes. Check out our article on computer fundamentals to see how you measure up.

Fast computer skills

Equipment for Data Entry Work

If you want to do online data entry from home, you don’t need a huge amount of equipment. However, having the right equipment will make the work faster and more enjoyable. Consider the following:

A Reliable Computer

At HomeWorkingClub we don’t believe anyone who’s serious about their career should try to limp along with a computer that slows them down. (I’m working on an article on the best laptops for freelancers at the moment, but in the meantime, I would say that I think the latest MacBook Air is a good all-rounder).

The RIGHT keyboard

It may be awfully fashionable for people to do all of their work on a Macbook, but a laptop keyboard isn’t necessarily the right thing for doing hours of data entry work. Perhaps a desktop keyboard will work better for you, or even something specifically designed to be ergonomic. I’ve long been a big fan of Microsoft’s range of ergonomic keyboards. 

A Headset

It’s not essential, but a headset can make a huge amount of difference if you’re required to listen to and transcribe the spoken word. A dedicated transcription headset like this will work better than one intended for gaming.

A Transcription Pedal

If you want to really go for it with transcription, a pedal (which allows you to start and stop playback without lifting your hands from the keyboard) will help you take things to the next level. They cost about 50 bucks, but that’s a small investment if you start doing those “audio hours” much more quickly. This particular pedal seems to be the industry standard. 

Proper Office Software

Office 365

I KNOW that plenty of people survive with free Office software like OpenOffice. In fact, I invariably get roped into a debate every time I discuss it! However, I’m a firm believer that people who take their home working careers seriously should have industry-standard software.

Thankfully, Microsoft Office is now sold on a subscription basis via Office 365, which you’ll find here. When you can have the same bang up to date software that big companies have for around ten bucks per month, that seems like a “no brainer” to me.

Conclusion

Upon reading this article back, I’m conscious that I may have painted a rather negative picture of online data entry work.

The reality is that it IS a perfectly viable option for steady, regular work that pays consistently and reasonably well.

What’s it’s not is an easy way for lazy people to make money. Like everything in the home working world, it rewards the people who practice, research, put effort in, buy the right equipment, and treat it like a proper business. Sites that claim it’s easy or hugely lucrative are probably lying to you. I’m not.

Alternatives to Online Data Entry

If data entry work doesn’t appeal to you (and it may not after reading this article!), here are some other home working ideas you might want to investigate:

Freelance Writing: Another job that only rewards those who work hard at it, freelance writing at least has the benefit of being less repetitive than data entry! This article is a good place to start, as it looks at how easy it really is to get started in the writing world.

Blogging: More of a slow-burn way to make money, blogging and affiliate marketing can be lucrative, but it takes a lot of up-front work to get started. For a good primer, my beginner’s guide to blogging is worth a read, or you might want to try a free membership to Wealthy Affiliate.

Other Online Jobs: There are plenty of online jobs out there in all sorts of sectors. If you want a head-start on your job search, you might want to sign up to FlexJobs, or alternatively there’s a free list of 50 companies that take on home-based people here.

There are also LOADS more home working ideas here. 

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Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com - Ben is a long-established freelancer with a passion for helping other people take control of their destiny and break away from "working for the man." Prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.

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