As video content has become increasingly popular on the web, the demand for subtitling and closed caption services is expanding at an enormous rate. This demand has led to many writers, transcriptionists, linguists and even video editors seeking to venture into a career in freelance video subtitling.
At Capital Captions, we take a human approach to captioning. We are always looking to expand our pool of freelance transcriptionists and subtitlers. We are eager to work with highly experienced, qualified and motivated subtitlers on our projects. But just as with any new venture, entering into a freelance video subtitling career for the first time can feel like a ‘What came first: the chicken or the egg?’ scenario. Without experience, there’s no job; and with no job, there’s no experience.
With that in mind, we have some tips for those of you looking to start a blossoming career in online subtitles.
Think About your Subtitle Skill Set
Subtitling and closed captioning is hard work. The transcription element of the job is highly time consuming (1 hour of audio takes a professional an average of 3-4 hours to type). The writing aspect of subtitling work is more complex than one might imagine. Flawless grammar, spelling and punctuation are required as well as the ability to make good decisions in order to cut down and edit sentences without compromising on meaning or flow.
On top of this, effectively syncing audio to text requires a huge level of patience and accuracy and subtitle workers are required to have a good eye for optimizing the readability of text using changes of colour, position, font and transition.
Do Some Quick Subtitling Practice Runs
If you are looking to outsource your subtitle or closed caption services via a transcription or subtitling company, it’s likely the rates will be provided upon successful application and will not be negotiable. However, if you are looking to take on direct work writing subtitles, be sure to know your time frames in order to quote the right price.
When starting out on a freelance subtitling career, it’s tempting to make closed caption prices low in order to entice new clients but the most important thing is to make sure your time matches your paycheck. Do a few practice runs and time how long you took to complete the job. Use your expected hourly rate to work out a price per audio or video minute for quoting clients.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Good working relationships can be as complex and hard to build as personal ones. Different subtitling companies will offer different rates, expectations, workloads and principles. When you find a company you are happy working with, it can be tempting to take on as much work as possible and dedicate your loyalty and your time to that company.
Working in freelance video subtitling is very different to a permanent position within a subtitling or closed captioning company. As a freelancer, whoever you choose to outsource your services to, there will be notice period and no guarantee of work. The market can be volatile and therefore it’s important to work for numerous transcription and subtitle companies to make sure where work dries up, there is an alternative.
Where Possible, Make Money to Spend Money (not vice versa)
Subtitling software varies enormously in price, from free software to incredibly expensive and complex software. Professional captioning services for broadcast will require sophisticated, professional software which comes at a high cost.
Some commonly used programmes are WINCAPS, SWIFT, Poliscript, Caption Maker and EZ Titles. These typically cost between £1000 up to £3000 for permanent license but it’s unlikely that as a subtitler and closed caption writer new to the industry, you will find this type of work straight away.
The best advice would be to use some of the free software currently available online to hone your skills (working with more basic .srt and .ssa subtitle formats) and only invest money when you are confident on a good return. Some free subtitling software that is available currently is Subtitle Workshop, Aegisub, CaptionHub and Subtitle Editor.
So there you have it, we hope that you found this article helpful. If you are starting a career in freelance video subtitling and are interested in working for us check out some of the services we offer to our clients on our Subtitle Services page then email us your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.