A company is only as strong as the data that supports it, and though much of the data stream can now be automated, there’s still a monumental demand for human data entry workers. The best part is, a growing proportion of this work is outsourced, meaning as a data entry operator, you have the opportunity to work from home, set your own schedule, and generally be your own boss.
If you’re confident in your IT skills, typing speed, and ability to work autonomously, then data entry may be the perfect work-from-home opportunity for you.
To give you a glimpse into what your working life will look like, we’ve created this comprehensive list of all the pros and cons of being an online data entry worker.
What are the benefits of doing data entry work online?
With the industry growing at a healthy rate each year, and no signs that it will slow down soon, there are plenty of advantages to be gained from stepping into a career as an online data entry worker.
1. You get to work from wherever you want
A good computer and a reliable internet connection are all you need for most data entry jobs, meaning there are no restrictions on where you do your work.
Imagine how much time and money you could save if your daily commute involved escorting your morning coffee from the kitchen to your home office?
Of course, working from home comes with its own set of challenges, and the companies you work for will have strict quality controls in place to account for the fact that they can’t directly monitor your activity. However, these challenges are more than worth it for the freedom of being your own boss.
2. Set your own work schedule
While we’re on the topic of being your own boss, it’s worth mentioning that as an online data entry worker, you generally get to determine your own schedule.
You’ll get a deadline for each job, and so long as you get your work in on time, you can set your own hours. This means night owls are able to wake up when they feel like it and get their work done in the evenings when they’re feeling most productive. Meanwhile, if you’re an early bird, you can get started at 5 AM and be done with your work before the morning’s up, giving you a whole day of freedom to play with.
You also get a say over which jobs you accept and which you pass on. So, if you have a busy week with the family, you can take on fewer tasks and then play catch up later when things have settled down.
3. You get a natural pay rise as your skills improve
Though you may find some companies offering an hourly rate, most online data entry work is paid per entry. This means your hourly rate is in your own hands. As you learn to type faster (with accuracy), your pay rate will go up in tandem with your skills – all without you having to go through an awkward pay-rise conversation!
4. The work is straightforward and stress-free
If you’re someone who likes to know what each day at work will bring, then data entry is definitely for you. The tasks are usually straightforward, with no complex problem-solving and few curveballs thrown at you.
If your life outside of work is hectic, or if you’re transitioning from a super stressful job, then the methodical nature of data entry will feel almost meditative.
5. Learning by osmosis
Though data entry may be straightforward and somewhat repetitive, that doesn’t mean you won’t be learning anything on the job. Your computer skills, typing speed, literacy, numerical skills, and even your vocabulary will all grow as you roll through all that data.
6. There’s no shortage of potential clients
All businesses need some kind of data entry service. Though some keep their operations in-house and others are able to get away with automated services, more and more companies are outsourcing to remote data entry operators.
In the data entry world, outsourcing offers a wonderful middle way between the high expense of having in-house staff and the quality control issues and other hiccups that arise with automated options.
7. You don’t have to find work on your own
Though you may find local companies with whom you can work directly, it’s hit or miss as to whether there will be opportunities available when you’re canvassing.
If you don’t have any luck, all is not lost. There are plenty of crowdsourcing sites that you can sign up with, each one offering a pool of work to qualified candidates. Though these sites will take a cut, meaning your pay rate will be lower than if you were able to work with a company directly, you can still earn a decent income.
Ast the very least, these crowdsourcing sites will allow you to bank up the experience and skill levels you need to land higher-paying opportunities.
8. There are opportunities to specialize
Building from the last point, if you’re an ambitious person looking to maximise your earnings, there are options within the data entry field for you to specialize in particular industries.
For example, if you’ve come from a medical or legal background, or you develop an understanding of the data entry requirements of these fields through crowdsourcing work, then you can get access to higher-paid jobs that demand an extra layer of skill on top of the basics.
What are the drawbacks of doing data entry work online?
Though data entry can be highly rewarding, we would be remiss if we didn’t draw your attention to the downsides of the industry. What was once a blissfully simple job may soon become tedious, particularly when your hands start to ache and your eyes grow weary from staring at a computer screen for hours on end.
Check out the list below to make sure you’re up for all the pitfalls you might stumble across in your data entry career. Keep in mind, these issues won’t always happen to every online data entry worker, but it’s worth knowing that they’re out there.
1. Data entry workers are often poorly paid
This tends to be more of an issue when you’re starting out and your typing speed isn’t as high as it could be. It also crops up if you’re getting most of your work through those crowdsourcing sites we mentioned earlier. Though they are fantastically useful, especially for newbies, you will never get as high of a rate through these sites as you will when you work with companies directly.
2. There’s huge international competition
This drawback is at the heart of why we’re unlikely to see any great pay rate increases in the data entry world. Many foreign data entry companies are able to offer large volumes of work at insanely low prices. This can make it difficult for local data entry workers to compete.
3. Scams abound in the data entry industry
Though you will find scams related to every genuine work-from-home opportunity, the con artists are particularly prolific in the online data entry sector. As a general rule, you should never pay a fee for access to work. So, if a crowdsourcing site is asking you to pay upfront for membership, this is a massive red flag.
To ensure you don’t get stung, check out our detailed guide to spotting and avoiding work-from-home scams.
4. Accuracy penalties can be harsh
Whether you’re working as a crowdsourced data entry operator or connecting directly with a company, you will often need to provide almost inhuman accuracy levels of at least 99%.
It’s essential that you read your data entry contracts carefully as, in many cases, you will not get paid at all if your work does not meet the stipulated standards.
File rejections can be monumentally frustrating, and some crowdsourcing companies are so vague about rejection reasons that you’re left wondering if there really was a problem or if they’re just taking advantage of you.
This is why you genuinely need to have patience and attention to detail for this line of work – not just for perfecting the work itself, but also for ensuring you thoroughly understand your contractual rights and requirements.
5. Data entry work is surprisingly taxing
If you’re thinking that sitting at a computer all day will be a breeze, think again. Typing at speed for hours on end is exhausting, especially when you factor in the demand for near-perfect accuracy.
Your eyes will likely be exhausted at the end of each unit of work, and your brain will need some time to get used to the long hours of concentration.
Though the lack of complexity and problem-solving may seem like a blessing early on, after a while, it becomes strangely draining to be concentrating so hard on such simple tasks.
6. Clients can be lazy about paying you
This is an issue all freelancers face, but it seems to be especially problematic in the data entry field. There are two main forces behind this:
- Third-party issues – if your work is coming through an agency or crowdsourcing company, then you’ve got a third-party between you and the client. If your contract stipulates that you only get paid after the client has paid the agency, then you get stuck waiting.
- Accuracy issues – companies may delay your payment by citing a problem with the accuracy of your work. You might need to review and correct your work before getting paid.
The accuracy drama is particularly pernicious when you’re an online worker because you can’t go directly to the client and discuss the problems with them. Having to handle all your communications online can leave you feeling stranded, with days (and sometimes weeks) piling up between you and the payment they’re withholding.
7. Support for online data entry workers can often be lacking
Building from the last point, as an online data entry worker, you can often feel like an afterthought when it comes to support. Say you’ve been getting file rejections due to accuracy issues and you want more detailed feedback so you can correct your course and start doing better – some companies will be more than happy to help, but there are just as many who are unresponsive to such requests.
Your best strategy for finding supportive companies and avoiding those who reject work without explanation is to do your due diligence before signing up with a data entry company. Check sites like Glassdoor to see what workers are saying about the company, and take your time in deciding who to sign up with.
8. The ever-looming threat of tech taking your job
Though technology doesn’t pose much of an immediate threat, there’s still some risk involved in starting a business within a sector that has the potential to become fully automated.
With every passing year, smart scanners, voice recognition software, and AI transcription services are becoming more and more sophisticated. Once their accuracy hits that magic 99% mark, human data entry operators will become obsolete.
Online data entry work: final thoughts
As you’ve probably gathered from this list of pros and cons, online data entry work is not for everyone. If you’re someone who loves variety in their work day, who thrives on solving complex problems, or who craves human interaction, then you should probably consider one of the many other work-from-home opportunities out there.
However, if you get a kick out of time-based challenges, enjoy working quietly on your own, or are looking for a break from dealing with a hectic work environment, then data entry might be just right for you.
If you’re keen to get started in the industry, check out our guide to working from home as a data entry operator. Good luck on your journey into the world of remote working, and please feel free to comment below if you have any questions.