This is a companion post to my in-depth review of the proofreading for court reporters niche and the course that taught me how to do it.
1. Is the market saturated with proofreaders?
And here’s why:
Right now there’s a shortage of court reporters in the US.
What does that mean?
First let me tell you how a random court reporter might spend their week:
They go into work Monday and Tuesday to take down the proceedings going on that day.
They do not go into work on Wednesday so that they can edit what they took down on Monday and Tuesday or last week.
They go back in on Thursday and take Friday off to edit again.
So now there’s a shortage. What does that mean?
It means that on Wednesday and Friday, the court can’t spare that reporter.
That reporter has to come in to work to take down proceedings.
No time to edit and proofread their work.
So what do they do?
The reporters hire scopists and they hire us.
It is actually more profitable for them to just hire us and go to work rather than take the day off to edit on their own.
So a shortage of reporters means a higher demand for proofreaders and scopists.
But the question then becomes, “Okay, I see how there’s a higher demand for proofreaders, but are there enough proofreaders in the market already to meet the higher demand?”
There are thousands of court reporters in the US.
There are not thousands of court transcript proofreaders in the US.
Why is that?
Because proofreading transcripts for court reporters is not an easy job. Not a lot of people do it. You’re in the clear. Go forth!
2. Have you had a hard time getting clients?
In my experience, court reporters want proofreaders, and it’s not hard to get clients.
I teach my students exactly how to get clients step by step.
3. How long did it take you to find clients?
The first court reporter I pitched to became my first client and is with me to this day.
I found my second client within a week of pitching to my first.
For some people, it happens fast. For others, it may take longer.
I polled the graduates, and the majority said they found their first client within the first month of beginning the search. The second largest group said they found their first client within the first two weeks of beginning the search.
4. Is proofreading for court reporters a flexible job?
Yes and no-ish.
Yes Reason #1:
To proofread, you need an iPad and an Internet connection.
That means you can proofread anywhere.
I proofread in my car while waiting to pick my little brother up from school.
I proofread on planes.
I’ve even proofread in the bathroom (TMI, sorry, not sorry.)
Yes Reason #2:
Standard turnaround time for a transcript is two days. In other words, you receive a transcript and the reporter expects it back two days later.
So when your friends say, “Wanna grab lunch?” Your answer *won’t necessarily be, “I have work.”
Two days means you can be flexible with your work hours. You can decide when you’ll proofread the transcript.
*No Reason #1
There are expedited transcripts you don’t want to say no to.
Expedited transcripts mean the reporter sends you the transcript and wants it back ASAP.
Those are “dear” transcripts: Drop Everything And Read.
But they’re dear for two other reasons:
- Your rate goes up. You make more money per hour reading an expedited transcript than a standard.
- Your relationship with your client is strengthened. You helped them out in a big way. They were in a bind, and you were available when they needed you. There’s a stronger sense of you and your client being a team.
So, in that sense, the job isn’t flexible.
Although you do have the flexibility to decline the transcript, I don’t recommend it unless you really cannot.
And if you have a strong relationship with your client, it’ll be no biggie.
5. Will a course ensure my success as a court transcript proofreader?
Yes and no.
I say yes because I firmly believe if you implement everything you learn, you will be successful.
But notice I said the word “you” three times.
Success depends on you. You need to put in the time; you need to put in the effort; you need to be consistent; you need to be good.
A good course can teach you everything you need to know, but only you can put that newly gained knowledge into practice and reap the rewards.
6. Do I need to have an English degree to be a successful proofreader?
Nope. I have a degree in acting. 😊
But you do need to be competent with grammar and punctuation. And you need a course to teach you certain specific-to-transcript rules and teach you everything else you need to know, but you do need to have a good grasp on the basics.
Some of the grammar rules are different than the ones used in day-to-day life. All you have to do is learn them.
That’s why even if you have an English degree, you still need to take the course.
There are certain rules to the transcript itself that have to be followed and you have to be familiar with them and they have nothing to do with grammar and punctuation.
And you need to like reading because that’s what you’ll be doing, my friend.
7. I don’t live in the USA. Can I still be a transcript proofreader?
Sure! The beauty of proofreading for court reporters is it’s all remote.
I have never met a single one of my clients and my clients live all over the US.
The time difference can be a challenge, but it also might be helpful.
Sometimes a court reporter might need you to work really late into the night to help them meet an emergency deadline; that might just be something like noon for you because of the time difference.
So it has its ups and downs but it’s definitely doable.
I know a proofreader who lives in Taiwan and another who proofreads in England!
8. You said you made $32,000 part time. Can you define “part time”?
No more than 20 hours a week.
9. What is the hardest part of the job?
That’s a subjective question; the answer will differ depending on the proofreader.
For me, having the discipline to not rush through a boring transcript. I have to fight the temptation to skim or breeze through it. Must resist!!!
Also, daydreaming in a boring transcript.
It’s easy to let your mind wander while your eyes keep moving through the page.
Don’t let that happen. You WILL miss things.
Take a break and come back to it.
10. How long did it take you to obtain the skill set of court transcript proofreading?
It took me about 2.5 months.
I think I was putting in an hour or two a day.
No more than 10 hours a week.
11. Are you still marketing yourself? How much time do you spend marketing?
I don’t spend any time marketing.
I have all the clients I can handle for now, and I get new ones when my existing clients refer me to their friends.
In fact, I’ve been sending clients to other proofreaders I’m friends with because I have all I can handle and can’t take on any more.
12. Do you get better at catching errors with practice?
You’ll develop a kind of instinct for it, but you do need to be paying attention.
Also, you will come to know the errors your clients usually make.
I have one client who ALWAYS forgets the if/then comma:
“If I had tried to call the police he would have killed me.”
“If I had tried to call the police, he would have killed me.”
So I read the word “if” in the sentence and I already know I’m gonna have to put a comma in whatever comes next, hahahaha.
So familiarity with your client also makes you better.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!