When you’re the first person to roll out something brand new in a relatively quiet industry, people talk.
Most people say nice things. PA has had tons of positive press in a short amount of time. Students have seen some incredible results from the course, and court reporters nationwide have said some awesome things about the proofreaders trained by my program.
Not everyone has nice things to say, though. We’ve heard some pretty nasty things.
Because we’re big believers in being transparent here at PA, we want to acknowledge the existence of these myths about Proofread Anywhere and debunk them with facts. To do that, we’ve assembled this list of 13 myths/rumors we’ve heard or read … and the facts to refute them.
[Note: these “myths” originated from people (including court reporters and non-PA proofreaders) who have never seen or taken the course. With this post, we hope our fellow professionals will see that the opinions of court reporters who’ve used our proofreaders for actual work and the opinions of those who’ve actually seen our course material have much greater weight than the opinions of those who spend their time spreading rumors.]
Myths About Proofread Anywhere
Myth #1: “PA is flooding the market with hundreds of new proofreaders every month.”
False. proofreadanywhere.com has been on the web since November 1, 2014, and the course has been live since February 16, 2015. Since that date and as of September 23, 2015, just over 100 students have successfully completed the challenging Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ course and received their certificate.
Just as simply enrolling does not guarantee a student’s success, getting a certificate does not mean the student is actively seeking work; in fact, we’ve learned some program grads have had career and life changes that have pulled them into a completely different direction. The ones that are seeking work as transcript proofreaders, however, have in many cases found more than enough work for themselves — even to the point they need to refer their clients to other proofreaders.
I’m not kidding. Check out this email I got the week before Thanksgiving:
Juxtaposed to the thousands of graduates in programs worldwide who are still able to find work after receiving an MBA, a teaching certificate, or a CPA license — in spite of heavy competition — we don’t think it’s logical or even possible to “flood the market” with our one small program. This program is not a “pay money and we’ll give you a job” program — if you don’t work (and work well), you don’t succeed. We designed it to be a difficult course on purpose specifically to weed out people looking for a handout or an easy fix.
Myth #2: “PA makes it seem like ANYONE can proofread transcripts.”
False. Proofreading isn’t for everyone, and we do a lot of work to make sure not just anyone enrolls. Not everyone has what it takes to successfully complete the course. In addition, we test students’ ability to proofread before we ever allow them access to the marketing modules within the course content. We do this because we don’t want students who are unable to demonstrate their aptitude attempting to find work in an industry that depends on accuracy.
Myth #3: “Caitlin deceives people into enrolling by making them believe they’ll get rich.” -and- “Caitlin lies about how much money she makes as a proofreader.”
False. I can’t make this stuff up. I’d have to work five times as hard to fake it, anyway. Who has that kind of time?
It took me years and lots of tweaking in my method to make $40k/year (gross earnings) as a proofreader — which, might I add, is a very modest income and more than a few dollars away from “rich” :-). I’d already been proofreading on a very part-time basis for three years before I went full time, and I’d been using very archaic methods, so I wasn’t earning a lot at first.
I receive questions several times a month about the amount one can “realistically” earn as a new proofreader. My answer is never, ever “Oh, you’ll earn $40k, just like me.” In fact, I tell them just the opposite: “Don’t go into this expecting to make as much as I did immediately.”
Becoming a transcript proofreader = building a business. It takes time; it won’t happen overnight; and nothing will happen if you don’t try.
So if your students know they’re not going to get rich, then why do they enroll? I asked students in our Facebook group to tell me exactly why they enrolled in Transcript Proofreading…
How much IS a realistic amount? I just asked the students how much they earned in the first two months after they’d gotten at least one client.
These are much more realistic amounts for beginning students. Keep in mind — not everyone works the same amount of hours, and not everyone works at the same speed. Some students have kids, some students have other jobs, and some students don’t want or need to make full-time income… so they don’t.
Myth #4: “The course has zero human interaction.”
False. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of content to work through in the modules. However, any time students have a question, they can ask it a variety of ways: in the forum, in our Facebook group, or via email. I usually answer emails within an hour. Questions asked in the FB group seldom wait longer than a few minutes for an answer from a helpful student.
Even in the 7-day intro course, I interact with students personally. Check out this email from a then-skeptic, now successful program grad who was especially happy to discover I’m a real person:
Myth #5: “The course is short.”
False. Some folks visit our site and mistake our 7-day intro course as the full course. Transcript proofreading is serious work, and it takes much, much longer than seven days to learn the craft. The full course is entirely self-paced and generally takes 2-4 months to complete, with some students taking 6-8 months or longer. We recommend taking things slowly to facilitate the absorption of the material. Check out our syllabus to see exactly what each module entails, and/or watch this video to take a tour of the course:
Myth #6: “Caitlin teaches students to buy lists of court reporter contact info from data companies, and she sells them templates to use so all their marketing looks the same.”
False. We teach students how to find publicly listed court reporters to contact in addition to other modern marketing and networking methods. We provide extensive instructions on how to use email to market, but it does not include “plug-n’-play” templates as we’ve heard rumored. Students must write their own emails, and they’re encouraged to customize each one and have them critiqued by their peers. Some students refuse to do this, and their emails suck. We stand by our instructions as provided, and we warn students who choose to take shortcuts or ignore the instructions that they will not get ahead.
Unfortunately, a student not following instructions can reflect badly on PA and our curriculum as a whole; however, it’s important to note that PA does no work on behalf of any student. Each student is 100% responsible for their own actions within and after the course — including if they foolishly fail to follow course instructions.
Myth #7: “Experience gained within the course is useless because it’s not paid experience.”
False. Students proofread 50 real transcripts [all of which have been completely redacted of any sensitive identifying information and used with permission] totaling 3,109 pages throughout the duration of the course. Find me just one proofreader currently working who did that much practice without pay before jumping into paid work … I think you’ll find that unless they’ve taken Transcript Proofreading, you won’t find one. Practicing a lot before jumping into paid work isn’t useless, it’s smart.
Before PA existed, most proofreaders (myself included!) went through a non-structured, mentorship-style of training with an experienced proofreader or a court reporter. Transcript Proofreading was created specifically to give people without easy access to a mentor a way to get started. Proofreaders and reporters are busy people; it’s very difficult for us to cover everything you need to know in a one-on-one setting. Transcript Proofreading is structured, complete, and constantly updated as the industry evolves.
Myth #8: “The proofreading course is expensive and not worth it.”
False. We tend to hear this one the most from folks who haven’t actually taken the course to see its value and results. See Myth #3, Figure 2. Most students earn back their course fee AND their iPad cost very quickly — usually within a month or two. In exchange for the tuition fee, PA provides a way for people with eagle eyes to earn extra income (a little or a lot). We don’t charge a membership fee beyond the tuition; we don’t take a cut of anyone’s earnings; and students receive lifetime access to all course updates. Taking into account the tremendous value students receive combined with the excellent results our students have gotten, we think it’s a steal.
Myth #9: “Caitlin promotes proofreading in Walmart, the circus, and other noisy locations.”
False. The name “Proofread Anywhere” does not mean you can proofread anywhere you want regardless of security and noise. The name actually stemmed from the location independence that comes with transcript proofreading as a career choice. You can proofread in the US. You can proofread in the UK. You can proofread in Kenya. You can proofread in your pajamas on the couch. We do not promote proofreading at the circus, at Walmart, or if babies are screaming and crawling all over you. In fact, one of our free intro course lessons includes this post which contains loads of our favorite tips, tools, and resources to help proofreaders keep and improve their focus.
Myth #10: “People who enroll in Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ are just bored stay-at-home moms looking for something to do — they don’t have any real skills.”
False. Students enrolled in Transcript Proofreading come from diverse backgrounds. We have some very smart SAHMs, working moms, former attorneys, scopists, former court reporters, court reporting students, book editors, former English teachers, current English teachers, French teachers, accountants, digital nomads, paralegals, technical writers — the list goes on. People with a knack for spotting errors come in all shapes and sizes.
Myth #11: “PA didn’t consult any court reporters in the creation of the course.”
False. We built this course based on their feedback, and we created the curriculum based on the most widely used resources in the profession. Having worked with over 100 court reporters and several agencies since 2009, I consulted many of my own clients, past and present, on their various experiences with proofreaders and in what ways they felt training for a proofreader could improve. My own mentor, Sandi, was my biggest supporter in creating this training. In fact, PA now has the privilege of supplying her firm with quality assurance proofreaders — all of which are PA grads.
Myth #12: “PA Proofreaders are always trash-talking court reporters in their secret Facebook ‘chat room.'”
False. Back in June, we had some lively discussions about several of the rumors we’re addressing here. Many of them were just rearing their ugly heads. We took it personally, and we did discuss their ludicrousness and how angry we were at the people who started them.
We’ve since decided to just be up front with what’s going on (hence this post) and no longer allow discussions of this nature in our group. Instead, we have supportive, positive discussions like this:
and this …
Myth #13: “Proofread Anywhere is just a ‘pop-up school’ that won’t be around much longer.”
False. We’re here to stay. We not only believe in providing the highest standard of training for transcript proofreaders, we believe in sharing our knowledge with others to help them make positive changes in their lives.
Did we miss one?
Have you heard a rumor or myths about Proofread Anywhere you’d like us to address? Leave a comment below, and we’ll debunk it.
Aloha, Caitlin: Roger here–again! I enjoyed reading this very interesting article and I agree 100% with the way you “busted” every single myth about your PA system. Myth #7: “Experience within the course is useless without paid experience.” I can totally relate to this.
As I mentioned to you at one point in the past, while waiting for the one or two weeks prior to my official start date with a new company, I asked the supervisor if I could spend time–unpaid–just to get the necessary experience I felt I really needed to feel comfortable transcribing because I knew I had “tons’ to learn to succeed in this medical transcriptionist position I was embarking on soon. I’m glad and appreciate that she agreed to take me up on this idea and overall, it turned out just fine for everyone.
I just want people to realize that you can’t really expect to get “paid” while in the process of learning the skills you need unless you were in some type of apprentice program where being paid during training is commonplace.
I’d like to suggest to students to just put all you’ve got into the training and you will get paid–“after” your training period is over and it will have been well worth the “unpaid” training time and patience and determination you put into it.
Again, Caitlin, thank you very much for posting this very informative article.
GREAT insights, Roger!! Your real-world experience perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to communicate here. I completely agree, too — unpaid experience is super valuable. What other proofreaders (besides my PA students, if you will) can say they’ve actually spent MONTHS preparing before attempting paid proofreading work? What about taking exams and allowing themselves to be objectively evaluated for competence? I know I sure didn’t, and I made some mistakes early on as a proofreader that’d prove it; no doubt mistakes I could’ve avoided had I actually been trained instead of thrown into the fire. To boot, some employers won’t hire college grads unless they’ve had an internship which, SURPRISE!, is usually unpaid experience. Very valuable unpaid experience.
Can a non-resident, albeit English speaking, expect to be able to get regular proofreading work in the USA?
How would payments be made? Would PayPal be a viable option?
Yes! Check out this blog post for more information. Some of our grads use PayPal, Google Wallet, or Venmo to receive payments.
I'm intrigued, but curious to know how does a proofreader get payment for service's, who pays, and what if you never get payment?