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How Chelsea Made Extra Money Proofreading Transcripts

We’ve got a whopper of a success story for you today!

If you’ve ever wanted to earn extra money, pay down your debt, and/or quit your day job, you’re not going to want to skip this post.

Chelsea did ALL of those things… and she did it in ten months. TEN MONTHS, folks.

How did she do it? By proofreading transcripts for court reporters.

If that doesn’t light a fire under your behind, I don’t know what will.

Let’s dive right in and read how Chelsea made it all happen!

Q: Hi there, Chelsea! Why don’t you tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?

Earn extra money by proofreading transcripts for court reportersLike many people who join Proofread Anywhere, I’ve always been a word person. I was the biggest middle school bookworm around, and as I got older, I branched out into newspaper and magazine work. I’ve always considered myself to have a good eye for writing in general, from grammar and spelling to prose and organization.

A year after getting my BA in English and journalism in 2014, I was hired on at a local lifestyle magazine. While the job was interesting and the people were fantastic, I slowly began to realize that this wasn’t where I wanted to be for the rest of my career. And I didn’t just mean that particular office, but working 8 to 5 for someone else with little to no autonomy of my own. (My parents are business owners, so I’m a little spoiled in that regard; I’ve never seen myself working for someone else!)

Q: Autonomy is a HUGE reason I started freelancing as well! So when did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?

Well, I’ve always been a proofreader and even freelanced a bit during college and afterward. But I joined Proofread Anywhere in March 2016, two weeks after getting married. I had been on the hunt for something (anything!) I could do outside of the traditional office using my skill set. My decision to major in English was starting to turn into a regret (“Reading books for grades was great and all, but now that’s all I know how to do!” I thought to myself) when Proofread Anywhere appeared on my Pinterest timeline.

I proceeded to read through every single page of the website (and I do mean EVERY page, most of them several times) as well as reviews from other bloggers and such online, and I knew this was it. This was what I needed, what would give me the freedom and control I craved.

Q: I love that you took advantage of all the content we have on the site! There’s some good stuff on there 🙂 What was the most challenging part for you in getting started?

I would say the most challenging thing was getting past the anxiety of failing. The course took me a year to finish mostly because I spent about nine months on the practice transcripts when I could have finished them sooner. But I kept putting it off “because I didn’t have time.”

In reality, I was terrified I’d fail, that I’d find out I didn’t know all that much about grammar and spelling and punctuation and all the stuff I’d considered my wheelhouse my entire life. If I wasn’t the person who knew the most about punctuation and grammar and the like, then who was I actually? If I couldn’t finish the course, what would that mean for me and my future? I finally decided that I wouldn’t know what I was actually capable of until I stopped moaning about it and did it. That, combined with a renewed determination to leave my day job, helped me kick it into turbo mode to finish the course.

Q: Way to punch that fear in the face, Chelsea! It has no room in our lives and can only hold us back. For you, what was the most valuable thing you learned during the course?

Earn extra money by proofreading transcripts for court reportersDefinitely the value in asking questions. At first, I avoided posting questions about the PTs in the Facebook group because I was, again, so scared of being found out as stupid or lazy or whatever negative thing I had in my head. I convinced myself I could figure it all out on my own.

When I finally (tentatively) began to post questions, I realized how insane that mindset was. Everyone in the PA community is just over-the-top helpful and supportive. None of us knows everything. But together, we learn so much more than we could alone. That in itself was worth the tuition for me.

Second to that would be the importance of just throwing yourself into what you’re doing. Don’t think about failure. Don’t think about what others think. Just do it. If, at the end, it’s not right, it’s not a failure but a part of your journey, which is totally okay.

Q: Your mindset = perfection! So how long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?

I was lucky that my husband actually used to work with someone who is now a court reporter. She, in fact, had suggested I get into proofreading transcripts right after I got out of college and struggled to find work in my field. So I got in touch with her, let her know I’d done just what she said, and she sent me my first transcript! After that, it was another week or two before I began hearing from other reporters around the country. I now have worked with more than twenty reporters, about a dozen of whom I work with on a regular basis.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to learn how to start proofreading transcripts? Is it worth the money?

Heck yes, it’s worth the money! ? For the support of the community alone, I would say that. But the course is so focused on real-world experience in the security of a learning environment, and that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.

My advice would be to truly think about your strengths, and be honest. Being a bookworm isn’t necessarily enough to really succeed as a transcript proofreader; it’s the attention to detail and ability to focus and discipline yourself that will take you far. Think about if those skills are there, as they’re much harder to learn than the rules of punctuation.

Q: So true! And what does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?

I was able to put in my notice in October (about eight months after getting my first client), and as of December will be working full-time as a proofreader! I’ve also added a number of other services to my repertoire, scoping and manuscript editing being the main ones. Since my husband teaches at the college level, he gets four months off every summer. It’s been wasted in the past since I couldn’t get much time off. Now, I’m excited to plan ways to really take advantage of that time and see more of this world. (I see a cross-country camping trek in our future!)

I began proofreading transcripts in March. As of January the following year, I had billed $14,800 for proofreading. That’s 73 percent of the income from my full-time job over the same span. In my last two months before leaving my day job, I matched (and slightly exceeded!) my full-time salary each month. And except for the last two weeks of the year, this is just from working on my nights and weekends.

Proofreading is helping us pay down credit card debt that has been haunting us for years. It’s also giving me the flexibility and time to pursue other passions, including going back to fiction writing. Plus, my furchild Rosemary gets to spend way more time at the park now, which she absolutely loves. ?

Earn extra money by proofreading transcripts for court reporters
Such a cute puppy!

Q: I’d say things are going pretty well then 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?

Turn to your comrades for support. And when you feel like it won’t end (I certainly felt like that for a long time), just know that it is this tough for a reason, and it will make you an outstanding proofreader for your future clients. Above all else, remember that you can do this. Go for it.

Our Take

We cannot get enough of Chelsea’s positive, can-do attitude and perseverance to look her fears right in the eye and say “ENOUGH!” She is a shining example of what PA is all about. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the future. Way to go, Chelsea!

Your Turn

Do you want to accomplish the same goals? Maybe earn a little extra money for a vacation or bills, or finally quit that job you hate? Check out my courses and see if proofreading could be your ticket to freedom — just like it was for Chelsea.

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  1. How many hours would you say you work each week or month, on average, to make that ,much? Congrats on your success!!

    1. Hey, Katie, while still at my full-time job, I was working anywhere from 10-20 hours a week also proofreading (depending on how busy I was). The longer I’d been doing it, the faster I got. Now that I’m proofreading full-time, I work between 30-40 hours now proofreading and am still exceeding my 40-hour-per-week FT job salary.

  2. The picture is showing you in front of a laptop. Are you using it or an iPad to do the proofreading? Just asking since an iPad is recommended. If you are using a laptop, which software do you use instead of iAnnotate?

    1. Hi Anita, that photo isn’t actually of me; it’s a stock photo. 😉 But I use both an iPad and my computer depending on what I’m working on and my moon. I use iAnnotate on the iPad and PDF Annotator on the laptop. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but they make getting the job done easier. I generally prefer the laptop/PDF Annotator, but that’s just my personal opinion.

  3. Hi Chelsea,

    Congrats on your success and being able to pay down your debt as well as have the freedom to plan more travel time with your hubby!

    I purchased an iPad and iAnnotate (just beginning to go through the practice transcripts). I’m curious about your laptop/PDF Annotator combo though.

    Do your clients notice any difference in the final proofread transcript you send back to them, depending on which software you use?

    How do you decide whether to use iAnnotate or PDF Annotator?

    That’s enough questions for now!

    Thanks for telling your story and best wishes for continued success!!


    1. Nope, they’ve never said they notice any difference. 🙂 I do the same exact thing for both programs; so they shouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. I largely choose based on my mood: Do I want to lounge on the couch (iAnnotate) or sit at a desk (PDF Annotator)? Do I want to take my dog to the park (iAnnotate) or focus at home? Stuff like that. 🙂

      1. Thanks Chelsea!!
        Makes perfect sense:)
        Your answer helps me decide to go with iAnnotate first, since I purchased an iPad and have downloaded the app. I’ll become familiar with using it and then move on to PDF Annotator.

        I can then make the same decisions you have and work for you.

        Really appreciate you sharing your experience:)

  4. In order to take the course for proofreading court transcripts, should one take the general proofreading course first or does it really matter?

    1. Hi, Rochelle! Great question! They are two separate courses and you do not need to take one before the other or both of them.

  5. Hi Chelsea! Thank you for sharing your experience. Your story really struck a chord with me. I have all the same fears that you had experienced. I’ve been looking into this for about two months, and although I have the support of my husband, my fears have held me back from just going for it. I think this is a really exciting opportunity, but I’m afraid that my anxiety will get in the way of my ability to pass the exam.
    When you did finally take the exam, was it easier or harder than you had imagined? Were you happy that you took so much time to do practice transcripts, or did you wish that you would have taken the exam sooner? If you could go back to your first month of this course, what advice would you give yourself?
    Thank you so much for your time! I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Shauna, I am so grateful for those practice transcripts now (even though I felt like I’d never finish)! These aren’t just transcripts they thought up for the course to pretend; they are real world transcripts and taught me to look for sneaky real world errors. In my first month, I would have created a schedule for the PTs and actually stuck to it instead of procrastinating and wasting so many months dragging it out. I’m glad I didn’t rush through — that’s no good — but I could have gotten started so much sooner had I just buckled down and did it. Hope this helps!

  6. I’m following some of the latest questions posted here.

    In addition to hearing about your experiences with iAnnotate vs. PDF software for Windows, Iam wondering what “scoping”, and whether the Transcript proofreading course is more technical, and preparing one for a much different kind of work than the other course ProofreadAnywhere offers.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You’re an inspiration.

    1. Thanks for your comments! Transcript Proofreading is much more niche and more technical, but which course is best for you depends on where your strengths and interests lie, honestly. I’m hoping one day to maybe take the General course and add those services to my repertoire. 🙂 Scoping is essentially the step before proofreading transcripts where you clean up the raw notes. The transcript course definitely gave me a good foothold to branch into that, as well.

  7. One more question…

    I notice you also “do” scoping. I’ve looked at the course and felt totally overwhelmed.

    At what point in your proofreading career did you study scoping?

    I’m feeling like I need to master proofreading and have some client experience before I broaden my horizon.


    1. I started learning to scope about six months after I started proofreading. I was feeling confident in my abilities and wanted to try something else that could expand my possible pool of clients.

  8. Hi, Chelsea. Thank you for being real. It is tough getting started on something that is important to you. I have felt that way too; however, I have noticed that not getting started chips away at one’s confidence. Thank you for sharing your success! It is inspiring. I hope to be a work at home hero just like you!

  9. Great story. I’m finally digging into the course even with all my fears. However, I know it’s going to pay off big time.

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