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?
Like 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?
Definitely 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. 😊
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.
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!
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.