Hey there, Eagle Eyes!
In response to a lesson in the free 7-day “Make It Happen” course for proofreaders, I invite all participants to respond and tell me their thoughts on the day’s lesson. And this is the question I get more than any other question. I do answer it for the most part in the post (and later lesson in the 7-day course) about getting clients as a newbie, but I want to expand on it here a bit.
Getting the first client is exactly, to a T, why I created the course in transcript proofreading.
Before the course existed, there was quite literally NO WAY to learn the ropes and get experience without “roughing it” or asking someone who knew the craft a gazillion questions.
In the course, students work through a long list of practice transcripts (over 1,000 pages). So students get experience with real transcripts, and by the end, you will have experience, plenty of it. You can put the course on your resume, too, although in my over five years of doing this, I’ve never once been asked for my resume or had to “prove” that I was a proofreader. I just got the work, did it, and it was obvious that I knew what I was doing by the mistakes I found in the transcript.
The course teaches you everything you need to know, including how and where to find clients… right down to what to say. Seriously. I really do teach you everything I know!
Hate marketing? Me too. I get a lot of responses from students in the 7-day course echoing my negative sentiments toward marketing. I’m a homebody, I hate phone calls, and I hate putting myself out there. But the advantage of transcript proofreading over traditional proofreading, where lots more marketing is generally necessary to keep the work rolling in, is that the good quality work you do does most of the marketing for you. Of course, you have to get the client to use you first, and getting the clients is one thing — showing them they need you, and that you know your stuff is how they’ll know you’re legit. Each mistake you find markets to them, saying “THIS, this crazy mistake I found? Yeah. That’s why you need me!” That’s when they may start referring their friends to you, and if you work with agencies, they can refer their reporters to you, too.
So how do you get your first client? It truly begins with a solid foundation. That is why I include a full module on marketing in the course — complete with scripts and step-by-step how-to’s. In a nutshell, as a newbie, you need to have confidence in yourself and be willing to network. Knowing what you‘re doing is part of that — if you jump in without knowing what to look for (which I’ve seen people do), the court reporters will know, and they don’t have time to teach you how to proofread their work. Some reporters even leave stuff in the job on purpose to see if a new proofreader will catch it. If they don’t, they just stop using you. On the other hand, if you truly have an eagle eye and you know what you‘re doing, it’s obvious to the reporter.
But it all starts with a solid foundation. If you’re not willing to invest the time and a reasonable (affordable!) amount of dough to learn the ropes and do things right, trust me when I tell you, you’re setting yourself up for a boatload of struggle and frustration. In the course, I have students complete all of the theory modules and all 1,000+ pages of the practice transcripts before they even think about moving on to the finding clients module. It’s so much more important that you know what you’re doing before going to get the work. Can you agree with me on that? How bad would it be if you knew how to get clients, but rushed through the rest of the information ’cause you were so anxious to find clients? You can’t hide lack of mastery forever. It’s worth it to spend time really honing a skill, especially one as intricate as transcript proofreading.
You can ask yourself this: what do smart people do when they want to learn how to ski? What do they do when they want to learn how to sew? What do they do when they want to learn how to market better? They take a course in it.
What do smart people do when they want to learn how to earn money proofreading transcripts for court reporters?
They take a course, of course!
Onward with excellence, Eagle Eyes!