I messed up.
I’m smart, but I’m human. I stay up too late, get tired, and I do dumb things without thinking them through all the way. I try to think of how things will be received, but sometimes it’s impossible to guess at all the possible scenarios.
This is the story of how I got a small group of
hungry crocodiles other transcript proofreaders to hate me… without ever having met me.
I try to offer my students as much insight as possible, even if it’s not from me. I regularly publish all kinds of “spotlights” on my website — proofreaders of all types, course grads, etc. — and I’ve recently been looking into getting OTHER types of interviews on the site to allow my followers a deeper look into the profession, without all of their info coming from me. It’d be really helpful for them to hear from real reporters what it’s like to work with proofreaders, and how cool would it be for my readers (you!) to be able to gain insight into what it’s like to be a transcript proofreader from someone other than me?
Really cool, right? That’s what I thought!
So I thought to myself, what better way to find transcript proofreaders than a job board where they’re lying in wait for the next court reporter to post that they need a proofreader?
I posted, “I need proofreaders who return PDF corrections via e-mail. PM me!”
My thought process on posting something as simple as this was, if I tell them I’m a proofreader, they’re gonna think I’m trying to “fish” for their rates. And I’m not. I have enough work. I make more money than any proofreader I’ve ever met. I’m not looking for any more work, trust me. So I didn’t want to post, “Hey, I’m a proofreader and I want to hear from other proofreaders to interview on my website.” and I didn’t want to LIE and say that I was a reporter, either. That’s just uncool.
I got about four responses. I immediately replied that I was not a reporter, but that I teach an online course in transcript proofreading and that I’m looking for proofreaders to interview for my website. Totally transparent.
But that’s not how they (most of them) took it.
See, what I didn’t know was that by me saying “PM me!” (something I’d never done before), actually meant “Send me your rates!” in proofreader speak.
‘Cause when people PMed me, they sent me their rates. Oh, man, do I wish I would’ve said “PM me to introduce yourself — no rates, please!” instead of just “PM me!”
Remember my original plan? Interviews! Let me freaking interview you for my website. I want to show the world this awesome way to earn income, and I need your help. I really thought this would be easy.
I found out through a friend (Objection, hearsay! ;-)) who is also in the group that one of the responders to my post had alerted the admin to my “scheme” and, from what I understand, the admin had started a thread warning others about the predator among them — me. Someone allegedly was also calling the course (The one I’ve worked on night and day for months and months and months? Yeah, that’s the one!) a scam! They were calling it a scam because I don’t guarantee that the students who take it will make money or find clients. Um… DUH!
Let me be clear: none of the court reporting schools guarantee that people who enroll in their programs will make any money, so why should I guarantee it? I can’t guarantee it. I share the knowledge. I can’t force anyone to take action with said knowledge. I mean, if I take a class on public speaking or technical writing, they don’t guarantee that by the time I’m done absorbing all the knowledge of that course that I’ll be able to find work as a public speaker or technical writer. So why does it make sense that I should guarantee clients and income for my students? That’s right — it doesn’t.
Don’t misunderstand me, here. I do promise my students a lot, and I deliver, big time. I promise them a solid foundation and all the knowledge, tools, insight, and practice materials they will need to be successful. I give them all of that, plus my ongoing support, but here’s the kicker: they have to act on it. That’s the part I can’t guarantee. I can’t act for you. Are there students who sign up and then do absolutely nothing? Yep. But there are many more who sign up and actually do this thing, and that is what I signed up for, that is why I built this course… to share my knowledge, to give people hope for a fresh start using their sharp eye for detail, and to improve the quality of transcript proofreading in general. More people need to be good at this.
They also said that I must be making up my rates. I post openly how much money I earn proofreading transcripts. My rates ($0.45 per page for regular two-day turnaround and $0.65 per page for all rush) are nowhere near the highest I’ve seen advertised online. Earning what I earn is entirely possible. It was apparent, judging by the accusations and the scrambling for scraps I witnessed by some, that the proofreaders in that group don’t make near the money I do, and they (technically) do the same thing! Maybe they could learn a thing or two from the website, you know, if it wasn’t a scam and all 😉
Then I got a PM response from a proofreader saying she felt I was being deceptive, that I just duped her for her rates (despite me telling her immediately upon receiving her response what I was looking for). Did I mention I don’t need any more clients? The way I do things, I don’t need to go out and look for them. I haven’t needed to bid on jobs in a Facebook group, ever. In my course, I do mention using Facebook to find work, but it’s very low on the list of my recommended techniques. I don’t like it. There are just a lot of hungry proofreaders out there swimming around the court reporters waiting for them to throw them a job to read. Again, I don’t like it.
But you know, I can understand why they felt like that. There are probably plenty of people out there so desperate for work that they’ll do anything to get a leg up on the competition. I’m just not one of those people. The whole thing (especially the flaming on the group, after I got booted, of course) really made me feel bad. Like, I almost cried. Number one, some people can be so quick to squash you like a bug whatever chance they get. There is no benefit of the doubt. Number two, I did not mean to mislead people at all. In retrospect, it would’ve been very wise to say that I did not want rates, but being that I’ve never needed to use Facebook to get work, I truly did not foresee people taking it the way they did. I guess I can understand not wanting to help another proofreader become more successful, too. But that’s where I differ — I do want to help other proofreaders find success, which is why this website exists!
So I apologize, Facebook group. I’m sorry I misled you, albeit wholly accidentally.
But wait! The story doesn’t stop there!
Ironically, a few weeks later, I received an e-mail in response to an inquiry I sent out to my mailing list asking for input on what they’d like to see in my next eBook — How to Make Money Proofreading Online. Her name was Kelly, and she was a new subscriber to my list, and at first she had no idea that I was a transcript proofreader. Well, turns out she was a transcript proofreader, too! She wrote me the nicest e-mail
declaring her love for transcripts explaining the type of work she did, and when I read it, I LIT UP! WOW!
We started a loooong e-mail exchange swapping nerdy war stories about the work we do. I was able to share some of the things I do to remain so efficient (efficiency is key to making a full-time income in this business) and you know what? She didn’t freak out. She didn’t feel threatened or accuse me of running a scam. Know what she did? Kelly thanked me. I shared this story with her (this was before I posted it) and she said, “I’m always trying to find ways to be more efficient at what I do and you’re obviously amazing at it, so I welcome the help!”
Another WOW! This is the kind of attitude to have. Seriously. Not feeling threatened by another person’s success. If you learn of someone who’s doing something better than you, recognize that you now have the glorious opportunity to learn from them. Scrounging for work? Ask for help. You may not have to scrounge anymore! Mentorship is one of the #1 keys to success, no matter what you do. I don’t know how old Kelly is, or if I’m younger or older than her or not (I’m 28!), but it really doesn’t matter. We learn from each other.
Kelly wants to get serious about her proofreading business, and expressed she’d like to take the transcript proofreading course, too — as many of my past students can tell you, there’s no better way to step up your game as a proofreader!
I’m so grateful to Kelly for her e-mail and allowing me to be me and for her willingness to ask questions and to take action to make things better for herself! Bravo, Kelly!
What about you? Are you ready to amp up your proofreading career? What struggles do you face to make it happen? Leave me a comment below or contact me!