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How Alaina is Paying Off Debt with a Proofreading Side Hustle


I have Alaina Waagner stopping by today to share her success story as a student of the course Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™. Alaina actually hopped on board earlier when the course was just a single practice transcript and an eBook combo, then transitioned over to the multimedia version when we launched it in February. Alaina works a full-time job and has BIG GOALS to take charge of her financial life. What she’s doing to accomplish those goals is incredible — she recouped her course investment and made a profit in just three weeks post-course completion. I hope you find her story as inspiring as I did! Enjoy!

So, Alaina, tell us a little about you and your background!

Reading and writing have always made up the bedrock of who I am. I have a BA in English from the University of Florida, and I moved to New York City about three and a half years ago to pursue my dream of working in book publishing. I now work at the world’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, full-time, and I couldn’t be happier.

When did you start proofreading transcripts, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread transcripts?

One of my major goals for this year was getting my finances under control — meaning, pay down all credit card debt, get an actual savings account going, do a better job of budgeting where my money goes. To this end, I started using LearnVest.com, where I saw an article that featured Caitlin’s story about how she has been able to create a lucrative business out of proofreading transcripts. I had been trying to find a way for a while to supplement my income (as much as I love my job, publishing is well-known for poor pay, and living in New York is EXPENSIVE!), and this seemed like a golden opportunity.

I had previously thought about trying to pick up copyediting work but didn’t know how to go about it. Caitlin’s course offered the promise of walking me through every stage of learning to proof through getting clients, which I couldn’t resist. I completed the course in its earlier incarnation in, I believe, February, and supplemented it with the new course material when that came along.

What was the most challenging part in getting started?

Finding clients and learning to balance how much I can take on. In my zeal to find new clients, I volunteered to turn around 250 pages in 24 hours. Ouch. As difficult as it was, I did gain the reporter as a regular client, but I had to remind myself that I have other commitments, and I have to learn when to turn down jobs.

What was/were the most valuable thing(s) you learned during the course?

I think the course as a whole is incredibly valuable. I had no idea how court reporters functioned before, and the course offered an invaluable window into their world. Additionally, the practice transcripts gave me confidence. I know that I’m a great copyeditor in the traditional sense, but I worried about how well that would translate over to this world. The variety of transcripts, as well as Caitlin’s availability on email and on Facebook, to answer questions and provide support, was the most helpful part for me.

How long did it take you to find your first client? How many clients do you have now?

I think it took about two weeks of concerted effort before I got my first job. I’m still not sure which of the reporters that I have worked with so far will go on to be regular clients, but I think I have one or two on the hook at this point. Since I’m doing this part-time to supplement my 40-hour-a-week job, I’m not looking to take on too much, but I have been able to bill for over $600 worth of work so far this month 🙂

What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to proofread transcripts? Is it worth the money?

My best advice is to just be honest with yourself about your skills going into the course as well as your motivations. If this just seems like an easy way to make money, I’d advise you not to pursue it. While it’s great work in that it can be very flexible and portable, it’s still challenging work and best suited to those who already have an eye for error.

You have to be willing to work hard to learn the ropes, get clients, and then continue to work hard every day to provide top-quality services for your clients. There are times when I was neck-deep in a 500-page job that I questioned my sanity for taking it on. But, I’m on track to pay off my credit card twice as quickly as I was previously, and will be funding a long weekend in Charleston for my friend’s wedding using the money I make doing this. So yes, for me, this is absolutely worth it.

Congratulations on your success, Alaina!

Are you interested in learning to rock it as a transcript proofreader like Alaina? Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ is the intensive training course Alaina went through to make it happen for herself. Learn more about Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ or sign up for the free 7-day intro course below. 

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  1. Great job, Alaina! I’m seriously considering this as a supplement to my current income, so I’m wondering how many hours you worked to earn $600.

    1. Hi Kris — I’m not very good at tracking how many hours I work, since I’m typically reading whenever I can (on the train to and from work, at bars and restaurants before the rest of my party arrives, etc.), but I definitely wasn’t doing more than probably 10 hours per week to read that many pages.

  2. Congrats, Alaina! I just began the course a few weeks ago, so your story is really inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing it. I know that you’re still fairly new, but what have you found to be the most successful way to find clients?

    1. Facebook has worked the best for me so far, but I haven’t been able to get a lot of steady business that way. It’s mostly been one-offs. I’m planning to do more outreach to agencies in the coming weeks in hoping of ensuring more steady work, even if it does pay a bit less.

  3. That’s awesome Alaina! When you are searching for clients/jobs, do you communicate your publishing background and English degree as a qualification? I’m just wondering if it would be more difficult for someone to break in who doesn’t have the education and career that you have (like myself).

    1. Yes, I absolutely use those qualifications as a way to bolster my resume — they’re certainly useful in this field, but I wouldn’t say that they’re absolutely necessary. I have run up against a lot of people who want more experienced proofers, but I think there is room for people who are new, as long as they are willing to start out charging lower rates and do consistently good work to prove that they are just as capable and reliable as someone who has been working much longer.

  4. I think my greatest fear is that I don’t know if I have a eagle eye for errors. Ive never done anything like this before, but I am willing to learn. Currently I work full time typically 10 hours a day 5-6 times a week but the pay is barely enough to cover my bills, so I hope over time I can replace one job for the other.

  5. I want to participate an online homebased jobs.

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