THE NEED TO WHINE (OR: HOW CAN I IMPROVE THIS SITUATION?)

I'm not making as much money as I want/There are so many corrections to make/The tapes are such bad quality!

Sure can be frustrating, for sure, I know. I might suggest that you start advertising (if you aren't already) and build your clientele base. That way you'll be too busy with good work and not have time to accept the icky stuff.

Another way, so you don't burn bridges, is to raise your rates. They don't wanna pay the regular rate and they'll probably just go away. (Hopefully you've got another reporter to replace this one first, though.)

I know, I know, when you want to work and icky work is all you're getting, and then pulling your hair out while you do it, then fight for the check. I think a lot of us have had that experience at least once, I'd think. But the flip side is if you are too busy with the icky stuff for free, you turn down gold when it comes by because you're stuck with the other. It's a tough call, and I've had to make it, too, deciding to continue to pull out my hair or put my energy into finding good work. It is a very tough place to be in.

I ended up putting my energy into finding good work, and I was not sorry in the end, although I had a few lean weeks in there for a while. [g] But you won't hate your job or kick yourself in the end, though. You'll be proud for making smart business decisions.

I know, for myself, it took a while to get rid of the "worker bee" attitude and put on the manager's hat. (I still struggle with this sometimes) The beauty of this business, and it took me a long time to finally figure this out, is that we don't work for people - we provide a service. Once you feel that in your gut, all sorts of good things come out of that. You are no longer the slave to a boss, but you are a service provider. If you are doing something you really don't want to be doing, if you are not getting paid enough, if you need more work, if you have too much work to do, it is your decision to make. This has been my curse and this has been my blessing. I just have to remember to put on the right hat!

Just my opinion [gosh, I'm full of 'em today - watch out! (g)] as far as the slow/no pay: depending on how dependable the slow pay is, meaning if they are a consistent slow pay - all invoices end up being paid the same time each month, for instance, I know it's coming in - I can work with that. No pay, no more work! You won't stay in business working for free [g]

I wish you a lot of luck in making your decision on what to do. It's a toughie.
I need to whine! I'm hoping you've all had one of those deps that make you say, is this worth it? The worst part is it was less than 25 pages but at least 50% untranslated and I felt like I really struggled through the entire thing. It was for a new reporter (new to me) and I spent too many hours on it to find out he just considered it c*ap and totally picked apart my work?

When I work for a new reporter, I always tell them it takes a few transcripts to become compatible with each other. I always ask for feedback and try not to stress over changes. After all, it's their name on the transcript. Whenever I'm not 100 percent certain of an untranslate, I always flag it for them to check it.

I do try to get a sample transcript, and I always keep a preference file for each reporter. I ask them to send me the corrections that they've made so that I have it for reference whenever there's a question -- "Hmmm, how did he/she do this?" Everyone has their own ideas on how they want it done.

Another possibility -- maybe you two just weren't compatible.
When I was reading your email about your horrible job, it brought back memories of when I was doing my own editing. There were days that I could barely read my own writing. As a court reporter, I can say that we have our good days and bad days. You might want to find out if this reporter is new on CAT. When I first started CAT, before my dictionary was built up, the screen had more untranslates than words. Itís also entirely possible that this reporter is just a bad writer. My wife scopes for me and in the past had scoped for other reporters. There was one reporter that she would scope for that she didnít know how he became certified. She would constantly be doing creative editing:-).

I like some of the other suggestions that were made. [My scopist] had started scoping for me about 6 or 7 years ago. When I started with her, she gave me a preference sheet and I think thatís very valuable. I would encourage you to make a sheet with as much detail as you desire to do a good job. You can ask [my scopist], but when we started working together, my wife who has always been my scopist, gave [my scopist] two or three pages of preferences. Then and ever since [my scopist] has always been very professional and tried to do as much as possible to do exactly what I wanted, as far as my transcripts are concerned. I also think the relationship you have with your reporter is very important.

I would say if the reporter is not respectful of your hard work and is perhaps nasty in his comments to you, move on to the next reporter. If he appears to be picky because he wants as perfect a transcript as possible, give him some time. It may turn out to be a good thing down the road. Good luck!
Asking for a sample file is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Don't feel bad, I have been notereading/scoping for almost thirty years, have reporters that "couldn't live without me," (g) and I still encounter every once in a while someone that is not happy with what I've given back to them. I'm not at all ashamed to admit it! Sometimes it takes a few transcripts to get used to each other. You gave it more than your all and spent more time than you should have. On rare occasions when I have had something like that and I feel completely overwhelmed, especially if it's not making sense, I have (very rarely) returned the transcript and not charged for the pages I have done. Might not work for everyone, but that's my light at the end of the tunnel.
(In response to the above)That's good advice. I, too, have done the same thing in the past. Over the years, I've gotten some really poopy jobs and learned long ago not to waste my time on them. I've been doing this type of work for 25+ years myself, and feel that I don't have to put myself through the hassle any longer. I am finally able to pick and choose who *I* work for. :)
This situation reminds me of something that happened to me not too long ago.

I scoped a job where I just didn't feel really good about the outcome of it, even though I did my best to decipher things. When I sent my invoice, I discounted the rate and explained why. When I got the check, my reporter had put a note at the bottom of the invoice something to the effect of, "Just because I had a bad day of writing doesn't mean you should suffer for it." She had marked out my discounted rate and wrote in the normal rate.

I have to say it brought tears to my eyes. It seems rare to find reporters who are willing to admit that there are some days that their writing is not the greatest. They all seem to take offense to the suggestion that it could be anything short of perfect. I know how to read notes, but there are some jobs that I can't decipher. Reporters all write differently. I really don't think they realize that. When they get out of school and start working, 99 percent of them tweak their writing style to suit their needs. I think a lot of them just don't realize that what they may be able to read, someone else may not be able to. Maybe the scopist learned a different theory or maybe the reporter has made up a brief that only they know. Those things do make a difference.

It takes time and a lot of communication in order to get a good relationship going with a reporter to work out all the kinks. First and foremost, I'd say always use a preference sheet. Every reporter is different and just because one reporter likes it one way doesn't mean the new reporter is going to like it.

It could be that this guy gave you not enough information to complete the job, such as names or other special spellings. If you want to work with him in the future, offer to just not bill on that one. After all, it was a small job. Tell him you need more clarification on what he wants. Make him spend the time to explain what he wants, even if you have to call him on the phone. Sometimes it helps the relationship just to be able to talk on the phone instead of impersonal email.

Gosh, I guess I'm starting to write a book here. Sorry. I hope this information helps.
You've come to the right place to whine a bit. But I say: You don't have to put up with work that makes you tear your hair out. (Or if you do, charge 'em an arm and a leg!)

I know you're looking to replace the volume from your retired reporter, but maybe this guy isn't the one to do it. I don't mind feedback from my reporters - it keeps me humble. But this guy sounds like an extremist.

In our list's Files section is a preference sheet you can download and use as the basis for recording each reporters' preferences. It will help you keep them all straight. You can run through the things on the list with them during the first phone call or when you get the first job. I like to ask for 10 or 15 pages of a completed job up-front. That usually gives me most of their preferences and style. Ask them if there's anything they're especially sensitive about; and if there is, they'll tell you, and you can make sure you watch for those things.

Don't be discouraged - a bummer now and then is bound to happen!
(In response to "Should I quit scoping?")

Your message lists a number of things that seem to be distressing you, so perhaps taking them one at a time and giving them priority will help you decide what your next move should be. You mention (1) not having enough work, (2) not having a consistent paycheck, (3) erratic hours/working weekends, and (4) the stress of the reporters. (I assume you mean the stress they're causing *you*, right? I think *all* reporters themselves are stressed!)

I'm afraid Items 3 and 4 kind of come with the territory. However, if you address Item 1, slow work, I think it would help you establish a more consistent income flow.

So now comes the hard part: What is *your* priority? For me, I will put up with any of the crappy parts because working from home is my No. 1 priority. Granted, there has to be work to be done, but any negative parts are tolerable because I have found what truly makes me happy. So try to decide what will really make *you* happy.

Since you've worked from home for 13 years, don't forget that having a "real job" isn't paradise. You risk having yukky bosses, unpleasant co-workers, and job security definitely ain't what it used to be even in the corporate world. But they do pay you an established amount on predictable days and have set hours. (Wait, I forgot about overtime...)

Another option might be to investigate what else you can do to work at home. Scoping's not the only thing that allows a commute from one part of the house to another. Or, many employers have telecommuting arrangements with "real" employees. So maybe you can still have your cake and eat it too, just a different flavor of it.

If you decide you want to stay in scoping, speaking for myself and the whole group, we will give you every suggestion and idea about marketing yourself that we know of to get your volume up. (However, this will increase the liklihood you will be working weekends!) If you'd like to brainstorm on the phone, let me know and I'll give you my phone number.

And to answer your last question, "Does it get to anyone else?" sure, it does. Any job gets to everyone now and then. But do those times outweigh the benefits? Only you can decide that. Sometimes you get to a point in life where you must make a choice. Making a major change can be scary, but sometimes just breaking out of the rut gives you new energy. Likewise, reviewing an existing situation and deciding that by making a few changes it would really improve things overall, this can be a challenge, too, because it causes you to examine yourself pretty closely. But the important thing is to make the decision: Major change or improve the current deal?

Sorry I got so windy...
What is *your* priority? For me, I will put up with any of the crappy parts because working from home is my No. 1 priority. Granted, there has to be work to be done, but any negative parts are tolerable because I have found what truly makes me happy. So try to decide what will really make *you* happy.

This hits the nail on the head. You need to be happy. One thing I love about scoping is I can get up at 4:00 (if I want), work for several hours and then still have time during the day for something else. In other words, I really set my own hours to fit my schedule. Yes, there are crunch times, but I think there are in every job. I've only been scoping for several months, but have always worked at home in the past. I have found that there is plenty of work out there!!

To answer your last question, "Does it get to anyone else?"

Yes, but I think every job has its ups and downs and you've just got to find one in which the ups outweigh the downs.

Don't get too discouraged. Just realize that you need to weigh the pros and cons. Good luck. I hope you're not feeling too "down."
I thought this is what I wanted, but maybe it is not for me. I never was a major in English and I just can't seem to catch all the mistakes! I hate feeling stupid and that is how I feel when a reporter sends me back markups so that I can see what I did. Sometimes I can't believe I missed something so obvious!

I think that happens to all of us. When I tell [my reporter] that I know that soon I'll send her the PERFECT transcript...she says that there will probably NEVER be one because even she changes her mind about what she wants.
A scopist was concerned when a reporter said: "...I have been through about 15 scopists and am losing my patience. I simply don't have time for beginners or people with no experience."

Another scopist said: It sounds like even a seasoned scopist might find it a challenge working for this person!


I guess I'm reading this a little differently than others. While I guess it could be taken as snotty, I really just think she's saying she's had her fill of substandard work. Let's remember that there are all kinds of people out there claiming to be scopists, all kinds of articles and schools promoting scoping as one of the best work-at-home careers around, so, unfortunately, there are a flood of people "trying out" scoping so they can work at home.

Here's where you have the chance to turn things around and change her mind. If you're confident in your abilities, don't let those words scare you away. Be up front with her about the fact that you are "fairly" new, BUT explain to her how confident you are in your abilities. Offer to scope 25 pages or so for free to see if the two of you are compatible. If everything goes well in those 25 pages, chances are you'll win her over and she'll forget all about you being "new." If it doesn't work out, then at least you know you tried.

Also, if you have any references from reporters you've worked with so far, it couldn't hurt to give this new reporter their contact information.

If it's one thing I learned when I first started out, it's that you've got to sell yourself. You have to make the reporter see that you are an asset to their career. Sit down and really think about all you have to offer. Write it down if you have to. Think about if you were a reporter, what would you be looking for in a scopist? At some point, we all have to make the transition from "new" to "experienced." It's hard to do that when no one will give you a chance because you're new. I think when you've thought about what you have to offer and how skilled you really are, you'll be more confident and be able to project the attitude that you are someone they need.

Instead of being scared off by this woman, try to appreciate the fact that she was up front about what she wanted. Better that you know now than after you've wasted hours upon hours and then she's mad and won't pay. Believe it or not, the best reporters I've ever worked for are the ones who took the time to ask questions about my experience, references, education, etc.

I hope this helps you some. Good luck.

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