Be a Scopist (or Other Lesser-Known but Well-Paid Freelancer)

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Be a scopist and help court reporters with their transcripts.

Are you wondering what a scopist is? How about an SEO auditor or  Pinterest Manager? These are many lesser-known, lucrative at-home careers. All you need is a laptop, a good internet connection, and a little know-how. So, today, I‘m sharing five of these potential side-hustles, and I've included helpful links to online training to make getting that know-how easier.

One of these five options might be perfect for you!

1. Scopist

Scopists provide an important service to busy court reporters, but many people haven't heard of them.

What does a scopist do?

Scopists edit the shorthand rough transcripts court reporters make.  This frees up the reporter to spend more time in court making new reports for scopists to edit. Scoping isn’t transcribing, or revising, either. Because the transcript is an official record of the court proceedings, a scopist needs to be careful not to alter grammar and punctuation in any of the testimony.  When the scopist has finished, the transcript's version will exactly match the audio record.

What skills does a scopist need?

Close attention to detail is essential for a scopist.

Scopists need a strong command of English and good research skills. They will be called upon to correct errors in punctuation, spelling, and grammar. They may need to look up geographic locations, legal terms,  and proper names to assure they’re accurate. Because of this, avid readers can make great scopists.

How much can a scopist earn?

Scopists  can typically can earn $1.00-$1.25 per transcript page. Rush jobs or those with many technical terms often pay more. 

Since scopists are freelancers, they can choose how many clients and how much work to take on. An annual income of $30,000- $50,000 is possible. A good scopist may be dedicated to a single court reporter, and might even earn a salary.

How can I learn to be a scopist?

Scopist and other lesser known work from home online careers

There is no certification required to work as a scopist.

Of course, a court reporter is more likely to hire a scopist who can demonstrate they understand this work.  Because of this, completing a program that offers a diploma or certification is an excellent investment.

If you’d like to learn scoping, try this free mini-course from  Internet Scoping School. Also, read my interview with course creator Linda Everson, and my review of Internet Scoping School.

2. SEO Auditor

You might not have heard of this one, either, but there’s a lot of potential with this side-hustle.

What does an SEO auditor do?

SEO auditors go through their clients’ websites to check all the components which affect search engine optimization (SEO). These include structural, off-site, marketplace, user experience, and content issues. Then they prepare a report so the client can better optimize their website, resulting in higher ranking with search engines, and, ultimately, more traffic to their site.

A thorough review which includes actionable items can be time-consuming. More, these audits need to be done regularly to provide the best return on investment for the client. So, many business owners will be happy to outsource the work and free their staff up for other projects.

What skills does an SEO auditor need?

AN SEO auditor needs to be methodical and thorough, willing to dig into their clients’ websites in order to  give a complete report. Knowledge of Google Analytics and Google Search Console, SEO best practices, and current search engine policies are important.

This is definitely a side-hustle that requires patience. Rushing through the work will not yield the results your clients are paying for.

How much can an SEO auditor earn?

Freelance SEO auditors can command over $100/hour for this work. It can be quite lucrative, especially if you have regular clients. Since you are in control of how many clients you take on and how many hours you work, this could easily be a livable income for part-time work.

How can I learn to be an SEO auditor?

While SEO auditors don’t need to be certified, having certification shows that you have learned the skills needed to perform solid SEO audits. Prices for courses that offer certification vary from under $100 into the thousands. The more expensive courses aren’t necessarily better, so take some time to check a few out before you commit.

If you’d like to test the SEO waters before deciding whether to invest, I recommend Neil Patel’s free SEO Unlocked course. It will give you a basic idea of how search engine optimization works, and whether it’s a career you’d like to try.

3. Tax Consulting Services

If you love both numbers and research, tax consulting could be the perfect side-hustle for you. Everyone needs to file taxes, after all, and tax laws can be confusing. Many business owners want the security of knowing this important work is being handled by a professional.

What does a tax consultant do?

Tax consulting is  more than just the annual bustle during tax season. If you develop long-term partnerships with businesses, you can advise your clients proactively throughout the year. This will help them to breathe easier at tax time.

What skills does a tax consultant need?

Tax consultants can help businesses take a proactive financial approach.
Tax consultants can help businesses take a proactive financial approach.

I interviewed Kim Erick, a banker-turned-bookkeeper-turned-tax consultant who says the most important characteristics of a tax consultant are integrity and humility. Enjoying research and being detail-oriented are also good qualities.  You'll need to remember that you are dealing with people’s private information. Also, tax laws are complicated and change frequently, so you'll need to keep up to date with them.

Kim also mentions that projecting confidence while dealing with your clients’ finances is a must.

How much can a tax consultant earn?

Prices can range from $40 an hour to over $100 an hour for this work. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to aim for the lower end, and scale up your fees as you gain experience.

With just a few ongoing clients, you could make a tidy side-hustle income during tax season, and supplement by doing ongoing consulting throughout the rest of the year.

How can I learn to be a tax consultant?

There are many courses available, with a wide range of price tags. This is a side-hustle where it’s worth getting certified. You will want your clients to be confident they’re putting their finances in reliable hands, after all. Consider the tuition and related fees an investment in your future that will pay you back many times over.  If you are looking for a course that teaches the skills needed to be a tax preparer, how to run your business, the mindset to own your own business, and more, take a look at Ben Robinson's TaxBiz (available at Store – just scroll down to the bottom.)

4. Pinterest Manager

Pinterest might be a hobby for you now, but did you know you can actually make a legitimate income pinning on behalf of small business owners?

What does a Pinterest manager do?

Pinterest is exploding in popularity, with a 75% increase in pins appearing on the platform in the past two years. Nearly any business with a digital marketing strategy will see the benefit of investing in Pinterest, but few of them have the time or know-how to manage it themselves.

That’s where  a Pinterest manager comes in. Do you love pinning, and have a knack for setting up boards that get plenty of attention?  You can share your talent with businesses who want a Pinterest presence without the effort of DIY.

You’ll be responsible for setting up your clients’ profiles and boards, creating pins for their posts or products, and maintaining an effective pinning schedule. This will mean checking the analytics regularly, and might involve using a service such as Tailwind to boost visibility. You may also need to run special campaigns for launches and sales.

What skills does a Pinterest manager need?

Creativity, curiosity, and strategic thinking are all excellent qualities for a Pinterest manager. So are the ability to collaborate with your clients and explain strategies to them. A talent for curating content relevant to your clients’ audience is vital.

It might seem obvious, but it’s important that a Pinterest manager understand Pinterest, which is more a visual search engine than a social media platform. Knowing how and why this matters can make the difference between successful pinning campaigns and those that fall flat.

Patience and generosity in helping clients understand how to best use Pinterest will carry you far in this side-hustle. It’s also great if you know how to design pins that sell and capture your client’s branding.

How much can a Pinterest manager earn?

Pinterest managers often charge between $30 and $50 per hour, so, depending on how many clients you have and the amount of work you do for them, you might earn over $30,000 a year with this side hustle!

How can I learn to be a Pinterest manager?

There are many courses out there to help you learn to be a Pinterest virtual assistant. From there, you can gain skill and experience, and eventually charge higher fees as a Pinterest manager. One I can recommend is Kristin Larsen's Become a Pinterest VA Today! course.

5. Podcast Producer

There are currently over 1 million podcasts… and each one of them needs production work. With the explosion of this medium, the demand for podcast producers outstrips the supply. And that’s where you can come in.

What does a podcast producer do?

 The exact duties will vary by podcast and podcast owner. But common duties include editing audio content, managing online show content, marketing and distribution, and even finding and onboarding guests.

Basically, if it’s a process involved in creating, polishing, or putting a podcast out into the world, it’s a task a podcast producer might do.

 What skills does a podcast producer need?

Podcast Producers can be involved in every stage of podcast production.
Podcast Producers can be involved in every stage of podcast production, including audio editing.

While podcast production might sound like an extremely technical job, only moderate technological skills and a willingness to try new things are a must. You will need to become familiar with a DAW (digital audio workstation), such as Audacity, if you plan to offer audio editing services.

Most importantly, you need to be able to turn in consistently good work and have a pleasant personality with your clients. Being able to keep multiple projects moving will allow you to increase your earnings. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn everything all at once. Taking on a few tasks, then adding as you go, is a great way to build your side-hustle as you earn.

How much can a podcast producer earn?

 Hourly rates can vary from $30- $50 an hour. Obviously, you’ll be able to charge more as you gain experience and take on more responsibilities. Once you have a few services to offer and some clients in your roster, you can make a very nice income from this particular side hustle. Plus, you'll get the inside scoop on the podcasts you work on!

How do I learn how to be a podcast producer?

You can learn podcast production on your own, or choose from among various online courses. I recommend Podcast Production School, run by podcast producer Melanie Scroggins, along with Hailey Thomas and Gina Horkey. Together, they also have a podcast called Becoming Internet Famous, so they know what they’re talking about. So much so that they've literally written the book on the subject, Make Money as a Podcast Producer!

So, do you want to be a scopist (or any of the other options)?

The beauty of the internet is that there are more options every day for starting a side-hustle! 

Even if you know next to nothing about being a scopist, or a podcast producer, or an SEO auditor, if you’re willing to learn and try something new, you might just find your perfect side-hustle!

Still have questions? Ready to dive into one of these lesser-known side-hustles? Let me know in the comments below!

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