Are you wondering what online scopist training is?
Are you the kind of person who is thrilled when you’re selected for jury duty? Do you love courtroom dramas? Have you always been fascinated by the legal system? Do you have an excellent eye for grammar, punctuation, and spelling? Do you like secret codes? If you said yes to more than one or two of these, online scoping training might be the beginning of a new and fascinating work-at-home business for you!
Did you know that properly trained scopists can earn about $30,000.00 a year when they begin working, and up to $50,000.00 annually once they’ve built a solid reputation and gained experience? And that you can do scoping anytime and from anywhere you have internet access?
If you’re thinking, “What is a scopist, and why would I want to become one?” you’ve come to the right place. In my interview with Chelsea Stock, a graduate of the Internet Scoping School and owner of Periscopist, we’ll discuss the hows, whats, and whys of scoping, whether online scoping training is useful (and what to look for if you decide scoping is the career for you), the flexibility and viability of a scoping career, and more.
Chelsea is a military spouse in the midst of an international move. She is also the mother of three and has a bachelor’s degree in pre-law. She wanted a personally gratifying career that allowed her flexibility to be home with her children, and could move along with her family as her husband was deployed to various locations.
Hi, Chelsea! Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get started scoping from home?
I went to college and earned my bachelor’s in pre-law, but I also met my now husband in college, and he is active duty military. With how often we move around, I’ve had to adapt my career path over the years.
When my twins were born premature in 2014 and my husband deployed soon after, I had to leave the workforce to be home with them. Once the twins were more stable, I began looking for employment again. Between the daycare costs and having to search for employment each time we moved, I decided to start working from home and stumbled upon scoping as a possible option.
What led you to decide to enroll in Internet Scoping School? Do you feel that your online scopist training from ISS prepared you well for your career?
I found scoping through an article about working from home. Having a legal background, this intrigued me. When I researched how to become a scopist, I found that ISS was recommended by many as the best choice to prepare you fully for a career.
I one hundred percent believe that to be true. Within a week of graduating, I had my first client and have been working steadily ever since. Not only that, but I have had amazing support through the ISS community whenever I get hung up on something. Having your own business can be isolating, but I never feel alone because I have a great community through ISS and the know-how from the ISS course.
Can you explain in a nutshell what scoping is?
The best way I can describe scoping is legal transcript editing. Most scopists work as freelancers and have court reporters as clients. When a court reporter writes a transcript, they use a phonetic language to do so since it’s much faster than typing out every word.
When using the said language, though, there are sometimes errors in translation, for example, “there, they’re, their.” Formatting issues also arise when there are multiple people speaking, exhibits are entered, etc.
It is a scopist’s job to go over a transcript with a fine-tooth comb to make sure everything is translated correctly, punctuated properly, and formatted appropriately.
What is your favorite aspect of scoping?
I love that each transcript is different. While reading through each one, I find it is like listening to a story. Some tell a tragic story of alleged medical malpractice. Some tell a story of family members fighting over an estate. Some are technical and involve engineers and construction. Each day is a different story, and I am constantly learning about things from transcripts I never would have otherwise. It certainly doesn’t get boring.
If you could change one thing about scoping, what would it be?
Some reporters use different reference guides and have different preferences when it comes to how a transcript is produced. Having several clients, it can be hard to keep track of how each reporter wants things or what resource you should use for their transcripts.
Scoping would be way easier if the standards were consistent throughout the industry.
What skills or characteristics make for a great scopist?
Not to sound cliché, but you must be good at paying close attention to details. You must also be good at time management, since you will be responsible for making deadlines and potentially juggling multiple files for different clients at the same time.
Is it ever a challenge to find clients/steady work?
I have not had a problem finding work. I had my first client within a week of graduating, and I have been working steadily ever since. There are several ways to find new clients, and ISS goes over the marketing aspects of the business at length as well to prepare you on how to find clients and keep them. I have to turn down work at least once or twice a month due to just not having the time to take on any more clients at the moment.
You've mentioned that your family is preparing for an international move. Is scoping portable, or will you need to rebuild your clientele when you are settled in your new location?
Scoping is definitely portable. That’s part of why I wanted to get into this business, and so far, it’s proven to be an excellent choice. I have completed files on planes in the past, and this will be our second move since I started my business.
With our current move, I am able to keep my current clients. The biggest problem I run into is the time difference. I am used to being able to communicate with my clients quickly and vice versa. In my new location, my time will be 12 to 13 hours ahead of my main clients, which may prove difficult.
Thankfully, I have spoken to them about this, and no one is worried about it. They believe my work quality to be valuable enough to work through any possible hiccups that the change in time zone may pose.
Other than that, I don’t anticipate the need to find new clients.
How many hours do you work, or how many clients do you serve, on average? Do you keep that constant or vary it by week?
Each week can vary, and I have final say over how little or how much I can take on. I have three small kids. My youngest just turned four and is home with me during the day. My twins are six and in school currently. I was homeschooling them last year due to COVID.
Due to that, I tended to work mostly 20 hour weeks last year. I would put in some time on a file in the afternoon and then a couple hours after they went to bed. There were times, however, where I was asked to take on more, and I was able to add more into my schedule and work 40+ hours.
Since my twins went back to school in August, I have been consistently working 40+ hours by choice. However, I am currently on a leave of absence while we get situated with our move. Ultimately, I am in full control of how much or how little I take on. The flexibility has been necessary for my life, and I am forever grateful for it.
I currently have one main client who provides the majority of the files I work on. I do have a few other clients that I can tap into if I am looking for more work for the week or have more availability. There are also several online forums where reporters are constantly looking for scopists to pick up a last-minute transcript that I can tap into if I so choose.
What are your income goals for your business? Do you feel you are meeting them, or can you see a point when you will?
I honestly don’t have any real number for an income goal for my business. With moving so often and having young kids at home over the last few years, I was just grateful to be bringing anything in at all. Getting hired in a new location or figuring out childcare was such a stress. Now that those things aren’t a factor, any income I bring in is a bonus and can be put towards whatever we see a need for.
Currently, our military assignment will involve a lot of travel for my husband. The military will cover his costs, but if we tag along as a family, we will be responsible for our costs. With my income, I hope to be able to cover a good portion of those costs so that our family can be together as much as possible and I can give our kids a unique experience of seeing many new places.
How has starting a home business changed your life? How about your family life?
Starting my own home business has been a huge relief for me. While I am grateful that I was able to stay home with my children when they were tiny, I needed the mental stimulation and feeling of pride that I find I have achieved in my current role. I don’t know that it has changed my family life all that much since I mostly tend to work when the kids are asleep, but it has certainly changed my feelings about myself and the role I play in our household.
At first, it was a little tricky to organize my time. Since scoping involves important deadlines, it can be tricky to predict how long a file might take you. After a while, you get in a groove and can better predict your time and plan better. When first getting started, though, it can seem a little overwhelming to balance.
Is scoping a good work-from-home career option for stay-at-home parents?
Absolutely. Like I said, last year, I was home with my then three-year-old and five-year-old twins. I homeschooled the twins for kindergarten and worked from home at the same time. Was it tricky to balance? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Scoping gave me the flexibility to take on as little or as much as I wanted to. With that in mind, I was able to plan my weeks out to accommodate my family’s schedule and work around the necessary parenting tasks and daily needs.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking about online scopist training?
Scoping takes some dedication on the front end to learn how to do it properly. That is ultimately why I chose ISS. That way, I was ready to start a business the minute I graduated and felt well prepared to do so.
My best advice would be to take that training seriously and not to rush it. It took me a little while to get through the course while juggling my kids, another move, and then my husband being sent on another combat deployment. I found that it was easy to be discouraged when you just want to jump in. I promise, though, that the patience and perseverance is worth it.
Thank you, Chelsea!
Did this interview spark your interest in scoping as an anywhere and anytime business? If so, check out our review of Internet Scoping School’s self-paced online scopist training program. ISS is recommended by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), and will help you go from completely inexperienced to a capable scopist ready to take on clients at graduation.
And you get a thriving online community with your tuition fee. There, you’ll find current students and past graduates of ISS's online scopist training who are now working scopists like Chelsea. Everyone is ready to help you if you get stuck or join in as you celebrate your wins. Course creator Linda Evenson is active in the group and available by email to share her 40+ years of scoping experience.
Interested, but not sure scoping is for you? Sign up for the free seven-day email mini-course! When you’ve finished, you’ll have a better understanding about what scoping requires and whether online scopist training is something you want to pursue.
Ready to go all-in and take the leap? Register here!
Want to learn more about scoping? Drop a question or comment below!
Or check out our ultimate scoping guide, and come back here for the rest of our interview series with working scopists who graduated from the ISS online scopist training course.