Have you been dreaming of trading in your conventional job and joining the many people making work-from-home transformations? Do you want to skip the long commutes and inflexible hours? Are you ready to say goodbye to an unsatisfying job? If so, you're not alone. Many others are also making the work-from-home transition. According to a June 2022 Gallup survey, 8 in 10 workers were either hybrid or remote. And experts expect that number to keep growing, with work-from-home alternatives becoming more available – and more diverse. And that means a work-from-home transformation might be more possible than you think.
Would you rather work for yourself than be someone else's employee? If so, there are many options – including some that you might not have heard of. Scoping is an under-the-radar career that's an excellent candidate for your work-from-home transformation. It can be a great work-from-home job for transitioning teachers, stay-at-home moms, or those already trained in legal transcript proofreading. In fact, scopists are “unsung heroes” most people have never heard of. Did you know that scopists can earn college-level pay without college-level costs?
But what IS a scopist, and what do they do?
In short, they edit legal transcripts, assuring that spellings, punctuation, and stenographic translations are accurate. To quote CourtReporterEDU.org, “The process of turning around the rough shorthand notes into a clean transcript may take a considerable amount of time; time that the court reporter may use to complete other stenography jobs.”
That makes a good scopist very valuable to court reporters.
If all of this sounds fascinating to you, Linda Evenson can help you make your work-from-home transformation. She's a scopist with over 40 years' scoping experience. She's also the creator of Internet Scoping School, the National Association of Court Reporters -recommended scoping course.
ISS training will guide you from beginner to skilled scopist. When you graduate, you'll be ready for your first clients. You'll need to have good language skills and bring a willingness to work hard and learn all you can. But if you do, you can learn how to transition to working from home. And, even better, you can do it in a career that will reward you well. As a matter of fact, Linda has even scoped the Academy Awards, and two of her graduates still do!
Andrew Theodosakis is a graduate of Internet Scoping School. He left an unsatisfying career as a lab technician and made his work-from-home transformation to scoping in 2021. He is now the owner of AT Editing. Andrew made ISS part of his work-from-home transition plan, and he's very glad he did.
If scoping sounds like it could be for you, check out my interview with Andrew below.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What did you do before you became a scopist?
I used to work as a laboratory technician in both agricultural and medical supply labs.
I studied biology in college, and the local agricultural industry had career opportunities. Since I didn’t have a clear career direction in mind, taking advantage of the opening after graduation was logical. As far as what attracted me, the pay was good, especially compared to the area’s cost of living. Also, I enjoyed the work well enough, at least for the first position I held which was for about nine years.
I moved to a different state after that, and the job I had there was considerably more stressful. After about nine months at that second job, I learned about scoping, which seemed like a good fit for me. It was easy to make the choice to change course. Since lab work was, more or less, a career that I just sort of fell into by happenstance, I wasn’t personally invested in staying committed to that career path.
What triggered your decision to make this work-from-home transformation? What was going on in your life that led up to it?
For a while, I had been feeling unsatisfied with working in my previous career as well as conventional employment in general, and I needed a change.
Some of the dissatisfaction stemmed from things I previously touched on such as the set schedule and commute as well as the lack of personal investment in the career. I think another part of it is that I had a need for some degree of personal agency that wasn’t being met. Self-employment and scoping gives me that opportunity to make my own decisions such as who to work with and what sorts of rates and deadlines I’m comfortable with accepting or not. I get personally demotivated when I feel like what I’m doing is arbitrary. Making those choices helps fulfill that need for autonomy and ownership.
When you first heard about this course, what got your attention and made you want to learn more about it?
It was the first time I had read about a work-from-home career that seemed like it would suit me and was also a legitimate line of work.
By “suit me,” I mean the flexible schedule, the personal responsibility, and the work itself seemed manageable and compelling.
What convinced you to go for it and make Internet Scoping School the path to your work-from-home transformation?
The cost was low enough that I would not feel unduly set back if I tried it and ended up not feeling good about it after all. And the potential benefit of it as a springboard for a new career was certainly worth any risk, such as it was.
What were you hoping to achieve when you started the course?
I hoped that it would give me the skills and knowledge necessary to both start working as a scopist and manage self-employment.
The course did a thorough job of teaching the basics of what scoping entails, how to read stenotype, standard formatting and punctuation rules, the ins and outs of how to use the software. It also covered topics adjacent to scoping like the business side of things, how to build a good relationship with clients, whether or not to register an LLC, resources for both reference material and networking with clients and also fellow scopists.
Was there something that didn’t go as you hoped or expected with the course or with your work-from-home transformation?
I would say no.
Simply learning about what the course promises to teach upfront set clear expectations about what it would cover and how ready I would be to get started upon completion. If anything, the surprise was that it all went as smoothly as it seemed it would from the start.
Can you name one situation where you got stuck in the course/process of starting your business? What helped you get through it?
One thing that I did get hung up on right after finishing the ISS course was trying to create a new website for my business. Even with utilizing a web development service, it just wasn’t something I was comfortable doing. After spending too much time trying to force things along and not making much progress, I decided to cut my losses and abandon it. That’s not to say that having a professional website isn’t a great asset to have. It just wasn’t something that was working for me personally.
After reaching that conclusion, I decided to rely on social media to find clients as well as networking with fellow ISS graduates and other scopists which has worked very well for me. If anything, I have to occasionally turn down some jobs because my work schedule is so often full.
What do you wish you had known about making the work-from-home transition from conventional to self-employed work-from-home life before you made that shift?
I think I would have benefited from doing more prior research into all the available online payment platforms and how they interface with banks that offer business account services.
So originally, I was using a couple popular online payment platforms to invoice clients such as PayPal and Zelle. I had those platforms directly deposit into my personal bank account. After getting my LLC registered, I followed a recommendation to open a business bank account to make bookkeeping more streamlined and to provide a level of separation from my personal finances. The problem I ran into was that those payment platforms wouldn’t sync either with business accounts or recognize the bank that carried that account. Now I use a platform called Paya. The point is that I could have saved some hassle on my end if I knew about these potential issues. Granted, they may not apply to everyone.
What are your favorite parts of your work-from-home transformation?
I think the best parts are largely self-evident. Being able to set one’s own schedule and cut out daily commuting are significant perks to me.
My first job was actually only a couple blocks from my apartment at the time, so it took less than 10 minutes to walk there, a couple minutes if I wanted to drive for some reason. The second job was about a 25-minute drive. So in terms of hours, the first job was a little less than an hour per week, and the second job was more like four and a half to five hours per week. Thinking about it now, that’s surprisingly close to a full extra workday each week all by itself.
My first job was an evening shift (3pm to 11:30pm) so I had an unconventional schedule where I’d stay up for a couple hours past midnight to wind down, then wake up midmorning around 10am or so and have four to five hours before leaving for work. The second job was a more typical 9-to-5 sort of schedule. Maybe it was just what I got used to after nine years, but I felt like I had more time and energy with the first job’s schedule.
That’s part of what I like about being able to set my own schedule with scoping. I can choose to work at times of the day when I feel more productive rather than when it’s rigidly mandated by an employer. For me personally, I feel more satisfied when I choose to do work rather than feel like I’m being forced.
What are your least favorite aspects?
The one drawback to work-from-home is the other side of the metaphorical coin of that increased freedom. There is a much larger need for personal discipline and time management.
One thing that helps me in this regard is timing myself in one-hour intervals to see how many pages I can get through in that amount of time. This or any other sort of gamification helps keep me focused and on task. Generally, though, it’s just important to practice getting into the headspace of “this is now work time” and just start, even if you don’t feel “ready” and not let oneself be distracted by this or that little thing for “just a minute” which inevitably stretches into hours or more. I wish there was an easy shortcut or magic bullet. But it’s just a skill one needs to always work on developing.
Similarly, if this is something one struggles with, it’s also important to forgive oneself and try again, not take it as a sign of irrevocable failure for not being a perfect work machine.
What do you love most about Internet Scoping School? How about your business?
If I had to choose one aspect about ISS that made me appreciate it as I was going through its coursework, it would be the personal and prompt responsiveness of the instructor. If I ever had questions or needed technical issues addressed, I would get a quick-turnaround response, if not same-day.
What made you think you’d be a good scopist? What do you think are must-have qualities and skills to do well?
After learning about what a scopist is and what the work entails, I felt it would be a good fit for me because I do enjoy linguistics including the minutiae of punctuation and grammar. I think to succeed as a scopist, you should have a compulsion to strive for technical correctness, enjoy typing, and have a disposition towards wanting to help and support others as well foster a sense of teamwork.
When you first started your business, was it easy to find clients? How did the course prepare you for this stage? How do you find them? Do you have all the business you want?
I’ve had very minimal difficulty, if any, finding clients, even when I was starting out. I primarily use the ISS social media groups and other scopist-focused ones to find clients’ job offers. I certainly do have as full a work schedule as I please.
The ISS coursework covered networking basics, such as using sites like LinkedIn. It also offered the option of submitting contact info that ISS would post on some professional listing sites used by court reporters who are looking for scopists. I do use those options, but like I said, I found most of my clients via posts they made in scopist-related groups on social media sites asking for scopists.
Aside from where to look, ISS also provided guidance on how to talk to clients such as being supportive, but also assertive about each other’s expectations, agreeing to terms before accepting jobs, that it’s okay to turn down work if your schedule is full or you no longer wish to work with a given client, how important it is to be promptly communicative if problems arise that will affect deadlines.
If you don’t mind me asking, how much work do you do every week or month? Is it easy to manage? Can you give our readers an idea of how much work you need to do to meet your financial goals?
As a general guideline, and maybe because I just got used to it with conventional employment, I try to put in a typical roughly 40-hour workweek. Of course, there can be a high degree of variance. Some weeks, I will put in “overtime” and work late one or two days or squeeze a few hours of work into a weekend if I end up taking expedited jobs or need to get ahead of schedule for plans in the coming week. Some weeks, my clients end up having a light schedule themselves and I have that much more flexibility in my own schedule for a bit to either find other work or enjoy some impromptu time off. Either way, scoping has provided me with a career with which I can consistently meet my own financial goals.
Have you found a work-life balance you feel happy with in your work-from-home transformation? If so, are there boundaries you hold? If not, can you explain where you struggle?
I do enjoy the work-life balance that scoping and working from home has brought me. However, self-employment is certainly a big adjustment to make after conventional employment, and it took me at least a few months to get to a point where I consistently felt satisfied with said balance.
The problems I ran into were things like developing personal discipline and time management skills, sorting out payment platforms and business financing. I suppose there was also a period when I started working where I was concerned about being able to improve the speed of my work without sacrificing any quality. There wasn’t really an easy solution, though. Scoping, like any skill, becomes easier and faster with practice over time.
I can at least give the advice to not be discouraged if it seems difficult to get a feasible amount of work done in a day at first. Improvement always comes if you keep at it, even if it’s incremental enough that it’s hard to notice day to day. That’s another reason to keep a record of your pages per hour on each job. That way, you can prove it to yourself.
Please explain what a day in your life as a scopist looks like. Do you maintain the same routine, or is it more variable day-to-day?
Personally, I try to maintain a roughly 9-to-5 weekday sort of work schedule, but that is mostly because I want to match the schedule of my family and spend the most time with them. One of the big benefits of remote-work self-employment is having the flexibility to conform to whatever works best for the individual. For example, if I was living on my own or with someone who worked a night or evening shift, I could easily change which hours of the day I set aside for scoping work to match that instead or some combination thereof or any other permutation.
Can you share 3-5 tips or points for those wanting to make a work-from home transformation from conventional work to owning their own business?
Be upfront and clear with clients about each other’s expectations about the work itself, timing, and compensation.
Even if it can sometimes feel a little redundant to always spell things out, neither party wants to be surprised that they were not on the same page after all.
Consider utilizing financial advisement services.
It’s not strictly necessary if one is already savvy with such things. It’s what I did, and it helped me set up my LLC entity and gave me peace of mind during tax season.
Set personal work goals to try and meet or exceed.
Early on, I made it a habit to keep track of how much work I complete in an hour. It helps me evaluate my progress and gives me a practical sense of what my schedule’s capacity is when I assess whether I can reasonably take on any given job offer.
Keep an independent record of the jobs you do.
I maintain a spreadsheet of each job and all its details including information like client, job name, due date, date received/finished, number of pages, pay rate, payment status. It has been an invaluable resource to cross-reference when I am creating invoices or double-checking any other sort of bookkeeping.
Boundaries are important.
You must realize that just because you set your own schedule, that does not mean you need to make yourself available to clients 24/7 and always be working. Because your workplace is the same as your living space, there needs to be some sort of mental separation that allows you to “clock out” and rest. Granted, there is nothing necessarily wrong with putting in long hours on occasion, but burnout is a real and serious issue to always be cognizant of preventing and avoiding.
Thank you, Andrew!
Conclusion: Is It Time for YOUR Work-From-Home Transformation?
Andrew found Internet Scoping School to be the right path to his work-from-home transformation. The course fit into his budget. It also provided solid training. Combined with his hard work and willingness to learn, Andrew graduated from ISS well-equipped for his work-from-home transition to scoping.
Do you long to do what Andrew has done? Are you ready to transform yourself into a work-from-home business owner? Does scoping sound like a fascinating and flexible way to earn a good income? Would you like to skip the hassles of long commutes, and work hours that don’t mesh with your family’s schedule? Happy to opt-out of the burden of college loans?
Here’s the good news: finding out if you and scoping are a perfect match is free! Yes, that’s right. Linda and her team have put together a week-long email mini-course. This sampler will give you some insight into what it’s like to be a scopist. You’ll also get a quiz that will evaluate your language skills. These are essential for a successful scoping career. Ready to start your work-from-home scoping transformation? Just click the button below!
If you want to read more on scoping before you make your choice, you’ve come to the right place. My team at Anywhere and Anytime Careers has interviewed course creator Linda Evenson and several other scopists. We’ve also done an in-depth review of Internet Scoping School and a guide to scoping. You can find all our scoping resources here.
How about it? Is a scoping work-from-home transformation in your future? Or do you have questions I haven’t answered yet? Drop them in a comment, and I’ll forward them on to Linda!