Hey, Freedom Lover!    We totally get the allure of having the ability to decide for yourself when you’ll work, how much you’ll work, and where you’ll work.   From the barista dreaming of becoming a digital nomad, traveling the world, tasting amazing food, and seeing incredible sites to the mom who desires to be with her children as much as possible AND has a need to have her own identity and career as well as the satisfaction of contributing to her family’s finances and everyone in between – we see you and we are you.   

And we know we are not the only solution out there to those of you who are searching for a flexible job.  In this post-COVID era, there are more ways than ever to find a way out of the 9 – 5 corporate lifestyle.  We also get that for many of us understanding exactly what the freelancer lifestyle looks like is unclear, and that makes leaving the security of our more traditional line of work scary.  A lot of location-independent professions sell the freedom aspect hard.  It speaks to the dream so many of us have.  We want to take a minute to talk about the other side of the coin.  While, yes, we do offer you a way of achieving your dream and you can have white, sandy beaches in your life, what we are not (unfortunately) offering is financial independence.  Even if you have the ability to work from anywhere, you still have to work.  So how does that look for a scopist?  What does having a flexible schedule mean?  Can you make enough to support your lifestyle?  Is there enough work out there? 

One of our core values at Scoping International is transparency.  We respect that, while many of you are dreamers, you’re practical too. So we’re showing up here to answer these questions honestly to help you decide if scoping is the career for you.   

Because Coralie, one of the founders of Scoping International, is both a mom (she has a one-year-old and a three-year-old at the time of this writing) and started her scoping career while living outside of the United States, the rest of this blog post will be an honest look at how she as a mom and a (sort-of) nomad manages her freelance lifestyle in order to help you decide if this will work for you too. 

So what does freelance work life look like for a scopist? 

Hi, all!  I’m happy to give you a peek into freelance life.  I will tell you the good and the not-so-good aspects.  This past year of my life has been particularly intense because we had a new baby, bought a new home, and we were renovating.  I also had my own scoping business as well as Scoping International.  So there has been a lot to do!   

One thing to understand about scoping is there are different deadlines or turnaround times on jobs.   The length of time that you have to work on a job determines the rate you can charge for the job.   A typical “regular” turnaround time to complete a job is five to seven days.  The other end of the spectrum is immediate turnaround, so you have edited the file and are sending it back to the court reporter within a couple of hours.  We do this using a technology where we are editing the file while the court reporter is writing it.  The longer, five- to seven-day turnaround is the lowest pay.  Immediate turnaround is the highest pay.   But while some might think, “Why wouldn’t you just always take the highest paying jobs,” the reason is that key word – flexibility.   

As a mom with two young kids, I could NOT be on my computer for eight hours straight in order to meet that deadline.  I worked during naptime, so two hours here, one hour there.  And if you have small babies and children, you know that naps are NOT guaranteed.  So for this season of my life, having five to seven days to work on a file was much better.   

However, once life got a little more settled with the addition of our second child, I was able to consider some of the immediate turnaround jobs that were out there.  As a mother who is also living in Europe, doing immediate turnaround jobs with court reporters in the US was perfect.  My kids’ bedtime is at about 7:30 ,and there was quite often a deposition or arbitration that was starting right around bedtime in Europe with a court reporter on the West Coast.  So I teamed up with another scopist and was able to make top dollar after bedtime.   Before kids, I often did immediate turnaround jobs here in Europe and worked during the day, which is obviously much more convenient but at this time, convenience isn’t a reality.  So I was happy I still had immediate turnaround available to me! 

Of course, I don’t want to work every night, but I’m the boss, so I could say no to jobs if I felt that it was too much and I would like an evening where I’m binging Netflix instead. 

So the good aspects were that I could use what might be perceived as a potential setback, being a mom to littles and living in Europe, to my advantage.  Everything coincided beautifully and helped me to have some of my most profitable months ever.   The downside?  Yeah, I’m not really getting to clean the house or “sleep when the baby sleeps.”  So I had to let go of the idea of having a perfectly organized home, which I think even people who have to work 9 – 5 struggle with!  I had to intentionally schedule in rest time and “me” time and stick to it.  So that meant saying no to some jobs or other, more social things.  Again, we’re all adults here, and that’s life.  But what I got out if it, getting to be with my kids as much as possible and paying for our renovation, was totally worth it for me. 

What does having a flexible schedule mean? 

We really mean it when we say you can work from anywhere.  We’re not kidding.  As long as you have intermittent internet access, this is a job you can do from anywhere in the world at any time of day.  So if your dream is to travel Southeast Asia, this job can support you while you do so.  This is a job where you can spend the day at the beach.  But, yeah, you do have to find time to work.  And you’re the boss so you decide when that is.  You can do two hours in the morning and two hours in the early evening and spend the rest of the day doing whatever you’re passionate about.  But as we said at the outset, we’re not offering financial independence.  It won’t be beach time all day, every day.  And even if there are Instagram-perfect posts out there of laptops on the beach, we don’t recommend it – you can’t see the screen and sand will kill your laptop!  So the dose of reality is that maybe you have to stay in your Airbnb on the most perfect, sunny day because you procrastinated and now you have a deadline to meet.  It still happens to us.   

The cool thing about this work is that, if you really need to be on the beach on the best days, you’re in control.  You can pull out the weather app, your calendar, and plan to work when it’s cloudy.  Or if a sudden rain storm comes, you don’t have that horrible feeling of “This was my only chance to be at the beach.”  You can go inside, get some work done and get back out there when the clouds break. 

For me, Coralie, one thing I really love about the flexible schedule is that, as my life circumstances have changed, I get to change my work schedule to meet those circumstances.   I didn’t have to find a new job when we had kids; I didn’t have to find full-time childcare and give away half, if not more, of my income (only to be home anyway because sick kids!).  I changed my schedule, was able to meet my family’s needs while honoring my own personal values AND had my most profitable months ever in my career as a scopist.  I’m so incredibly thankful for this career.  

Can you make enough to support your lifestyle? 

That depends on your lifestyle, of course, and where you’re living.   

Honestly, if you’re living somewhere like San Francisco or New York, no, scoping alone will not be able to cover your expenses.  It is really great for teachers, for example, in those high-cost regions.  It’s a job that you can work lightly on during the school year to supplement your income and pick up more work during the summer break.   

If you’re living as an expat in a country like Bolivia, Thailand, Indonesia, yes, this job can support you.   

Here in Sweden for me, Coralie, my family is living on two incomes, mine and my husband’s.  I make about the same as my husband.  Sweden is a pretty expensive country and we have two kids, so the two incomes make our life comfortable and not so tight.  One of our students who also lives in Sweden is single, lives simply, and is able to support herself with just scoping.   

So you have to take a look at your circumstances –  How much do you want to make?  How many hours do you want to work – and plan out your schedule.  Then take our course, and we’ll teach you how to make the money you need to make in the time you have.  

Be sure to check out our Instagram account, @scopinginternational, at the end of every month to see Coralie’s earnings for the month and how many hours she worked.  

Is there enough work out there? 

Yes.  Really, there is a shortage crisis in the court reporting industry.  There is a shortage of court reporters.  Scopists alleviate the crisis by doing the editing work for the court reporters so they can go out and take down the record instead of spending a couple days at home editing their own jobs.  But there is also a scopist shortage.  It would take a LOT to saturate this market, and we don’t see that happening in the near future.  The pandemic seriously worsened the backlog of proceedings happening in the US court system and other international law proceedings around the globe.  And, as far as we can see, the litigation process is not slowing down.  There will always be work.  

If you’re are a scopist who does excellent work, your issue will never be “I don’t have enough work”; it will be “I have too much work, and I need to say no to some jobs!” 

We genuinely hope this post helps you to be able consider what a freelance lifestyle would look like for you, and if we get to have a part in making your dreams come true, we will be thrilled!  Follow us on Instagram at @scopinginternational for more freelance lifestyle insights and book a meeting with us at hello@scopinginternational.  We’re happy to help you decide if this career is the one for you. 

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