At 71 years old, Deborah had had an extremely rewarding career she had recently retired from, and she was excited to take life at a slower pace. However, watching Netflix all day was too slow for her. She wanted to travel more with her husband and not worry about financial restrictions.

That meant she needed a job she could enjoy but wouldn’t pull her out of her retirement lifestyle. She found transcript proofreading, studied hard to build up the necessary skills…and then a very unexpected medical challenge stopped her in her tracks.

In this episode, Deborah shares her fascinating career in the closed captioning industry, her transition into retirement, and how she overcame a major roadblock to become a successful transcript proofreader. She also talks about how to get outside of your comfort zone to learn new things and live life to the fullest no matter what your age.

She’s proof you can have fun and make money at any stage of life if you’re willing to learn and put in the work!

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Intro: This is The Proofreading Business Podcast with Elizabeth Wiegner. For more, visit

Elizabeth Wiegner: Today, I have a really fun, exciting, all-the-good-things guest on the podcast with me. It’s Deborah. She’s one of my grads. Y’all are going to love her for multiple reasons. She has a really neat story. Her background leading into transcript proofreading is really fun. She also -- she’s 71, y’all. That is just incredibly inspiring to me that she decided to take retirement and have some extra money and fun in retirement but being on her own schedule.

And she also has a really unique story with her proofreading business where it did not go as smoothly as she thought it would after she graduated. And her -- she has some really good words of encouragement for others who may not just hit the ground running because life never happens like we think it will ever. So, Deborah, I am so happy that you’re here today. Thank you for being on.

Deborah Schuster: Thank you for having me. This is really fun, and the fun just doesn’t stop with this proofreading business.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It really doesn’t. So tell me about your background because I think people will really like what you used to do, and so tell me about your background and then eventually what led you to transcript proofreading. Tell me all the things.

Deborah Schuster: Okay, okay. So I’m going to try to make 71 years as interesting and short. But I think some people might be interested to know I grew up in an old oceanside town north of Boston, which was a beautiful place to grow up. And my mother was an award-winning journalist and really a feminist trailblazer, which, I mean, could you ask for a better role model than her? You couldn’t. She was incredible. And so from her, I learned to love words. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I studied English at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and then I got a journalism degree at Boston University.

And when I got out of there, I really wanted to be a newspaper reporter, but I didn’t want to leave Boston, and you don’t graduate from college and get a job right away at the Boston Globe. So I decided that I would kind of expand and look for something else, and I signed up with an employment agency, and they sent me to WGBH, which is one of the leading public television stations in the country in Boston.

This was the mid ‘70s. They were doing the Julia Child’s show, This Old House, ZOOM. But they also had this small group of people who worked in a unit called the Caption Center, and what we did there, because this is where I -- my first job out of college was, we recorded the nightly -- the week-nightly ABC World News Tonight. Barbara Walters was an anchor. Harry Reasoner was an anchor for people who can remember them.

And we recorded the show, and we used this big, clunky character generator to literally write out captions for what they were saying. There was no closed captioning at the time. This was open captioning. And at 11 o’clock every night, we fed out the original ABC News with these open captions to all the PBS stations across the country, and they could broadcast it. So if you were deaf in 1974, the only captioning available to you and certainly the only news captioning was to watch this re-broadcast on ABC at 11:30 at night.

So that’s how I started out a career that really became fascinating in captioning. And when the closed captioning technology was available, I was asked to join the first closed captioning company, which was called National Captioning Institute, and I had the opportunity to move to LA with my best friend at 29 years old. And so we --

Elizabeth Wiegner: Wow.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah, yeah, it was amazing. So we started -- I started out proofreading captions before they went to our clients for ABC and NBC. There was no streaming then so none of those platforms, and there was very little captioning, very little before it was mandated years later.

So I was involved in captioning until three years ago really. I moved to sales and marketing because I kind of came out of my shell and decided it was fun to interact with people. I had incredible clients: ABC, NBC, CBS, Warner Bros., Disney. And a lot of the clients became friends, and I loved that aspect of what I was doing, and I also loved the fact that I was working in entertainment, but I was doing something that made a difference in people’s lives because, in 1979 when you said closed captioning, nobody knew what you were talking about.

So I stayed in that business. I left NCI. At one point, I had my own company with a couple of colleagues for about 10 years, which we eventually sold about -- well, in 2021. I decided it was kind of time to slow down. In this job that I had, there was no slowing down. You either did it full speed, many times seven days a week, 24 hours a day. You’d get a call from somebody about a live captioning project that -- or something that was on the air and something was messed up.

I’d get calls from clients at 11 o’clock at night, and I just -- during COVID, I just said, you know what? It’s a little earlier than I planned to retire, but I think it’s [indiscernible]. And with that, my husband and I sold our house in LA where we raised our kids, and we moved out here to Indio, which is right next to Coachella. Everybody knows Coachella. And here we are.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Wow. Deborah, I feel like we could just sit and talk about that for the rest of the podcast. That was fascinating.

Deborah Schuster: Thank you.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And I love how you said it wasn’t just getting to be in the entertainment industry and working with CBS, Warner Bros., ABC, NBC, but you got to make a difference. That’s meaningful.

Deborah Schuster: You know, when we first started, we would get letters from deaf people, and they literally would bring you to tears because they would say I never felt like a real American before until captions became available. You’d stand by the water cooler and talk about what happened on Dynasty last night with my hearing friends. I know who I’m voting for because I can watch election coverage.

And now we take it for granted. You walk into [indiscernible] there’s captions. You walk into any place, and you’ll see captions. And it’s become much larger than an accessibility means for the deaf and hard of hearing. And live captioning, which is where I started, court reporters came along, oh gosh, I can’t remember the year, but it was the mid ‘80s.

In fact, my 50 minutes of fame was the first day that our company closed captioned Good Morning America. The president of the company who, very publicity shy, did not want to go on Good Morning America and talk about how live captioning worked, so he asked me to. And I was terrified, but I was also excited.

So they flew me up to New York. I was interviewed by Kathie Lee Johnson at the time. She married Frank What’s-His-Name, the football player -- Gifford. Yeah, she became Kathie Lee Gifford, but at the time she was not married. And she asked me how it worked, and I explained the process, that you have former court reporters who have been retrained to do live captioning and talked about the delay because in the very beginning, the delay was much worse than it is now, maybe like eight seconds behind the audio.

And it was -- I had my hair and makeup done. My parents were taking pictures off the TV because there’s -- it was 19 -- what did I say it was? 1984 or something. So and then I left there, and I went back to the office in Virginia, and I got a phone call asking me if I had taken Larry King’s raincoat from the green room, which I had because it was a rainy day, and we both had beige trench coats. But it wasn’t raining when I left, so I didn’t put my raincoat on. I slung it over my arm, went back to Virginia, and they said you were the only other person in the green room this morning that he was in. Can you take a look at the coat? And it was, like, gigantic. It was his coat.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Did you get it back to him, or did you get to keep Larry King’s coat?

Deborah Schuster: No, they sent somebody over right away to pick up his coat and to bring me mine, but that was very funny. It was a very funny side story.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So tell me how -- because proofreading transcripts is proofreading the spoken word, and you were obviously already very familiar with the spoken word, getting used to captioning and everybody’s poor English and starting and stopping. And it’s not textbook perfect when you’re reading something that’s spoken. So tell me -- well, first of all, how did you come across transcript proofreading, and how did you feel like, okay, this is what I’m looking for?

Deborah Schuster: Okay. So when I first retired, I was really enjoying watching Netflix 18 hours a day and drinking margaritas and playing [indiscernible]. And then reality started to set in, and I’ve worked since I graduated from college. I raised two kids with my husband. He was a working musician, still is. I had a commute in LA, so I was always going at a high speed. And so this extended -- essentially this extended vacation sort of started feeling like not exactly right to me.

The other thing was we moved to the desert, and I grew up by the ocean. We lived 20 minutes from Malibu in LA. All of a sudden, here we are in this beautiful community. It’s a retirement community. But when summer hits, again, it’s not like we didn’t know it was going to be hot in the summer, but it’s another thing to experience it and not be able to open your windows and not be able to walk the dog because you’ll burn their feet. And it’s still 108 at 9 o’clock at night.

So I was like, you know, we need to get out of here in the summer. And we looked at our budget and our retirement money and everything, and we were like, we don’t have that kind of money. So I thought, well, maybe I should do something. And I was never paid to proofread, but I always loved to proofread. I mean, I’m the person who finds the typos in the menus. My favorite menu type, though I think I mentioned it once to you was that they were offering flea mignon, F-L-E-A.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I’m going to pass.

Deborah Schuster: Exactly. Not for me, thank you. Anyway -- so I was messing around online, and I saw general proofreading, and I thought, well, they’re all asking -- and I’ve never been paid to be a proofreader. And then I found you, and I looked at it, and naively I thought, not a piece of cake but like, oh, this is great for me. I’ll be great at this.

And so I looked over your materials, which are incredibly compelling and well done. Your personality is really very upbeat. And so I called a friend of mine who is a court reporter for a larger agency, and I said, is this really viable? And yeah, it is. Call me when you’re done.

So I plunked down the money and got really excited about it, really excited about it. And that’s how I got into it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love that, that you went from watching Netflix -- like a really exhausting -- exciting but exhausting career. Then you went to I’m going to fully enjoy my retirement and Netflix, and then, wait a second; I don’t want to be here when it’s super hot, so let me find something a little more flexible. So you went into doing something that you had a background in.

So tell me kind of what -- because a lot of people reach out to me, and they say, I have a background in proofreading, or I have a background in court reporting even or closed captioning. Do I actually need the training? So tell me you experience learning and what that process was like, learning when -- after you’ve had a full career, it’s not easy to get back into learning, and then you’re -- just tell me all your thoughts about that. I’d love to hear how you processed it and encouragement you’d have for others who are considering it.

Deborah Schuster: Okay. I plunged into it, and I was overconfident, and I’ve learned in the past, what, almost two years since I signed up that that’s a common trait of the intelligent go-getter, confident, good proofreader people who [indiscernible] match. And so I did foolish things along the way. I learned that it’s a whole different animal. Proofreading transcripts is a completely different animal. The skills that make you -- this is my opinion. The skills that make you good at general proofreading definitely apply, but the process and the discipline of transcript proofreading is very, very different. And I really didn’t think about any of those things.

And so I took the grammar test too quickly, and I failed it. And I passed it easily the second time because I went back and reviewed the materials, which I didn’t think I needed to do the first time. And then I did the work to -- the practice transcripts, and I got a little antsy.

So I took that test, and I failed that test the first time at which point I kind of had what I call a come-to-Jesus moment where I just thought, you know, you’ve got to get over yourself. If this is what you really want to do, you have to work hard. You have to put your ego aside. You have to just be willing to be a student. And I hadn’t been a student for 50 years. So even just getting new study skills was a challenge for me.

But I think this is an amazing, amazing field for people who think that they would be good at it and enjoy it. And I know when I’ve chimed in on some of the communities online, I’ve said, if you think this is right for you, it probably is. But you need to put your ego aside.

You have to be willing to do the work. You have to be willing to take the criticism, which is always given -- really, it sounds silly, but I mean, I really feel like it all comes with love. The community is -- for a group of people who basically are going out into an industry and are competitors, to support and respect and encourage each other the way they do is really something I’ve never seen before. And that’s you, Elizabeth. I mean, you foster that. And that’s an amazing accomplishment. I hope you know how important it is to the success of your students because it’s an incredible feat. It takes a really special person to do that kind of thing.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, thank you. It is -- honestly, getting to hang out in the community with you and the others in there is just -- it’s humbling and exciting and exhilarating all at the same time because you all are -- like you said, it’s a bunch of intelligent go-getters in one place, working on the same goal together, and it’s hard to find some place like that.

Deborah Schuster: I’ve never seen it before, honestly. Well, you know, in the captioning industry, it was really interesting. In the beginning, because it was a very -- until the FCC mandated captioning at which point everybody thought, hey, here’s a business to maybe go into. But before that, it was like, what the heck is this? And there were, like, three companies.

And so we were like friendly competitors because nobody else understood what we were doing. Nobody else knew the technology. Nobody else knew -- really understood how meaningful it was to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. So we were friendly competitors, so I did see a little bit of that in that industry. But what we have here is, to me, really especially unique and phenomenal.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, that means so much coming from somebody who’s had a background in a very successful career. So hearing that means -- that means a lot. Thank you for that. I appreciate that.

I love how you mentioned too that part of learning, and you said it’s been a little bit. I mean, you’re 71. It’s been a little bit since you’ve had to learn something. You’re used to being an expert and a leader really, a pioneer in your field.

I love how you were vulnerable about, hey, I didn’t pass my grammar exam the first time. I didn’t pass my transcript exam the first time, but it wasn’t until you decided that, okay, maybe I need to pause and learn that you’ve got -- because that takes humility and patience to do that. It’s not easy to do something like that.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah, I mean, you’re right because I was -- I actually at one point got a pioneer award, and they gave them to, like, four or five of us who were in at the beginning of the closed captioning business. So that was really fun and a great honor.

But I was used to knowing what I was doing, and I could do it with my eyes closed. And this is the first time professionally since I started at the Caption Center in Boston in 1974 that I was like, oh, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. And I was afraid my brain at this age would not be able to do this. And it did, and that’s why I also say in the community if my 71-year-old brain can learn this, speaking to the younger people, yours can too.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I can -- y’all, Deborah isn’t just surviving in the proofreading world right now. She is thriving. So the fact that she was able to -- and in fact, you were able to, okay, I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to pay attention. I’m ready to slow down and focus. I mean, it really ended up paying off quite literally down the road for you.

Deborah Schuster: It did. I mean, I -- my former colleague in the captioning world who is the court reporter that I mentioned, she was kind [indiscernible] info sheet with my rate sheet out to the reporters and her agency, and literally within two hours I had two people reaching out.

And I started working, and I worked for 14 days straight, which I don’t recommend, absolutely do not recommend. But I didn’t want to say no, and I was determined to make her proud and to let her know she hadn’t made a mistake by sending out my information and also hopefully clients want to come back to me for more, which they did. So that was beyond anything I could have ever expected, a really unique situation that I am incredibly grateful for.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So before you got to that point though, it’s -- you went through the course. You finally slowed down, started practicing, started getting used to learning again. You graduated. You did a lovely job. You started working on getting your business set up. And then that’s the point usually people start marketing and they start getting clients and they start getting excited about their business. But you had to hit pause for an extended time. You had medical challenges that came up, and you had to pause. How long did you have to hit pause on your business?

Deborah Schuster: Oh gosh, a long time. I was looking back through some things related to the course this morning, and it was 42 weeks ago, so almost exactly a year ago that I passed the transcript exam and moved into the grad group. And then life threw a bunch of obstacles in my way. I started not feeling well. Nobody knew what was going on. I was -- the thing that interfered with not doing the work was I was exhausted. I couldn’t take the dog for a walk.

And finally the source of all of this was identified, and I ended up having surgery in September. So from becoming a grad in May, I didn’t actually finish phase 3 until the beginning of January because, even though I could have kept going with the course if I had the energy, I thought, well, what am I going to do? Go out there and market myself and get clients and then go, oh hey, I’m having a surgery. I’m going to be gone for three months. Because it was a long recovery period.

So I was very disappointed, very sad about it. But I thought no, the smart business thing is to just wait. I mean, this is -- there is no -- like we’ve said, it’s not a race. There’s no time table. You do it when you do it.

And so I put it all aside, and I picked it up again in November, but that was hard. That was hard because by that time I was kind of like maybe this isn’t the right thing for me. Maybe I’m not supposed to work. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I’m scared. I haven’t practiced for a long time. I’m not going to be good at this. I mean, I just started throwing every excuse you can imagine in the way. It was all me. It was all in my head until you told me, you are ready. Just do it. And that made all the difference.

You also told me I’d have time to practice because I wouldn’t get any clients right away, so that turned out to be the one thing you’ve ever told me that didn’t work out the way I expected it to.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Just kidding.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I was like, oh my God. Well, I guess I’m getting paid to practice.

Elizabeth Wiegner: But you were prepared. I mean, you had put so much work into your business beforehand, and you knew what you were doing that, even coming off of a break, you could hit the ground running.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah, yeah, and you know what? I mean, this is so much fun. My -- walking around the kitchen sink to the dog the other day, and he’s like, who are you? I mean, last year was a very difficult year because of the medical challenge, but I’m normally a very upbeat person. The glass is more than half full. I love life. I love my friends. I love the home. We got to build a new home, small, modest new home but got to pick out everything. I just -- there’s a lot in life, and there always has been.

And at first I thought, well, maybe I’ll go to work at Trader Joe’s. And I thought, really? First of all, you don’t have the stamina to be on your feet and unhauling cases of oranges. But also I wouldn’t enjoy it, and we don’t -- this money is not putting food on our table, so if I didn’t do it, we would still eat, and we would still pay our bills. But to get to have fun and do this is like -- it’s just one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That makes me so happy, Deborah, so happy. I mean, you -- not only did you decide to come out of retirement to do something to make your life more enjoyable and flexible in retirement, but you were willing to learn, and then you were willing to come back after a break, and now -- not just you happy, but your husband feels it. I know your dog feels it because they grab onto our emotions so much. And I know your court reporters feel that too because when you’re happy, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everybody around you too.

Deborah Schuster: Yes, yes, and in fact, my intention was, and it really still is, to do this part time because I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy any of the benefits of retirement. I absolutely did, and I don’t want those to go away.

But then on the days that I’m really enjoying it, which is most days, I think, well, if I’m having fun and I’m making money, why not do more than I intend, hoping that I will continue to be successful and meet my goal of for us to -- we’re hoping to go up to Canada this summer, and our son lives up in Seattle with his girlfriend. And I’ve never been to most of the Pacific Northwest other than Seattle. So I want to do all those things. But it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have money for an unexpected expense or something like that. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll end up working full time when I didn’t intend to.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And as you travel, you can take it with you. Some of those car rides can get a little boring.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah. My husband doesn’t like to drive, so I would do all the driving. But I’ve always loved to drive, and we have a neighbor who -- she lives on -- so there are a lot of Canadians out here in Southern California in the desert, but they’re here a certain amount of time a year. So they have homes in Canada.

And my neighbor, who is a lovely woman, she has a really nice home -- I’ve only seen pictures of it -- on a lake in Alberta, which is Western Canada. And it’s right next to Banff and all of these places that I hear are absolutely stunning and gorgeous. So I’m willing to do all the driving if he’ll just get in the car. And unfortunately we have to leave the dog because the dog can’t even make it to Starbucks. I mean, he’s just one of those anxious car dogs.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I have a dog like that.

Deborah Schuster: I so want him to be able to go with us, but I mean, he starts shaking as soon as the door closes.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh.

Deborah Schuster: So Percy will stay with our neighbor, Stan, who absolutely adores him and would keep him forever if we wanted him to, which we don’t.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Well, it works for Percy, and you know, I guess you shouldn’t be proofreading and driving at the same time, but you can save up to proofread for your travels afterwards. There you go.

Deborah Schuster: Right. Well, yeah. And then my intention would be to work while we’re gone, which [indiscernible] business is internet connection, you can proofread. So I would keep working through the whole thing. I just would do it when we’re stopped and when we’re staying places. That’s a huge benefit. I mean, what other business is like that?

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yeah, and it’s nice too that it’s like if you wanted a day or two off or more, like if you wanted to take the whole time off, you absolutely could. It’s totally up to what you feel like doing, which is such a good feeling.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah. I think when you build client relationships, they depend on you, and they rely on you in a really special way, at least that’s what I’ve found in my career. And I think I said it before, but I mean, I have -- a few of my best friends are people -- one of them is a woman who used to run all the broadcast operations for ABC in New York but for the entire country. I mean, super, super high-powered, really smart, lovely woman.

And over the years, over 30 years, we broke down appropriately some of the boundaries between client -- we don’t really have any boundaries because I’m not doing anything that creates business between us. But I would never want to disappoint my clients. And I think being gone for a week or two or even a few weeks probably, they all have backups, or they can get a backup, or we can -- that’s another great thing. We get to refer to colleagues in the community. I’m going to be away. My person needs somebody. My proofreader -- I mean, my court reporter needs somebody. Who’s available to work for her? But I don’t think I would do the whole three months, nor could I afford to if I’m traveling.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I hear you. You know, I love what you said about that focus of building strong client -- not just client relationships but personal relationships because your connections from the past have helped you here, and it’s like, how you treat everybody in every stage of your life influences the future that you want to have. And it’s so important to remember that as you’re talking to anybody really.

So I love too what you said about if you want some time off, not three months, or you’re enjoying it so much even a week is like, why would I need a week off. But you can share and bless other grads inside the community and know that your clients -- like you’re taking care of yourself and your clients too. You can do both.

Obviously, Deborah, you love the life that you have. It took you longer than you thought. Actually, I’d like to go back to that point. What got you from taking a break and feeling like maybe this isn’t for me? What were some of the mental things you had to tell yourself that I am capable; I can do this, and get back into it? Because it’s hard to come back from a break.

Deborah Schuster: I think the biggest thing for me was getting on the Facebook lives and connecting with the community. It just gets back to the point that really can’t be overemphasized enough I don't think, that there’s so much support for everything from saying, hey, I know I should know whether I can -- whether this is supposed to be hyphenated or not to I’m feeling like a failure. I’m -- I did something stupid, whatever. And so I think -- I started getting back on the lives because I hadn’t done that in a while. I felt like it would be bad for me to be sitting there, listening to everybody who’s moving ahead, and I’m at a standstill. So that was a bit of it.

And then also just reflecting on the hard things that I’ve done in my life and been able to get past. We had one child who had some really serious medical issues, and I was working full time, and she was in and out of the hospital. And it was a really, really difficult situation. And I -- somebody said to me one day, I don’t know how you do it. And I was like, well, how do you not do it? It’s your kid.

And so I thought, you know, I have faced much harder things than this, than this little period of time where I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do. So I just picked myself up by my bootstraps, and I let everybody encourage me, and I think the pivotal moment though was those three words when you said to me just do it because I was saying to you, well, I think maybe I should practice some more before I start doing my marketing and all that kind of throwing excuses in the way of my progress. And that -- the moment when you said just do it, I was like, okay, I’m going to just do it. And I did.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And very, very well.

Deborah Schuster: Thank you.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love that you said you realized that you were trying to -- it is good to practice, and it is good to get back into things. But at some point, it’s like you’re trying to put too many good things in the place of what you actually need to be doing, and to realize that and take action on it is not easy to do. So I think it’s wonderful that you were able to, all right, I’m going to do it. And then look what happened.

Deborah Schuster: You know, I wake up in the mornings now, and I’m like, what? This is my life? I have some structure, which is kind of nice. You’d think it would be nice to be able to play all day and walk when you want and eat when you want and drink when you want, visit friends when you want. It’s not that it gets boring, but I mean, I’ve lived a very structured life my whole life. And I like having the structure. I like having the challenge. It’s the first thing that I’ve set out to do other than baking banana bread during COVID where I was like, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m going to give it a go.

And it’s all worked out. Somebody said to me if you’re not afraid, you’re not learning. And I thought, hmm, that’s kind of interesting because I don’t know -- fear to me is such a negative word, and learning is such a positive word. So -- but I understand the thought behind that that you’re not going to learn if you don’t get outside your comfort zone. In our comfort zone, we know everything we need to know. Outside our comfort zone, it’s scary. But that’s where the learning takes place.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, that’s good. That is so good. And you know, it is hard to get outside your comfort zone because, I mean, the whole point of your comfort zone is you’re comfortable. You don’t want to do anything different. But if you stay the same, you’re never going to get what you want out of it. So it’s either be comfortable now but also -- like you can be uncomfortable in your comfortableness. The reason you’re wanting to get out of your comfort zone is so that you can have something even better. But you won’t get there unless you choose to be uncomfortable for a little bit, and then it gets better again.

Deborah Schuster: It does. It does. And I remember somebody saying something like in their 40s about I really wish I had gone to law school. I would go to law school, but I’m in my 40s. And you say, well, how long is -- those eight years are going to go by. Go to law school or don’t go to law school. So why not go to law school? And that really hit home for me.

And in translating that to my life now, I’m 71. I’m not young anymore. If I got hit by a car, they would describe me as an elderly woman. An elderly woman was hit by a car on the corner of -- and I think about that and I’m like, no, no, that can’t be me. But my point is, I don’t know if I’m going to live five years or 25 years, and I’m okay with living 25 years as long as I have a full life.

But do I really want the next five or 25 years to be -- I mean, I love watching movies, and my daughter is a screenwriter, and she’s made some things and has a film in development and everything. So I’m very attached to that. But to be doing that 24/7 is -- it’s not interesting. It’s just easy. So I’m really excited to have something to do for however long I enjoy it and I’m good at it. That’s my plan, to just do it for that long.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love that. I keep saying I love that. You’re just saying all these things that I love. I was actually just thinking that today. It’s like so many times people will talk to me about transcript proofreading and be like, well, is this what I’m going to want -- is this something I’m going to enjoy or do for the rest of my life? And yeah, you can, but also what if you enjoyed it for a year or two and then learned something else or tried something else too? Having a good quality of life and being able to enjoy something, whether that’s for five years, 20 years, or a year is -- to me, that’s totally worth it.

Deborah Schuster: Absolutely. It’s fun to do new things. It’s just a little scary sometimes. But, I mean, I think anybody who looks at this and says, oh wow, that’s interesting; I think I’d be good at that. That sounds great. I love the fact that it -- you can be your own boss. Those are the people who I think -- and I don’t know. Do most people sign up for the first phase and see whether they like it before they plunk down the money for the rest of it, or do most people say I’m going for the whole thing? I guess that’s a question for you.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You know, I would actually say more people just decide to take it one phase at a time, which is totally fine. Of course, when you go all in, it’s like, all right, I’m doing this. I feel like it gives you an extra motivation to. But also, hey, if you are scared and this is to help you get just a little bit outside of your comfort zone, then by all means get your -- dip your toe in the water and see how it feels, if you like it or not.

Deborah Schuster: Yeah. I just think for people who say, yeah, this looks like a really great fit for me, there is no reason not to go for it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You know, I say proofreading is meant -- it’s changed my life. It’s changed your retirement. Proofreading is also -- it’s a tool to help you not be your entire life but to create the life that you’re excited about, that you said where you’re having fun and making money, like you said earlier. That’s the whole point of it, and I love that.

Deborah Schuster: Me too. I love it a lot.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So tell me -- I mean, you’ve sprinkled so much advice through this whole podcast episode. But if you were to sum it up, for those who are either thinking about getting into transcript proofreading or who may be taking longer than they want on their business or having to take a pause like you did, what would you say to encourage people to make their goals happen?

Deborah Schuster: I think if you come -- first of all, if you come across your Instagram, you’re probably maybe looking for something anyway. But I think people probably look at your materials and either say that’s not for me or say it is for me. And I think as long as -- I mean, you say it over and over again in various places, but I think it’s worth repeating. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

I mean, I’m doing really well the first two weeks and I’m thrilled, and it happened a little faster for me than it does for a lot of people. But everybody has got a great story to tell in the grad group, and there are a lot of us. It’s not like there’s 10 of us. There’s, what, 90-something people at this point. And people are making a living. But I think you have to know that it takes time. It takes hard work. It takes commitment. But I think if those things don’t scare you off, then I definitely think it’s a super interesting and enjoyable career, she says after two weeks in this. That’s kind of [indiscernible]. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s three weeks. It’s three weeks.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Well, you know, three weeks of actually working and over, what, a year and a half of getting to this point, you’re -- yeah.

Deborah Schuster: It took me from -- I started in November of 2022. I remember saying to my court reporter friend, well, I hope I’ll be done by February. Yeah, life had other plans for me, and I didn’t finish until, as we said, January. So it was about -- I think it was about 14 months, way longer than I expected, way longer than three months. But there are people who move through it really quickly. So everybody has got to do it the way they’re meant to do it [indiscernible] people that were not. We can have aspirations, and we can admire people and learn from them. But at the end of the day, we are who we are, and we do the best we can do. And it’s a gift to be able to do any of this.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Well, Deborah, I can’t tell you thank you enough for not only sharing your story, which was fascinating, your background -- we could talk all day about that -- but also sharing your success, what you had to go through to get there, and your encouragement to others. I feel on fire and excited just listening to you here, so I know others who are listening do as well. So thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Deborah Schuster: Thank you for having me. This was really fun. I really enjoyed it, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and everybody else, and it’s great. Let’s go, as we like to say.

Outro: Want to learn more about transcript proofreading? Then check out my free workshop: Is Transcript Proofreading the Right Money-Making Business for Me? It’s less than an hour, and it answers lots of FAQs around transcript proofreading so you can decide if this is the perfect side hustle for you. You can check it out on

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Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wiegner is a work-from-home proofreader and business coach who teaches other readers and typo fixers how to build a life of freedom as a proofreader. Her energy, love, and personalized support are second to none in the proofreading world.