Can you proofread transcripts even if you live outside of the US?

Kerry Walters, a UK mom and successful transcript proofreader, says YES!

Join Kerry in this episode as we talk about working for US clients while living in the UK!

And beyond that, Kerry shares
– her transition from full-time work to general editing and proofreading and then to transcript proofreading
– working with a big time zone difference
– the power that comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone
– the benefits transcript proofreading has been for her mental health
– and the flexibility and freedom it has given her to be there for her family.

If you’re from the UK, interested in transcript proofreading, or just need to smile and be encouraged today, this episode is a must-listen! Kerry will make you laugh, warm your heart, and inspire you to go for your dreams.

Resources and links

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to invest in yourself by listening to this episode! Please hit subscribe so you catch every episode — and share with anyone needing encouragement or curious about starting their proofreading side hustle too.

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

Elizabeth Wiegner: Y’all, today I have Kerry on here, and this is a much-requested podcast episode and one that I have been looking forward to for quite a while. But Kerry is not only a mom, a transcript proofreader, she supports her partner who runs his own successful business, but she’s also from the UK.

And I have so many people who message me and are like, this sounds really awesome, being a transcript proofreader. But can I do it even though I don’t live in the US and I’d have to connect with US clients? And Kerry has just -- her business just blows me away with how amazingly good she is, not to mention just how incredibly funny and sweet. And Kerry, y’all, can find the absolute perfect GIF for any occasion inside her emails and her community support group. But I am so happy you’re here, Kerry. Thank you for coming to hang out with me today.

Kerry Walters: Thank you for having me.

Elizabeth Wiegner: We’re going to have fun. Kerry has so much good stuff to say. We were talking before the podcast, and I was like I’ve got to just hit record because, I mean, there’s just so much good. So Kerry, kick us off by telling me -- tell me all about your background. I’d love to hear your story before you got into transcript proofreading. I mean, I know you had a job, like a 9-to-5-type job before this, and then you also have your own general proofreading and editing business, which is very different from transcript proofreading. So tell me all the things about you.

Kerry Walters: So basically my background, I was a substance misuse practitioner for 13 years, so I helped people to overcome addiction to substances whether that be drugs or alcohol and young people kind of from the age of about 17 upwards basically, very intense, very emotionally intense. But I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I loved the people I worked with, my colleagues. I loved my clients that I supported. It was just -- and I was just very lucky. My employer honestly was fantastic, so supportive, and it was great.

But then 13 years down the line, I’ve -- as you mentioned, I’ve got two children who are 6 and 3, so it’s quite an intense time parenting wise as well. And basically I -- so I had my son a couple of years before COVID, about 18 months before COVID happened. And then COVID happened, and because of the job that I did, I was a key worker, so I couldn’t stop working. And of course we’re putting people on methadone scripts and things like this and prescribing -- I wasn’t a prescriber, but I worked alongside the prescribers, and I supported that process to get people onto medication and then everything else that goes along with recovery: therapy and just everything else.

So it was a really dangerous time actually prescribing wise because we couldn’t see people face to face. We couldn’t check their health in the same way that we did before because everything was kind of -- I guess you guys call it telemedicine, which it wouldn’t normally be. You do your in-screens, and you do a lot of face-to-face stuff to make sure that people are safe to get onto this serious medication. It is serious. And so that was kind of one cause of anxiety.

And then I remember one day being on the phone to a social worker. It was like five to 5:00 on the evening, and a social worker called me about a family. I was working with the dad, and he had five children who were all on child protection plans.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh wow.

Kerry Walters: It was not a good situation. And so the social worker called me, and I was like, I have to answer this because these children are at risk of harm, not from the dad but just from everything that was going on. And I’m on the phone, and I hear in the background: Ahhh! And it was basically my son, and he waddled into me, this little two-year-old, with a cut lip. And I couldn’t tell you what happened. I had to handle the phone. I was like, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go. My son’s hurting. So I hung up the phone, and I was like I can’t explain this. I wasn’t supervising him properly because I was just -- it was such an intense job. I could not do both at the same time.

And then I got pregnant with my youngest and -- during COVID. It was just -- it was a very anxious time. Then I had a traumatic birth with her. In between all of this, prior to getting pregnant, I got hit by a car. It was like all these really difficult situations happened, so by the time she was born, my anxiety was just through the roof, through the roof, postnatal depression, everything, and it started to affect me physically. I was physically getting unwell, and I basically had to go off work sick because I just could not -- I just couldn’t. And my employer is really so supportive, fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of them. I really can’t.

But in the end, I had to leave. I couldn’t -- I was like, this is not the time in my life to give everything that I want to give to my clients and my family. It’s just too much emotional intensity, both sides. I just can’t physically do it.

And when I was on maternity leave with Erin, I wanted to just kind of do something that was just for me. I’m a total geek. I’m a total geek. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was like, I want to do something to do with English because like a lot of proofreaders I love to read. I’m a big reader. I was like, I want to do something. And I randomly came across proofreading, which I didn’t even know was a thing at this point. It was like, hold on a minute. I do this for free. I help people for free all the time. I’m like the go-to person for all this stuff. You can get paid for this? What?

And so I decided to take a course, proofreading and copyediting, which I did. And then I started kind of doing like blog posts and things like that, so for general, just general proofreading, started going into fiction, which I actually decided I don’t like working on because --

Elizabeth Wiegner: It’s hard.

Kerry Walters: -- I like to read it. I like to read it. Once you start working on it, it’s not the same anymore.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It’s not. It’s really not.

Kerry Walters: So I don’t do fiction anymore. I thought that was what I would go into, but no. So I kind of do more academic texts around psychology and things. I’ve got a psychology degree and like business, online content, social medias, blogs, things like that.

So anyway, the Insta algorithms brought me to you, Elizabeth, and I sort of came across your page, and I was just like, oh my God. This has to do with true crime. This is like -- what? How is this possible? And it took me a few months because there are loads of things like this out there, aren’t there, where it’s kind of I’ll make money doing this really amazing thing that should not be a job.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes, yes.

Kerry Walters: So this is just too amazing and too much fun to be a job. And so I spent some time just kind of seeing what you were saying and just checking it out. But you seemed really real to me and genuine, and you were like, this isn’t a get-rich-quick thing, and you have to work at it. And you did like a Black Friday or something, and I was like, I’ll tell you what; even if this doesn’t work out, I’m going to do so more learning because I love to learn. I’m a geek like I said.

So I did the course, and I kind of sped through the first section because I already had my business, so that I was able to kind of -- I still read everything because I was like, you don’t know what you don’t know, and there might be something. So I still went through everything and then kind of really got stuck in from all the grammar, the grammar stuff because there are things that are different between English, you know, British English and American English, mainly around kind of where we put punctuation.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: You know? Does the full stop go inside or outside the quote marks? Things like this, you know? So -- and I did already kind of know about that because of what I’d done before. But obviously your course -- specifically court reporters are born in America. We don’t have stenographers in this country anymore basically. I think there are a handful maybe. We don’t use them, which is so annoying. It’s awful.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It really is.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, it’s terrible. But -- so I really, really kind of focused on that to make sure that what I thought was correct is correct, did the grammar exam and everything. I actually failed the transcript exam the first time, and Nerissa was like, you’re nearly there but just not quite. And honestly I think having the general proofreading/editing background was kind of what made it a bit more difficult for me in a way --

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: Because your -- you’ve purposely gone out and learned. There are some proofreaders out there who don’t have training, full stop, general proofreaders. But I did the training. So you’ve spent time learning certain things, and it’s a bit like speaking a language and then being told, you know, you’ve spoken this language for the last couple of years. No, no, different now.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Just kidding.

Kerry Walters: Different now. Yeah. So I have to focus possibly more than someone who didn’t have that background on this is verbal. This is the spoken word, not the written word, and it is very different. It is very different.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: So I’m sort of digressing a little bit now. So anyway, I passed, and from passing the exam to having my first pay was eight days.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s amazing, Kerry!

Kerry Walters: Eight days honestly. And I was just like, oh my God. How is this -- this is really happening. And my first transcript was an FBI case. I’m not even joking. An FBI case was my first case, and I was like, this is insane. And it’s just -- I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but it’s just -- I just feel like I’ve flown since starting this. I really do feel like I’ve flown. I quite enjoy marketing, but I haven’t even had to market for, like, seven or eight months, like nothing, nada. I actually miss it. I haven’t done my Instagram WTF Wednesdays, Elizabeth --

Elizabeth Wiegner: I know!

Kerry Walters -- for ages.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I miss them.

Kerry Walters: So have I! I have so much to say about how weird English is. But it’s -- I just haven’t needed to and also have not had the time. I’ve been so busy, so busy.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s -- one thing I love about transcript proofreading, and y’all are used to hearing this inside the community. I’m always like, one thing I love, and then I name 20 different things. But once you have your clientele built up, it’s like you don’t have time to market and you don’t need to market. And that’s one of the things that’s kind of different than general proofreading a lot of times, not always.

You can get consistent clients with general, but you just don’t have to focus -- you get to do what you want to do, although you like marketing, which is awesome. I think marketing is fun too. But it’s nice you don’t have to do all of it all at once.

Kerry Walters: Yeah absolutely. I mean I enjoy it, but I’m not naturally visually creative. I’m not. I’ve had so many people say, oh, I love your Instagram. I love the aesthetic. And I’m like [indiscernible] aesthetic. I don’t know what you’re talking about. But that post I made took me, like, three hours to do or whatever. But I enjoy it even though I’m not great at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not perfect. It doesn’t matter. Just if you enjoy it, then do it and that’s it. And no one pays me for marketing, so it’s only me. It’s only me that depends on that. But I really like putting those posts together, and I mean the WTF Wednesdays aren’t marketing really. That’s sort of just talking about different things about English that are weird, things that annoy me or annoy other people and hopefully things that might be useful for somebody out there.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And they are. They are good.

Kerry Walters: I haven’t been on the kind of job boards I think for, gosh, ages, months and months and months.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So --

Kerry Walters: And I’m getting paid.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And that’s what’s amazing. It’s because, I mean, jobs are sent and received online, so it really doesn’t -- as long as you can switch from British English to US English and you can -- like when you and I write each other it’s like I can’t tell -- like you can usually tell when someone is British and writes you. But you are able to adjust how you talk in emails or like in your marketing, and you really can’t tell.

Kerry Walters: And that’s -- I mean, sometimes it’s a conscious choice because I’m like -- when I’m writing something, I’m writing for the reader. I’m not writing for me.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Exactly.

Kerry Walters: So if I know whoever I’m talking to or whatever is American English, then that’s what I’m going to use. And I’ve got to the point now where sometimes I’ll be talking and I’ll be about to say something like, y’all. We don’t say that here. We don’t say that, Elizabeth, not at all. So I’m finding that it’s creeping into my spoken language too. So it’s kind of [indiscernible].

Elizabeth Wiegner: If you say y’all where you live, I’m sure people are like, what is she saying right now? I love it.

Kerry Walters: Who are you?

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love that’s one of the words you’ve picked up because obviously it’s one of my words. So I love that you say that. That’s so good.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, and again, I don’t mean to. It just sort of pops out because I see it. I see it so much, and you just kind of -- again, it’s not something that you can learn as such. It’s just what you sort of get absorbed into it, and I know a lot of proofreaders, editors are very rule heavy in terms of things have to be like this and things have to be like that.

And I’ll be honest. I used to be like that, not with my work because it’s your work that I’m just helping you with essentially, but in terms of how I would write or whatever, I have to be perfect. I have to be perfect, spelling, punctuation, grammar, all the best of it. And now, again, because I’m used to working with the spoken word now, and this is the main part of my business now is transcript proofreading because I’m used to dealing with the spoken word now, I’m a lot more relaxed because nobody speaks like that. Who speaks like that? Nobody speaks with perfect grammar. I don’t care who you are. Even the king does not speak with perfect grammar all the time. I bet when he’s at home, maybe he even says y’all sometimes. Who knows?

Elizabeth Wiegner: That would be the best.

Kerry Walters: Might be true, but no, I made it up.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I like to think that he does. That just makes me very happy to think that.

Kerry Walters: Me too, me too.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love how you said that it affects -- I feel like it’s kind of like a weight lifted. Like you don’t have to be perfect to be good at what you do. I mean, one, it’s impossible, but it just takes so much stress off because it’s like we’re all humans. And what do you prefer to read, something that’s absolutely perfected, worded perfectly, or something that’s, hey, she’s talking to me right now and I get what she’s saying.

Kerry Walters: Absolutely. I mean, obviously it depends on the text, doesn’t it? I mean, if it’s some kind of psychology textbook, then yes, I don’t want that to say y’all anywhere because that would be wrong.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You would be like, what book am I reading right now?

Kerry Walters: Yeah, I wouldn’t probably finish reading that. But obviously with things with the spoken word, say it out loud. How does it sound? Does it sound like something a human would say? Then yeah, because humans do not speak with perfect grammar, and so you can’t make those same changes. You just have to try and punctuate it in the best way for it to make sense.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Exactly, you know, that -- and you had mentioned earlier, and I loved you brought this up. Usually people come from -- not every student that I’ve had comes from a general proofreading background like you did or an editing background. I came from general proofreading as well, so we’re same page on that.

But those who do come with a general proofreading background I love it because when you come from general proofreading to transcripts, it’s like I found -- I know exactly what I’m going to be working on, and I know exactly the clients that I need to market to. In reality, even though the proofreading is harder to learn, it’s much easier long term than general.

But to your point, I -- it does seem like those students can struggle more because they have to open their brain up, dump the part out that they had learned, and just give themselves permission to be -- I like to call it perfectly imperfect or imperfectly perfect, whichever way you want to put it because the perfect in transcripts is really not perfect.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, exactly, and I think it’s -- you can’t kind of force a square into a round hole, you know that saying. If that’s what a person said, that’s what the person said, whereas with general, you can. You can change it. You can switch it, and it’s okay because that means you can kind of give a reason why, and obviously it’s up to the writer if they accept it or not, and that’s fine with me. I’m fine -- decline all my suggestions if you like. That’s fine. But I know that I kind of made that how it should, in inverted commas, be. The spoken word, you can’t do it. So it is unlearning what you’ve learned.

And I’m not super old, but I’m definitely not young, so it does get harder to unlearn things, and you kind of see sometimes on the punctuation groups even. People here are like, well, this is how I was taught 20 years ago, and this is how I’m going to do it. And it’s like, yeah, but it changes. Things change. Language changes. Punctuation rules change. Things change. And I’m a lot more comfortable with that now, and that’s it really.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You have to be as a -- well, even general proofreading but especially transcript proofreading. Just being willing to be so flexible because the moment you decide to stop learning or you decide to stop being flexible is the moment you need to retire as a proofreader because you’re not going to be successful. Your clients aren’t going to like you, and you won’t like your job.

Kerry Walters: Yeah. And, you know, obviously we talk a lot about the court reporter preferences and things. And often they’re not what I would do or what I would have done historically even. But to be fair, I’ve always been okay with it’s your work -- in terms of general proofreading, it’s your work, so I’m just here to help you with it. It’s not mine. You do what you need to do. As long as I’ve done my bit, it’s up to you what you do with that information.

But it’s kind of just kind of drilled that into me even more that it isn’t my work. It’s their work, and what they do, what court reporters do is so hard and so impressive. I’m going to respect what they have to say about how they want their transcript to look. So you have to be able to kind of let go of what you’ve learned and what you think is the right way, the British way, and just let it go. Let it go, and do your job. Do what you’re actually being paid to do.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes, exactly. And it’s really freeing once you -- now, it takes time and practice. I love that you were very upfront. You didn’t pass your first time. It’s time -- I mean, I have -- it’s over 3,000 practice pages in there because you have to unlearn things and relearn things and then learn to get comfortable with it because it’s not something that you’re just going to snap your fingers and instantly like, oh, I know everything. We always learn something new.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, and I actually love that. I do love that. I mean, to be fair, in my old job it wasn’t the sort of job that you could have -- because I worked with people and people’s families and people’s lives. I was always coming across something new, even after 13 years. So that’s something that I’ve been able to kind of still have in this role. It’s not -- things do change, and I’ve still got my Margie’s workbook down there and my [indiscernible] book. I’ve been doing that over a year, and I’ve still got them. I still pull them out, and I still ask questions. I think I’ve posted that in our community today. So -- and I really love that. I love that you don’t get stagnant.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes, that’s such a good word for it, not stagnant, because I am -- I think you and I are very similar in this is we don’t like to do the same thing over and over and over again. And yes, we’re sitting there proofing -- we’re doing the same job, but it’s like every transcript is going -- even if it’s the same topic, it’s still going to have something different in it.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, and even like -- so this is something like even with those -- again, I’m going to put in inverted commas, kind of what I feel are less interesting topics.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: So I’m weird, and I like -- I’m working on an attempted murder trial at the moment, and I’m like -- I love it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Same.

Kerry Walters: I love a divorce. It’s awful for the people involved, but to read it as a person not involved, it’s great, like popcorn, spill the tea; it’s great. There are some less interesting topics: personal injury, construction, things like this. I personally don’t find that -- it might be someone’s bag, but it’s not mine. But even if the topic isn’t interesting, the interactions between the people involved are usually hilarious. The way that they -- especially in depositions, not so much in front of Mr. Judgey Judge, but in depositions the gloves are off. It’s so funny. I love it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It’s like getting to be a fly on the wall, but you actually do get -- I mean, you’re not actually there listening to them, but you are getting to be on a fly on a wall on all these just crazy things that you get to read and hear. Yes, the interactions are just like I can’t believe somebody just said that.

Kerry Walters: I know. The other day, one of my court reporters had a particularly difficult depo, and the two attorneys were just terrible to each other, like nasty. I mean, I’m talking nasty. And I’m loving it, just reading it on a piece of paper. It’s like a play. It’s like a movie script for Netflix. I’m like, this is great.

But I’m also thinking, God, this poor court reporter, like geez. And she put a few parentheticals, what we call in the trade -- I use all the right words -- something like stenographer admonishes the attorney or something. It was very professional, very professional. And in my return email, I was just like, you were so professional.

And then we started talking about different ways we could say that if we could say what we wanted to say, and we were like, court reporter tells off the children -- sorry, the attorneys, and just coming up with different things. So we were just back and forth saying ways -- or different ideas.

That’s the sort of relationship I’ve got with my court reporters now. We can sort of have a laugh, and so it’s great, even not just the proofing but the actually client interactions. I’m used to, after 13 years, quite difficult client interactions to be honest. I loved my clients, but it wasn’t easy. They were quite ill people, so yeah. So it’s quite nice for me to have both sorts of interactions in my clients now.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love you brought that up because yes, it’s -- we’ve all -- I love that you loved your job, and then you had the -- like there were still difficult parts, and there have -- like myself or others have had jobs where it was like maybe we liked our work but we hated our bosses. And being able to work with somebody who we can laugh with and have a fun conversation with and who appreciate us is just -- I mean, it’s hard to top that kind of feeling having somebody you can work with like that.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, and you can’t buy that. You can’t buy that. And I think because court reporters -- I mean, they’ve done proofing, but they’ve proofed their own work when they have to and proofed other people’s work and things like that. And they know what you’re doing for them, and they understand the process.

It’s not like when you’re a waiter and you’re serving on someone who’s never been a waiter, and they’re just really rude and all the rest of it. It’s kind of like this person understands what I’m doing, and they know we’re on the same team. We’re here to work together. And they -- they’re so appreciative of the knowledge that I do have, the things that I share with them in terms of, oh, this -- I found this rule or I found this business has actually got a hyphen here or whatever, or that email address wasn’t quite right. I think -- whatever.

And they really appreciate that to the point even -- I was ill not that long ago, and I had to tell my court reporters that I was going to be off for a little bit because I was quite poorly. And one of my court reporters, she went on the internet, researched vouchers that I could use in the UK to make sure I could use it, and she sent me a voucher for -- so that I could get ready meals in because I wasn’t able to kind of prepare food and things for my family at that time. And I cried like a baby. And she was like, I think you can use it at a place called Asda. And I was like, I can! Asda is like -- I don’t know if you have Asda there, but it’s like a big -- it’s like a food shop store.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Okay.

Kerry Walters: And sort of -- I was just like, I can use it here and I can get food for my family while I’m ill. I mean, how amazing is that?

Elizabeth Wiegner: So sweet.

Kerry Walters: She was like, you’ve helped me, and I want to help you. And if you lived nearer, I would have cooked you a meal, so this is as close as I could get to that. And I was just like, you are just amazing.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s so sweet, so kind. So as you’re working with clients, what is -- in the US, you’re in the UK. You obviously have a time difference. You’re all the way across the ocean. How do you manage the time difference when you’re working with clients?

Kerry Walters: So I am very open about that, that I’m in the UK. It’s on my rate sheet, which clients have before they’ve even worked with me. It’s on my preferences sheet that I ask clients to fill out because I ask for their time zone because, obviously, in America -- to British people, this is cray-cray, but you people have different time zones in the same country, which is just, like, mind-blowing.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Believe me, it’s annoying.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, we’re like a teeny tiny little island. So to us it’s just bizarre, and I love learning about all that. But anyway, the time zones are like magic for me because I -- my clients are between five and eight hours behind. So it essentially gives me that much more time. So it actually -- not always, but it usually works to my advantage in the fact of, say if someone wants like an immediate, and they send it to be quite late or whatever, like on what is late their time, late on the night their time, well, that’s coming to me first thing in the morning. So I’ve now got all day to deal with that.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Nice.

Kerry Walters: So it’s -- it kind of -- the only time that it has been a disadvantage has been when someone has emailed me at what is, like, 2 a.m. my time, and they’re like, I need an immediate. But of course, because I can’t respond straight away because I’m asleep, they then have to go somewhere else. But I think that’s happened twice.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s not bad.

Kerry Walters: Those court reporters have come back to me, and we’re now -- because we’ve worked together a lot, they’re now like, I’ve got this coming up, and I think it’s going to be an immediate. Have you got time tomorrow? And I’ll be like, yes, I do. They know that I don’t confirm until I’ve received it, but we’re just checking it out. So then when they do send it to me at 2 a.m., they’re not expecting a response because they know I’m in the UK. They know already. So I’m just open about it, and that’s -- it’s worked fine. It’s not really caused any issues for me time wise obviously. The only times I’ve turned down a job has been because I’ve got something else on. I’ve not kind of had to turn down jobs because of the time difference at all.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It’s like you’re working in the future. You are the magical Kerry from the future, working on their work for them.

Kerry Walters: Exactly. It’s great honestly. Yeah, I’ve found that it’s worked to my advantage more than not.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And you know, even living in the US, there’s -- like you mentioned, are different time zones, which is exceedingly annoying. So I -- but there have been times I’ve got work where it just doesn’t work for me, and I mean, I think that’s true wherever you live. It’s just -- that’s just part of life. It’s just sometimes we either -- we’ve got other stuff going on. We’re sleeping. We’re in a different part of the country. It just -- it doesn’t work. So I love that you’ve made it work really well considering the time change -- time difference.

Kerry Walters: Yeah. I mean, I have three immediates this week, and I was just -- like I could take it, you know? So it’s -- any issues -- I say issue very loosely, but at any time that there’s been anything that’s been difficult, it has not been because of me being in the UK or because of the time difference. It has just been I’ve been asleep or whatever. I mean, you sleep quite late, don’t you, in the mornings, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I do.

Kerry Walters: I’m so jealous, but I am a night owl. But I have children, and when you have children, you can’t. I so would be on America time if I didn’t have children.

Elizabeth Wiegner: But to your point of me sleeping in late, I get emails or texts in the morning, and I put my Do Not Disturb on, and it’s like, I miss stuff because I’m sleeping. But it’s just -- that’s just the way it is. I mean, you just roll with it.

Kerry Walters: Exactly. And actually, I think because we’ve got a bigger time difference, like you said, like for you guys, it might be one or two or three hours maybe. For me, it’s like five to eight hours. That’s a whole working day of difference, and that makes a larger difference. Do you know what I mean?

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: So it’s sort of like -- it’s helpful. I’ve found it helpful honestly.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Now everybody in the US is going to be like, you know what? Actually, I think I need to move to the UK because this is easier. It’s not actually harder.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, do it [indiscernible].

Elizabeth Wiegner: I don’t want to get too much into marketing, but have you found that it’s hard to connect with clients in the -- and you answered this in passing earlier, but connect with clients in the US?

Kerry Walters: No, not at all. Obviously in the course, you give advice on where you can look and things, and they’re people. Court reporters are people, and it’s about connecting with people. And that’s all that they’re really looking for is someone that can help them. They don’t care where I’m from as long as I can do a good job and I can be personable, which I like to think I am and maybe bring a bit of light to their day by sending a silly GIF. I am the GIF queen.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You are.

Kerry Walters: So that is what is important to them. They don’t -- they’re not kind of bothered that I’m from the UK. And actually, I’ve had so many wonderful conversations with court reporters about different cultures because things are quite different, and you don’t expect them to be, or we don’t expect them to be here in the UK.

But for example, one of my court reporters asked what I’m doing for the weekend, and we’ve just had St. George’s Day, which is the patron saint of England, which is weird because he has no connection to England whatsoever, but anyway.

And I took my children to this St. George’s Day, just family event, and there was jousting. And I was like, oh, I took my kids, and we saw jousting. And she was like, I just had to go and research what jousting was. I don’t know what that was. Or I’m like, oh, I took my kids to see a castle. And people are like, oh my God, you have castles. And they’re like [indiscernible] I guess you guys don’t have castles like we do.

Elizabeth Wiegner: No.

Kerry Walters: So it’s just -- it’s really fun to kind of talk about those things and learn about the differences. And even when it comes to the language as well, I have so many people ask me about transcript proofreading, Elizabeth. It is insane, even some of my editor friends. They tell other people about what I do because they think it’s so amazing and so fun.

But I will sometimes put in the group, I don’t know if this is like a dialect thing or an American English thing, but does this sound right to you guys? And people will be like, yeah, that’s what we say in this area or whatever. But I see American people ask the same questions.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: Because language is different. I mean, people from the UK who may be listening to this, how different is the Birmingham accent to the Liverpudlian accent, you know? Things are different. We say things differently especially if you’re from -- in the UK, there’s a place called the Black Country, which my family is from, and they have -- basically its own language. The dialect is so different to other places. It’s the same in America.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: So someone from this state might not have heard something said in a certain way if the speaker is from a different state. So even that, being from the UK, hasn’t been a disadvantage because that’s the same for everybody.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love you brought that up. It’s just -- yeah, even in -- I mean, UK is much smaller than the US, but you still have, like you mentioned, your different dialects and how people say things, or even words that you would never hear in one spot you’ll hear in another. And it really is just getting used to how other people talk, which comes with practice and Googling and asking questions. And it’s really fun finding out different -- like y’all, getting to use words like that that you don’t normally get to use.

Kerry Walters: Exactly, exactly. And the thing is, once you do have those conversations and ask those questions and any time I’ve asked a question, no one’s ever been like, oh my God, you should know this, or it’s because she’s from the UK. She just doesn’t know anything. Nobody has ever batted an eyelid. It’s just whatever. She’s asking a question. We’ve got to answer it because they want me to do well and help my clients, and that’s it and vice versa.

So it’s just kind of ask the questions, and then you learn and you do remember for next time, and because our court reporters work in certain areas, you tend to see the same kind of things come up as well. So you do kind of -- it’s just doing it and experiencing it, and over time you just kind of get to know the different ways that people say things.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I mean, that also applies to like -- so one of my court reporters, Val, who’s going to be on a podcast soon, she does a lot of construction. I know absolutely nothing about construction and, quite frankly, I don’t care about construction. I just enjoy working with Val.

Kerry Walters: I’m with you.

Elizabeth Wiegner: But when you read the construction transcripts enough times, you start seeing enough phrases that even though I would literally never ever have a conversation about it with somebody -- that’s just not what I talk about or what I know -- when you start seeing those words come up or like medical transcripts even though I don’t have a medical background you just start seeing medication names come up, and it just eventually you will be like oh yeah, that is the right spelling or that’s the right capitalization. It’s the same way with how people speak. You just get used to it when you hear it. Absolutely, you’re right.

So what would you say you were most concerned about or maybe you weren’t concerned about when you started -- so you did general proofreading. You have your general editing business as well. You live in the UK. What were you concerned about, or what were maybe some things that you had to think about before you decided to go all in?

Kerry Walters: I mean, my -- in terms of transcript-specific or …?

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yeah.

Kerry Walters: So I mean, obviously, I already had my business set up. So in terms of that side of things, I was kind of past the stage of being worried about things, and I’d already had American clients, French clients, Australian clients, Canadian clients. I’d already worked with different nationalities, so that was fine.

But it was more just how is it going to work around my children because, with transcript proofreading, you’ve got different turnaround times, and the standard turnaround time is two or three days. And when you’re doing general proofing for manuscripts, I mean, the turnaround times are often quite tight, particularly if you’re working with traditional publishers. But it’s not two or three days, and so you think at least you have kind of time to plan a little bit with the bigger, bigger, bigger jobs, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kind of manuscript pages, which are more dense than transcript pages.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Kerry Walters: You can kind of be like, well, I know I can’t take that job because I’ve already got this job on the go, and I won’t be finished with this until whenever, whereas these are much shorter turnaround times. And so I was just concerned how that would work, and like I say, the immediates and things like that. I thought I probably won’t be able to do immediates because, I mean, I’ve not -- I hadn’t done anything that quick before that had to be turned around that quickly.

But then I did it, and when I started, I only took on standard. Then I started to feel a bit braver to take on rushes and then a bit braver to take on expedites and then immediates. I’ve done loads of immediates now honestly. I get several a month, which is where you get paid more obviously, so I like that.

And it’s not actually been a problem, so it’s just a case of I -- because I’ve kind of struggled with my mental health and anxiety and depression and things, one of the biggest things that has helped me is stepping out of my comfort zone because my comfort zone is actually very small and being in that just do what you know and what is safe hasn’t actually helped me in my life. It’s affected my mental health.

So stepping out of your comfort zone, just try it. Just do it. Don’t accept a job if you’re not 100% sure you can accept it, but just try it and see what happens. And I figured everything out in life up to this point, up to today. I’m still here. So I’ll be able to figure this out too, and I have. I just have.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, I love that attitude, and you’re -- Kerry, the point about your comfort zone is really small, I -- everybody’s is. I love that you mentioned that because, really, we have our spot that we’re comfortable. We may not be happy in it, but we’re comfortable in the sense that we’re not having to push boundaries or be scared, kind of thing.

But you’re so right that you’re -- I hadn’t put that thought together of staying in your comfort zone can lead to more anxiety or more depression because that’s -- you’re absolutely right. When you start to try new things and you see that you can be successful and you can figure things out, it’s -- it is such an empowering feeling, and it makes you feel like you can do anything really.

Kerry Walters: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s sort of -- I would talk to my -- in my previous job, this was one of the things, one of the ways that I -- we -- would support clients because it’s like you’ve been using heroin for longer than I’ve been alive, and things have not got better for you during that time. So I know it’s scary.

Humans are not built for change. Our brains aren’t built for it. Our amygdalas react, and all sorts of crazy stuff happens in those brains. But our brains -- they don’t understand that we’re not in a risky -- like me proofreading a transcript is not risky. It’s not risky. My brain is just like this is new. I don’t know what’s happening. Therefore, I could die. That’s essentially what our brains are doing.

But the more you step out of that comfort zone, the more your brain kind of goes, okay, it’s not so bad. So then the next time you try, your brain is like, hmm, well, last time we tried this and it was okay. I’m still alive, so maybe I can do it this time as well. And that’s how that momentum kind of happens. Just try something, just something small. Try the standard turnaround. Don’t do immediate yet. Just try the standard turnaround, see what happens, and you snowball. You snowball then.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, I love that analogy. That makes total sense. It’s like your brain realizes, okay, we’re not dying. You decided you wanted to be a transcript proofreader. Then you signed up for the course. Then you started learning, okay, each time you build on top of the next and you’re telling yourself you’re making -- and yes, you’ll make mistakes. Like you mentioned, you’ve made mistakes like not passing the transcript exam the first time. But that didn’t mean that everything is bad now, and horrible things didn’t happen. It was just you spent a little bit longer practicing, and then you came back and you killed it.

Kerry Walters: Yeah, that’s it, and your comfort zone gets bigger each time you do that, and you talk in the course as well about what you learn here is transferable particularly in terms of setting up your business, and there might be other things like some people might enjoy this element of their business.

They might enjoy actually all the invoicing and things like that, and they might go into bookkeeping, or they might like marketing and they want to go into graphic design or sometimes -- you realize that there are other things you can do and that you can do well and that aren’t going to be detrimental to you by giving it a go. And so you kind of widen that circle of comfort zone-ness. That’s not even a word. I’m not changing it. You widen it, and then, like I say, it snowballs that, and you say well, what else can I do? I can do something else now, try something new.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love you brought that up because that is one of my -- I mean, of course I want every single student to be successful, but the biggest thing I want is for them to see that there is just a whole other world out there that, when you trust yourself to learn something new, maybe you love transcript proofreading and you do that for the rest of your life, or maybe you do it for a year and do something else, or maybe you get started and you’re like, you know, I don’t like this, but it has now opened this door, and now I can go into this.

That’s what’s so beautiful about being a transcript proofreader, just the doors it opens and the courage you give yourself when you keep trying, when you have people believing in you, like not just me but the whole community coming in and encouraging you. It just -- you really can’t put a price tag on that at all.

Kerry Walters: [indiscernible] and, Elizabeth, the communities that you have created are my favorite places on the internet, people. Honestly, I have not been as present the last few months because of health, and I have had to just be like I can only -- I’m just going to do what I need to do. And I mean, I’m an ambivert, so sometimes I love being social. I’m like, hey, I’m here, party time. But then at other times, I’m like, don’t talk to me.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Same.

Kerry Walters: I’m not interested. I need to regenerate my energy by just not communicating with humans, and that’s kind of been a little bit where I’ve been at just because I’ve had to deal with other things, and that’s okay. But when I have dipped in and out of the community as well, I feel like I help people too and --

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh yes.

Kerry Walters: -- I can kind of give an answer and I feel like I’ve helped someone. And then I can ask a question and I get answers. And no one chats at me for asking a dumb question. So it’s kind of -- that reciprocal community and support. And people say, everyone is just so lovely in the groups, and you’ve really promoted that kind of that kind of -- and it’s a positive place to be, not in a toxic positivity way but in a, we build each other up. We all want to see each other succeed, and you don’t see the sniping and griping and everything that you see everywhere else on social media. It’s everywhere else. It’s a little haven. I just -- I love it. Honestly, I love it, and now I’m feeling better I am going to be more -- you’ll see me more in the communities and more on the socials in general.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, that makes me happy. And, y’all, you have something to look forward to if you decide transcript proofreading is for you. You’ll get to see Kerry hanging out with you. Kerry is hilarious. Her GIFs are hilarious, let alone her [indiscernible].

Kerry Walters: I mean, honestly, when I try to help people, I just send them GIFs. That’s all I do.

Elizabeth Wiegner: They are cathartic. Believe me. You have a calling. So if you could sum up what having your transcript proofreading, adding it to your business, what it has done for your life, and how -- what would you say? What would you say to that? I know that’s -- that could be a lot, but what would you say?

Kerry Walters: It could be a lot. I’ll try and keep it to a nutshell. Sorry, I do like to talk and whitter on.

Elizabeth Wiegner: No, talk as much as you like.

Kerry Walters: Well, I’m partly just relieved it’s you I’m talking to and not him. I mean, for me, it gives me -- in a way, having the shorter turnaround times actually gives me more flexibility, which I didn’t realize that was going to kind of happen and to -- I’ve really cut back on doing manuscripts and things because the -- although you have a longer turnaround time and things, I was working just constantly to try and get through those.

And with these, it’s kind of like -- I mean, I kind of work -- it depends on the court reporter, but it takes me one to two minutes per page depending on who it is and how messy it is and how technical it is and whatever but roughly one to two minutes per page. So it’s kind of -- you quite regularly will get a transcript that’s, like, 50 pages. I can do that in, like, an hour while, okay, so I can do 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there and 10 minutes later on and, well, that’s half of it done already.

So it’s just kind of -- obviously for the longer transcripts, I do -- obviously now my daughter is in childcare. I’m able to plan that even more so. But it has given me more flexibility to work on my family, and that is what I needed. I had childcare issues unexpectedly. That would not have worked with my employer. As supportive as they were, I couldn’t last minute just be like, well, I can’t come in. I’ve got no childcare and do that repeatedly. You can’t do that when you have an employer, whereas when you’re kind of doing something like this, you can bend to the needs of your life, you, your family, whatever your circumstance is, and you just -- you can be more flexible, and that’s what I found with transcripts.

And I -- it does give me some hilarity to my day too, like I said. I am here for the juice. It is not the most professional answer, but that’s my favorite thing about transcript proofreading is the juice, all day long the juice. So it brightens my day. It brightens my day to be honest. I love it. And for me, this is -- so my business -- can I say the name of my business?

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yeah, please do, yes.

Kerry Walters: So Beeline Editorial Services, the Bee, the B-E-E that spells Bee is the initials of my children. So this business is about my family, me, and I’m here for them. I can be here for them whenever I need and wherever I need to be. My partner, he’s got his business with staff and everything. It’s much bigger than my business. But his work hours are unexpected, and they are long, and he can’t plan them. He has to do a lot of real emergency work. And I can handle that. I can be here for that in ways that I could not have been if I’d have had -- still had an employer. So it’s all about family here and my cats and my dog obviously.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Those are priorities too.

Kerry Walters: Yeah.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So wrapping up, how would you -- for someone who’s thinking about being a transcript proofreader, whether they’re in the UK or Australia or Canada or the US, right here in the US, what would you -- what would be your recommendation to them?

Kerry Walters: So, I mean, I would say research transcript proofreading-specific courses. There are not many out there at all. Obviously gold standard is Elizabeth’s. I did look into what is out there, and they’re fine. Elizabeth’s is gold standard, and no, I’m not getting a commission of any kind.

But you get the course, and not just that but the community. And it’s ongoing as well. I can’t believe I paid what I paid, and over a year later I’m still involved with you and the other students and grads and everything. Also, look online at court transcripts that have been released because it will help you to kind of get used to what they look like, how punctuation is different because it is different in court transcripts again, things that might be different from your dialect of English, wherever you are in the world, and American English.

You can start to pick up on those straight away by looking at what’s out there online. Reach out to Elizabeth. You are so responsive. I sometimes drop you a random message, and you respond. And you don’t need to because I’ve already bought your course, but you do.

You’re not there just to sell. You’re there to support people and help them decide what they need to do so -- and what they want to do. So research. Do a specific course. Please don’t try and do it without doing a specific course because you will -- I mean, not only is that not good for your clients, but I don’t think it would be good for you either, and look at what’s online already. Have a look.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Well, Kerry, thank you so much for -- I mean, speaking of times, it’s dark. I can see out your windows it’s dark out there. It’s late for you. It’s middle afternoon for me. Thank you for your time for this. I absolutely loved -- I know everybody that’s going to listen is going to absolutely love you too.

Kerry Walters: Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

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 TheProofreadingBusinessCoach.com/workshopregistration.

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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.