What To Charge (Discussion from SSG)

Discussions on Rates and Services

How much is "too much," when you are having to add a lot because the reporter drops a lot?

This is hard to make an across-the-board rule on because sometimes an excellent reporter will come up against a really horrid witness and there's nothing they can do but gaze with dropped jaw thinking "What the...??" I find that doing videotaped jobs I add a much higher percentage of pages than in nonvideo jobs. I've also done work for a reporter with such a sorry dictionary that her jobs always *shrunk* because of all the globalling (English is smaller than steno...).

But to answer your question, if you are consistently finding jobs increasing by a high percentage of pages (you pick what's "high"), you could create a new price bracket, like .85 for scoping the original number of pages and $2.00 for each page the job grows. Likewise, even if the job shrinks, if the job dictionary is more than X entries (you set that level), you could charge more per page. You should call the shots or you'll continue to feel abused.

I Need A Raise!!

You didn't mention what you're charging now, but if you're like many new scopists, you start out at the low end of the range. You're certainly entitled to give yourself a reasonable raise if you feel like your value to the reporter has increased or you simply started out pricing yourself too low, or perhaps you want to increase your rate on certain types of work; i.e., jobs with audiotapes, video jobs, heavy technical or medical jobs, or maybe tighten up the lead times in your rush/expedite definition.

What I've done when raise time rolled around was set a date a month or so in advance and give my reporters a little warning. Only one reporter has even protested at all, and she now scopes a lot of her own work instead of sending it all to me, but that works out fine becaise I was able to add an additional reporter whose writing was better and who doesn't use audio tapes! :)

Personally, I don't charge extra for experts or doctors, unless my reporter happens to tell me to charge a bit more (which sometimes they will do that). I just figure whatever I learn on that hard job will be one less thing I have to worry the next time that word or phrase comes along - and for me, I just look at it as a learning experience. :) I'm one of those word junkies who just loves to look up and learn a new one and never think about the fact that it's taking me longer.

Also, sure it's nice that they share the extra copies fees, but do you ever talk about that. How are we supposed to know what is ordered unless they tell you?

NO!!! Don't bring it up! If your reporter feels that (s)he should share the wealth with you, then that's absolutely wonderful!!!! And what a great person they are. :) But if they don't offer the information, do not ask. Believe me, it can be a bone of contention and a good way to potentially lose a client and have your name spread around negatively.

They just got through about a month ago discussing that on the CR board on AOL and it was a humdinger! And I would never ask a reporter how many copies they're selling so I know how to charge them for the job.

That's where the reporters make the bulk of their money - in the copy fees. We're actually lucky that there are some reporters who find us indispensible - because it does cut considerably into their profit to use us. It's because they've realized that they can take more work because they're freed from having to spend that extra time at the computer scoping. :)

Oftentimes with freelancers, they don't even see the extra copy sales money because they have nothing to do with the printing. The agency does it. So while they know what the orders are, there is no additional wealth to be split. No, I've never asked what my reporters are making. And I do not charge for expert testimony, unless it's outrageous in vocabulary or the reporter's writing. "If you write as though you were wearing mittens, it's gonna cost ya."

As for my officials, only when I do the printing is the cost per page influenced by number of copies.

I've done tapes off and on over the years, but I've now had my fill! After this last job that I've done, I'm never going to do them again. I lost my shirt on this stinkin' job and I could have had about a thousand pages of proofreading to make up part of the difference that I turned down to do this one scoping job with tapes.

My new motto - no tapes! And I've told my hubby to remind me of that fact should I falter. :) I'm in NY, and though I haven't been a reporter for about 6 years, I have never in my life heard of anyone using tapes as a backup. I was simply amazed by this new audiosync feature!! If a reporter of mine had shown up on a job with a tape backup I would have fired her right then and there. Doesn't this just make the reporters look bad?? I'm hoping that the attorneys don't know they're also being taped....do they??

Make up a resume of sorts and have it handy - like e-mail it to yourself and then save it somewhere in your e-mailbox so it's there always. In it, list everything that you want the reporter to know, and then the things you need to know from the reporter.

In mine, I have my standard rates (leaving room for problems such as technical, bad writing, etc.), my experience, the times I absolutely will not work (they need to know ahead of time if you have such a time period, which I do), my phone number, when I bill and when I expect payment. If any of these things are not acceptable, that we need to discuss them. That way you have everything at your fingertips.

Now, down to when I expect payment. Unless prior arrangements have been made, I expect payment within two weeks of when I bill out. In other words, I bill the 1st and the 15th & I expect my money before the next billing goes out. I do not accept partial payments. The work is done, I get paid for it, regardless of whether the reporter does or not. She may have to work that way with her agency - that's her fault, not yours! There are too many times when a few reporters have had the funds, but they had a vacation coming up, and the scopist has had to help pay for their vacation instead of getting paid. Bet they don't expect their Visa card to wait, though! Not many reporters are like this, but there are a few. In all the years I've worked, I've only gotten stiffed once - and the reporter just out-and-out lied about who she was, and when payment was coming, etc. I consider myself extremely lucky compared to some. But I'm also a bulldog when it comes to collections.

Good luck. And remember to discuss everything up front next time. Leave nothing to chance.

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