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
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
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
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
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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