Sorry in advance to anyone wanting to learn about the science and math behind actual retrograde extrapolation. Just to skim over it, it’s when a person is accused of drunk driving and they only have the alcohol level the person was caught and tested with, often under the legal limit. Using common absorption rates and facts, they work backwards from the number they have in order to surmise and prove the amount of alcohol the person had in their system while driving. Pro tip, if you begin court reporting in criminal matters, you will probably hear this term someday and can get it in your dictionary.
That aside, we should all be cognizant of the fact that we, as freelancers, can extrapolate what we need to do to get where we want to be. I’ll be keeping a spreadsheet that people can put their dream salary into, and it will go on to calculate their ostensible hourly rate, approximate hours of transcription, approximate hours of on-record time, and a suggestible page rate based on the mathematical formula I’m about to give. If you hate math, skip all that and go to the spreadsheet linked above. Remember that this kind of thinking doesn’t have to be all about money. Envision any goal in your mind and work backwards to see the steps you might take to get there. (DROPBOX)
Just keep in mind that if you’re using this tool in the future, there is a concept called inflation where the buying power of money decreases over time. Inflation is more or less inevitable unless the government begins a massive money-destruction program, so the dream salary you put in today will probably be different 5, 10, 20 years down the road. The numbers will all be the same, but the value of every dollar will be less.
As a freelancer, you’re a business person. Running a successful business does not require great math skills, but they cannot hurt you. Here is some helpful math.
There are certain givens about time and the world. There are 365 days in a year, but only 260 workdays (52 weeks a year * 5 days a week). So let’s say your target is 100,000 a year. That’s about 1,924 a week. That’s about 385 a workday. That’s about 55 per hour for a 7-hour workday. Believe it or not, at a fair pace of about 40 pages an hour, that’s about $1.40 a page. KEEP READING.
Now let’s evaluate some more truths. It takes an average of 2 to 3 hours of transcription for every hour of testimony, in my experience. That mean that to have some semblance of a normal life without an awesome scopist, you would work something more like three days and leave two for transcription. 156 on-record workdays a year. Let’s go back. 1,924 a week divided by three days is 642 a workday. About 92 an hour for a 7-hour workday on the record, but remember that you’re actually working 14 to 21 hours, so it’s actually more like 46 an hour. That’s only $2.30 per page! KEEP READING.
All of this math assumes you have an absolute guarantee of three 7-hour workdays every week for a year. It doesn’t factor in sick days, scheduling issues, or any of the risk that comes with being a self-employed person. Capturing that risk is a difficult task to put into numbers. Let’s try. A quick glance at some Googled numbers for sick days a year says 7 sick days a year is not a horrible number. Let’s take it. You’re your own boss and you’re going to give yourself sick days, right? Further, let’s assume that some percentage of jobs ARE NOT 7-hour writing days. In an informal poll, respondents averaged about 70 percent of their jobs weren’t 7-hour writing days.
Guess what? I just screwed up our whole calculation. So now we have 149 on-record workdays a year. Remember, you still want 100,000, so that’s 672 a workday, 96 an hour on record, $2.40 a page, plus a 70 percent “I am a smart business owner by anticipating risk” upcharge of $1.68. That’s $4.08 a page. You know what kills me? At least one respondent said only five percent of their jobs were 7-hour workdays, which means if we take my very simple assertion that that’s a good way to calculate risk as true, that’s a suggestible rate of 95 percent upcharge, That’s 2.4 + 2.38. That’s almost $4.70 a page. Do you think that’s too high? Consider that retailers often use a rule of 50% markup to set their prices. If we do that in this calculation? $4.80 per page.
Notably, this is all assuming my data is 100% accurate. Surprise, it isn’t. Surprise, business leaders need to make decisions on incomplete data all the time. Working reporters should take note how familiar some of these numbers are starting to sound. I hope you will all take the time to contribute new formulas and ways that people can calculate the cost of doing business. Newbies who have never done this before, take note of how you can use your end goal to work backwards and know exactly what you need to succeed. You want the copy jobs. You want the jobs with good rates. You want expedite, daily, technical, realtime. You want these things because it’s going to bounce your rate up and close the distance between you and your annual salary desires.