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Recording Secretary: A Market to Consider
by Linda Perret
When you think of writing markets, very few
people consider their Homeowner's Association (HOA) as one. But after attending
a meeting for a friend, that HOA hired me as their freelance Recording
Secretary. And that one meeting, five years ago, mushroomed into a career that
is continuing today.
Every HOA is required to have regular Board and
Homeowner Meetings, and minutes are a necessary part of those meetings. A lot of
people believe that minutes are a transcript of a meeting, but this is
incorrect. Minutes are a record of Board action and direction that was taken at
a meeting. It's a BRIEF summary of what the Board did and will do. Minutes
shouldn't include discussion or debates. It's not unusual for a 20-minute
discussion to be reflected by one sentence in the minutes. A typical two-hour
meeting would equal about four pages of typed minutes. If your minutes are eight
pages or more you may want to go back and edit.
As a Recording Secretary it is your job to be a
non-biased witness to the proceedings. Your job is to write down all motions,
who made and seconded them and the vote outcome. Occasionally you will be asked
to read a motion back to the Board prior to voting. It is also up to you to note
the time a meeting is called to order and when it adjourns. You are not
responsible for running the meeting or for moving it along. You don't offer an
opinion or make recommendations, which sometimes can be the hardest part of the
job. You simply record everyone else.
Most meetings take place at night Monday through
Thursday. There are some groups that meet in the morning and a few on the
weekends. In the five years I have been doing this, I've only had one morning
meeting and three weekend meetings. A typical meeting runs two hours, but can go
The first place to start is at your own
Homeowner's Meeting, if you belong to one. If you don't, don't worry I've
don't either. Attend a meeting and talk with property manager. Find out who
does the minutes at your meeting. Talk to this person. Let her know that you
are interested in doing minutes. Chances are there are going to be times when
she is unavailable for a meeting and having the name of a replacement can come
in handy. Last month there was one evening when four of my regular accounts
scheduled meetings on the same evening. I handled two but the others had to
scrabble to find a secretary.
Talk with the property manager. Inform them
that you are available if they can use your service. Give the property manager
a few of your business cards, so he or she can pass them out at the office.
Contact other property management companies. Get the word out that you are
Do your homework before starting. Purchase a
copy of Robert's Rules of Order. This book outlines parliamentary
procedures that most associations follow. Becoming familiar with the way a
meeting is run is helpful.
It goes without saying, but I'm going to say
it anyway, you want to be professional. Show up on time, be prepared to work,
and supply the minutes to the property manager in a timely fashion. It sounds
so simple, but you'd be surprised how many people forget this. I just recently
acquired a new account because after two months, the previous secretary still
hadn't gotten the Board a draft of the minutes. Being professional and
responsible will impress a property manager, who usually does the hiring, more
than anything else.
The most important question is what do you
charge. The fees for this writing may vary from area to area so you may want
to check with a few Recording Secretaries in your area to see what they
My fee is $60 an hour to attend meetings. I
have a minimum fee of one hour and then charge by the quarter hour after that.
At first glance $60 seems steep, but this fee includes all the typing of the
minutes, revisions, and final copy once the Board approves the minutes. I
invoice the HOA through the management company and payment can take anywhere
from two weeks to two months.
I currently have twelve regular accounts,
which meet once a month. One meets every other month and two accounts meet
twice a month.
There are aspects of this writing that I truly
love. One is the stability. Over the years this job has grown into a steady
income. When I started doing this I was a fulltime comedy writer. I adore
writing comedy, but I never knew when or if I would get a paycheck. As a
recording secretary I know how much will be coming in each month. Another
advantage of this market is it allows me the flexibility to pursue other
avenues. I spend my days doing comedy and my nights, four days a week,
recording. I usually do all my typing of the minutes for the week in one
I have noticed that the minutes writing has
improved my other writings as well. Minutes need to be concise, clear and brief
and these traits have begun to carry over to over venues.
If you are like me and want a way to make ends
met while pursuing your writing goals, you may want to consider becoming a
© Copyright 2003, Linda Perret
Linda Perret is a full time comedy writer. She supplies material to comedians, magazines, and services. In addition she publishes a monthly newsletter, called Round Table, for comedy writers
and performers and runs a yearlong email course on comedy writing. You can reach her at RTComedy@aol.com
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