Tag Archives: Business


A14Crime scene cleaning is extremely profitable for those who can handle difficult and unpleasant working conditions. In fact, this niche market of the multi-billion dollar janitorial and restoration industry is the fastest growing segment. Crime scene clean-up technicians are some of the highest-paid hourly workers, but they’re not the ones making the real money in death’s bloody aftermath. Let’s find out who is and exactly how this lucrative business works.

A10What got me curious about crime scene clean-up is when the Huffington Post asked me to write a feature article titled The Surprisingly Simple Clues Left Behind at Crime Scenes. The piece complimented the debut of a new Esquire Network TV series called Spotless which centers on a guy who runs a crime scene cleaning business that contracts for the Mafia to “sanitize” their hits.

A17I’ve seen some horrifically messy death scenes as a homicide cop and coroner and I’ve worked under unspeakably nasty conditions. But once I finished the forensic process, it was someone else’s job to clean-up. I used to think Boy, I’m glad it’s not me.

I never gave much thought to who was contracted, what equipment they used, what regulations they had to obey, what time it took, and certainly not how much it cost. I got my eyes opened when I looked into the business of crime scene cleaning.

First of all, it’s known in the industry as Crime and Trauma Scene Decontamination and Restoration—CTSDR. Secondly, they clean a lot more than just homicide and other death scenes.

A16These professionals are handsomely paid to also remove and restore the effects of dead animals and their droppings, insects who hatched from decaying bodies, damage from police tools such as fingerprint powder, luminol, tear gas, pepper spray, and the cutting of materials during preservation of evidence. They deal with mold from marihuana grow-shows, deadly chemicals from meth labs, drug litter like contaminated needles, and body fluids across the spectrum.

Their workplaces are everywhere imaginable—mansions to rooming houses, schools, offices, daycares, fields, playgrounds, boats, busses, trains, factories, shops and malls, cruise ships, vehicles, jail cells, police vehicles, hotels, and even on airplanes.

A18You’d think that a grisly murder scene would be the most difficult and expensive situation, but those experienced in clean-ups say the life-long hoarder’s home is the worst—especially the animal hoarders—the crazy cat-ladies who die alone and then… you know… They call this “Gross Filth”.

There’s a fair overhead in the scene-clean business. A significant amount of equipment and training is required—specialized vehicles for transporting hazardous biological waste, mandatory certification by government departments, licensing requirements, expensive tools like ozone machines, steam injectors, and chemical foggers to destroy odors and pathogens, biohazard suits and containers, respirators, chemical-spill boots, gloves, goggles, as well as commercial disinfectors, solvents, and neutralizers.

A4Employee turnover is high. Despite the high pay, burnout is inevitable. It takes a special person to fill the role. Strong stomach. Ability to detach emotionally. And serious attention to detail. Ever present is the danger of infection from a disease like HIV and hepatitis. Adherence to regulations like OSHA, WHMIS, DOT, EPA, NIOSH, Workers Comp, and  professional industry governing bodies—the American Bio-Recovery Association, the National Crime Scene Clean-Up Association, and the National Academy of Crime Scene Cleaners—is required.

There’s a tremendous amount of information on the Crime Scene Clean-Up industry available online and two interesting books have been published, giving an insider’s look at the business:

So, yeah, yeah… these guys have a shitty job — you’re thinking — Get to the point. What do they charge? How much do they make?

A13Well, this seems to be a fairly guarded secret in the crime scene clean-up circles. I did some more internet searching, then made some phone calls. The standard answer was:

“The cost of remediating biohazards can vary dramatically from situation to situation, so we are not able to provide phone estimates or quote rates without coming out and doing a proper assessment which we charge an hourly fee for. By the way, are you insured?”

A21Drilling down on the net, I found these sites which reported the average technician’s wage (not the business owner’s) as:

A22Then I found an article from the Toronto Star reporting on Christian Cadieux who owns and operates Crime & Trauma Scene Cleaning. Cadieux is 32 and charges $300.00 per hour just to estimate. Then he bills out from there. He likes to get six to eight good insurance jobs every month that make him sixty thousand dollars. Per month. That’s $720,000.00 per year. Christian also puts on five-day training courses on the side for $2,499.00 per student. When this article was written, he had four in the class.

Christian Cadieux plans to retire at 40.


AX31I first met Joanna Penn of London , England, online several years ago when she’d just self-published her ARKANE series and her website TheCreativePenn.com was starting to take off. Joanna has been an invaluable source of information and encouragement to myself and many other authors.

It’s been such an inspiration to watch Joanna’s climb to being the published author of 10 fiction and 4 non-fiction books, hosting webcasts with the who’s-who in the writing and publishing world, and reaching tens of thousands through her blog, social media, and international speaking engagements.

AX14Beyond her own achievements, Joanna is an exceptionally genuine and generous person. The success of my debut novel making the Amazon BestSeller list is directly attributed to Joanna’s promoting it on her TheCreativePenn.com podcast.

Several months ago Joanna published an excellent resource book titled Business For Authors: How To Be An Author / Entrepreneur. It’s on the business of being both an author and an entrepreneur where she candidly shares her vast experience. I got tremendous value from it  and I want others to benefit as well. I contacted Joanna and she graciously allowed me to republish material from this piece on her website which originally appeared here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/businessbook/

I highly recommend this book for all authors, regardless of the stage of your journey.

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AX2I’m excited to share my new book, Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur, as it contains everything I’ve learned from 13 years of being a business consultant and 6 years of being an author.

This is not a book on creativity or the craft of writing. My aim is to take the result of your creativity into the realm of actually paying the bills and to take you from being an author to running a business as an author.

I was a business consultant for 13 years before I gave up my job in September 2011 to become a full-time author-entrepreneur. I’ve worked for large corporates and small businesses, implementing financial systems across Europe and Asia Pacific.

AX15I’ve also started a number of my own businesses – a scuba dive charter boat in New Zealand, a customized travel website, a property investment portfolio in Australia as well as my freelance consultancy. I’ve failed a lot and learned many lessons in my entrepreneurial life and I share them all with you in this book.

In the last six years of being an author, through tempestuous changes in the publishing world, I’ve learned the business side of being a writer and I now earn a good living as an author-entrepreneur. I’m an author because it’s my passion and my joy … but also because it can be a business in this age of global and digital opportunity.

What’s in the book?

Here’s an outline of the table of contents.

Part 1: From Author To Entrepreneur

AX39The arc of the author’s journey, definition of an author-entrepreneur, deciding on your definition of success and why it’s important as well as what you want for your life. Plus – should you start a company?

Part 2: Products and Services

How you can turn one manuscript into multiple streams of income by exploiting all the different rights, various business models for authors and how to evaluate your own information on contracts, copyright, and piracy. Plus – putting together a production plan.

Part 3: Employees, Suppliers and Contractors

AX37The team you need to run your business and as an author-entrepreneur. Your role as author and what you’re committing to in the business, as well as co-writing. Editors, agents and publishers, translators, book designers and formatters, audiobook narrators, book-keeping and accounting, virtual assistants. Plus – how to manage your team.

Part 4: Customers

In-depth questions to help you understand who your customers are and what they want, as well as customer service options for authors.

Part 5: Sales and Distribution

AX33How to sell through distributors and your options. The information you need to sell direct. ISBNs and publishing imprints – do you need them? Plus – your options for pricing.

Part 6: Marketing

Defining and reframing marketing so you feel more comfortable with it, as well as key overarching concepts. Book-based marketing techniques including cover, back copy, and sales pages on the distributors. Author-based marketing around building your platform and customer-based marketing around your niche audience and targeted media. This is just an overview. For a whole book on marketing, see my ‘How To Market A Book‘.

Part 7: Financials

AX23Changing your mindset about money and assessing where you are now vs where you want to be. Revenues of the author business and how to increase that revenue. Costs of the author business and funding your startup. Banking, PayPal, accounting, reporting, tax and estate planning.

Part 8: Strategy and Planning

What is your strategy for your business and why this is important. Developing your business plan. Managing your time and developing professional habits, plus accountability systems. The long term view and the process for becoming a full-time author if you choose that route. Plus – looking after yourself.

Part 9: Next Steps

AX21Questions from the book to help you work out everything to do with your business. Plus – encouragement for your next steps.

Appendices, Workbook, and Bonus Downloads

AX2There’s also a download page that accompanies the book includes a downloadable workbook with questions in from each chapter. There’s a business plan template as well as hyperlinked lists of tools and resources to help you further. The Appendices also include bonus interviews on money and how it relates to creativity, writing and life, as well as my own lessons learned over the last years as a full-time author-entrepreneur.

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Thanks so much to Joanna Penn for sharing this piece. I hope this helps DyingWords followers, as well as all aspiring writers, on their journey as authors and business entrepreneurs.

I highly recommend Business For Authors – How To Be An Author Entrepreneur

You’ll get a wealth of material on writing, marketing, and business entrepreneurial-ship by reading this book and by visiting Joanna’s website at www.TheCreativePenn.com

AX9Joanna also writes and promotes her thrillers with a supernatural edge under the name JF Penn. Visit her author site at www.JFPenn.com

Like Joanna Penn on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheCreativePenn

Follow her on Twitter @TheCreativePenn

Get your FREE EBook titled Author 2.0. It’s a blueprint for your online author platform.


And watch Joanna’s invitational video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yafRdLZ9iPc