Are you looking to become a proofreader?
Even if you are just looking for a side hustle that matches up your skill set, freelance proofreading could be one of them.
Proofreading work is one of the most flexible ways to supplement your income.
And, if you like to read anyway, your search for the perfect (and suitable!) side hustle is over. I can see us dance like these
But, am I cut out to become a proofreader? Do I have the abilities to start proofreading from home and earn a full-time income? Do I need formal training to be able to do any proofreading work? Is it profitable?
There are always so many questions around proofreading from home and side hustles in general.
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This post (rather, guide) is for beginners out there who want to become a proofreader and launch a profitable career to earn big bucks working from home (or traveling full time)
So are you ready?
If you are, start learning the tricks of the trade, be sure to check out this free 45 minute workshop that will tell you a lot about being a successful proofreader.
But, before that, let’s understand a few things about proofreading work –
What is proofreading work, after all?
Proofreading work involves fine combing what is already being edited to ensure that the content is free of typos, grammatical or punctuation errors. After the content has been proofread, it is sent for publication and not before that.
It is the final touch to the content before it goes live. Basically, you are responsible to tidy up and assure the quality of content.
What exactly does a proofreader do and Is it different from editing
Proofreading work is significantly different than editing. In simple terms, editing comes before any content is sent for proofreading.
Editing deals with restructuring, suggesting changes, deleting parts of copy and ensuring that the copy reads well. You are expected to be involved in the copy if you are an editor.
But, proofreading work does not require you to do any of these. You are NOT expected to see if the copy reads well or suggest any changes. None of this is a part of proofreading.
Proofreaders are responsible for typos, grammar or punctuation errors only.
Usually, if you want to become a proofreader, you will some of these things:
- Check formatting, page numbers, and headings
- Check the table of content against page numbers, chapter titles, appendices, index, annexures etc.
- Ensure that the copy has a consistent style throughout. They could be required to follow a particular style guide.
- Look for omissions, redundant words, inconsistencies in typography and content
- Check or insert cross-references
- Eliminate redundant, confusing words, columns, breaks, titles etc
What does it take to become a proofreader?
A professional website which details what the services you will be providing.
You can start a website with as little as $3.95 a month or Rs. 276 a month (if you are in India, you can also opt for Hostgator for Rs. 350 a month) or go with the free options. However, I do not recommend using free options. You can read about other options here and here.
You can use this step by step tutorial to get your WordPress blog up and running. If you have difficulty in understanding the basics (like domain name, wordpress.org or .com, hosting etc), you can read this article on website basics.
Besides this, if you are an avid reader who can naturally spot errors, proofreading work is definitely for you.
And, if it is proofreading from home, the deal is undeniable.
Read these questions carefully and think about them
Do you read blogs and spot at least 1-2 mistakes in almost all of them?
Do you read magazines and laugh at how silly a few sentences read?
If you can relate to any of them, you are a detailed oriented person and have the potential to be become a proofreader.
You also need to be adept at grammar, syntax, punctuations etc. However, all of that can be learned. So, you don’t have to worry. Ha!
Along with that, you will also need to learn the trick of the trades. For example, you cannot proofread a document and write huge comments explaining what you have to say. It would be a waste of your time. For this purpose, there are proofreaders mark – these are marks that show what changes need to be done.
Do I need to have an English Degree for freelance proofreading?
Absolutely, NOT. Many companies who require a degree for any kind of proofreading work, but there are many more who don’t.
Look, having a degree does not mean you will be a successful proofreader. Similarly, not having a degree does not automatically mean that you suck. It is almost always about the willingness to learn and market yourself.
If you are a beginner proofreader with no experience, it might take some time to establish yourself, market and land clients. You will have to continually grow, learn and unlearn (yes, unlearn as well!).
All that you need is a business mindset (not a desperate job seeker mindset).
Do I need to select a niche? How to do that?
I have been able to earn $2000+ as a freelance writer consistently because I niched down. I decide to target marketing companies and stuck to it. It not only helped me find target clients quickly, it also helped market myself as an expert.
Proofreading works no differently. I have seen many writers who are also proofreaders for their clients. Most of the established ones have a niche.
See, it all comes down to one thing. Once you have a niche and gain adequate experience, you can start charging big bucks.
For example, Caitlin – a known proofreader, is focused on transcripts and knows that her target clients are law offices and lawyers. She has been able to earn $40k a year and shares all her strategies here.
Here are a few examples of the niche you can have in the beginning
- White papers
- Academic papers
- Marketing materials
- Press releases
That said, I want to repeat myself. Niches are to market yourself. You can take on work outside of the niche to understand where your interests and ability lies.
Remember, you can change the niche anytime!
Where can I find proofreading work online
Everywhere. There is so much content out there that everyone needs a proofreader.
But, don’t fall into the trap of selecting an easy niche.
See, if you target start up – average blogs, they probably cannot pay you that much. For them, not a lot is at stake if there are minor mistakes.
Now, take a look at the list of niche above. People will almost always pay you higher to ensure that there are no errors in their whitepapers, transcripts, contracts etc. So, choose a niche where proofreading is a sensitive and integral part of the process.
Proofreading should never be an option for your target clients! Ask this before selecting a niche and you will choose the right one.
Is it profitable to become a proofreader?
Heck, yeah. With an increase in blogging and self-publishing, there is an increase in demand for proofreading services. You can sign up for this free webinar to know more about earning $40000 a year.
How do I get started?
Before anything else, you need to start building a website for your services. You are going to start working from home and it is important that you have virtual existence.
You can start a blog with as little as $3.95 a month or Rs. 276 a month (if you are in India, you can also opt for Hostgator for Rs. 350 a month) or go with the free options. However, I do not recommend using free options. You can read about other options here and here.
You can use this step by step tutorial to get your WordPress blog up and running.
If you do not understand technical terms like hosting, domain, CMS etc, read this beginner guide on setting up a blog.
Once that is done, start looking out for proofreading clients on the following platforms
- Job Boards
- Facebook groups.
You should also cold email clients and ask for proofreading work. This is the single most effective strategy to land high paying clients.
You can also sign up for this FREE course which talks about tips and strategies to earn up to $40000 a year.
Anything else you need to know to become a proofreader?
Yes, like every other business, proofreading is difficult. It will take time to establish yourself if you are doing everything on your own.
Yet there is an incredibly high demand for freelance proofreading worldwide, and the best part is that you don’t need to be in any specific location to do the job… it’s all from your computer or tablet!
If you want to become a proofreader and scale quickly, I suggest investing in yourself. That said, you can definitely learn everything by yourself and put a trial & error method in place.
But, imagine an expert sharing everything you need to do to get it right in the first attempt? You will know you are on the right track and won’t have to restart all over again.
You should definitely look at this. It will help you get the basics of proofreading to make sure you are a word skills SUPERSTAR as well as turn the knowledge into a profitable business.
Over to you
Do you think you can become a proofreader? Can proofreading be your thing? How do you plan to begin? Comment below and let us know
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Related resources that will help you get started working from home –
Resources that I love:
Get paid to write online – This is a FREE email course by Elna Cain where she talks about her strategies, tips, and trick to make your first $1000 by writing for businesses. Using this course, I built a successful writing business and earned $1000 in the first month of writing. Sign up!
Pinteresting Strategies – If you are interested in making money online (either with blogging, e-commerce store, digital products or anything else like coaching or writing services), let me tell you one thing – You need Pinterest. In any course you may buy for business, they recommend investing in Tailwind app (the only permitted scheduler for Pinterest). Many of you, on a tight budget, would not be able to (or want to) pay for it. But, Carly Campbell has figured out a way to go from 1 to 300k by manually pinning on Pinterest. She is a Pinterest strategy goddess, grab her book here. It helped me get from 0 to 100k in 3 months!
You can also signup with my link and get a month of Tailwind plus free (if you want to try it out before investing ANY money into it).
Skillshare – Skillshare is my go-to place to learn a new skill without having to splurge hundreds of dollar. It is an online learning community where you can explore thousands of classes in design, photography, business, and more. You can get started with a free trial using my link and get access to hundreds of courses.
VIPKID is an online service which deals with teaching English to children in China with the typically between 4-12 years of age. It offers $18-$22 per hour. You can use this method to quickly ramp up your side income.