If you’re looking for a home based business and to earn a full-time income, then becoming a freelance proofreader is an excellent business choice.
In this blog post I go over how to become a proofreader with no experience, get lots of freelance proofreading work and make in excess of $2,000 per month.
Now, in all transparency, I haven’t been a proofreader myself because I don’t think my grammar is good enough. My spelling is good, but my grammar not so much.
But I did look into this in great detail before I realized this probably wasn’t the best business idea for me. So this blog post is outlining all the research and findings I gathered on how to become a proofreader with no experience.
So let’s get started…
What Does a Proofreader Do?
A proofreader is a person who reviews written material for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and formatting. They can work on a variety of written documents such as books, magazines, newspapers, academic papers, legal documents, marketing materials, and more.
However, some proofreaders like to pick a specific niche to work in as they already have good knowledge in that industry.
Examples of niches:
Proofreaders typically review documents after they have been written and edited by writers and editors. Their job is to ensure that the document is error-free, consistent, and easy to read. They also check for accuracy of facts, adherence to style guides, and overall clarity of the text.
Editor v Proofreader
At this point you might be thinking, hang on a mintute; so what’s the difference between an Editor and a Proofreader then?
So let me explain.
An editor is responsible for reviewing a written work, such as a book or article, and making changes to improve its overall quality. This may involve correcting grammar and spelling errors, improving the clarity and flow of sentences, and suggesting changes to the structure or content of the work. Editors also often work closely with writers to help them develop their ideas and ensure that their message is effectively communicated to their intended audience.
On the other hand, a proofreader’s primary role is to review a written work for errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting. Their focus is on correcting any mistakes that may have been missed by the writer or the editor, rather than making more substantial changes to the content or structure of the work.
In summary, while both editors and proofreaders are involved in reviewing written works, editors generally have a broader range of responsibilities that include improving the overall quality of the work, while proofreaders focus primarily on catching and correcting errors in the final draft.
Proofreaders may also use various tools and techniques to identify errors, including software programs, style guides, and dictionaries.
Ultimately, a proofreader’s role is to ensure that the final document is polished, professional, and ready for publication or distribution.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become a Proofreader?
Whilst there are no set qualifications required to become a proofreader, there are some skills and qualifications that can make you more competitive in the field:
- Excellent grasp of the language: Proofreaders should have an excellent understanding of the language in which they work. They should have a strong command of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax*.
- Attention to detail: Proofreading requires a high level of attention to detail to identify errors that may be missed by others.
- Strong communication skills: Proofreaders should be able to communicate effectively with writers, editors, and clients. They should be able to provide constructive feedback and make suggestions for improvement.
- Familiarity with style guides: Familiarity with style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, and the Modern Language Association (MLA) style guide is beneficial for proofreaders.
- Experience: Although not always necessary, experience in writing, editing, or publishing can be helpful in becoming a proofreader.
- Education: A degree in English, journalism, or a related field can also be beneficial, but it is not a requirement.
Overall, while there are no set qualifications required to become a proofreader, having a strong grasp of the language, attention to detail, strong communication skills, familiarity with style guides, and experience can make you more competitive in the field.
How To Become a Proofreader Without a Degree
As mentioned above, you can easily become a proofreader without a degree.
The main thing potential clients will look for in a proofreader is your ability to do the job professionally and they will also look at your experience.
So this obviously goes back to the question, “But how do I get started from scratch with no experience whatsoever?”
How To Get Started From Scratch With No Experience
After looking and researching many business ideas, and you’ve finally made the decision to become a proofreader, this is the second biggest challenge – to land your first job and start gaining experience.
Here are some steps you can take to gain experience as a proofreader:
Develop your proofreading skills: As already metnioned, to become a proofreader, you need to have a strong grasp of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Work for Free: This is called prono bono which is a Latin term which means that you do work for free for the good of the public. However in your case, it’s not necessarily for the good of the public, but it will be a win-win situation for you and your client.
The client gets proofreading work done for free, and you get a testimonial for your portfolio.
Nobody needs to know that you done this work for free. Just make sure your client knows that in order to get proofreading for fee, you require a positive testimonail in return.
Do three or four pro bono jobs, and you’ll have enough testimonials to market your services for paid jobs.
Reduced Rates: If you don’t want to go down the prono bono route, then you could offer your services for extremely reduced rates.
It would be the same concept as for pro bono work. You charge, say $10 an hour for proofreading (as oopposed to $25), and in return your client will give you a positive testimonail.
Building Up Your Confidence
The whole point of doing pro bono and/or reduced rates work is to not only build up your portfolio, but to also give you the confidence to go out there and charge $25-$50 an hour.
There’s not many people who would become a proofreader with no experience and start charging clients $30 straight off the bat.
Have a strategy in place, it could go something like this:
- Do three pro bono jobs.
- Do three jobs at $10 hour.
- Do four jobs at $15 hour.
- Start charging $25 an hour.
By following this strategy, you will have ten testimonials from happy clients before you start charging your full rate of $25 hour.
Build a portfolio: As you develop your proofreading skills, start building a portfolio of your work. This would include samples of your proofreading work or testimonials from satisfied clients.
You could display these on a Facebook business page or in your LinkedIn profile. You could also go a step further and build yourself a small website which would act as your online portfolio for marketing reasons.
Network: Networking is an essential part of any career, and proofreading is no exception. Reach out to other proofreaders or writers to build your network and potentially gain referrals.
Facebook groups are a great place for this. Do a search on Facebook and you’ll find a few groups specifically for Proofreaders.
Look for freelance opportunities: Many companies and individuals require proofreading services for their written content. Look for freelance opportunities on job boards or freelancing platforms to gain experience. More on this subject later.
Consider getting certified: Please note that it is not necessary to get a certification to become a proofreader. However, I do understand that some people may feel more confident in getting such a certificate.
If this is the case, there are several organizations that offer proofreading certification programs, both online and in-person.
Some examples include:
- American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA): They offer a certification program called “PCE” (Proofreading Certification Exam) which is open to both members and non-members.
- The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA): They offer a certification program called “Certified Professional Editor” which includes a proofreading test as well as editing.
- The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP): They offer a certification program called “Proofreading Headway” which covers proofreading skills and business practice.
- The University of California, San Diego Extension: They offer an online certification program in “Copyediting and Proofreading” which covers both proofreading and copyediting.
- The Poynter Institute: They offer online courses in various aspects of editing and proofreading, including a course called “Cleaning Your Copy” which focuses specifically on proofreading.
It’s important to note that while these certification programs can provide valuable training and credentials, they are not necessary to become a professional proofreader. Many successful proofreaders have gained experience and built their reputation through freelance work or other types of writing and editing experience.
Invest in Yourself and Your New Business
Even though you don’t need a degree or a certificate, it’s still worthwhile in investing in some learning to become a successful, and profitable, proofreader.
There is one very successful proofreading course that I’ve been aware of for some time and that’s Proofread Anywhere.
You can watch the FREE Workshop to see if proofreading is the right fit for you in the first instance, and then decide if you want to make the investment and purchase the course.
Caitlin, the creator of the course, has over 15,000 students and her course has been featured on many large publications.
Go take a peek: Proofread Anywhere by Cailtin
How Much Money Do Proofreaders Make?
The amount of money that proofreaders make can vary depending on several factors, such as their level of experience, location, and the type of content they are proofreading.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for proofreaders and copy markers was $41,060 as of May 2020. However, it’s important to note that earnings can vary widely based on factors such as experience, industry, location, and type of work (freelance or in-house).
Freelance proofreaders may earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month, depending on the volume of work they take on and their rates. The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) conducted a survey of freelance editors and proofreaders in 2020, which found that the median hourly rate for proofreading was $35, with some respondents reporting rates as high as $120 per hour.
It’s worth noting that freelance earnings can be unpredictable and may fluctuate based on factors such as the availability of work and competition from other freelancers. In-house proofreaders may have more stable earnings but may also have less flexibility in terms of hours and workload.
It’s always a good idea to research the average rates for proofreaders in your area or industry to get a better idea of how much you can expect to earn.
$2,000 Month: Let’s Do The Math(s)
Based on the above, if you charged $25 per hour (as a low estimate) and worked only 20 hours per week, then that would earn you $500 per week.
$500 x 4 weeks = $2,000 per month.
You could then decide which hours or days to work to suit yourself and your lifestyle.
And of course, as you gain more experience you could start charging the hourly average rate of $35, which would increase your income significaly without having to work any extra hours!
How To Become a Freelance Proofreader
First things first, let’s break down the term “freelance.”
Freelancing simply means working for yourself rather than being employed by a company.
So, a freelance proofreader is someone who works independently and gets hired on a project-by-project basis to review written content for errors. In essence, you will become self-employed and run your own proofreading business.
Now, let’s talk about what exactly a proofreader does. A proofreader checks over written content such as articles, books, or websites to ensure that it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. They also make sure that the content flows smoothly and makes sense overall. Freelance proofreaders can work in many different industries such as publishing, marketing, or education. They may also specialize in certain types of content such as technical writing or academic papers.
One of the great things about being a freelance proofreader is the flexibility it offers. You can work from anywhere with an internet connection and set your own hours. Plus, you get to choose which projects you take on based on your interests and availability.
So there you have it – a brief overview of what a freelance proofreader is and what they do. If you have strong attention to detail and love reading (and correcting) written content, then this could be the perfect career path for you!
How To Get Proofreading Jobs Online
Are you looking for a way to put your exceptional grammar skills to good use and earn some money?
If so, then proofreading might just be the perfect job for you! Proofreading jobs are in high demand as more and more content is being produced online.
Here’s how you can get started with finding online proofreading jobs:
1. Start With Freelance Platforms
There are numerous freelance platforms available on the internet where clients post their projects, including proofreading jobs.
You can sign up for these platforms and create a profile highlighting your skills and experience. Once you’ve set up your profile, start searching for proofreading jobs that match your expertise.
2. Check Out Job Boards
These sites allow you to filter job searches by specific keywords such as “proofreader” or “editor.”
You can also set up alerts so that new job postings are sent directly to your email inbox.
You can also do some Google searches to see if there any other jobs boards. Type key searches such as “proofreading job boards” into the Google search bar and see what comes up.
3. Network With Other Professionals
Networking with other professionals in the same field can help increase your chances of finding work opportunities.
Joining relevant communities on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook Groups is an excellent way to connect with people who share similar interests and have connections within the industry.
4. Create Your Website
Having a website showcasing your portfolio of work is an excellent way to promote yourself as a professional proofreader/editor.
You can display samples of previous work done, testimonials from satisfied clients, and pricing information on your website.
In conclusion, becoming a proofreader can be an exciting and fulfilling career path.
With the right skills, training, and attitude, you can turn your passion for language and attention to detail into a rewarding profession. Keep in mind that proofreading requires patience, dedication, and constant learning to stay up-to-date with industry standards and trends.
However, with practice and perseverance, you’ll soon be able to spot errors at a glance and help clients communicate their message effectively.
So take the first step today by exploring courses or resources that can help you hone your skills as a proofreader – who knows where it might lead?
P.S. If you still need a helping hand, then I highly recommend that you watch Caitlin’s free workshop. You don’t even have to buy her course as there’s a lot of good information which you can get for free inside the workshop.
Hi, I’m Claire Bullerwell
I’ve ran dozens of home-based businesses, both offline and online, since my early twenties. I started this blog to share all my wealth of knowledge and experience to help women just like you; to find your dream home business. Fill that empty nest, work around your menopause and just live your best life at 50 something!
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