What Is Proofreading?
Proofreading involves checking documents for basic errors such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You’ll be required to read through documents, articles, and other written materials to check for any mistakes.
It can be extremely embarrassing for companies to send out a press release or public sales materials only for it to have an error. This can immediately compromise the appearance of professionalism, so hiring a proofreader is often a must.
Many people confuse proofreading with editing, but the primary role of a proofreader is to ensure that there are no typos or other mistakes that will compromise the content. In fact, proofreading is often the last step before publishing, taking place after an editor has checked for the clarity and flow of the document.
How To Become A Proofreader
One of the most daunting aspects of trying a new type of job is getting started. While there are many people who believe that you must have a degree or other formal qualification, this is not always the case. Many clients prioritize someone who has an eye for details rather than a fancy certificate on their wall.
Of course, if you’re not confident in your proofreading skills, there are courses that can help you to grasp the fundamentals and take the first steps in the proofreading job market.
Training And Courses To Become A Proofreader Or Editor
If you’re serious about starting a new career as a proofreader or editor, it's a good idea to invest in some training or take a course that can teach you the ins and outs of proofreading.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of proofreading courses available. One of the best courses for proofreaders is Proofread Anywhere.
Proofread Anywhere is run by Caitlin Pyle, and it is one of the more popular courses that can prepare you to have a successful proofreading career. The courses are divided up into modules with lessons, worksheets, video, bonus resources, and real life examples. This can not only help you to learn how to sharpen your proofreading skills but also how to establish your own business and market to potential clients.
The folks at Proofread Anywhere offer a variety of courses, including transcription proofreading and general proofreading. There are also free introductory workshops that you can take, so you can learn the basic theory and practice behind proofreading.
If you’re not feeling confident about applying for entry level positions, even one of their free workshops could help you to get ready to apply. Or you could try one of the free courses to see if proofreading holds appeal for you before you invest more time learning the more complicated skills.
How Much Do Proofreading Jobs Pay?
According to ZipRecruiter data, online proofreading jobs could earn you an average of $50k per year, but your actual earnings will be dependent on your experience, skills, the type of projects and clients you’re working with.
As an entry level proofreader, you could earn as little as $10 per hour, but as you develop your skill set, you should find it relatively easy to earn $50 to $100 per hour.
The Pros and Cons of Online Proofreading
As with any type of career or side gig, there are both pros and cons of online proofreading.
- Work From Home: Most positions prove the flexibility to work from home, setting your own hours and schedule. This will allow you to work full or part time around your current commitments.
- Easy if You Have the Skills: If you are already very good at spotting errors, then you should find proofreading comes easily to you. Of course, you should aim to develop your skills and expertise.
- Low Cost: Compared to many other businesses and at home earning opportunities, the start up costs for a new proofreading business are very low. You can even start small as a side gig and develop it into a full time income.
- Continuing Education: If you want to stay at the top of your game, you will need to be prepared for continued education. This will help you to gain further experience and skills to land those higher paying clients.
- Strict Deadlines: Since proofreading is the last stage in the writing process, you may need to adhere to tight or strict deadlines. So, you will need to have the discipline to ensure that you don’t let any clients down.
What Skills Do I Need As A Proofreader?
Although each project will be different, there are some skills that you will need to apply for proofreading jobs. These include:
- A Good Understanding of Grammar: One of the main reasons why businesses, students, writers, and other professionals hire a proofreader is to spot any punctuation, grammar, or formatting mistakes. To identify these mistakes, you will need a solid understanding of the rules of grammar and a superb command of the language you’re working in. Most freelancers typically look for proofreader jobs in their native language, but if you have strong linguistic skills, you may be able to deliver a high standard of work in your second language.
- A Solid Vocabulary: If you lack a solid vocabulary or lack the passion for words, then online proofreading is not the side gig or new career for you. Most proofreaders sharpen their skills, reading books, articles, and other writing to ensure that they continue to grow their vocabulary.
- Patience: If you find yourself skimming an article because your attention drifted part way through or you skip over chapters in a book, then you’re not likely to have the patience for proofreading. You need to have the temperament to take your time to fully absorb the words on the page, so you can spot any mistakes or errors.
- A Degree: While not a skill, as we have touched on above, there are some companies and projects that specify that they require a proofreader who holds a degree. Most clients or recruitment sites will state in advance that you must have a certain level of education, so you can check if you have the qualifications needed to apply. However, if you have the experience, skills, and expertise, some clients will make an exception.
What Tools Do Proofreaders Use?
You will obviously need some form of laptop or computer to work on for any online proofreading. It is your choice what you choose to use since most software is compatible with a variety of operating systems. However, you need to ensure that your chosen equipment is reliable; if you’re working to a deadline, you will find it very frustrating if you need to keep rebooting.
There are also some other tools that can aid you in your proofreading projects and help you to connect with clients. These include:
- Google Docs: Many freelancers use Google Docs as it is not only easy to use, but also compatible with many other types of documents. You can also store your documents and use it as a method of sharing files. Google Docs also has a comment feature, where the client can make notes. You’ll receive an email alert that comments have been added to the document, so you can resolve them quickly. Just be sure to keep your own copy of your work, as clients have been known to accidentally delete a file.
- Dropbox: If a client doesn’t use Google Docs, the chances are that they use Dropbox. This is another file-sharing tool that, as the name suggests, allows you to drop files into shared boxes. It is well worth signing up for an account and familiarizing yourself with the features, so you can be prepared if a client prefers using this tool.
- Grammarly: Although you shouldn’t solely rely on it, Grammarly should be considered essential for any proofreaders. This is a fantastic tool that will scan the work and highlight spelling and grammar errors. You can then decide if you want to make the changes or not. You can also set the style and tone of the piece, so that it remains conversational or formal, as needed. Of course, you will still need to carefully read through the piece, but Grammarly can be a good way to keep your skills sharp, helping to pick up any errors you miss.
1. Approach Companies Directly
This does require some confidence, and you will need to be prepared for some legwork, but it can be a great way to get some great clients. Create a short email that outlines what you can offer and why a company should use your services. Be sure to include a call to action in your email.
You will then need to collect email addresses of companies who you think you may be able to help. It may be worth including a small section of the company’s website or blogs highlighting any spelling or grammar errors. Send out the emails, and then you’ll need to wait for responses.
It is worth having a series of two or three email templates, so you can follow up on your initial email. Just be sure not to pester potential clients, as they may need some time to think before they respond to your email. You should use this approach sparingly, as it is risky to spend lots of time working for free with no guarantees of paid work.
If you don’t feel confident enough to approach companies directly, you could use a third party freelancing site. Upwork is a great example of this type of platform, and it is the largest and most popular freelancing site.
The advantage of using a third party freelancer site is that you don’t need to worry about chasing payments or being scammed, since the site takes care of these details. For example, Upwork holds the payment for a project in Escrow. Once you complete the work, you can request a payment release, and your client has 14 days to approve the work. If you don’t hear from the client, the payment will auto release. However, this payment protection does come at a price, and you will be charged a percentage of your project total. This can be quite steep initially, but as you continue working with a client, the percentage will reduce. This encourages you to build lasting client relationships.
You will still need to put in some unpaid work to get started. Most of these sites, including Upwork, require that you complete a profile. This not only includes some details about yourself, but also portfolio samples. You will also need to draft a proposal for each job listing that you want to apply for. Although some people use a standard template for this, many clients can spot a boilerplate reply and will reject your application, so it is best to take a little time to create a unique proposal that responds to the details in the job listing.
Fiverr is another popular option to find clients for your freelance proofreading services. This has an advantage in that you can get started immediately. This makes Fiverr a great platform to test the types of assignments that you like to do.
Fiverr began as a website where you can get tasks completed for $5, but it has evolved into one of the top freelancer platforms. It is easy to complete a few assignments, and you will be able to get testimonials from your happy clients in other areas of your new proofreading business.
4. Job Boards
There are plenty of job boards where you can find proofreader jobs. Use the search facility using keywords like proofreading, proofreader, or even copy editor to find projects. While many of the job boards require setting up a profile, once you complete your profile, you’ll be able to apply for jobs that fit your skillset or even post about your services.
- FlexJobs: Remote job listings including jobs for proofreaders.
- ProBlogger: Job boards that include a lot of writing jobs, but also jobs for proofreaders.
- BloggingPro: Similar to ProBlogger, with some jobs for proofreaders.
5. Social Media
You can also leverage your social media platforms to develop your proofreading business.
You can post your availability as a proofreader on Facebook group pages for bloggers, editors, and writers or create a LinkedIn profile to highlight your services to professionals within the community.
Best Places To Find Online Proofreading Jobs
There are also some companies that can help you to find online proofreading jobs. Many of these companies have their own requirements, but many of them do offer impressive earning potential, you could start to earn up to $100 per hour. These include:
Scribendi is an internet based company offering revision services. Although Scribendi has in house roles, they also offer freelancer positions, so you can work from home to your own schedule. You will also have the flexibility to choose the assignments that are most appealing to you.
Scribendi does require at least three years of proofreading experience, native level English, a university degree, and an average speed of 1,000 words or more an hour. Scribendi also has restrictions for freelancers in certain states, so check the terms and conditions carefully before applying.
Wordvice claims to have proofread and edited more than 40 million words in six different countries, and its main aim is to support clients in academic, business, and research projects.
If you apply successfully, you could be working on documents from universities, academic societies, laboratories, or medical institutions. There are requirements for working with Wordvice that include at least two years of professional experience, native English fluency and be enrolled or have finished a graduate degree program.
Scribemedia is a more specialized company with a focus on helping people to write, publish, and market books. You will need to join the Scribemedia email list to receive an alert about upcoming freelance positions, but there are no specific requirements. ?
Scribemedia is a premium service provider, however, so it is a good idea to build a decent resume before you apply.
This global company works with freelancers in all aspects of writing. Most posts are in a technical niche and require a degree, but you may be able to secure some decent proofreading jobs with this company.
This proofreading and editing service does have in house professionals, but it often seeks qualified applicants. You will need to hold a degree and have five years of professional experience.
To apply for a position, you will need to complete a questionnaire and answer questions about your native language, software set up, writing style proficiencies, and experience. You’ll be asked about your pay expectations, and you will be contacted if your application is successful.
EditFast offers freelance work and you must register and complete the resume builder, editing tests, and an NDA before you can start to work. You will also need to confirm that you hold a degree and have proofreading experience.
The company will review your details if you’re successful, you will have your profile activated in approximately two weeks. Once activated, you will be eligible for new project notifications when there is a new project. EditFast pays through PayPal, but be prepared for a 40% fee taken from your earnings.
You will need to have at least five years of experience before you can apply to Enago, but you may be able to circumvent this if you have post doc research experience and know a variety of editing styles. Y
You will need to submit a cover letter and resume, and if you meet the requirements, you will be sent a sample to test your expertise. If this goes well, you will receive an NDA and contract.
13. Writer's Relief
Writer's Relief offers resources for writers, including proofreading. You only need to complete a basic application to register your interest, and Writers Relief will notify you when there is an opportunity suited to your skillset.
Gramlee has a very straightforward application process to join as a proofreader. Gramlee offers reasonably priced services, so you can expect a variety of work.
15. Polished Paper
Polished Paper provides editing and proofreading for businesses and academics and often search for exceptional professionals to work with them. You will need to register and upload your resume. Once you do this, you’ll be redirected to a questionnaire.However, you can use outside resources such as formatting guides to help you complete this test. Your application will be assessed, and Polished Paper will contact you if you’re successful.
Edit911 is an editing service that is used by numerous companies, institutions, students, and brands. You’ll need to hold a Ph.D. in English, be a published scholar, have proficiency in MS Word, and at least one more software application and demonstrate your dedication to offer the highest standard of proofreading services.
You’ll need to submit your resume and a writing sample, but the Edit911 team will respond within 48 hours.
WordsRU offers high quality editing and proofreading services for professionals and students. You will need to have at least two years of experience, hold a Ph.D. or Master’s degree, be familiar with at least two editing styles, and have proficiency in at least one type of software in addition to MS Word.
If you’re successful, you’ll work as an independent contractor and pay rates will depend on the specific project.
WordFirm has opportunities for proofreaders to work as independent contractors on publication projects. You will need to complete a fairly detailed application, but this will register your interest for future projects.
Try to provide as much information as possible, as this will help the WordFirm team decide your suitability for upcoming work.
Scribbr partners with hundreds of freelancers around the world, helping students with their academic writing.
You’ll need to be a native speaker, hold a bachelor’s degree, and meet some other requirement criteria. You will be guided through the recruitment process that includes an application and language quiz to qualify.
EnglishTrackers provides editing and proofreading services to help writers publish native level English documents.
You will need to be a native speaker and have a minimum of two years of experience, particularly working with documents written by non native speakers. You should also hold a Ph.D.
ProofreadingServices offers part time at home positions if you can demonstrate that you have excellent proofreading skills. This allows you to work flexible hours, but you can expect competitive pay.
You’ll need to complete a substantial test to apply, but the company will contact you if you’re successful.
There Are Plenty Of Proofreading Jobs Available
As you can see, there are lots of ways to earn an impressive income as a proofreader, even for beginners. While some of the jobs listed here do require some professional experience, many companies will make exceptions if you can showcase excellent skills.
Whether you’re interested in developing a side gig or would like to replace your full time career, proofreading online can be an interesting and rewarding choice. Of course, you will need to take a little time to develop a resume, set up profile pages and create cover letters, in addition to developing your confidence and skill set, but you should be able to reach greater earnings with higher paying clients.
Even if you are a total beginner, there are entry level positions available that can help you to gain that all important experience. You can even start to specialize in a specific type of writing, or you can remain a general proofreader. So, whether you dive right in or try a course to develop your skill set, you could soon be on your way to $100 or more per hour earnings.
Have you ever tried freelancing as a proofreader? What are your best tips and tricks that you used to create a secondary or full time income? Tell us in the comments!