Whether you are looking for a lucrative side hustle or to develop a full-time career working from home, proofreading could be the thing for you. It can provide short term finance if you are looking to make a quick buck as well as the potential to develop as a full-blown career and possibly make you more than your 9 to 5 job.
The thing I personally love the most about proofreading is that you do not need a university degree for it. All you need is a love for reading, and a keen eye to make out spelling, punctuation and other grammatical mistakes, and a little training. In this article, I discuss everything from the very basics of what proofreading is to what you need to do in order to start a career as a proofreader and, most importantly, how and where to find work as a proofreader.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is a very important part of the writing process. When we write something for publishing, for example, this article on the internet, it is the very last step in the process after the editing phase. The task of a proofreader is to go through the writing very thoroughly and identify and correct any typographical mistakes in grammar, style, or spelling that may have slipped through the writer and the editor.
The purpose of a proofreader and an editor is often confused. The editor is more concerned in making the major adjustments in the draft, correcting mistakes and restyling the piece of writing to make it more publishable. This may include removing monotony in the sentence structures and removal of misdirected words. This is a difficult task and needs a much higher level of expertise as well as a greater command of language. When the writing comes to the proofreader, all that work has already been done. The role of a proofreader is to polish the written word and make sure that there are no spelling, punctuation or other typographical mistakes before it finally gets published. It is a jobless focused on your command on the language, and more on your ability to pay attention to minor details.
Who is proofreading for?
Now that we have a thorough understanding of what proofreading is and what a proofreader does, it is time to decide whether proofreading really is the thing for you. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide but let me give you a few things to consider while making this decision.
Do you love reading?
Well, this should be understood but is still worth mentioning, you will make money by reading so if you are not fond of the written word and want to do something with your hands, it is not the job for you.
What was your grade in high school English class?
This should not be a determinant in making your decision, but if you remember feeling miserable in your English class in high school, and did not perform well, it is a good indicator that you will not love this job. On the other hand, if you outperformed others, or even stood above the average student in your language class, working as a proofreader makes more sense.
Are you able to work long hours unsupervised and not get distracted?
This is a very frustrating hurdle that you may face in the beginning. Keep in mind that you will be working from home, unsupervised. There will be no one to remind you that you should be reading and not watching those cat videos on your phone, and still be expected to meet deadlines.
Do you have a language degree?
Having a degree is not absolutely necessary, but some clients may require while others prefer people with a relevant degree. However, if you gain experience and earn good reviews, it usually has greater weightage. All things considered, if you are good at paying attention to the little details, you can easily become a proofreader. However, the job is particularly lucrative for stay at home moms or dads, or for someone looking to start a stable side hustle as the job is very flexible in terms of how much work you want to accept and what hours you want to work. On top of that, if you like reading books, you may find this job both fun and rewarding.
Growing demand for proof-readers
Another thing to consider while choosing your career or side hustle is the long-term demand. Some people, who just want to make a quick buck, do not think it is important. However, I personally think that you should always consider the longer-term aspects of all your sources of revenue. This gives you an idea of how much you can invest in terms of time and effort in developing the skills needed to do the job.
Luckily, proofreaders are in high demand. Due to the technology taking over the publishing industry and drastically changing the landscape, there is an increasing amount of material written and consumed all through the newer sources of media such as blogs, news websites and eBooks as well as the more traditional books and other printed media.
You can also find work proofreading student assignments, user manuals, legal transcripts and even menus. Traditionally, a lot of such work would be done by either the writer or inhouse. However, with the internet making communication so efficient, it is quicker, easier and cheaper to find a professional proofreader through online platforms dedicated to freelancing. So, if you want to start proofreading as a part-time hustle, you can later develop it into full-time job.
Ok, so proofreading is easy, flexible and has the potential to grow. But how much does it pay? According to Salary.com, the average salary for a full-time proofreader is $52,486 annually, or $25 hourly. Glassdoor gives a slightly lower average of $45,182 annually for employed proofreaders and freelance proofreaders making a much better average of $60,809 per year.
Keep in mind that these are the average salaries and include both experienced and inexperienced professionals. If you are smart and reasonably hardworking, you can expect to make around $40,000 in your first year working full time. If you wish to work as a freelancer, at the very start you will need to lowball in order to win the bids. This is a necessary sacrifice that you will have to make. Once you have a few good reviews on your profile, you should aim at a minimum of $20 to $25/hour.
Where to get training free and paid
Contrary to common belief, you do not need a degree in the language in order to become a proofreader. However, good command of language is an absolute must. This can be achieved by training to get yourself ready for the job. For this, you can find many online lessons specifically designed to help you kickstart your proofreading career. These include free as well as paid programmes.
If you need a good place to start, take the free workshop from Caitlyn Pyle. She started her proofreading career in 2014 and has since trained almost 5000 students over that period. Her free workshop should give you a better in-depth idea of the skills involved and what to expect when starting your proofreading career. If you like her free workshop, she also offers a full paid course on proofreadanywhere.com. Another good course I found was on Udemy on Proofreading Power Basics. You can also find other great courses on Udemy that will teach you at a more advanced level and very affordable rates.
Where to get a proofreading job?
Now that you have decided to start working as a proofreader and have gained all the skills needed to start work, the final question is where to get work from. Well, the first place for the beginners to start is to build a profile on the popular freelancing platforms. These include freelancer.com, Fiverr and Upwork. This gives you flexibility when it comes to what type of work you want to take and how much. These platforms also give you an opportunity to negotiate with the client the price of the project. Apart from these platforms, there are numerous other platforms dedicated to bringing together the writers, editors and proofreaders. I have compiled a list of platforms from which you can select the ones that work best for you. Remember that some of thm have strict hiring criteria and many require you to pass a test for the job.
6. Scribe media
8. Cactus global
9. Polished paper
13. Americal journal experts
14. Proofreading services
15. Managed editing