How to Become a Proofreader

How to Become a Proofreader: Ultimate Guide For Beginners

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Do you want to learn how to become a proofreader and earn money with your word skills?

Proofreading is more than just sitting behind a screen and eliminating errors from your essay before submitting it. It is a flexible career that can have you smiling to the bank if you put in the work needed. 

how to become a proofreader

And it’s not just about the money. You can earn some good money working from the comfort of your house. Also, you get to set your working hours, pay rates, and get to choose your clients. This is the kind of freedom you get when you build your career as a proofreader. 

So, how do you start earning money from this proofreading thing? How do you move from catching mistakes from your essays to making actual money from it? You are just about to find out. Keep reading to learn how to become a proofreader. 

But before we go any further, do you know exactly what proofreading is? Let’s start by finding out. 

What is proofreading, and what kind of errors do proofreaders look for?

Proofreading is the last step before any book, text, or paper is published or used for its intended purpose. It involves reading through a written document and catching simple mistakes and errors that include:

  • Typos
  • Double words
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar mistakes
  • Spelling
  • Formatting mistakes

Before you receive work as a proofreader, it should have passed through the eyes of a copyeditor. The copyeditor and the writer are responsible for making copyediting and developmental changes. You will only make minor changes that escaped the editor and the writer. 

Not long ago, proofreaders mostly found work with publishing companies. However, today, proofreading services are needed by almost everyone that creates written content. You may land jobs from self-publishing authors, bloggers, social media marketers, students, businesses, and more. 

Read more: What Is Proofreading?

How much money can you make proofreading?

What you earn as a proofreader depends on several things. But I know you will love to have a figure to understand what you are getting into.

According to salary.com, the median salary of an online proofreader is around $52, 000 per year. The majority of proofreaders make $25-$50 per hour. 

As a freelance proofreader, you will be working from home, and you will have all the freedom. Therefore, what you make will depend on how many hours you put in. If you dedicate more hours to your work, you will earn more. 

Secondly, what you make as a proofreader will depend on your skills and experience. A proofreader with better skills and experience will earn more than those that are just starting. It is up to you to hone your skills and boost your expertise to make more from less work. 

However, do not expect to be an overnight millionaire. Freelance proofreading won’t do that for you. But it will be worth it if you get several trusted and regular clients. 

What qualifications do you need to be a proofreader?

For you to succeed as a proofreader, you need to have the following skills:

  • Excellent command of English. If you want to work as a proofreader, your knowledge of English must be above average. If you struggle with English, you will not notice bad grammar, spelling errors, and punctuation mistakes. And it will be best if you are able to catch them from first glance. 
  • An eye for detail. As a proofreader, you are the last set of eyes that work goes through before publishing. This means that you must have an eye for detail because if anything escapes your eyes, the errors will get out there. Therefore, your reading does not have to be skimming. You have to be able to notice small mistakes that other people do not see with ease.
  • Love for reading. First, proofreading is all about reading. There is no way you will enjoy work if you have no love for reading. Yes, some projects will be interesting to read. Some will be boring, but you still have to read them to the last word. Also, you need to read to keep your skills at per. Proofreading is always changing. There is always something new you can learn. Furthermore, to improve your grammar skills, you need to read lots and lots of books. 
  • You must have self-discipline. As a proofreader, you will work on projects with different writing styles. You will meet some styles that you absolutely hate. Remember, your work is not to change the writer’s style. You need the self-discipline to work under instructions and keep your clients returning. Your work is to correct superficial errors. Also, because you will be working as a freelancer, you will have nothing done without self-discipline. 
  • Must be a good time manager. As a freelancer, you must be good with your time. Yes, you have the freedom to work whenever you want to, but you must organize your days well. You must dedicate a set number of hours to proofreading per day if you want to make the most out of it. Also, you will meet gigs that have a short timeline to be completed. Such will include students who need to submit their assignments before the deadline. You, therefore, need to be a good time manager to make the most from proofreading. 
  • You must have excellent marketing skills. Proofreading is like any other business. You need to market yourself to potential clients. To land the first gigs, you must aggressively market yourself. From there, you may be able to land more clients through referrals. However, to stay afloat, you need to continue marketing yourself even after landing your first clients. And how do you market your proofreading services? Through cold-pitching and using online platforms to make your services visible. 
  • Have a good sense of business. Treat your proofreading hustle like any other business. You will have to manage gigs, projects, invoicing, and accounting. The workload may get overwhelming. If you do not have proper business and bookkeeping skills, you will always mix or lose important data. Fortunately, there are lots of software that can help you manage your freelance business. 

Not sure where to start or how to become a proofreader? This FREE Proofreading Webinar by Caitlin Pyle has all the tools you need to get started. Learn how to transform your passion for words & reading into a thriving proofreading business.

proofread anywhere - stay at home mom jobs

Caitlin’s proofreading training has helped over 4800 students start their proofreading careers. She has been in the business since 2007 and regularly makes over $50, 000 per year proofreading part-time.

Read More: [Interview] Caitlin Pyle On How To Become A Successful Proofreader

Can you be a proofreader without a degree?

Yes. You can succeed as a proofreader without a degree. No degree offers all the skills that you need to succeed as a proofreader. Fortunately, all these skills are something you can develop through dedication, research, and commitment. 

The most important skill is a good command of English. The good news is, you do not need to take an English degree to be good at it. If you have an eye for detail, and your English is above average, you can succeed as a proofreader. 

That said, it is still good to have that degree. Some companies will not hire proofreaders without an English degree. 

How long does it take to become a proofreader?

I know you will hate it when I tell you there is no definite time to become a proofreader. It all depends on your skills, your ability to learn, and any training courses you might take.

If you enroll in a comprehensive course, you may need some time to learn it all. For instance, Proofread Anywhere by Caitlin Pyle has so many comprehensive modules. It may take you several weeks to go through them all. 

The good thing is, you do not need to finish all the modules before you can start working. You can start looking for clients while still undergoing training. 

How to become a proofreader in 5 simple steps 

Ready to learn how to become a proofreader? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Step 1: Understand the Scope of a Proofreader’s work

If you have decided to become a proofreader, the first step is to understand what the work involves.

You need to understand that your work is the final step before publishing. You also need to understand that your work involves double-checking for any superficial errors that escaped earlier stages. 

Also, this step involves you knowing the difference between proofreading and editing. Usually, when working on a writing project, there will be an editor, and you, the proofreader. The editor will deal with sentence structures and major factual connections. 

Step 2: Find Your Proofreading Niche

This stage is often overlooked when people are trying to find their way with proofreading. There are a lot of niches you can choose from.

Yes, you can decide to work on several of them. But if you want to build your reputation and experience, the secret is to choose a niche and specialize in it. 

Some of the common proofreading niches you can choose from include:

  • Blog posts
  • Essays
  • Legal documents
  • Transcripts
  • Court reports
  • Books

If you choose to work as a proofreader for a self-publishing author, you can always choose a specific genre. Narrowing down helps you build a strong reputation. 

Take your niche as your competitive advantage and grow in it. What if I cannot decide on my niche yet? If you are undecided, there is no harm. Try finding something that interests you and try working in that field.

For instance, if you love reading Science-Fiction books, you will surely enjoy working as a proofreader for science-fiction authors. 

Also, you can decide to take on a few niches and later narrow down. However, the faster you narrow down to one, the better for your reputation. 

Step 3: Hone Your Proofreading Skills

You need to perfect your proofreading skills. It is the only way you will be able to stand out from the competition. Everyone can read and notice some mistakes. But you as a proofreader need to stand out. 

One way to get your skills on another level is by taking a proofreading course. Proofread Anywhere by Caitlin Pyle is a sure way to take your skills to the next level. Enroll in the course and learn the skills you need to start and grow a successful proofreading business. 

Read more: Is Proofread Anywhere Legit? Here’s The Truth

Step 4: Decide Your Prices

Now you have the skills and you know what the job entails, what is the next step? Definitely, looking for clients? But before you land clients, you want to settle on a price. There is no way you will negotiate with a client if you have not set your prices. 

Now that you are just beginning, chances are you will be tempted to set your prices low. No, do not set your prices too low. Do not underprice or overprice your services. So, how do you know the market prices? 

  • Contact proofreaders in your circle and see what their rates are
  • Search online and see what proofreaders earn
  • Ask your trainer to help you set your rates

The good thing is, as you gain experience and reputation as you progress with work. With more experience and reputation, your services will be pricier than when you started. 

Step 5: Build Your Proofreading Portfolio

You need to put your services out there. It is the only way to find clients. One of the best ways to expose your services is to write about what you do on a portfolio website. This way, your clients can access you with ease. 

However, if you are just starting, setting a portfolio website can seem a little challenging.

Use social media, previous clients, and proofreaders’ platforms to get your services known. 

Step 6: Promote Your Proofreading Services

Landing your first clients should just be a starting point. Do not stop marketing your skills and services just because you have a few projects running. There is always a better-paying client who is looking for your services. 

You will be surprised by how many Facebook groups are dedicated to connecting proofreaders to people who need their services. You will be surprised by how many people are out there looking for proofreaders on the Freelancers’ Job boards. 

They will not know about you if you do not market yourself. Be your best supporter, and land yourself some better proofreading clients. 

FAQs on How to Become a Proofreader

Here are some commonly asked questions by people searching for how to become a proofreader.

What tools or resources are available for beginner proofreaders?

There are a couple of resources that will make your work easier as a proofreader. You can find reference books on grammar, styles, and formatting.

Also, you can use software such as Grammarly to help catch grammatical mistakes. However, this software cannot replace human brains. You still have to analyze a document and ensure it remains in context. 

Can You Make a Living From Proofreading?

Yes! You can earn some pretty decent money working as a freelance proofreader. Most proofreaders make $25-$50 per hour. And the good thing is you can work as much or as little as you want to. 

Is there a demand for proofreaders?

There is a huge demand for proofreaders. Students, bloggers, court reporters, businesses, and social media marketers are always looking for proofreaders. With the right skills and dedication, you will not miss what to do. 

Do you need certification to be a proofreader?

You need no certification to land jobs as a proofreader. However, the right certifications and even a degree will open more opportunities for you. Some companies will not outsource work to people without certifications.

So, it is a good bet to pursue a certification. However, do not go for just anything. Do your research to ensure whatever you settle for is worth your effort and time. 

What’s the difference between editing and proofreading?

There are several differences between proofreading and editing. However, editing involves rearranging sentences, rewording, checking facts, deleting unnecessary sentences, and ensuring the work has a good flow.

The editor makes the main changes in the paper or document. On the other hand, proofreading entails correcting superficial errors such as grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors. 

Where can I find proofreading jobs?

There are a lot of places you can find proofreading jobs. You can look up on social media, job boards, freelancers’ market places, and proofreading websites such as Proofreading Pal, Scribendi, Proofread Now, and Cambridge Proofreading LLC. You can also cold pitch to companies or individuals that you think could require your services. 

Read more: 17+ Websites To Find Online Proofreading Jobs From Home

Ready to become a proofreader?

Hopefully, our guide has given you all the ins and outs of how to become a proofreader.

You can become a successful proofreader, and there are plenty of options for you. Proofreading is one of the most popular ways for people to earn a living online from the comfort of their homes.

Ready to get started?

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