What is Proofreading, And How Do I Become a Successful Proofreader?

Wondering, “what is proofreading?” If you’ve just come across the idea of becoming a freelance proofreader but have no idea what it involves, that’s a question you might be asking yourself.

Are you hawk-eyed and can quickly spot grammar mistakes? Are you keen enough to spot errors a regular person wouldn’t? If you are conversant with grammar, punctuation marks and spellings, and other writing rules, I have some good news for you – you can use your skills to become a proofreader and earn some decent cash online. 

But before we get down to the details, let’s start with the basics.

What is Proofreading?

When people write content, they may need someone professional or a little more experienced to go through the document before publication. Someone to identify and correct any errors before the document is printed or published online.

According to Scribendi.com, proofreading is the process of reviewing the final draft of a piece of writing to ensure consistency and accuracy in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting.

Proofreading is the crucial last step in the editorial process, taken before a document is shared with its intended audience.

Some of the common mistakes a proofreader needs to spot and get rid of include:

  • Grammatical errors
  • Incorrect use or lack of punctuation marks
  • Redundancy 
  • Typos
  • Formatting
  • Style issues

You do not need some rocket science degree to become a proofreader. As long as your command of language is excellent, and you can easily spot errors in text, you can make some decent money as a proofreader.

But it’s important to make sure you start your proofreading hustle on the right foot. No need to panic, though. I will tell you where you can get the right footing and skills to start your freelance proofreading business. The person to look for is Caitlin Pyle of Proofreading Anywhere

Caitlin will help you transform your passion for words and reading into a thriving proofreading business in as little as 30 days. This lady has been a proofreader since 2007, making over $43, 000 per year. She has helped over 4800 students start their proofreading careers. 

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Enroll in Caitlin’s course to learn the skills and secrets of being one of the most sought after proofreaders. But if you don’t have the budget to enroll in the course at this time, don’t worry. You can still get her completely FREE proofreading workshop designed to help beginners gain the skills needed to get started.

Why is proofreading important, and are proofreaders in demand?

Have you ever read a piece that would have otherwise been useful and beautiful, but you could not help but notice the errors? Have you ever had to stop reading an article just because the mistakes were overwhelming?

I have. And many other readers cannot stomach such errors when reading. Yes, that is how important proofreading is. Writers want their readers to focus on the content and not get distracted by errors. 

Also, proofreading is important for keeping a business’s reputation. In February 2016, Adidas made advertisements with ‘Columbia’ instead of ‘Colombia.’ This error soon led to trolls on social media platforms. Colombians were irked with the misspelling and the mix-up, especially since Adidas had been sponsoring their national football team for years.

The Colombia and Columbia mix-up has not been a source of embarrassment and trolls for Adidas alone. President Trump and the White House have also mixed up the two in the past. These are examples of some simple mistakes that a proofreader would not have allowed to get out there. 

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

Types of documents a proofreader could work on

Just in case you are wondering what you would be working on as a proofreader, the simple answer is, a lot. You, however, have the choice to specialize in specific documents or manuscripts. 

There are a lot of pieces you can proofread. Any business that creates content, however long or short, needs a proofreader. For this reason, there are a lot of types of pieces you can work on. 

Here are just some of the documents you could be hired to proofread:

  • Books
  • Social media posts
  • Resumes
  • Product descriptions
  • Essays
  • Transcripts
  • Press releases
  • Emails 
  • Blog posts and website content
  • General and legal transcripts

What about proofreading tools like Grammarly? 

If you have used proofreading tools before, you sure know that they cannot replace humans. The tools are robotic and do not understand the context at hand.

This is why writers still need human proofreaders despite the availability of tools such as Grammarly. If you have used such tools before, you know that they sometimes highlight things that are not errors. 

So, if you have been wondering whether proofreaders are in demand, the answer is yes. Proofreading software cannot replace the human mind. 

What skills & qualifications do you need to be a proofreader?

The first thing you need to succeed in proofreading is an excellent mastery of grammar and spelling. Yes, you can always work to improve your grammar and general mastery of the language used.

What is Proofreading, And How Do I Become a Successful Proofreader?

However, if it does not come naturally to you, you will probably struggle. If you don’t consider yourself above average in grammar, proofreading may not be your cup of tea. 

You must also have a keen eye. If your reading is equivalent to skimming through text, you will have problems working as a proofreader. But if you spot errors whenever you read just about anything, consider giving proofreading a try. 

Other than producing flawless copies, you also need to be an excellent time manager. You will land gigs with a fast-approaching deadline. With such, you have to produce a perfect pieces and still beat deadlines. 

Do I need a degree to work as a Proofreader?

You can perfectly ace proofreading tasks without a degree. As long as you can spot mistakes and rectify them, you are good to start. You do not need a degree to be able to spot grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. 

However, to work on some academic papers, you may be required to have a degree in that area. You may also be required to understand referencing styles such as APA, Havard, and MLA. 

Without a degree, you can still comfortably proofread books, blog posts, and other non-academic content. But you might still need some form of training to get you started on the right footing. With the right training, you will have what it takes to compete with experienced proofreaders. 

Read More: Discover the 5 signs proofreading could be a perfect fit for you!

Can you make living proofreading? How much does a proofreader make?

You can definitely make a living proofreading. The amount you make will depend on things such as:

  • Your experience
  • How many hours you put in; whether you are working part-time or full time
  • How quick you can complete tasks
  • Your ability to land clients

How to become a professional proofreader

You already know what is proofreading and what skills you need to make a good proofreader. Let’s now look at how to become a professional proofreader. 

1. Work on your proofreading skills

To succeed in proofreading, you must hone your grammar and editorial skills. You can improve how you look at written pieces. 

It’s also wise to keep up-to-date with changes in language and things that have been happening around the world. These are essential in developing your professional prowess. 

Enroll in this FREE proofreading workshop to hone your proofreading skills and learn how to set up your proofreading business. 

2. Get your resources together

No, don’t panic. You only need a few resources to get started. You will not have to spend much setting up your proofreading business.

For a start, you need:

  • Laptop/tablet
  • Stable internet connection
  • Grammar books and style guides

A style guide provides guidelines for the grammar, punctuation, and formatting rules of various documents. To succeed in proofreading, you need to take some time to master relevant style guides based on your niche and the types of documents you work with.

Some of the most used style guides are:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)
  • The Associated Press Stylebook (AP)
  • The MLA Style Manual
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA style)


Proofreaders are not perfect. They make mistakes, too, especially when they are still beginners. However, with a lot of practice, you will soon minimize the number of mistakes you make.

There are a lot of online quizzes that can help you master proofreading. With different proofreading tests and quizzes, you will soon be making fewer and fewer mistakes.

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

What are the disadvantages of becoming a proofreader? 

As you perfect your proofreading skills, you may soon have trouble reading for leisure. You will always be on the lookout for errors, even when casually reading a novel.

However, the benefits of working as a proofreader far outweigh this drawback. You will be able to work from wherever and whenever you want to. You will completely be in charge of your work schedule.

Next steps

Proofreading is one job you can do from the comfort of your house, or from anywhere else. With the right training and the ability to quickly spot mistakes, you will make some decent money as a proofreader.

If you’re ready to jump into being a freelance proofreader, be sure to check out Caitlin Pyle’s FREE proofreading course to learn how you can get started on the right foot.

With the right determination and ability to follow instructions, you will soon be earning modestly as a proofreader.

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