How to Become a Freelance Proofreader Online
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Do you have a knack for spotting even the tiniest of mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation? If so, then I may have found your dream job! Whether you’re looking for a flexible work schedule or are looking for something that pays fairly well, becoming a professional proofreader might be right up your alley!
This blog post will go over how to become a proofreader. We’ll discuss what a proofreader is, what it takes to become a proofreader, how much proofreaders make, where to find jobs as a proofreader, and more.
Proofreading is often confused with editing, but there are distinct differences between the two.
A proofreader is a person who reads text for:
- Typographical errors
- Poor formatting
- Improper use of verb tenses
- Grammatical errors
- Punctuation errors
This could be someone who works in publishing, or it could be someone who checks over your essay before you turn it in to the teacher.
You work with various documents. Your proofreading tasks may include correcting website content, blog posts, books, academic papers, marketing materials, and even legal documents.
It takes a certain eagle-eye ability to be good at proofreading, and it’s obviously not for everyone. But, if you are the type of person who loves to correct grammar and you always notice spelling mistakes on a restaurant menu, this could be the perfect gig for you!
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An editor checks a written text at a structural level. Editors may change the sequence or order of thoughts or improve the sentences without changing their intended meaning.
Proofreading, on the other hand, is the final stage of text preparation. As a proofreader, you do not modify the text at a structural level. Instead, you correct errors and inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, among others in a text that already went through an editorial process.
Your goal as a proofreader is to polish and perfect a properly edited text and make it ready for publication.
You might believe that proofreading is as easy as replacing commas with periods and that using a sophisticated proofreading program would be enough to spot these errors.
In reality, professional proofreaders follow a systematic approach to spotting and correcting errors. And this is where learning this approach is key to becoming a successful proofreader.
Professional proofreaders make a decent income. According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for proofreaders hovers around $21.97 as of August 2021.
Meanwhile, according to Glassdoor, proofreaders in the US make an average of $42,892 annually, with the top end of earners making over $66,000 per year.
You could be making more with a freelance proofreading business or if you work as a court transcript proofreader. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for legal proofreaders in the US is $48,439 per year.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that proofreaders in the legal industry are making an average of $ 57,720.
Proofreading may be one of the lesser-known ways to make money from home. Yet, with the explosion of internet marketing, there is an incredibly high demand for proofreaders online.
You don’t need to be in any specific location to do the job… it’s all from your tablet or computer!
Proofreading jobs typically pay about $23 an hour which translates to over $40,000 per year if you work 40 hours per week. Your rates may increase considerably as you establish experience and credibility as a proofreader.
Proofreader jobs are not limited to written publications, books, and novels. Your potential clients could include digital authors, freelance writers, bloggers, and website owners.
But, that’s not the only field that needs online proofreaders. Proofreaders are also in demand in the legal and medical fields. Legal proofreading jobs and medical proofreading jobs typically pay higher rates compared to general proofreading jobs.
If you are the type who prefers working alone, then this could be one of your best job options out there. With online proofreading jobs, you typically work by yourself from home.
Spoiler alert! You don’t need an English degree, bachelor’s degree, or a “ proofreader certification” to become a professional proofreader in the same way as you would to become a CPA.
There is no formal education required to become a proofreader, although having an associate or college degree will give you an edge over other candidates.
Most employers, however, may require you to pass a proofreading test to assess your skills. This is usually a timed exam that tests your skills in grammar, comprehension, punctuation, formatting, and more.
So, how do you become a proofreader without a degree? Here are some tips!
- Have the necessary skills
The first step to becoming a proofreader is learning the skills necessary for doing so. These include:
- Ability to correct errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, formatting and more.
- Proficiency of the English language
- Strong attention to details
- Knowledge of various style guidelines for formatting –(Chicago Manual of Style; AP, APA, MLA, and possibly others)
- Great communication skills
In order to hone your proofreading skills, here are a few things you can do:
- Read proofreading books, such as McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook, to learn the rules of proofreading, and grammar books like The Elements of Style.
- Browse through books on Goodreads that have received a lot of negative reviews for grammar errors. This will allow you to develop your eye for spotting mistakes, as well as give you more practice reading through text and figuring out the correct way words should be spelled or used in context.
- Take proofreading quizzes to learn what level skills you have
- Take an online course. A course can be very beneficial for anyone who wants to be a very proficient proofreader.
- Create your own website
Since you work from home and you seek clients online, it is important to have your own website for your proofreading services. This can serve as your portfolio and a tool to build credibility in the field.
Thankfully, you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars or be tech-savvy to have your own professional website. You can start your own website in 5 simple steps for only less than $3 per month by following this tutorial here.
A great way to learn how to become a proofreader and jumpstart your proofreading business is by learning from successful proofreaders themselves.
Caitlyn Pyle, at Proofread Anywhere, has one of the most comprehensive proofreading courses online. To date, Caitlyn has taught over 10,000 students how to become a proofreader and make money from home.
Her course, General Proofreading: Theory and Practice, covers:
- How to make money from home proofreading books and blogs
- How to use a proven process of proofreading
- How to bring in your first clients
- How to identify how and where to find high-paying clients
- How to handle business set up, billing, taxes and more!
It is composed of 80+ lessons in 10+ comprehensive modules, grammar worksheets, quizzes, case studies, eBooks (bonuses), and more!
If you aren’t sure yet whether proofreading is for you, check out Caitlyn’s free 76-minute workshop first to get a better understanding of proofreading and to know what levelproofreading skillsyou already havet.
Caitlyn started out as a proofreader for court reporters, and later on figured that she could actually make more money as a freelance proofreader than on her day job.
She built her own freelance proofreading business, and in 2014, she earned around $48,000 proofreading online part-time.
Now, she’s teaching people how to become a proofreader online using a process that works. She’s already helped a lot of men and women make a full-time income with legitimate proofreading jobs online.
Related post: 11 High-Income Skills to Make More Money Online in 2022
Ready to find online proofreading jobs for beginners? Here are some of the most popular job boards on which to find freelance proofreading jobs.
Freelance Boards or Websites
Beginners can find freelance proofreading jobs at job marketplaces such as Freelancer, UpWork, and People per Hour. You can find lots of freelance jobs here, but there are a few drawbacks to using these sites:
- Competition is high
- At Freelancer, for example, you are only allowed a few bids or applications per month, unless you pay for extra bids.
- Pay is generally lower than the average rate at other sites.
- You pay a fee per project you complete through the site.
What I love about FlexJobs is the fact that all job posts on this site were screened and evaluated by FlexJobs to weed out scammers. They even have a dedicated section for proofreading jobs!
FlexJobs, however, charges freelancer a monthly fee of $14.95. While I normally advise steering clear of sites that charge a fee for access to their listings, I think FlexJobs is worth it.
Flexjobs is offering readers of This Mama Blogs an exclusive discount with the promo code FLEXLIFE. Go here to get this special.
Online Proofreading Job Agencies
An easy way to get proofreading gigs is by applying to proofreading agencies. They usually have a steady flow of projects, but the pay can be lower than when you go solo as an independent contractor.
However, working at these companies can be a great option if you want to gain experience and at the same time make money.
Here are some companies that hire proofreaders and editors. I also keep a running list of companies that constantly hire proofreaders here.
Babbletype is a specialized job board that caters primarily to transcribers and proofreaders. The site accepts proofreaders from native English-speaking countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia. Pay at Babbletype for proofreading gigs can range from $0.13 to $0.18 per word.
- Proofreading Pal
Proofreading Pal, a website that provides professional proofreading services to clients, is always hiring proofreaders. You must have a degree to get in, or at least be studying in college.
Additionally, the requirements in Proofreading Pal tend to be more stringent than others as they implement the rule of having two proofreaders go over a single document for quality check.
But once you get in, you could earn $500 to $3,000 per month!
To work for Proofreading Services, you need to pass a screening test that runs for 20 minutes. It’s an excellent platform if you’d like to set your own hours and still be able to earn a good income out of proofreading. Read: Proofreading Services Review
Gramlee is another excellent platform to find proofreading gigs. Gramlee’s job board is accessible 24 hours a day, perfect for people who want to work at various times of the day.
You can take a task late at night when the kids are asleep or early in the morning when everything is quiet–whatever works for you! You just need to make sure that you can proofread quickly without sacrificing quality because Gramlee’s turnaround time is 24 hours for a 3000-word text document.
Kibin is a platform that provides proofreading services primarily to students, especially those who need their thesis and essays checked. The job board is open 24/7, and freelancers may get work on demand.
Kibin is also known for its fair rates and sound management handling, as well as perks and bonuses.
If you’d like to work with Kibin, make sure to check back every couple of hours because the workload can fluctuate every so often.
- Scribe Writing
Scribe Writing offers wonderful perks to full-time proofreaders, but there are also lots of work for freelancers as well. You may be able to earn an average of $50 per hour, so working with Scribe can be lucrative.
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A lot of people and businesses are willing to pay for high-quality proofreaders, so proofreading can very well be a business that you can offer from the comfort of your own home!
You can get started by checking out Caitlyn’s 76-minute workshop. It’s completely FREE, and you’ll learn what proofreading is really all about and whether it’s for you. Who knows, you could be good at this, and proofreading can be your ticket to reaching your financial goals!