Do you have an eye for spotting typos and an irresistible urge to fix them? Do you often get asked to look over emails and essays for people? If so, you could have the skills to get paid to use your proofreading and grammar skills like I did–even if you’re a beginner!
How to Become a Proofreader Step-by-Step:
- Understand the scope of work a proofreader does
- Understand the difference between a proofreader, copy editor, and developmental editor
- Choose a proofreading niche
- Improve your proofreading skills and style guide knowledge
- Find proofreading jobs
- Consider taking a proofreading course (optional)
- Master your mindset (optional)
- Utilize the best tools for proofreaders (optional)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure for more details.
First, Can You Really Earn Money Proofreading Online?
I wondered the same thing when I wanted to quit my job and work from home. Even though I had doubts, I eventually replaced my full-time income. Freelance proofreading was one of the first ways I earned money online.
So how do you get started as a proofreader?
The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Proofreader
In addition to the steps to take to become a proofreader, this article will also answer:
- How much does a proofreader make?
- How to find clients as a freelance proofreader
- Tools to help you make money proofreading
1. Understand the Scope of Work a Proofreader Does
A proofreader checks (and double-checks) works to correct errors, such as:
- Typographical errors (“typos”)
- Inconsistencies in style or layout
- Missing punctuation
Proofreading is the final step in the editorial process to fix mistakes, so final drafts are error-free upon publication.
2. Know the Difference Between an Editor vs. Proofreader
Most people use the words editor and proofreader interchangeably. They are different, however, and have distinct roles. When it comes to publishing a book, there are several different levels of editing that happen before a proofreader looks at a book.
Developmental Editing happens first. Developmental editors focus on the foundation or “big picture” of a book to substantively edit the overall story, characters, and plot. Heavy editing, such as removing sections, reorganizing chapters, and re-writing sections happen with a developmental editor.
Copy Editing happens next. Copy editors work on the sentence-level of a manuscript, blog post, magazine article, textbook, or essay. Copy editors improve clarify, flow, fix grammar mistakes, check facts and style guides.
Proofreading: The final polish is done by proofreaders. They are responsible for finding any typos, punctuation mistakes, grammar issues, or other errors that slipped through the cracks before something is published.
How Much Money Does A Proofreader Make Per Hour?
Freelance proofreaders can expect to earn between $25-$44 per hour.
Recently, a group of freelance proofreaders answered my survey: On average, how much do you earn per hour proofreading?
Here are the results:
- $25-$34 per hour (62.5%)
- $35-$44 per hour (25%)
- $15-$24 per hour (12.5%)
So of those experienced proofreaders who responded, nobody was earning less than $15 per hour and no one was earning more than $45 per hour.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly pay across the United States is $22 per hour in November 2020.
Since freelance proofreaders typically find their own clients, they can increase their rates after gaining more experience.
The amount of money a proofreader earns varies based on your skill level, experience, references, location, and niche.
3. Choose a Proofreading Niche
Proofreaders can earn money to review any written content. Books are an obvious one, but our world is surrounded by words. This means there are plenty of potential work opportunities for proofreaders.
Proofreaders can proof:
- Blog posts
- Website pages
- Legal Documents
- Court Reports
- University and online courses
- Scholarship Essays
- Podcast Notes
- Nonfiction books
- Children’s books
Becoming an expert in one niche, such as Sci-Fi novels, is one way to become a go-to proofreader. This is also a way to pick work you enjoy, get referrals, and raise your rates faster.
4. Improve Your Proofreading Skills
Proofreading is not something everyone can do well. Proofreaders must have:
- in-depth knowledge of style guides for their niche (Chicago, APA, AP, or MLA)
- an eye for consistency
- meticulous attention to detail
Proofreaders must also work well with others, as shown by:
- Excellent written and oral communication
- Ability to meet deadlines
- Comfortable with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or some other editing software
5. Find Freelance Proofreading Jobs
If you’ve decided you’re ready to earn money as a proofreader, you are probably wondering how to find proofreading jobs. You can either use an online job board to find proofreading job listings, pitch your services to people already in your network, or start offering proofreading freelance services and find clients online.
FlexJobs is one of the best places to find legitimate remote proofreading jobs online.
When I searched “proofread” there were 489 job results. There was a mix of remote and local, freelance and employee, part-time, full-time, and temporary proofreading jobs. So there’s a great chance you’ll find the type of proofreading job you’re looking for on FlexJobs.
FlexJobs is Recommended Because:
- LEGITIMATE JOBS – They screen the job listings to make sure they are legitimate.
- EASY TO USE – You can find exactly what you’re looking for fast (e.g., 100% remote, flexible schedule, part-time).
- SUPPORT – Real, friendly people on the customer service team.
- SATISFACTION GUARANTEE – Get a refund within 30 days if you are unhappy with the service.
The downside of FlexJobs is the investment of $14.95 per month to access these superior services to find work-from-home jobs.
It’s likely you will earn your money back when you land your first job. Remember, it’s risk-free to join because of their money-back guarantee and ability to cancel anytime.
How to Find Freelance and Online Proofreading Jobs
The ultimate guide to finding freelance editing jobs teaches more in-depth ways to find proofreading work if you want to become a freelance proofreader or editor.
Further, here are more online proofreading job listings:
- Indeed has job listings for proofreaders here
- Upwork has freelance proofreading jobs here
- Utilize LinkedIn to find proofreading jobs here
- Scribendi hires editors and proofreaders here
You can network with anyone who would need proofreaders, such as bloggers, authors, and business owners on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
✳️Learn more about how to attract your ideal proofreading clients in this FREE 76-Minute Workshop.
6. Complete a Proofreading Course Online
Many new proofreaders want to refresh their skills and boost their confidence before putting themselves out there as a freelance proofreader. A great place to start is this Free Proofreading Workshop.
For step-by-step guidance and in-depth skills training, General Proofreading: Theory and Practice is the most popular online proofreading program that shows you exactly how to start making money as a proofreader. It was founded by Caitlin Pyle of Proofread Anywhere.
About the General Proofreading Course
Some General Proofreading Theory and Practice Program facts:
- takes about 1-2 months
- costs less than $500
- boosts your proofreading skills so you can proof confidently
- teaches you all about finding clients and running a freelance business
What’s Included in the Proofread Anywhere Course
In over 40 lessons, you will learn:
- the essential grammar skills you need and practice tests to make sure you have it down
- proofreading niches and how to grow your income the fastest
- how to research grammar questions you’re not sure about
- how to set your rates
- the tax stuff you need to know as a freelance proofreader
- where to find your first clients
- how to bill clients
- how to pitch clients and write proposals
- how to set up a website to advertise your proofreading services
- and how to be flexible and work with client’s preferences
Then for a final stamp of approval, if you go with the Ignite Plus version of the General Proofreading course, you’ll get to prove your worthiness to become a certified proofreader with a final exam.
The exam is hand-graded and you need to score at least 90% to pass. If you invest in yourself to learn the skills that can earn you money proofreading, I highly recommend this extra add-on.
Perhaps the most valuable part is the Facebook Community.
As a student of the best proofreading course online, sometimes called the Proofread Anywhere course, you get exclusive access to a Facebook Community that is only for you and your fellow proofreading students.
Facebook communities are super valuable because they provide:
- Fast and accurate answers to all of your questions
- Support and encouragement if you face a challenge
- Help from those who are just a couple steps ahead of you
The Course Downside
The one downside I have for this course is that it’s text-based. Although those interested in proofreading typically enjoy reading, I am also a visual learner and enjoy video courses.
Get Extra Proofreading Training
Ultimately, General Proofreading: Theory + Practice is the best online proofreading training I’ve found. When you consider the alternative time and money that would be needed to get a college degree, this is an excellent value for anyone serious about learning how to make money as a proofreader.
If you are ready to make extra money working from home as a proofreader, stop over-thinking it and commit to your future by signing up today.
7. Flip Your Scarcity Mindset
If you’re hesitant about investing in a course or think I’m off-my-rocker for recommending such a thing, I completely get it.
The first time I saw a price tag of an online course I had sticker shock. The frugal part of me pinched my wallet tighter.
However, I realized if I follow the steps that are laid out for me in a course, I will earn this money back within a few months AND have new skills with the ability to keep earning more money for the rest of my life. This realization was a game-changer.
Fast forward two years, and I drop money on online courses regularly. Using proven plans with clear steps is the only way I’ve been able to successfully work from home while being home with two little kids.
8. Use Tools to Help You Become a Better Proofreader
Below are optional additional resources that can help you start a proofreading side hustle from home and become more efficient with your time.
Proofreading & Editing Tools
- ProWritingAid – My favorite editing tool for long works. The free version is great. The Premium version is even better. I was able to get a special 20% off discount if you upgrade to the Premium level (you should see the discount automatically).
- Grammarly Free Grammar & Spell Checker – A great complement to ProWritingAid. Perfect for checking email, social media, and website correspondence to catch your own mistakes.
- The Chicago Manual of Style Online
- Merriam Webster’s Dictionary Online
Proofreading & Editing Books
- The Best Punctuation Book, Period: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson (4.7 stars from over 892 reviews)
- Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies (4.5 stars from 355 reviews)
Freelance Proofreading & Editing Resources
- How to Set Up Your Proofreading Service Website for $3.95 per Month
- My Top 16 Tools for Being Productive with Your Time as a Freelancer
- The Editorial Freelancers Association
You’re Ready to Start Proofreading!
Seriously, swap your regular Netflix show for one night to invest in yourself and your future.
Sign up for the Completely FREE Proofreading Workshop to see if freelance proofreading could be the perfect fit for you to make money from anywhere.
You can truly help others make their writing shine with your passion for words and reading. They’ll be grateful for your work, you’ll be happy to help, and your bank account will grow.
Can you see it already?
Rooting for you!
SHARE THESE PROVEN STEPS TO BECOME A PROOFREADER FROM HOME
This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for 2021.
Find typos all the time? Learn How to Become a Proofreader Online and Work From Home with this Step-by-Step guide to Freelance Proofreading for Beginners.