Do you have an eye for spotting typos (and an irresistible urge to fix them)? If so, you have probably wondered how to become a proofreader, so you can use your eagle eyes to make some extra money.
With typos everywhere, there is surely a need for more proofreaders. But how do you start a side hustle as a freelance proofreader?
I wondered the same thing a couple of years ago when I started my freelance editing and proofreading business called Keep Calm Write On. Freelance proofreading and editing were some of the first ways I earned money after leaving my job in education to become a stay-at-home mom. Since starting Keep Calm Write On, so many people have asked about how to become a proofreader. So I gathered the resources you need to start freelance proofreading too.
In this article, you will learn:
- What is a proofreader vs an editor
- How to know if you’d be a good proofreader
- How to become a freelance proofreader with loads of clients
- The tools you need to start proofreading from home
But first, let’s get clear about what proofreading is and what a proofreader does.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my full disclosure for more info.
Step 1. Know What A Proofreader Does
The first step to becoming a proofreader is being clear on what a proofreader does.
What Does A Proofreader Do?
A proofreader checks documents for typos, misspellings, inconsistencies, and grammar mistakes. Proofreaders will take content that is already written and give it the final check to fix mistakes so it is error-free upon publication.
Proofreaders can proof anything that has written content, such as novels, textbooks, children’s books, online or university course content, website pages, blog posts, presentations and slides, newspapers, magazines, ads, pamphlets, legal documents, transcripts, court reports, podcast pages, resumes, scholarship essays, and so on.
Step 2. Know The Difference Between An Editor vs. Proofreader
The average person confuses an editor and a proofreader, using them interchangeably. In reality, they are different. When it comes to publishing a book, there are several different levels of editing that happen before a proofreader looks at a book.
Editor: While I won’t go into all the nitty gritty of the different types of editing, the important thing to know is that editors handle the big-picture and overall flow. They reorganize chapters, delete paragraphs, and change the wording to improve how sentences flow and sound.
Proofreaders: The final polish is done by proofreaders. They are the last people to look at something to fix typos, punctuation mistakes, and grammar errors that slipped through the cracks before something is published.
Step 3. Know How Much A Proofreader Makes Per Hour
Below are the survey results from the freelance proofreaders I interviewed about how much they typically earn per hour.
The amount of money a proofreader makes varies. From my experience and interviews with other freelance proofreaders, you can expect to make between $25-$44 per hour as a proofreader.
- Many book proofreaders charge $.02 per word
- Charging $25-$45 per hour is common
- Freelance proofreaders can increase rates after gaining more experience
If you choose a proofreading niche, like proofreading court transcripts, you can earn more per hour. This woman earned $3,200 in her first month and $32,000 during the first year she became a proofreader while working part-time.
Step 4. Acquire The Necessary Skills To Become A Proofreader
While grammar and business skills can be taught, there are some things you need naturally in order to become a proofreader. The most important proofreading skills are:
- In-depth knowledge of the English language
- Excellent written and oral communication
- Meet deadlines
- Familiar with Microsoft Word
So if you have all of those skills, becoming a freelance proofreader might be perfect for you.
Step 5. Be Comfortable With The Pros and Cons of Freelance Proofreading
When I was desperate to become a stay-at-home mom but needed to make money for my family too, freelance editing, writing, and virtual assistance was the answer to my prayers. There are many perks of freelancing you don’t get with a traditional job.
Freelance Proofreading Pros
If you learn how to become a proofreader, you will enjoy more:
- FREEDOM – to be home with your kids, leave your 9-to-5 job, and work with who you want, when you want, where you want
- FLEXIBILITY – to work when it fits best in your schedule
- FINANCIAL SECURITY – side hustles can help you to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get rid of debt, take family vacations, and have extra fun money
Plus, proofreading is something you naturally do for free anyway. Why not get paid for those incredible eagle eyes you were blessed with?
Note: If you find a typo in this post (or any post) please send me an email at Val [at] TheCommonCentsClub [dot] com. Proofing your own work is the hardest!
Freelance Proofreading Cons
Although freelancing, being your own boss, and making money from home are truly awesome, the downsides are:
- Finding retainer clients can be challenging as a proofreader, unless you find someone who has recurring work for you each month. My Free Resource Library has 8 Proven Ways to Find Clients Happy to Pay You. Sign up to access it at the end of the post.
- Here’s a guide for landing retainer clients who keep you onboard from month to month.
- There seems to be a cap on the hourly rate people are willing to pay for proofreading – It’s hard to earn more than $50 an hour proofreading alone, so you may need to add additional services like writing if you want to earn more per hour.
But the more experienced you become in your craft and the more efficiently you work, the higher your income will be.
Step 6. Find Freelance Proofreading Jobs
If you’ve decided you’re ready to make money as a proofreader, you are probably wondering where you find proofreading jobs?
FlexJobs is one of the best places I’ve found to find proofreading jobs online.
I recommend FlexJobs because:
- Legitimate. They screen the job listings to make sure they are legitimate.
- Easy. 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 guaranteed. 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 their full service. You’ll earn that money back and then some when you land even one job. And it’s risk-free to join because of their money back guarantee and ability to cancel anytime.
When I searched “proofread” there were 456 job results. There was a mix of remote and local, freelance and employee, part-time, full-time, and temporary jobs. So there’s a great chance you’ll find the type of proofreading job you’re looking for on FlexJobs.
More Proofreading Job Listings and Guides
You’ll definitely want to check out the ultimate guide to finding freelance editing jobs to learn more about creative places to find freelance jobs.
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 also network with anyone who would need proofreaders, such as bloggers, authors, and business owners who create important documents like tax documents, court reports, and product manuals.
Step 7. Get Training To Learn How To Become A Proofreader (optional)
Extra training to become a proofreader is optional and depends on your background knowledge and what you plan to proof.
You used to need an expensive 4-year degree in English or Journalism to work as an editor or proofreader. But many people don’t know that becoming a proofreader no longer requires such a heavy time or financial investment.
All you really need to become a proofreader with no prior experience is:
- 1-2 months to get the proofreading training online
- Less than $600 for all the training you need
Invest in a legitimate Online Proofreading Course to learn how to make money proofreading from home.
Step 8. Enroll in General Proofreading: Theory and Practice (optional)
The most popular and comprehensive course to learn how to become a proofreader from home is General Proofreading: Theory and Practice by Caitlyn Pyle. You can learn more about how to start a proofreading side hustle by signing up for this workshop today.
I reviewed her course and it is the only proofreading course I recommend. It is jam-packed with valuable information that will:
- boost your proofreading skills so you can proof confidently
- teach you all about running a freelance business
Here’s a sneak peek inside the course:
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.
A Facebook community is super valuable because it allows you access to:
- 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.
Ultimately, I still think this proofreading course is the best available and is an excellent value for anyone serious about learning how to make money as a proofreader.
Step 9. Smother Your Scarcity Money Mindset
If you’re hesitant about investing in a course or think I’m off-my-rocker for recommending such a thing, I completely, 100% 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 as tightly as possible.
Fast forward two years, and I drop money on online courses regularly. It’s the only way I’ve built a successful work-at-home mom lifestyle for my family. To make this change in my income, I had to smother my scarcity mindset and switch to a money mindset of abundance.
I realized if I follow the steps that are laid out for me in a course, I will earn my money back within a few months AND have new skills with the ability to keep earning more money for the rest of my life.
You, my friend, are no different.
Step 10. Start Proofreading!
After you get through the workshop and course, you’ll be well on your way to making money on your own schedule as a freelance proofreader. You’ll help others make their writing shine by fixing typo after typo, and proudly returning work to clients even better than it was.
They’ll be grateful for your work, you’ll be happy to help, and your bank account will continue to grow.
Can you see it already?
Freelance Proofreaders For Hire
Most experience in non-fiction but can do anything.
BA in English and Creative Writing. focus on youth development and education, but open to all fields.
Nonfiction - Personal Finance and Business emphasis. Background experience in publishing.
Masters in English and creative writing. Taught university composition & literature. Editor for university press.
What Tools Can Help You Become a Proofreader?
Below are recommended resources that will help you start a successful proofreading side hustle from home:
Proofreading & Editing Tools
- ProWritingAid – My favorite editing tool for long works. The free version is great. The Premium version is even better. If you get Premium, Save 20% with my Coupon Code: KCWO20
- Grammarly Free Grammar & Spell Checker – A great complement to ProWritingAid. Perfect for checking email, social media, and website correspondence
- Merriam Webster’s Dictionary Online
- The Chicago Manual of Style Online
- Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips
Proofreading & Editing Books
- Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies
- The Best Punctuation Book, Period: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson
Proofreading & Editing Freelance Tools
- How to Set Up Your Proofreading Service Website for Only $3.95 per Month
- My Top Tools for Freelancers for Being Productive with Your Time
- The Editorial Freelancers Association
Now You Know How To Become A Freelance Proofreader
Ultimately, if you have a natural eye for spotting typos and you know how to fix them, you have a valuable skill that people need and will pay for. If you’re confident in your proofreading abilities, then you just need to work on the business side of finding freelance proofreading jobs.
If you need a refresher on grammar rules or you’re not sure exactly how to start the online business part and find clients online, that’s where Caitlin from Proofread Anywhere comes in to fill in all the gaps.
The best way to become a proofreader is to follow Caitlin’s lead. She is not only a talented proofreader who earned $43,000 her first year proofreading online part-time, but she’s a natural and inspiring teacher too.
The Proofread Anywhere course and training is for you if you want to learn:
- the most important grammar rules you will run into as a freelance proofreader
- how to turn your proofreading skill into a legitimate work-from-home business
- how to make more money and create a flexible freelancer lifestyle
If you’re not ready for her course yet but really want to learn more about how to become a proofreader, tap the link here to see if there are still available seats in her FREE video training to help you figure out if proofreading is right for you.