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 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 and Proofreader
The average person confuses an editor and a proofreading, 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 proofread even lays eyes on 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 they 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
- Even if you make less in the beginning to gain experience, you can quickly increase your rates
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. Have 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 money 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 is 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 Strategies for Finding Clients Happy to Pay You. Sign up for access at the end of the post. And 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 (hard to earn more than $50 an hour proofreading)
But the more experienced you become in your craft and the more efficient you work, the higher your income will be.
Step 6. Get Training To Learn How To Become A Proofreader
You used to need an expensive 4-year degree in English or Journalism to start a job as a proofreader. But many people don’t know that becoming a proofreader no longer requires such a massive investment.
All you really need to become a proofreader with no 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 7. Enroll in General Proofreading: Theory and Practice
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 watch an intro to her course and starting a proofreading side hustle by signing up for her 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
- teach you about freelance business
Here’s a sneak peek inside the course:
In Over 40 Lessons, You Will Gain:
- 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 through this course, 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 (besides the fact that it was not available when I was figuring out how to get started as an editor and proofreader) 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 making money as a proofreader. It would have saved me at least a month or two of time when I was trying to figure it all out on my own. That valuable time could have been spent proofreading and making money instead of Googling aimlessly.
Step 7. 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 complete 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 wallet, I had to smother my scarcity mindset and switch to a money mindset of abundance.
I realized if I follow the steps that were laid out for me, I will earn my money back within a few months AND have new skills to keep making more money for the rest of my life.
Step 8. 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 be flying high, finding typo after typo, and returning work to clients proudly error-free.
Can you see it already?
Freelance Proofreaders For Hire
Most experience in non-fiction but can do anything.
Masters in Homeland Security. Degree in international relations. Specialize in geography, history, politics, emergency management, and security.
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.
Fiction and self-development. Editor of a submission-based site and freelance writer.
30 years experience. BA in Autoethnography. Works with all writing, especially creative writing.
Masters in English and creative writing. Taught university composition & literature. Editor for university press.
BA in English. Mostly proofread articles and blogs.
What Tools Can Help You Become a Proofreader?
Below are recommended resources that will help you start a successful proofreading side hustle from home:
- ProWritingAid – My FAVORITE Editing Tool – Get 20% Off the Premium Version with Coupon Code “KCWO20“
- Grammarly Free Grammar & Spell Checker – A great compliment to ProWritingAid – Perfect for checking email and website correspondence
- The Chicago Manual of Style Online
- The Editorial Freelancers Association
- Meriam Webster’s Dictionary Online
- The Best Punctuation Book, Period: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson
- Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips
- How to Set Up Your Proofreading Service Website for Only $3.95 per Month
Now You Know How To Become A Freelance Proofreader
Ultimately, if you’ve got 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. The problem is there might be some grammar rules you have questions about or you’re not sure exactly how to start the online business part and find clients virtually. That’s where Caitlin from Proofread Anywhere comes in.
The best way to become a proofreader is to follow Caitlin’s lead. She is not only a talented proofreader, but she’s an incredible teacher too.
Her 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 1-hour video to help you figure out if proofreading is right for you.
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Cheers to your finances, your freedom, and your future,