Starting Your Freelance Proofreading Career Off Right

By: Dannie Phan | April 2, 2020

The recent shift into the world of remote working has left much of the traditional workforce in a bind. What kind of meaningful work, after all, can you do from the comfort of your home?

As it turns out, freelancers have been taking advantage of the gig economy and of pre-existing remote work for years. If you’re looking for online jobs, proofreading can go fast – but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to get.

So whether you’re looking for a side hustle or want to experiment with work from home, why not pursue a career as a freelance proofreader

A Word To The Wise

Before you get started in this field, keep the following in mind: while working from home is convenient – and, these days, somewhat essential – you’re going to need some intense self-discipline to get started and to keep going. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, try to balance a part-time freelance proofreading job with a desk job until you have the financial means to go full-time as a freelancer. While extenuating circumstances may make this difficult, it’s always smart to have a nest egg underneath you if you’re ever short on clients.

What Is Proofreading?

With the warnings out of the way, let’s break down this field:

Students, professionals, bloggers, and job-seekers alike have all needed someone to proofread their work at some point in their lives. Whether you want to avoid spelling errors in a cover letter or want your ad copy to make the grammar police swoon, it’s best to have someone who hasn’t been staring at your work for the past five hours look it over for you.

That’s where proofreaders come into play. The process of proofreading isn’t the same as editing or revising. Proofreading involves grammar, punctuation, typos, and sentence coherency. Proofreaders who go through your work won’t necessarily point out themes that need to be reworked, but they will be able to identify your misused commas and semicolons.

How Much Do Proofreading Jobs From Home Pay?

The amount you’re paid to work as an online proofreader will vary based on the clients or companies you choose to work with. If you work as a self-employed, by-contract professional proofreader, or own a proofreading business, you’ll likely be paid by the page or by the hour. The basic rates per page vary between $5 and $15 based on years of experience. Be sure to negotiate if you have more experience under your belt. Per hour rates typically settle between $13 and $15 per hour, with outliers based on how much experience you have and the client’s budget.

Not all proofreading work is self-employed work, though. You may be able to score a part-time or full-time position with an existing company. In this case, you’ll likely be paid by the hour or on salary, so long as you’re registered as a full employee and not as a contractor.

Contract proofreading work, it’s worth noting, has different economic stipulations than salaried work. If you want to secure health insurance, PTO or other benefits, it’s best to look for an online proofreading job through an existing company. If you’re okay working within less concrete means while retaining more control over your workload and schedule, contract work is the way to go.

How Flexible Are The Hours For At-Home Proofreaders?

The flexibility of your hours will, again, depend entirely on the position you take. If you work with a company that has set hours, you may spend eight hours a day in front of your computer, working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, contract positions and freelancing tend to be more flexible. Be sure to reach out to a potential employer to see how your time zones differ and when, precisely, they want to see your work. Most of the time, you’ll be able to do your proofreading anywhere and whenever you get a spare moment, as long as you’re able to get the final document in by the specified deadline.

What Tools and Skills Do You Need?

Many would-be proofreaders talk themselves out of applying for a proofreading job because they believe they need specialized training. On one hand, they’re not entirely wrong. Some proofreading positions specify that they want to work with someone who’s familiar with a specific writing style – MLA, APA, Chicago and so on.

However, you don’t need to go to school to learn how to proofread according to those styles. Instead, you’ll need to sit down with a style guide and do your research before diving into the document at hand.

The other skills you’ll likely need to succeed as an online proofreader include:

  • Patience
  • A relatively quick typing speed
  • Attention to detail
  • A critical mind 

In terms of tools, you can easily use online apps like Grammarly to your advantage.

A bachelor’s degree in a field like English certainly won’t hurt matters, but again, if you have the experience and diligence to back yourself up, you’ll be able to leap into a proofreading career without so much as a stumble.

How Do You Find Work As An Online Proofreader?

Talking yourself into applying for a job, however, is usually only half the battle. Once you’ve decided to pursue a career as a freelance proofreader, it’s up to you to start building a client base. You can do this in a number of different ways. Some companies are looking to collect a stable of proofreaders they can assign work to on a consistent basis. However, there are also plenty of job boards that advertise one-off or long-term proofreading positions.

Some of the best places to learn more about online proofreading jobs include:

Ready to put your grammatical knowledge to the test? Craft a grammatically-perfect resume and start reaching out to clients who you think will benefit from your encyclopedic knowledge of the English language. Before long, you’ll join the ranks of at-home employees who’re able to bring stunning content to people all around the world.

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