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A Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Proofreading Business Online

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  • Do you love to read?
  • Do you have excellent written English skills?
  • Are you detail-oriented?
  • Can you concentrate for long periods of time?

Answering yes to these questions might qualify you to start a proofreading business from home.

In the current era of remote working, the need for proofreaders is growing every year.

According to recruiter.com, employment for proofreaders will increase 4.25% over the next few years.

Proofreading is one of the most rewarding careers, both financially and professionally.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is the process of finding and removing errors from written work. 

In most cases, it is the last step before a document is published. 

A proofreader’s primary responsibility is to ensure that grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice, spacing, and formatting in text are error-free.

Some proofreaders might go beyond finding errors to check facts, conduct research, and even ensure a document’s legality.

Many content creators don’t have the time to check their work because writing is so time-intensive.

Nevertheless, incorrect spelling or grammar can undermine the credibility of a writer.

It is therefore imperative to ensure the finished product is error-free with a second pair of eyes.

Because of this, proofreaders play a crucial role in the writing process.  

In essence, they ensure the quality of a document before it is published.

The proofreading industry is a popular profession among many groups including content creators, medical practitioners, students, lawyers, writers, court reporters and businesses of all sizes. 

Proofreaders help their clients check:

  • Typographical errors
  • When to use commas, colons, and semicolons. Is it: “I have one objective; to find her.” Or “I have one objective: to find her.”
  • Punctuation mistakes: is it “Let’s play my friend.” Or “Let’s play, my friend.”
  • Capitalization errors – when do you use capitalization in a sentence? Is it: The president attended the rally or The President attended the rally.
  • Hyphenation rules – Is it “He’s a well-known lawyer or “He’s a well known lawyer”?
  • Use of verb tenses – “I will hire you when your degree will be complete.” Or “I will hire you when your degree iscomplete.”
  • Sentence structure e.g. recognizing comma splices: “I went to the backyard, Peter was there.” Or “I went to the backyard. Peter was there.”
  • Homonyms that have got through spell checkers – you’re andyour, its andit’s, writing could of, would of or should of, confusingtoo andto, confusingthey’re, their and there, etc. 
  • Formatting – including wrong header font/size, incorrect line spacing, title pages and headings, and paragraphs that are centred. 
  • Anything else that could ruin the reading experience.

Pros vs Cons Of Starting a Proofreading Business

Pros

  • Very low startup costs.
  • Can be run from anywhere in the world.
  • Ideal for people who can work independently.
  • Job prospects are excellent.
  • Almost everyone needs a proofreader.
  • Does not require a degree in English.
  • There are many applications and software to help you.
  • The business is easily expandable.

Cons

  • It can be challenging to meet deadlines and follow strict guidelines.
  • Additional education and research may be required for many jobs.
  • Not recommended to those easily distracted or requiring close supervision.

There are many reasons why people hire professional proofreaders. Here are just a few:

  • To ensure that manuscripts for books and electronic books contain no errors
  • Getting articles reviewed before they are published in newspapers, periodicals, or websites
  • Checking blog posts for errors
  • Examining legal documents for inconsistencies
  • Reviewing academic papers for grammatical errors
  • Identifying potential problems in business documents
  • Reviewing webpages for grammatical errors and formatting problems
  • Reviewing writing in English as a second language
  • Reviewing social media updates for errors

If you want to start an editing and proofreading business, don’t be afraid to start as a one-man army and expand as more editing requests come in.

As you receive more work, you can hire other freelance editors on a part-time or full-time basis, depending on the level of client requests.

Are proofreaders required to have a degree?

It is not necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in order to become a proofreader, but it can improve your chances of getting hired.

A large number of freelance proofreading jobs exist today, and you do not need a degree to do them.

You can become a proofreader if you possess excellent proofreading skills, as well as a strong grasp of grammar and the mechanics of writing in English. 

Qualifications of a Professional Proofreader

Here are some skills and personal qualities that proofreaders should possess:

  • A love of reading
  • Detail-oriented and accurate
  • Strong command of written English
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively in writing.
  • An understanding of spelling rules.
  • Familiarity with major style guides (APA, Chicago, and AP Styles)
  • Strong organizational skills
  • An excellent grasp of grammatical rules
  • Capacity to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Motivation to work independently and meet deadlines
  • Solid research and computer skills.
  • Adaptability to the author, publisher, or client’s style

Identify a niche to specialize in

Though you can specialize in any number of areas, niching down is the key to success in the proofreading industry.

You’ll gain a competitive advantage over your competitors if you pick a niche.

Customers are more likely to value expertise within a narrow niche than a mix of work experiences barely related to each other. Among the choices you might have are:

  • Academic pages
  • Advertisements
  • Manuscripts for books and eBooks
  • Medical transcription
  • Articles and blog posts
  • Legal documents
  • Court transcripts
  • Sales pages
  • Social media
  • User manuals
  • Web pages

Considering that the requirements for each will differ in terms of language and format, it’s best to concentrate on one or two of them. 

Style guides

A style guide is a set of standard rules for the writing, formatting and design of a variety of documents.

When you use a style guide, you can ensure that your documentation has a consistent voice, style, and tone.

Maintaining a consistent style and tone in your content makes it easier for your users to read and increases user confidence in the content’s authority.

If you are planning to become a proofreader, you need to know your style guide like the back of your hand.

Your choice of style guides will depend on your niche and the type of texts you will be working with. 

It is vital that you become familiar with the following styles:

  • Chicago Style
  • APA Style
  • AP Style

Knowing more than one guide will give you the ability to work on numerous types of documents.

What a Proofreader Gets Paid

Online proofreaders earn an average salary of $52,202 per year, according to salary.com.

Glassdoor reports that full-time proofreaders earn around $42,000/year on average, with the highest earners making upwards of $65,000.

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading in the UK recommends a minimum hourly rate of £25.70.

It is relatively easy to find data on the typical salary of proofreaders who work for companies, but it is more difficult to find information on pay rates for freelance proofreaders. Compensation varies widely among freelancers. It is estimated that proofreaders of nonfiction in the U.S. earn about $36-$40 per hour on average, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association.

How much a freelance proofreader earns depends on various factors, such as the following:

  • If you have had any formal training 
  • Your track record and experience
  • Your level of education
  • Whether you are specialized in any particular area
  • If your clients are billed by the word, page, or hour
  • Complexity of the document you are working on
  • The deadline for the client to receive the completed text.

Education, Training and Certification

It is well worth your time and money to take an online proofreading course, especially if you are interested in starting a professional proofreading business.

As a professional proofreader, you need specific skills, which you can acquire through an accredited course. 

But beyond that, an industry-recognized certificate of completion in proofreading gives you an edge in the job market and will enhance your marketability.

Prospective clients can feel confident that your work is of a very high quality.

A proofreading course will teach you not only top-notch proofreading skills and techniques, but also how to set your own rates and develop a reputation. 

As you gain more knowledge and experience, you will be able to charge higher prices and scale your business.

Another advantage of becoming certified is that it will allow you to join professional organizations. 

As a result, your chances of being hired will increase dramatically.

Here are some of the best online proofreading courses that will help you develop a solid proofreading skillset.

Writing Editing Masterclass

The following topics will be covered in this 3-hour course: proofreading strategies, spelling errors, homonyms, commas, question marks, exclamation marks, colons, quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens, dashes, and parentheses.

There is also a final assignment that goes along with this training and will test your skills and serve as a great summary of what you have learned.

  • Suitable for everyone from beginners to advanced
  • In general, a good overview of the editing process
  • Minimal time commitment

Proofreading Your Own Work

The course is taught by Heather E. Saunders, owner of Just the Write Type Editing. Her techniques are both up-to-date and universal, as she’s edited everything from medical journals to fiction novels. The course is available through CreativeLive, which often runs sales to keep the prices under $10. While there isn’t a free trial, there is a 7-day refund policy.

  • This course has been taken by 7,600 students
  • It is recommended by 100% of students
  • A total of 8 videos lasting about 1 hour and 10 minutes

The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit

In this course, you will learn how to cultivate a healthy writing habit. Following the six steps outlined by award-winning author Simon Van Booy will help you increase your writing abilities and the amount of writing you do. Beginners and experienced writers alike can benefit from this course.

  • A big hit! 14,255 students
  • Time commitment is low
  • Suitable for students of all levels

How to Find & Correct Writing Errors: the Proofreading Guide

Students will learn how to proofread grammatically correct texts, how to use proofreading symbols, how to use lists and guides for proofreading, and how to proofread the format and design of a document.

In addition to a discussion of crucial final tasks students forget to perform, Professor Koerber teaches students how to do a thorough proofreading. This course is one of the best online proofreading courses because of the resources and techniques it provides.

  • Low time commitment
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars
  • It’s popular! 1,631 students
  • It is suitable for all levels
  • Certificate of completion

The Online Proofreader’s Toolkit

A good proofreader should have the following tools on hand:

  • Google Docs: You can send clients editable documents using Google Docs.
  • Microsoft Word: Microsoft Word allows you to edit your work and look closely at every detail.
  • Grammarly: You can use Grammarly’s free grammar check to identify spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in English texts.
  • Style Guide. Keeping a style guide on hand will ensure there are no errors when you edit. Choosing the right style guideis important. Here is a list of the various styles to begin with.

Without proof of my proofreading abilities, how can I get work?

In order to get the job, you need experience, but in order to get experience, you need a job. It’s the classic catch-22 that everyone without real-world work experience will face.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to work around this problem.

  • Create an employer-focused personal website. Make sure you include a blog on your website that provides employers with helpful and valuable tips and information about proofreading. Doing so can provide a potential employer with valuable insights into your personality by establishing a blog that effectively displays your knowledge and expertise. This will make you stand out from your competitors. 
  • Get industry-relevant certifications. When you become certified, you demonstrate that you’ve received formal training to become a professional proofreader. Training validates your skills and gives you an advantage over competitors who do not take training courses. In addition, becoming certified demonstrates commitment to a career in proofreading, a hard work ethic, and a drive for success. You’ll be more marketable.
  • Display certificates of completion. Your certificates can be showcased on LinkedIn, the freelancing website where you are registered, and on your own website. 
  • Offer to proofread a portion of their document to demonstrate your skills to a prospective client. This is called a sample proofreading. The service can be offered for free or for a fee. You want to give potential clients a sense of what you can do for them.
  • Take a competency test. Some employers ask applicants to take a proofreading test as a requirement for employment. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your proofreading skills.
  • Get more reviews. Another option is to build a reputation by getting many positive reviews on a freelance site such as Upwork or Fiverr.

To attract clients, you may have to offer a low price at first, but at least you’ve started the process. The sooner you start delivering excellent service at a very affordable price, the sooner you will start getting positive reviews. Eventually, you can raise your fees as necessary.

Online Proofreading Jobs from Home

Here are a few places you can find proofreading jobs that you can work remotely from. 

1. Clickworker

Signing up for Clickworker will let you work as an independent contractor paid per task. There is an assessment test for proofreaders. If you pass, you will be able to get jobs that pay $8 per hour on average. At least four hours of work are usually available per day.

2. Proofreading Services

There are part-time and full-time freelance positions for proofreaders available at ProofreadingServices.com. The company is comprised of experienced proofreaders and editors who are specialized in the revision of business documents for academics, authors, and job applicants worldwide.  Their proofreaders earn as much as $2500 per month, and they’ve been around for a while.

As a beginner, this is a great place to find online proofreading jobs.

A degree, impeccable English skills, and an eye for detail are typical requirements for many proofreading companies, but Proofreading Services prioritizes their 20 minute proofreading test. A proofreader must score at least 95 percent.

3. Fiverr

Fiverr is the largest marketplace for digital services. This platform connects buyers with sellers. When you sign up, the main thing is to optimize your profile to be found for relevant keywords such as proofreading jobs. It’s an excellent place for beginners in the proofreading field to get their first clients.

Reviews play a key role in getting found for your target keywords. Since you are new to the platform, the best way to start getting reviews is to get friends and family to buy your service and review your services. Another effective way to increase your chances of being found is to use more specific keywords when you are optimizing your profile.

Broad keywords such as “proofreader” or “proofreading” are far too competitive. Use narrower, more specific keywords such as “business proofreader” or “business proofreading” when describing your services.

4. Upwork 

Upwork is one of the biggest freelance marketplaces on the web. Currently, it is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau site and is highly trusted by business owners and freelancers. This site enables you to build a profile and be hired by different online entrepreneurs and businesses. Starting out on this platform is one of the best things you can do when you are a beginner. With a strong profile, you can stand out from the competition on Upwork. 

5. Flexjobs

Flexjobs is a paid job board where you’ll find flexible, remote proofreading jobs every day. The site hand-screens every job and company on their platform, which means only legitimate proofreading opportunities are likely to be found through the site. The fee requirement discourages most people from using the service. Nevertheless, Flexjobs has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and has received five-star ratings from hundreds of customers.

6. Writer’s Relief

As a literary agent and editor submission service, Writer’s Relief helps authors make targeted, professional submissions. You can earn money on the site by offering remote book editing services to writers and helping them publish their work.

With its copy editors, everything is taken care of beforehand, so all you have to do is catch any errors that might have been missed. 

7. Prompt 

Students who are applying to college can get help writing personal statements and essays from Prompt. As a mentor, you need to have had experience as a student and to provide more than just online proofreading. If you’re interested in academic editing, this is a great opportunity. Pay starts at $20 per hour.

8. Gramlee

Gramlee offers a variety of services, including proofreading, editing, and copyediting. Their site specializes in providing proofreading services with a quick turnaround time from their proofreaders.

As long as they are eager to learn and follow the team’s guarantee of 24-hour turnaround, they will accept proofreaders with no qualifications. Grammarly provides flexible scheduling and hires only professional proofreaders who have a high level of attention to detail.

9. Reedsy

Reedsy connects authors with proofreading professionals who can help them produce top-notch content. Over 100,000+ authors, self-publishers, and traditional publishers register on the site, so it’s a great place to find work if you’re an experienced book editor and proofreader. 

Creating a profile is the first step to getting started. You should include your photo, describe your experience, your location, what services you offer, and what genre you prefer.

Depending on how well you fit Reedsy’s marketplace, your profile will be made public to potential clients. You can set your rates per word, per hour, or per project.

You keep 90% of your earnings. The remaining 10% is taken as a platform fee by Reedsy.

10. Scribbr

Writing services from Scribbr are specifically designed for younger academic audiences, and while it doesn’t require specific qualifications, applicants are thoroughly vetted before being accepted. 

To qualify, you must reside in one of the following countries: UK, US, Canada, South Africa, or Australia. You must speak English fluently, have a bachelor’s degree, and be available for at least 10 hours per week. You should also have experience editing academic texts.

Scribbr editors make between $25 and $30 an hour.

11. Cactus Global

Cactus Global offers a work-from-home platform with work opportunities worldwide. They currently have several positions available in the proofreading field, such as medical writing and editing. You must hold a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. However, editing and proofreading experience is not necessary.

12. Get Editing Jobs

GetEditingJobs.com is another site that posts jobs related to editing. The site displays recent postings that fit the bill when you search for remote proofreading jobs. You will then have to apply for these positions yourself.

13. WordsRU 

WordsRU offers a wider range of services for customers, including fiction manuscripts and web content, so its proofreaders receive a variety of projects. It welcomes job applicants from all over the world. However, you must hold a Master’s degree or higher.

14. Domainite

If you are new to the industry and are having a hard time gaining clients, Domainite can help you gain experience. On the downside, they are among the lowest paying platforms for freelancers.  

In order to be accepted as a freelancer, you’ll need to submit your application including samples of letters showing off your skills.

15. Writer’s Job Shop

Writer’s Job Shop is a job marketplace for proofreaders and other writing freelancers. They’re always looking to add additional proofreaders and essay editors to their team.

They require that you have a native-level grasp of the english language and a degree in any field before applying.

16. Writing Jobz

Writing Jobz is one of the best marketplaces for online proofreaders because it’s all they focus on. They specialize in academic proofreading, proofreading articles for online blogs and news sources, and book proofreading.

You start by taking a language task, then you can build up a client database as you take on more and more projects. As a proofreader, you can earn up to $11 per page.

17. Polished Paper

Professional proofreading and editing services are available at Polished Paper, which offers positions for experienced proofreaders and editors. The company offers competitive salaries. You need to register for a user account and upload your resume to be considered for an editing position at Polished Paper.

There will be a 35-question test after you apply. The objective is to see whether you can catch some of the more challenging errors that less experienced proofreaders might overlook.

18. Cambridge Proofreading & Editing

 Cambridge Proofreading & Editing is a popular freelancing marketplace. Remote proofreading jobs are available for subjects such as business and economics, life, social, medical, engineering, and physical sciences.

As a member of their expert team, you get to work on different types of documents that are submitted by clients. These include dissertations, admissions papers, research proposals, and resumes. For you to work with them, you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from a top-rated American, British, or English-speaking university. The hourly wage usually ranges from $20 to $25.

19. Scribendi

Scribendi is an editing and proofreading company based out of Canada. They have been around since 1997, hiring work from home proofreaders and editors. You are hired as an independent contractor. Their editors reportedly earn about $25 an hour. They will only hire people with Windows PC’s.

They also require that you have a Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree and/or professional experience. It’s important to note however that this company does require you have some experience with editing, proofreading, or a related field and also a college degree.

They hire workers worldwide for proofreading/editing positions, but English has to be your first language. You also need to have a Windows PC. To apply, you have to fill out their online application and also upload your resume. You will only hear back from Scribendi after applying if they are seriously considering you for the job.

If you hear back, you’ll have to take a test to prove your skills. I’ve read that the test is a little difficult.

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