Some people read blogs, social media posts, and other publications only to be stopped dead in their tracks by the dreaded grammatical error. If you can’t stand stand spelling errors or extra spaces after periods, you might be a good candidate for a proofreader.
You might also be excited to know that you can work from home as a proofreader.
It’s easy to find remote proofreading work, which you can get by either working for a company or by being a freelancer. Either way, you can earn upwards of $30 per hour or more depending on your experience level.
In this article, we’re going to cover what exactly a proofreader does, how to get started, how much money you can make, and more!
What Does a Proofreader Do?
A proofreader is someone who reads through a text to catch minor grammatical, formatting, or text errors. This is usually the last step in the overall editorial process.
This is the type of person who reads through a text to catch an extra space after a period, or the use of “its” instead of “it’s.”
It’s important that we don’t confuse this with a copy editor. Even though a lot of people use the words interchangeably, there is an important distinction, and it’s an entirely different job.
A copy editor reads through a text to catch not only the same minor errors that a proofreader would catch, but also looks for syntax errors, pacing and flow issues, structural issues, and the like.
Copy editors also frequently make suggestions of how to improve the problems, or do a rewrite altogether. Proofreaders, on the other hand, don’t do rewrites or major revisions to a text.
Copy editing usually happens before the text is sent off to a proofreader. The proofreader works with basically a copy of the finished product, and gives it one last look-through to ensure it’s free from all errors.
There’s multiple different types of people that need proofreaders. Some things you might proofread are:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Restaurant menus
- Insurance transcripts
- Legal transcripts
- Press releases
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of needs that cover multiple industries. This gives you the flexibility to pick a specialty that you want to focus on and become an expert in that area.
For example, if you wanted to work in the legal industry, you could focus on court and legal transcripts as your specialty. Or, if you were more into books, you could specialize in fiction novel proofreading.
If you didn’t want to specialize in a certain area, you could focus on a certain type of client, and provide all their proofreading needs. Those clients could be:
- Local businesses
- Book publishing companies
Of course, when you’re just starting out, you might not have the luxury of picking your ideal client right off the bat. You might have to start with what’s available to you and build up your experience first.
What Are the Requirements?
Being a proofreader is one of those jobs that doesn’t require much in the way of formal training. However, some jobs (like ones in the legal field, for example) might require you to have a degree.
Of course, you have to have an excellent grasp of the English language and be up-to-date with current grammatical styles.
As far as tools are concerned, this is where proofreaders really benefit over other internet-based at home jobs.
For one thing, you don’t need any special headsets or external tools. As long as you have a computer, keyboard, and internet, you’re able to get started. You don’t even need lightning-fast internet speeds, which makes this a great at-home opportunity for those who only have satellite access.
You will probably need access to Microsoft Word or, at the very least, Google Docs. Some companies or clients might ask you to share files with them via Dropbox.
If you’re working with insurance or legal transcripts, there might be extra security measures in place, as you’d be dealing with personal information.
Some people might also prefer to use Grammarly, which has a free option and an upgrade option. However, while this tool is extremely helpful, sometimes the “errors” it catches aren’t actually errors at all, so don’t rely solely on this if you chose to get it.
How To Become a Proofreader
There are two main avenues you can take to become an at-home proofreader: by becoming a freelancer or by getting hired by a company.
If you choose to go the freelance route, you’ll need to market yourself. This can be hard if you don’t have any prior experience, because that’s the number one way you’ll be able to prove yourself against any competition.
Experience as a freelancer is key, especially in whatever niche/specialty you choose to work in. If you don’t have any experience in a particular field, you could offer your services for a discounted rate (or even for free) in exchange for a testimonial.
To find new clients as a freelance proofreader, you can join sites like UpWork, build your portfolio, and apply to jobs. If you get hired and do a stellar job, let them know that you’re open to be their go-to for proofreading work.
You could also join an editing agency, like Dragonfly Editorial. If you get hired by an editing agency, you won’t need to market yourself to new clients. They’ll send the work to you!
This is also true if you wanted to proofread book manuscripts. You could join book publishing sites that are geared towards indie writers, like Lulu or Bookbaby, and become a proofreader for them.
Work With a Company
The other avenue you can take as an at-home proofreader is to get hired by a company. This will give you a steadier stream of work, but you’ll have to apply and (usually) pass an editing test, as well as meet the company’s requirements.
Some companies that are regularly hiring are:
- Editor Live
- Polished Paper
You can also check on sites like Indeed or FlexJobs, since some companies will be looking to hire a proofreader directly through there.
For most sites, you’ll need a resume at the very least. Others might require a cover letter, passing a test, or answering questions.
You’ll most likely be working as an independent contractor (although some sites do offer full-time wages and benefits).
How Much Money Can You Make?
Most proofreaders earn anywhere from $25-$35 per hour, and that number generally goes up with experience.
If you focus on a specific niche, like court transcripts, then you’re likely to earn a higher amount.
If you proofread book manuscripts, you would make about $.02 per word on the higher end of average.
Overall, the average salary of a proofreader is around $51,000 per year, but of course this depends on if you work full-time or part-time. If you’re just starting out, you might expect to make a little less your first year.
However, this is one of the more lucrative at home job opportunities out there.
What Are the Benefits?
- You have a flexible schedule
- There’s a lot of different specialties you can choose from
- You don’t necessarily need a degree
- You can make a lot of money
What Are the Drawbacks?
- It can be hard to get started without any experience
- You need a very high level of knowledge of the English language and grammatical styles
- It can take time to build up a clientele
Summing It Up
Overall, working at home as a proofreader is a good way to make a decent amount of money either as a side job or as full-time income.
It offers a flexible schedule, lots of opportunities, and – best of all – it’s not a scam, like so many other “at home jobs” are.
Of course, it can take some time to really get this started, but it’s a great at-home opportunity if you have the knowledge and motivation!