Proofreading can be a great opportunity especially as a side hustle, but before you get started, there are several important things you need to know about. The first step is to learn about how you can become a good proofreader and you need to succeed in the industry.
I have been a full-time proofreader for two years and grammar and punctuation abilities have improved exceptionally. However, my editors can testify that my work isn’t very perfect yet. This is why we all need the right proofreading tools and services whenever possible.
It’s not just me who feel like this. A lot of industries and professions with people who depend on the services of proofreaders to ensure that the work they publish don’t have any errors in them. Have you been wondering what is required to become a good proofreader and earn some money from the comfort of your home?
Proofreading is the best side hustle anyone can do, but there are several details you need to about in regards to becoming a good proofreader.
What is Proofreading?
Proofreading entails reading a document with the intention of correcting and marking any mistakes. A proofreader is the last person that goes through a document making sure that it doesn’t have any grammar and spelling errors.
If you want to become a proofreader, you need to be very devoted to details and be ready to communicate whenever you have doubts about something. If a proofreader has a difficult time understanding a document, there’s a high possibility that the audience will too. The writer might not be able to read it when the proofreader is finished with the document, so as to ensure that it is perfect.
“When I started out as a proofreader, what I didn’t realize, that I’m now aware about is that most clients rely on your work as the last proof and chances are they won’t even go through the content afterwards before it’s considered as the final draft.” said Jennifer Johnson, a jentimecity.com public relations and communications consultant.
How Much Do Proofreaders Earn?
A proofreader with enough experience can get paid between $20 to $45 per hour, depending on the nature of the document. The Editorial Freelancers Association states that a proofreader earns an average of $30 to $35 an hour, assuming that they’re covering between 2,200 to 3,200 words every hour. According to PayScale, proofreader’s average salary per year is just around $45,000.
Beverly Darnell, who writes for USInsuranceAgents.com, has been in this field of work for almost thirty years. “For about 6 months, I was a full-time proofreader working for a large insurance company,” said Danielle. “My salary was about $23 per hour after working for 40 hours each week as a proofreader for AP Styles.”
The amount of money you earn is determined by how much the company needs your services. If your niche of choice is in-demand like legal report transcripts, you’ll have consistent work compared to other niches.
Caitlin Pyle, a legal educator and transcript proofreader, made at least $43,000 during her first year, after working for almost 20 to 30 hours every week.
“Transcript proofreading is pretty popular out there and this is because of various reasons,” said Pyle. “There’s a high demand for court reporters because there are not enough skilled professionals. Hiring proofreaders enables reporters to focus on their jobs as well as writing more publications.”
Proofreading vs. Copyediting vs. Scoping
“The first detail you need to know regarding proofreading – and everything including how much you’ll charge – is that you have to ensure that you and your client are on the same page in terms of “proofreading,” Patti Podnar said, who works at PattiPodnar as a freelance strategist.
“What about when you discover that the document, you’re proofreading is based on an argument which is flowed on logic? What if you’ve experienced this on a personal level, you have more details which will make the document more appealing? Can your employees open with this type of input? If they are, you won’t just be proofreading; you’ll be working as developmental editor and should be paid well for your services.”
Proofreading and copyediting are pretty much the same thing, however, they’re not performed in a specific order. Copyediting is the done first, checking for punctuation, spelling and grammatical mistakes. Copyediting also involves correcting things such as checking facts, clarity of phrases, continuity of the story and correcting citations.
Proofreading is the last stage before publishing. When a document has been copyedited and formatted, it’s given to a proofreader who checks for any errors that the editor might not have seen or potentially introduced: formatting problems and inconsistencies on visual things like headings, tables, etc.
Scoping is yet another step which often gets confused as proofreading. Scoping involves the editing of transcripts on behalf of court reporters. All scopists use a similar steno software which is also used by court reporters. It contains audio making sure that what was transcribed is recorded accurately.
A scopist, also known as a court reporter hires a proofreader to take a look at the document one more time, looking for minor mistakes such as word usage, punctuations and capitalization.
How to Be a Freelance Proofreader
Online proofreading can be done as a side hustle – which can potentially become a full-time online job – is just a couple of weeks. If you have the right strategy, you will reach there within no time.
1. Do You Have the Skills Needed to Become a Proofreader?
Not everybody can become a proofreader. You need to be exceptionally attentive to details and also work very fast.
“Don’t overlook anything because it can cost the company you work for a lot of money to have corrections made,” said Darnell. “The work will also be considered as high-volume and fast-paced. Before you start working, make sure you’re great at multi-tasking and can finish your tasks within a short time.”
There are instances when you’ll need to learn various specialized skills other than grammar and traditional punctuation.
“If you’re proofreading legal transcripts, you’ll need to follow all the rules required of transcripts because they vary in regards to copy editing and proofreading,” said Pyle. “The grammar can never be altered, ever – it doesn’t matter if it is awful. How a transcript is punctuated is more vital than the grammar used. You also need to know the right way to apply the rules because they can be very tricky.”
Although the skills needed vary depending on the kind of proofreading you do, there are qualities necessary to every proofreader.
- Flexibility: You have to be able to work with both digital and printed documents.
- Reliability: A good proofreader should be able to complete assignments on time and reply to a client’s emails quickly.
- Perfectionism: Proofreaders must be detail-oriented and very meticulous.
If you’re not sure about how you can earn cash as a proofreader or it’s the right job for you, Caitlin Pyle holds a free workshop meant to guide people on how to work as online proofreaders. The workshop also includes advise and tips for building businesses for all freelance workers.
2. Get Trained as a Professional Proofreader
You can start by getting trained as a proofreader. Darnell advises people to choose a single style and sticking with it.
“I recommend that you settle between Chicago or AP writing styles. It’s also important that you’re well versed in the field so that you’ll be able to differentiate between the two styles while reading a written document,” she said.
There are several free tests available that you can take to quiz yourself on AP and Chicago Style. However, there are not enough places available where you can learn the required skills to be the perfect proofreader. This is why Pyle creates courses about proofreading.
She has a course, Transcript Proofreading: Practice and Theory, which teaches basic skills on proofreading, how to successfully set up a business and hoy you can get and maintain clients. Learners complete transcripts with more than 3,000 pages and take 3 different tests before they can graduate.
When each self-paced course is done, which normally last between 2 to 4 months, graduates have all the information required to start a legitimate transcript proofreading business.
Danielle also provides a general proofreading course for those who’d like to learn about boarder proofreading training. The training is meant to help mover the learning curve from proofreading and help students to start earning more cash quickly.
3. Determine Your Niche
One you figure out that you have the skills needed for proofreading and you like the job, the next step is to discover the possible niche options. There are various different kinds of proofreading niches you can find depending on time availability and your strengths.
Print media proofreading: This is type of proofreading is one of the most traditional forms. It involves checking for grammar, spellings and formatting challenges in books, newspapers, magazines as well as other online and printed publications.
Marketing materials: Big companies set aside millions of dollars for their online and printed ad campaigns, therefore a single error can cost them more millions. Marketing proofreaders correct grammar, spelling and format press releases, ads and emails.
Academic proofreading: Apart from spelling and grammatical errors, academic proofreaders look for style, citations and references in course materials, dissertations and assignments.
Proofreading translations: Proofreading translations often needs proficiency in the language that’s being translated, but this isn’t always the case. These types of proofreaders have only one job, to ensure the context and meaning of the translation is accurate.
Transcript proofreading: Most podcast and YouTube hosts have their audio content transcribed so that it can be posted on their websites. A proofreader here just needs to ensure that the automated transcription is sensible and contains the right format.
Legal transcript proofreading: This is where the transcripts belonging to court reporters are checked for accuracy. This is a unique form of proofreading that lacks style or grammar correction. Proofreaders are only required to look for accuracy between the transcript and audio as well as correct punctuation. This kind of proofreading is one of the most consistent and lucrative forms out there.
4. Set Your Proofreading Rates
Starting out as a first-time freelance proofreader, you can charge you clients between $10 to $35/hour depending on your skill set, the length of the document and turnaround time for finishing the job. if you’re very skilled, you can charge a lot of money.
Johnson stated that she was earning $15 per hour as a beginner for technical editing and proofreading 9 years ago at an engineering company. “In 2019, the starting fee for a proofreader was about $25 an hour,” she said.
As a beginner, don’t give up or be discouraged by how low you’ll get paid for proofreading jobs. Accept what is being offered and remember to keep niching and learning as you become more experienced in the field.
5. As a Beginner, Find Online Proofreading Jobs
Decide whether you want to take jobs or would like to conduct your own business and look for clients by yourself. You can look for proofreading jobs from sites such as ZipRecruiter and Indeed.
LinkedIn, Upwork and Fiverr are some of the sites where you can post your resume when you’re not sure of how to begin. There are different Facebook groups for writers and media personnel which can be useful to you too. Make sure that you don’t spam and are only providing the information and services needed. Another way to advertise your services is at the English building or library in universities and college campuses.
If you’ve decided on the niche you’d like to work in, join groups that are industry-specific and connect with other people who may be looking for proofreaders.
If you want top become a successful proofreader, you need to be well-versed with grammar, punctuation, spelling among other things. However, there are various resources and tools you can use to make work faster, easier and more accurate.
Grammarly is a charge-free app provided by macOS and Google Chrome for detecting spelling, gramma and punctuation mistakes, enabling you to correct then in just a single click. The app also provides alternative phrases and detects wordiness in sentences.
Grammarly has a premium version that goes further into detecting words that are overused, sentence structures which aren’t clear and plagiarism.
ProWritingAid is another premium app that comes with a free version focusing more on structure, syntax and context. This is the right app for editing lengthy content and can help people to become great writers who are equipped with in-depth descriptions where necessary.
The Hemingway App is used to writing concise and clear. It can be used as an only editor without charges or pay for the version that can be downloaded. The highlights can be done using different colors to indicate where words and sentences need to be made clearer. The app also analyzes texts showing which grade level it was written in and how long it will take to read it.
AP Stylebook is an app used to update and associate press publishes which is the primary style for referencing public relations and news. You can buy both a digital and physical copy to use as reference when proofreading or download tools for style-checking for Microsoft Word and others.
Chicago Manual of Style
You need to be well-acquainted with the Chicago Manual of Style if you proofread journals, books and periodicals. This is a more in-depth app than AP Style so using a copy for referencing can go a long way instead of memorizing the whole guide which is 950 pages long.
Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer
Dreyer’s English is a book about grammar, written by Dryer on the 20 years he spent as a copyeditor at Random House that will keep you entertained till the end. The book is the right pick for anyone earning a living from the English language.
The Element of Style by William Strunk Jr.
The Element of Style is a guide book about the American English writing style. The book focuses on narrating stories with the use of very few words. It was listed in the Times among the top 100 most influential and best books written using the English language since 1923.
Related: 29 Ideal Work from Home Jobs in 2021
Online Proofreading as a Lucrative Business
One of the most lucrative jobs out there is proofreading. It has been used as a source of earning money since the invention of print media and it has managed to remain relevant because of demand from court reporting cases and content marketing.
You won’t become rich from proofreading, but once you know how to navigate the field properly, you can use your skills to build a lucrative business or side hustle for yourself.