Guide To Starting A Successful Freelance Proofreading Business
A proofreader’s responsibility is to review the written work in a variety of different forms for clients. When a proofreader reviews any type of writing, they look for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
To be a proofreader, you need to have excellent command over the English language and have a keen eye at spotting any mistakes present in whatever writing you’re analyzing.
There are a multitude of different forms of writing where a proofreader is needed. Some of these forms are advertisements, web content, books, magazine articles, and any other vehicle of written communication.
If you’re equipped with these language skills and are passionate about proofreading, starting a proofreading business could be a great path. Setting up a proofreading business can be a frightening and confusing experience. I understand this all too well.
You may be wondering, “Where do I start?” That’s why I have created this article that teaches you how to start a proofreading business specifically for freelancers.
I want to give you some advice on how you can better your craft and turn it into an efficient, money-making business that you can do from your own home. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you achieve this goal.
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- Guide To Starting A Successful Freelance Proofreading Business
- Write a Business Plan
- What Are The Expected Costs Of Opening A Proofreading Business?
- What Are The Monthly Expenses?
- Who Is The Target Market?
- What Training Does A Freelance Proofreader Need?
- Recommended Tools for Proofreaders
- Set Up A Website
- Proofread Professional Networking
- How to Gain Experience as a Beginner Proofreader
- Gather Testimonials
- How to Be Successful as a Proofreader
- Final Thoughts
Write a Business Plan
For anyone trying to start a business, a clear plan is essential if you wish to succeed as an entrepreneur. Planning your business helps you to detail the specifics of the company and aid in discovering some unknowns.
Here are some essential topics that need to be addressed up when looking to start a proofreading business from home:
- Expected opening costs
- Monthly operating expenses
- Target market
- Cost of training and tools needed
- How you’ll gain clients
What Are The Expected Costs Of Opening A Proofreading Business?
One major positive for starting a freelance proofreading business is that the start-up expenses are incredibly reasonable. You would need very few things, such as a place to work, equipment to work on (laptop or computer), and WI-FI access.
You can efficiently work from the comfort of your own home, a public library, or a local coffeehouse. Many libraries and coffeehouses provide free WI-FI access to their customers, making it a great place to get some work done. WI-FI packages are also pretty inexpensive these days, helping you achieve your goal of working from home.
Computers can be bought for around $1000 with the software you need already loaded on. A web presence is also essential when trying to start a proofreading business from home. To start your own website, check out this guide for starting a profitable website. You can save money by writing your copy for the website yourself.
What Are The Monthly Expenses?
The likely expenses you need to pay as a proofreading business would possibly be the WI-FI contract, a salary for you (and any other workers you employ), and car expenses that occur from driving to and from meetings with clients.
Who Is The Target Market?
Anyone who writes for the public but needs to set forth a professional public image is a possible client. This could include business owners, publishers, and editors, website owners, or corporate communications clients among many other client profiles.
What Training Does A Freelance Proofreader Need?
As a freelance proofreader, you don’t need an actual degree in English, although you can get one if you want to. Landing and keeping proofreading clients is more about the results you provide and how much real-world experience you have.
Proofreading courses provide a framework of the knowledge and skills that help enhance your abilities as a proofreader. As I have mentioned before, proofreading isn’t an innate ability that doesn’t require training. Proofreading is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved; even if you’ve never done it before.
There are excellent training courses out there, one of which is called Proofread Anywhere. The course can easily be accessed online, and you don’t need any prior experience, yet the content of the course makes it great even for those who are experienced.
This course goes over proofreading basics as well as how to set up your freelance proofreading business and gain clients. It’s even taught by a very successful proofreader who is using her skills to help others follow the same path.
Even better is that you can take part in this FREE proofreading workshop to decide if it’s right for you.
Anyone passionate about proofreading can learn and grow with Proofread Anywhere. It usually takes between one to four months to complete. The course outlines how to start your own proofreading business and has bonus training included as well.
Still not convinced? Read my full review of the Proofread Anywhere course.
Recommended Tools for Proofreaders
Proofreading is a great skill to have and has been around for ages, but proofreading methods are slightly different as technology has improved. Nowadays, there are fantastic platforms that have been made to help reduce the workload and make proofreading somewhat easier. Here are some tools that I recommend to any proofreaders:
Grammarly is a great software that uses artificial intelligence to identify any mistakes, whether it be spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Grammarly covers all the bases.
It’s still important to note that Grammarly can sometimes not entirely understand the whole concept and tone of an article. It would be best if you still proofread the article yourself, as the program often makes suggestions that might not be quite correct.
Just putting the content through the platform isn’t good enough; you also need to manually look over the piece. Grammarly is great, but a real human should look, too.
Taking the time to educate yourself on proofreading is a great way to enhance your skills. You can never stop learning as there are always new and better ways to improve your writing, and these ideas are evolving every day.
Taking a proofreading course, or even immersing yourself in the world of proofreading, usually ignites a hunger to learn more. The knowledge you can get from a reference book is invaluable and an excellent way of building on the skills you already have.
Here are some essential reference books for proofreaders:
- Proofreading Handbook
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- The Best Punctuation Book, Period
- The Pocket Book of Proofreading
- The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
Set Up A Website
Establishing a business website allows customers to learn more about your business, what you offer, and more. Having an online presence through a website and social media aids in attracting interest to your website and can help gain potential clients.
Follow this guide to learn more about how to easily set up your website.
Proofread Professional Networking
Information-sharing and networking is an important feature that contributes to a proofreader’s professional development. Physical networking and information-sharing can be a costly ordeal and can’t always be possible.
Online networking allows proofreaders to mingle with other professionals in the industry and enables them to learn from one another while discussing ideas.
Online and face-to-face interactions are both very beneficial. Here are some of the best associations I would recommend you join to help boost your professionalism as a proofreader:
- Editorial Freelancers Association
- Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
- Editors Canada
- The Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders, and Indexers of Ireland
- Editors’ and Proofreaders’ Alliance of Northern Ireland
How to Gain Experience as a Beginner Proofreader
Participating in a proofreading course is a great way to obtain information and build your knowledge as a proofreader. Taking this knowledge that you’ve learned and putting it to use is an effective way of enhancing your skills and bettering yourself to being a professional proofreader.
I’m sure you understand this, and that’s why your next question probably is, “Where can I gain experience and practice proofreading?” The best place for a beginner to gain experience proofreading is online.
I recommend trying these online proofreading jobs that even beginners can do.
The internet is a beautiful place. There are a vast number of platforms that provide clients and proofreaders the means to connect.
You’re able to find people looking for your services, discuss what they want, and how much they are willing to pay you. Establishing a profile on these websites is the feature that potential clients see, and is usually what attracts them to you.
That’s why it’s crucial to have an engaging profile. Here are some tips and tricks that you can use on the various freelance websites to draw clients.
Don’t know what freelance websites to sign up to? These are some of my picks for proofreaders that are looking to gain experience:
Fiverr is one of the leading online marketplaces for freelance services. It’s a platform that provides proofreaders with potential clients that are looking for proofreading services. The business offers a payment protection policy, which means that there’s no risk of not being paid for the work you deliver.
Upwork is similar to Fiverr, but some benefits make Upwork better. You’re able to start projects sooner, and Upwork puts specific procedures in place to attract more potential clients to its platform.
This is done by providing clients with cheaper rates. This doesn’t affect your price, as you decide this yourself. Upwork reduces rates by avoiding agency markups. Just keep in mind that Upwork fees can be quite heavy.
Reaching Out Directly
Try to look for proofreading opportunities at your place of work or through networking. Gaining experience usually doesn’t involve getting paid. It’s sometimes necessary to offer your services to businesses for free or discounted to get started and gain a reputation.
There’s no need to worry as this is only temporary while you gain some experience. Businesses often jump at the offer of free services, so you’re more than likely to receive some proofreading work once you ask around.
Ask the businesses that you provide free work to for testimonials. These can be featured on your website.
Featuring testimonials on your website from satisfied customers is an excellent way to attract new clients. This helps in proving to the client that you already know what you’re doing.
I recommend that you include your testimonials on your portfolio and home page. Customers aren’t going to click through every page on your website. Featuring the testimonials on the first page of your website ensures the chances of them seeing it.
How to Be Successful as a Proofreader
A common misconception is that proofreading is an innate ability, but that’s completely untrue. The truth is that it’s actually a skill you can acquire with the right mindset and training. A few tips can be implemented to amplify your proofreading skills and make you into the expert you’ve dreamt of becoming.
You’re Your Own Best Judge
You can identify what you struggle with and pinpoint what your most common mistakes are. Familiarizing yourself with your most frequent mistakes helps make proofreading easier on you, as you know where to pay the most attention.
It’s Not Just About Misspelled Words
Proofreading isn’t only about identifying words that are misspelled. Those errors are more than likely identified through applications that you’re using like a spell checker.
Equal focus, and sometimes more focus, needs to be placed on identifying incorrect sentence structure, texts that don’t flow nicely together, and any repetition that’s present in the writing piece.
Have Fresh Eyes
Giving yourself breaks allows you to return and have a changed outlook on the writing. This process helps you find errors that you wouldn’t have seen before.
Slow It Down and Read It Out Loud
Reading the written material aloud and at a slow pace gives you the ability to spot so many errors that would have gone unnoticed. You can realize things such as the repetition of certain words or sentences that don’t work together well.
Acquire Skills That Limit Your Subconscious Mind’s Control
Your subconscious mind tends to play tricks on you when you’re proofreading. Your brain puts ‘missing pieces’ into the writing that leads to it making sense. This leads to your sentences missing valuable elements that help put everything together.
An exercise you can do while proofreading is making use of a text-to-speech application. A good program that offers this feature is called Natural Readers. Listening to another voice read the written material helps eliminate the subconscious’s impact of putting ‘missing pieces’ into the writing, and you’re able to identify errors easily.
Make Sure to Read the Material Several Times
It’s never a good idea to only read through a paper once. Reading an article multiple times helps reduce the risk of missing out on any possible errors.
Try to Work in a Team, When Possible
Having access to multiple proofreaders is never a bad idea. Another set of eyes looking over your work is a reduction in the risk of a possible error still being present in the writing material. Working on a piece of writing for so long eventually becomes too familiar. Having someone who doesn’t have any idea about the specific writing piece can help find any mistakes within the paper.
Many great writers have implemented this tactic into their proofreading routine. Joan Didion and her husband, John Dunne, were both each other’s additional set of eyes. They would never publish anything without the other one reading through it.
Writing is vital, whether it involves business advertising or website content, the use of sloppy English is always going to reflect poorly on a business.
That’s why there’s always going to be a need for proofreading services. You’ve got the power as a proofreader to influence how a company or person is reflected positively.
Proofreading is a skill that never stops expanding. There are always more things to learn and better ways that improve the proofreading process. Keeping your freelancer skills current helps your work stay fresh.
Proofreading isn’t just a way to make money, it’s a great online career that allows you to take back your time and work from home, location independent. You can start improving your proofreading skills immediately with one simple free workshop.
Have you started your own proofreading business at home? Let me know what struggles you faced getting started.
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