I felt my phone vibrate as I poured warm coffee in my favorite novelty cup. My clients got up first thing today! How nice. Slowly, I took my phone out of my housecoat pocket and read Linda’s last email. “Hi, Darcy! I have another sixty-two pages for you to proofread. Am I correct that the cost for this service is CAD248? Let me know. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve written this time!” I smiled while typing in my answer. Having a client that is excited to work with you again is always a wonderful feeling. Deciding not to waste any time, I made my way to the study to type up the invoice for her. Today, was going to be another pajama day for me! Sixty-two pages can be done by late afternoon if I work hard enough, so why not be comfortable while doing it?
This is what it is like to live the life of a freelance proofreader. No joke. It’s a great job that allows you to work from the comfort of your own home with your own selected hours and time-frame. It’s a great life, really! It was not always like this, though. Getting to this point is a lot of work and a lot of time. Fortunately, I know how to start a proofreading business exactly! So, if you are interested in learning how to become a professional proofreader, I suggest reading this article and its entirety.
Step 1: Expand Your Knowledge on Grammar, Punctuation and Formatting
Before you go looking for great online programs that can get you certification in the proofreading field, you are going to need to brush-up on grammar, punctuation, syntax, document formatting and much more. Despite various programs being available for this career path, there is still going to be a ton of self-learning involved. Why? Because learning editorial skills are run by those who have either been teachers in the past or have worked in a professional editorial environment after attending a physical university. So, the courses are going to be run similarly to that of a regular school environment. (Perhaps just not quite as intense, though.) Which means, your teachers are going to expect you to do a lot of research yourself and having a leg-up on grammar knowledge will help you do this easily.
To start, I recommend getting copies of English Grammar for Dummies and Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies. Don’t read the proofreading book until you have become extremely familiar with the rules of grammar. The proofreading guide will just give you a quick look into what a professional proofreading career will involve. However, much of the information is about proofreading by hand. This will not be the case for you. Proofreading jobs are almost exclusively online these days. But it still has useful tips. To learn the difference between proofreading and copyediting, Click Here.
The next step will be to apply the knowledge you have learned. Go through Google Search and download every free worksheet you can find on proofreading. Most of these worksheets should come with answer keys. Once you start catching on, read blog posts and see how many errors you can spot. This is a great way to start developing your eagle-eyes! Also, if you think you have reached a point where you are ready to practice without answer keys, ask family and friends if they have any documents you can proofread with Microsoft Word.
Step 2: Build A Portfolio
If you save all your practice sheets and documents from friends and family members, this part will be easy. Keep all these documents nicely filed on your computer. The more samples you have, the more impressed your future clients will be with you. Once you start, and finish, your proofreading training, you will have even more work to show!
Step 3: Get Certified
This step is easier said than done — I know. Learning to become a professional will not come cheap either. However, there are quite a few courses out there that will get you where you need to be. And speaking from personal experience, the investment is well worth it!
Proofreading Anywhere is the most popular online certification course for this field. It teaches you the skills required to become a pro as well as get you started with building your own business. The program has numerous worksheets for you to complete, which builds a fantastic portfolio for you. There is also no time-limit to completing the courses. You can work at your own pace. However, you will be required to pay for books, and website memberships such as the Chicago Manual of Style, on top of the original cost for the program. The cost for Proofreading Anywhere’s GP course, is USD597. To save some money, I recommend not paying for one-on-one assistance from graduates. This is offered within the program; however, I do not recommend it. It isn’t as great as it sounds. It is quite costly, and you don’t get a whole lot of time with them. This is another reason to study-up before joining!
Speaking of saving money, Udemy’s Proofreading Like a Pro Course is a good place to start before moving into more advanced programs. In this course you will learn what to look for when proofreading, how to find proofreading work, how to use professional proofreading symbols and strategies for catching more errors. Udemy often has huge discounts available for most of the course’s they offer. Programs that are $100 will go on sale for $19.99! So, keep your eyes open for these opportunities.
There is also a proofreading diploma course offered through the Centre of Excellence website. The cost is CAD209.68 with a coupon code available to purchase the course for CAD47. I do not know much about this course, though, and would strongly recommend you make inquiries through the help centre before joining. The price is extremely low for a diploma, so be careful.
Step 4: Start Building an Online Presence
So, you’ve completed all your training and you’re ready to break-out into the freelance life. Awesome. The very first thing you are going to need to do before taking on clients is build an online presence. You are a professional after all! Build yourself a website with a strong About page and list your prices as well. Also ensure you have a contact form available so clients can easily speak with you. Most proofreaders charge $4/page ($3 if you live in the USA) for most projects. To get an idea on how pricing works, visit my Services and Pricing page. The best website builder on the market is SiteRubix. This powerful web hosting platform keeps two versions of your website always running at top-speed and optimizes your content behind the scenes. The technology protects you from spam, hackers, and malware that most websites are susceptible to as well. For more in-depth information on this platform, Click Here.
Next, build yourself a Facebook page. Fill it with helpful information about writing, proofreading and any other information about the editorial field. Do not promote yourself constantly. You are in the business of helping, not selling. If people trust you, they will hire you!
If you need a way to easily invoice your clients, I recommend looking at Freshbooks. It is completely newbie proof!
Step 5: Apply for Online Jobs to Boost Your Talents and Awareness
To build more client trust, make yourself available on freelance websites such as, Upwork and Fiverr. Send out proposals to clients every day until you land your first job. Work on building a strong relationship with your client. When a client becomes comfortable with you, they will want to work with you outside of these platforms. I worked with my first client for a month through Upwork, and by the end of the month she was ready to work with me through my website!
What do you think? Do you have what it takes to become a professional proofreader? I think you do! Don’t be afraid to start living the good life. Just remember, becoming a professional proofreader does not mean that you will never have to hire a proofreader again. Proofreading your own work is extremely difficult, even for professionals! So, if you are working on an incredibly important document, I recommend submitting your work to another pro. You know where to find me. 😉