How To Make Extra Money Proofreading
Do you like to read? Can you spot errors in blog posts and books, and know how to fix them? If so, then proofreading would make an excellent side hustle for you.
Proofreading is a skill that’s in demand. Content is being created at a fast pace, and people expect quality. Any entrepreneur, business owner, or writer will tell you that proofreading is invaluable for helping them create valuable and trustworthy content. In this post, you’ll learn how you can make extra money proofreading.
What Is Proofreading?
Many people think you need an English degree, certification, or membership in an association to work as a proofreader, but the truth is you don’t. Proofreading is considered to be the easiest form of editing, and it’s the last chance to review text for mistakes. Proofreaders ensure that a message is clear and consistent.
A proofreader’s job is to:
- Correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting
- Flag obvious issues in commonly known facts
- Follow style guides and maintain consistency
- Preserve the writer’s style and message
Can you imagine making money from reading? It’s not a pipe dream—I know because I do it every day.
You don’t need physical prowess or specialized equipment. Also, every industry creates content. Whether it’s a trade, academics, or health and wellness, the required proofreading skills are the same.
Here’s why you should start a proofreading side hustle:
- Low start-up cost
- Flexibility: work around your day job or schedule
- It’s low stress
- Work from anywhere: as long as you have a laptop you can proofread anywhere
- It gets better: over time and with additional training, your skills can evolve into other forms of editing, like copyediting
Is It For You?
It’s important for you to understand the industry and what clients expect. That’s why I created my free 5-day course, Intro to Proofreading, so you can learn more about proofreading and see if it’s a good fit.
Here are certain qualities you need to have to start proofreading:
Ability To Spot Details
Your ability to spot little details like an extra space or missing punctuation will make your job as a proofreader much easier. Anyone can spot the obvious errors, but you have to be able to spot not-so-obvious ones, as well.
Ability To Work Independently
Freelance proofreading is a solo job, and you have to be able to manage your time and projects without any supervision. Once a deadline is set and the work is sent, you’re left alone. Part of a proofreader’s job is being able to problem solve and research issues on your own.
An Open Mind
There are rules and guidelines of the English language that you need to know, but you don’t always have to follow them. Remember that language evolves, and you have to be accepting of a client’s voice. Everyone’s writing style is different, and it’s important to preserve a client’s style even if you disagree with the content.
A Natural Talent With Language
You need to have an excellent command of the English language. This means you can recognize obvious grammatical errors, and know the basics of spelling and punctuation. For example, you can recognize when a writer has used both past tense and present tense in the same sentence.
How To Start
You don’t need much to get started. Here’s a list of the basics to get your hustle going:
- Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: It’s the industry standard in North America, and you can access it online for free
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Training in proofreading, technical, marketing, and business skills
- Knowledge of editing programs
- An internet connection to find work, communicate with clients, market yourself, and to receive and send work
- The Chicago Manual of Style, which is considered THE bible of all style guides, and is the standard for proofreading books
- The Associated Press Stylebook: preferred by some businesses and publications, also for digital content
- Productivity tools like Asana and Trello to help manage your time and projects
Types Of Content You Can Work On
- Blog posts
- Digital content
- Books, guides & catalogues
- Journal & magazine articles
- Reports & white papers
- Academic papers & essays
- Marketing & sales material
- Brochures & flyers
Where To Find Work
There are numerous sites to find freelance proofreading jobs. Some are job posting sites and others are job bid sites. Of course, it’s also a good idea to get your own site up and running.
For general proofreading work:
- Craigslist (writing/editing section)
- Freelance Writing (they post proofreading jobs)
If you have a higher-level academic background like a masters or PhD, then you can also approach editing agencies, who match proofreaders with clients for work.
If you want to work on academic material you can look at sites like:
Some Tips For Your Hustle
Choose A Niche
You can work as a general proofreader or you can choose to focus on a specific niche or niches. Many proofreaders will do general proofreading while also targeting a niche that they have above average knowledge in.
You can also make more money this way depending on what field you focus on. For example, if you work for an ad agency, then you can proofread copy for advertising and marketing agencies.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to discover a niche:
- Can I proofread content in the field I currently work in?
- What am I passionate about and know a lot of?
- What did I study in school that I am still knowledgeable in?
Gain some experience so you feel comfortable proofreading text and to discover your workflow. “Warm up” your skills by doing some volunteer proofreading for a friend, family member, or associate. This will be valuable experience for you to include in your resume. You’re more likely to be considered for a job if you have some professional experience behind you.
Learn To Market Yourself
Working with text is only part of being a freelance proofreader. You need to hustle and find work! Get on social media and market yourself for free through platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Get creative in your job search. Think of who writes content and approach people.
What I love about proofreading is that it’s a lifelong skill. You’ll never forget how to do it, and it’s a skill that you can do from anywhere, anytime. I like to say that proofreading is a long game. Landing a client or project won’t happen overnight, but if you’re patient and persistent, it will pay off. There will always be content that needs to be corrected and polished.