Learn how to become a proofreader, and make money from correcting errors.
Yes. There is money in correcting grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. If you happen to be someone who smirks whenever you see one, then proofreading is the perfect job for you. And guess what? You can do it at home!
With the increasing number of websites and blogs being built-up, it is not surprising that there is a demand for writers, editors, and proofreaders. Today, however, we are going to particularly focus on proofreading.
There are a lot of website owners that need online proofreaders to particularly help them identify mistakes before posting web pages, to ensure they will not distance prospective visitors to their websites.
But apart from website owners, there are also a lot of writers out there who need proofreaders to check their work. One example is eBook writers. Before they publish and sell their work online, they ensure that it meets certain writing standards for their book to sell. Ideally, an editor and proofreader check their work first, until perfection is met.
With that said, you are probably wondering by now how to become a proofreader?
Well, good thing you are reading this because that is exactly what we are going to talk about today. Apart from giving you tips on how to become a proofreader, we will also try our best to discuss further what proofreading is all about, where you can find proofreading jobs, and how much you can make as a proofreader.
We hope that after reading this, you will get enough information about the job, and you will be inspired and be convinced to try out proofreading.
So, let’s begin?
WHAT IS PROOFREADING?
A lot of people thought that editing and proofreading are the same. Well, for your information, the answer is no. Editing and proofreading are two totally different things but are equally important in making sure you get to have the best copy or content possible.
To be exact, after writing, editing comes next, and then, proofreading. Yes, proofreading is the last stage in the whole writing process.
But what makes the two differ from one another?
Editing is all about re-writing or restructuring a content. When editing, you can delete a huge chunk of text if necessary. An editor’s job is to ensure that the copy or the content flows smoothly and that it reads as how it is intended to be read. An editor makes sure that the copy is understandable, and that the sentence structures are excellent.
Proofreading, on the other hand, “is the final stage of the editing process, focusing on surface errors such as misspellings and mistakes in grammar and punctuation”. That’s according to the Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Furthermore, they added that “should proofread only after you have finished all of your other editing revisions“.
As a proofreader, your job is to meticulously go over the whole content ensuring there are no spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors. If we may say, a proofreader’s job is very vital to turn a draft into an excellent, well-polished, ready-to-publish draft. To cut it short, a proofreader’s job is very essential in making a draft final.
If you think you have an eye for detail, and you are very keen on finding errors, then you may want to consider becoming a proofreader. With regard to technicalities, there are a lot of resources available out there that you can check and read on.
Proofreading is very profitable. In fact, it is one of those online jobs that are very competitive when it comes to profitability.
HOW TO BECOME A PROOFREADER?
A lot of people who are not really familiar with what proofreading is all about the thought that you need to have an English or a Mass Communication or a Journalism degree to be a successful proofreader. While having any of these degrees may be an advantage, it is not really a need or that it is not really necessary.
Anyone can be a professional proofreader for as long as you have the skills required.
Meanwhile, here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a proofreader particularly, an online proofreader:
Develop a passion for reading.
Proofreading is a skill that can be developed by constant reading. You have to develop a certain love for reading –
While it is okay to read a specific book genre, it would be better to be a wide reader. Meaning, you read anything and everything – from novels to business books, from comics to journals and daily newspapers.
As you read, familiarize yourself with different writing styles – from informal writings to formal ones. Of course, your passion for reading will also help you acquire a broad range of knowledge in different subject matters.
Familiarize and understand the specific skills required to be a proofreader.
To be an efficient and excellent proofreader – whether it is online or not – you have to be knowledgeable with correct word usage, spelling, and punctuation. You also have to be good at recognizing common word confusions like then for then, it or it’s, and many others.
Apart from those, you also have to have a proper understanding of what the writer wants to say by carefully re-reading the text.
A proofreader’s job may sound so simple, but it is very critical. Well, as a proofreader, you have to be very critical in everything that you read.
Develop excellent computer skills.
If you are going to be an online proofreader, all the materials or text that need to go through you will be sent via email. That said, all will come in soft copies. Thus, it is vital that you familiarize yourself and be excellent in using proofreading and editing tools on your computer. Some examples are Microsoft Word’s “rack Changes” and “Insert Comments” tools.
Some companies though may require the usage of other proofreading platforms or that they may have their own proofreading tools for you to use. In some cases, there are clients who prefer the traditional way of proofing, which means you will need to print out the copy and send back the proof via fax or scanned form. In these cases, you have to use proofreading symbols by hand.
Consider taking formal proofreading training.
If you are considering to really take proofreading seriously, there are so many online classes out there that you can participate in to widen and improve your proofreading skills. Websites like eLearners, Mediabistro.com, and Unversalclass.com offer classes on language and proofreading.
If you want to learn the basics of proofreading, you may want to check this tutorial video from the English Language Centre:
Immerse yourself in different stylebooks.
As a proofreader, you have to familiarize yourself with different kinds of stylebooks as some if not most of the organizations you will be working with in the future often adopt to an established style guide, or in some cases, they create their own.
But for a starter, you have to at least be familiar or have an understanding of the AP Style Guide. AP Style Guide is commonly used by most newspapers, as well as online news organizations. A lot of websites today also use the same style guide, as well as the Yahoo Style Guide.
Apart from these, you may also study other stylebooks like the New York Times Manual of Style, AMA Manual of Style, and the Chicago Manual of Style.
But for an overall refresher, we highly suggest reading William Strunk and E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style”. It’s a very useful and helpful book. We consider it a must-have for every writer, editor, and proofreader.
Collect different kinds of references.
While stylebooks are a must-have, there are also other books that you also need to invest in to build your proofreading skills even more.
Build up your very own reference library, which should be composed of a thesaurus and dictionary. Your collection will depend on what you specialized in or what your clients specialize in. For instance, if your client specializes in legal, then you have to have different legal terminology references. If it’s medical, then collect a number of good medical terminology references. Other specializations include scientific and financial terminologies.
Apart from books, you can also bookmark legit reference websites like Dictionary.com.
Practice your proofreading skills.
As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”.
But how do you practice your skills? Well, all you have to do is look for newspapers, journals, books, websites, and even the texts displayed on news programs and commercials on TV. As you read on, keep a critical eye, and then look for errors.
Reading regardless if it’s a book, newspaper, online or via television will help you to spot errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Do this exercise regularly, and you will be surprised how it helps develop your skills even more.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BE A PROOFREADER?
As mentioned earlier, anyone can be a proofreader provided you have the skills. While some companies may require a college degree or proper proofreading background, others are not very keen on that as long as you are willing to be trained.
Yes, there are companies that consider people for the job even those without experience for as long as the company sees potential in you.
But then again, if you want to keep an edge among other applicants, you have to do your part. If you really want to get into this kind of job, you have to invest in yourself by taking the time to take online proofreading courses or classes or going through personal training by simply reading books and other reference materials.
If you have proofreader friends, you can also ask tips from them on how to be one.
HOW TO GET STARTED?
Now that you already know the process on how to become a proofreader, and that you are already done with familiarizing and understanding proofreading, what to do next?
Well, it’s time to find a job!
But first, here are some tips on how to become a freelance proofreader:
– Be specific on what you wish to specialize in.
Like writing and editing, to be an excellent proofreader, you have to be a master of something.
But how will you know what to specialize in?
Well, it all boils down to what you are most interested in. It can be proofreading legal, medical, or financial websites or copies. As much as possible, concentrate your efforts on a specific area. You know why? Because the more skilled and specialized you are, the higher your rate will be. Don’t get us wrong though, a general proofreader is good too. There is no problem if you want to stick to that. But if you want to step up your game, you better specialize in a specific area of interest.
– Take advantage of the internet.
There are so many websites out there that offer online proofreading jobs. All you have to do is search for online proofreading jobs via Google or other search engine platforms, and you will be surprised at the search results. It’s overwhelming, if we may say.
You can choose a couple or you can sign up for all these websites. It really depends on your personal strategy. Of course, the more you sign up and apply, the more chances of landing a job. However, we highly suggest to really look into each job offering and take into consideration your personal preferences.
Some of the websites that specifically provide proofreading and editing services are Proofread NOW, Wordfirm, and Mulberry Studio.
You can also find proofreading jobs on freelance marketing websites like Upwork, Guru, Freelancer.com, and Elance. You may also search for proofreading jobs on job boards such as Jobs.com, Indeed, and Monster.com.
Depending on the company, some offer fulltime proofreading jobs, while others offer part-time. It’s up to you to decide which one you prefer.
Please keep in mind though that some of these websites offer free services, while others may require a very minimal fee.
– Offer your services directly to website owners.
Apart from applying for proofreading jobs via job listing sites is a good option, you can also take the “road less traveled”. You can approach website owners and offer your proofreading services to them. You may either approach them personally if you know the web owner or webmaster, or you can email them via the Contact Us section of the website.
– Build your very own website.
It may entail too much work, but if you really are serious about your proofreading services, it’s going to be worth it.
Having your own website will allow you to advertise your very own online proofreading services. It will also help you showcase your professionalism to your prospective clients. To make this a success, you have to develop your skills in search engine optimization so clients will easily find your site through searching on the internet.
A very important reminder though, make sure that your website is free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Your proficiency to do the job has to show in there.
– Consider volunteer work.
Volunteering as a proofreader is one way to hone your skills. It’s also a good strategy to show future clients that you have proofreading background professionally.
If you have webmaster friends or you have a friend who is writing an eBook, you may offer your proofreading services to them for free. We are sure they will like the idea and will let you do it. After all, who does say no to a free offer, right?
Take advantage of any organization that needs proofreaders too. Or if you have a prospect client, you can also offer your services for free for a certain period of time, and if it works for them, if they feel like you are fit for the job, then it’s up to them to offer paid work.
– Join writers, editors, or proofreaders’ groups.
Widen your network, and acquire more knowledge from fellow proofreaders. Joining a group like the Editorial Freelancers Association will also help you acquire more knowledge because from time to time they hold conferences and training, as well as offer advice and provide presentations to those who need it.
HOW MUCH DOES A PROOFREADER MAKE?
When it comes to how much a proofreader makes, it really depends on your skills, your years of experience, and your proficiency for the job.
But according to Glassdoor, the average base pay of a proofreader is $45,000 a year. At the minimum, a proofreader can make $32,000 in a year, and a maximum of $65,000 a year. That’s definitely quite a lot of money, right? In fact, it can pass as a regular job, if you want to.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO BECOME A PROOFREADER
Proofreading is a perfect job for anyone who has an eye for detail or is error-conscious.
Unlike other jobs, most companies do not require a specific educational requirement when hiring proofreaders. For as long as you have the skills, you can land in a proofreading job.
However, if you are really serious about getting into proofreading stints, but have no previous work experience as a proofreader, we highly suggest you take a crash course or read references on how to become a proofreader to familiarize the rules and symbols used when proofreading. Practicing through online proofreading practice sites will also help you hone your skills.
So, how do you find proofreading so far? Do you think you have what it takes to be one? Remember, when in doubt, you can always go back and check the different ways on how to become a proofreader.