Proofreaders are keen-eyed professionals whose job is to go over texts to ensure no typos and grammatical mistakes are present. These texts can be articles, essays, books, or even technical writing like manuals. It can be a gratifying job, especially if you love reading, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

Read on to find out how to launch your freelance proofreading career, including:

  • The scope of proofreading
  • How to find freelance proofreading jobs
  • How to manage your finances

The scope of proofreading

Proofreading is the final stage in the editorial process — it comes after structural and copy editing. A proofreader’s responsibilities include double-checking (and sometimes triple-checking) works for errors and mistakes, such as:

  • Typographical errors
  • Inconsistencies in style or layout
  • Awkward page and word breaks
  • Missing punctuation and spelling mistakes
  • Any other issues that might spoil the reading experience

Editing vs proofreading

The average person confuses editing and proofreading. In reality, they’re two very different (yet equally important) stages of the writing process. Editing happens before proofreading. It’s big-picture stuff like restructuring, deleting chunks of text if needed, and generally making sure that copy flows well and conveys the intended message.

Proofreading, on the other hand, is the final stage of writing. It’s when you meticulously go over content with a fine-tooth comb looking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Proofreading helps turn a final draft into a perfectly polished, ready-to-go-live draft.

Qualifications?

There are no specific degree requirements when it comes to becoming a proofreader, but a bachelor’s degree is always helpful as it means you’ve gotten plenty of chances to work with high-level, professional texts. 

Ideally, you should also get some proofreading training, which often comes with a certificate. In addition to the syntax and grammar of the language, most courses also cover standard styles in particular niches. For example, you might want to master things like the Oxford comma, how to punctuate dialogue or reference something for an academic article before you go into the job. 

How to find freelance proofreading jobs

Register with a professional body

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders are the go-to organisation for proofreaders. You can become a member for £100. From there, you can upgrade to different levels according to your experience and qualifications. They also offer a variety of well-respected courses to further your credentials and earning potential.

Consider your existing experience

Even if you have no editorial experience, your career history may lend itself to demonstrating proofreading credentials. For example, did you ever have to check a colleague’s training notes, presentations, marketing literature, website content or even letters to clients in your previous jobs? Flesh out these examples in your biography on your website and in any professional directories you join.

Create a professional website

A good website will enhance your prospects and ensure that potential clients take you seriously. 

You can make your own website with minimal cost and effort. Search for web builders, and you will find an overwhelming choice of providers, including Wix and Squarespace. Learn more about how to create a business website here.

Use freelancing sites

You can find freelance proofreading work on the following portals:

You might be up against people prepared to work for very low rates, but with some effort, you can establish yourself as a reliable proofreader and earn decent money from reputable clients.  

You might want to spend a bit of time on your proposal or bid for each job. Many people submit bids riddled with mistakes, so a perfect proposal will set you apart. Also, take your time to complete any skill tests available, as this could immediately raise your status. 

How to manage your finances

Setting your rates

In many cases, you’ll get to set your own proofreading rates. So do your research and decide what a reasonable rate is, but remember not to undercharge. According to the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, the suggested minimum hourly rate is £23.35.

Unfortunately, many of the freelancing sites are flooded with proofreaders offering bargain rates. Sadly proofreading is a skill that some clients are reluctant to pay for appropriately.  Experience and exposure are often used as an excuse to underpay, so don’t fall for that, especially if you have the skills needed for the job.

When you are at the beginning of your proofreading career, be prepared to take on work at a slightly lower rate but don’t try to compete with the cheapest. You can start by thinking about how much you need to cover your living and business costs (office space and time spent on keeping the books) to come up with an absolute minimum. You should not accept offers below this minimum. 

Separate your personal and business finances

Whether you’re set up as a sole trader or a limited company (learn more about how to set up your business here), the best way to organise your finances is to keep your personal and business dealings separate.

If you haven’t opened a business bank account yet, don’t put it off any longer and make sure to use your business account only for business-related expenses. This way, you can funnel all your business expenses and income through one account, making it easier to organise the data when you file your Self Assessment tax return.

Not having to dig through your personal bank account to separate personal and business transactions manually will make your life so much easier. Find out more about why you need to separate business from your personal expenses here.

Get control over your business finances and save time with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.

Related Resources

Read more