Discover how to win the best proofreading jobs that pay top dollar, are easy to do and allow you to work from home anywhere.
What You Will Learn
Get Paid to Read
Do you love reading? If so, then proofreading may be the perfect freelance gig from you. Proofreaders get paid to read all kinds of documents and spot mistakes. If you have a good mastery of the English language, plus an eye for detail, then you can make a great living at home as a proofreader.
You can get freelance jobs proofreading documents such as:
...and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The rapid growth of the Internet as a communications medium has led to an explosion of content of many different kinds. All of this needs to be proofread if professional standards are to be maintained.
For you, that means a never-ending supply of potential proofreading jobs.
What Do Proofreaders Do?
Proofreading often gets confused with copy editing, so it’s important to understand the difference. While editors make broader decisions about style, format and structure, proofreaders are solely concerned with spotting errors.
As a proofreader, you will read a document carefully and look for these kind of mistakes:
Here are some common errors you might come across. Would you be able to spot and correct them?
Proofreading may be a simple task, but it’s not easy. You need to concentrate, so this is probably not something you can do while listening to music or watching TV. It’s your job to catch the errors that have slipped past the scrutiny of the writer, the editor and other readers.
The key is to learn to see what is actually written on the page - not what your brain expects to see there. It’s very easy to skip over a typo or spelling error such as “calender” because your brain automatically corrects it to “calendar” - or “colander.”
To succeed as a proofreader, you need to slow down and switch off this automatic correction. You will succeed or fail according to your ability to catch the mistakes that others miss.
If you can do this, you are well on your way to a highly-successful career as a proofreader. To see if you have the chops for the job, you can take a free test from the Society of Editors and Proofreaders. If you get a good result, you are good to go!
Proofreading may be a simple task, but it’s not easy. You need to concentrate, so this is probably not something you can do while listening to music or watching TV.
Some employers may expect you to have a degree in English, but the majority don’t even ask. They are more concerned with your ability to spot misplaced commas than your glittering academic achievements.
It’s a good idea to learn the most common style guidelines, such as AP Stylebook and the es. The Chicago Manual of Style. These are used as the publishing standard by many organizations, so a good understanding of them will help you a lot.
How Much do Proofreaders Earn
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a proofreader is $36,000 a year. However, this is very much a low estimate. If you are good at what you do, and you learn how to pick up the best-paying jobs, you can earn up to $100,000 a year doing proofreading.
In proofreading, you are usually not paid by the hour. Instead, you are paid by the page, or the number of words read. This means that if you work quickly, you can take on more jobs and increase your income substantially. That’s one way to crack the six-figure income barrier as a proofreader.
Better still, proofreading is perfect if you are looking for a work-from-home position. All of the work can be done online from anywhere in the world. The only equipment you need is a device with Internet access.
A decent laptop is perfect for this, but you could also use a tablet. At a pinch, you can even do the job using your smartphone.
How to Proofread
The main skill you need to have as a proofreader is a good grasp of English grammar and spelling. If you have that requirement under your belt, you are good to go.
You will need to pick up some specialized knowledge of proofreading, but that is not difficult. For example, it’s a good idea to learn the common proofreading marks that have been used traditionally:
It’s good to learn these, even though things have moved on. Nowadays, you are more likely to be working on a collaborative document such as a Google Doc. That makes it easy for you and others to add comments as annotations to the document.
Sometimes, you will come across a client who asks you to use iAnnotate. This app is easy to use, and you can soon get up to speed with it:
Working with clients is usually a straightforward process. You can communicate by email, online chat, video chat or a project management system. Here’s a good breakdown of the process of working with clients:
There are many different kinds of freelance jobs you could consider, so why would you choose proofreading as your preferred option? There are many benefits to doing proofreading work:
Where to Find Jobs
So you’ve honed your grammar, worked on your spelling and studied the main style guides. Now you are ready to get paid good money for proofreading. All you need to do now is find a job.
The good news is that the number of job options for proofreaders is overwhelming. There is a veritable tsunami of proofreading jobs posted every day. All you have to do is identify the ones that meet your requirements in terms and start applying.
So where should you look? There are 10 principle ways you can find proofreading jobs, and each provides a wealth of sub-options. So let’s get into it...
1. Proofreading Jobs Sites
The obvious place to start when looking for employment in this sector is the jobs sites that specialize in connecting proofreaders with paid work. This is where the best contracts are likely to be found.
In order to win jobs at these sites, you need to come across as being very professional. Remember that you will be competing with other professional and experienced proofreaders, so you need to up your game. The standards are generally higher at these sites, and you may need a degree and previous experience.
But even if you are a raw beginner, you can still find some plum jobs on these sites.
This site hires both freelance and full-time proofreaders who can demonstrate excellent proofreading skills. Applications are accepted from any country worldwide. They offer:
A two-proofreader model is used at Proofreading Pal, so that every document is proofed by at least two professional proofreaders. Their proofreaders earn up to $3,000 per month.
ProofreadingPal is currently seeking qualified applicants who meet one of the following criteria:
1. Are currently employed by or enrolled as a graduate or postgraduate student in an accredited United States university and have a minimum GPA of 3.5.
2. Have a graduate degree with a minimum of five years of professional proofreading and editing experience.
The ideal candidate will also offer:
If you meet their stringent requirements, you can take their online test and apply for work.
This company claims to have the world’s fastest growing community of editors and proofreaders.
Scribendi has been in business since 1997, and is open to applications from freelancers. You need to have a PC with Microsoft Office, and proven skills in your field.
In order to be considered for a proofreading position with WordsRU, you need to meet the following requirements:
It also helps to have proficiency in at least one of the following:
If you feel you meet the requirements, you can send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to be considered for Polished Paper, you will need to complete a 35-question test. But don’t let this put you off, as it puts you in pole position to get work.
CEO and Founder, Steven Bredenkoetter, says:
“Polished Paper believes every document that comes through our doors, from the student's admission essay to the hedge fund's investors deck, is a document of consequence to the author submitting it. It is our duty to our clients, and our promise, to keep this fact always in mind.”
To get work from this site, you need to sign up so that you qualify to receive project notifications. The site provides tools for you to promote yourself in the community, get more attention and additional work.
Payments are made by PayPal, after the company has deducted its commission payment. You are required to have:
This company employs home-based freelancers on a variety of projects. Applicants should have a college degree and the thoroughly professional.
You can apply by filling out a detailed independent contractor application. You can indicate the categories you wish to be considered for.
When you work with English Trackers, you benefit from:
Applicants need to meet the following requirements:
These guys are grammar fanatics who shudder at the thought of poor writing, and they are looking for people to help spot such heresies.
You get to work at home on a freelance basis, and they are always open to proposals. This should be a fun company to work with.
This company offers proofreading services for scholarly papers, checking for grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Proofreaders are carefully matched with assignments based on their familiarity and expertise in the subject area. The goal is to ensure that research papers are assessed on its merit, without the distraction of language issues.
This site is unusual as it is based on a credits system. Contributors proofread each other’s work, and get credits towards having their own work proofed.
However, is also possible to turn your credits into cash, so this is a useful site to consider. You may get some interesting projects here.
2. Freelance Marketplaces
The next best place to look for proofreading jobs is at any of the major freelance marketplaces. These offer lots of opportunities for proofreaders, and the qualifications requirements are likely to be less stringent.
As the world’s biggest freelance marketplace, this site has plenty of work on offer. At any one time, you are likely to find several hundred freelance proofreading jobs listed here.
The key to success on Upwork is to stand out from the crowd. You don’t want to end up in a bidding war which forces prices down to the lowest level.
Instead, create a professional profile that positions you as an expert. Build a reputation as a reliable proofreader who delivers top-quality work.
Although Upwork takes a slice of your earnings, the sheer volume of work available here makes this site a priority.
As another big contender in the freelance marketplace world, Freelancer should be your next port of call. Lots of proofreading jobs are listed, in all kinds of niches.
As with Upwork, positioning is important here. You need to make the most of whatever experience and expertise you have. Work hard on getting positive feedback to establish a reputation in the marketplace.
Although not so many proofreading jobs are listed here, you will find that the competition is not so intense, either.
This is a good site to sign up with and check back one a week or so. You may find some lucrative jobs posted here that you won’t see anywhere else.
A decent number of proofreading jobs get posted here, so it’s worth signing up to see what you can get.
The jobs can generally be done online on a freelance basis. In addition to applying for jobs that you see posted, there is also the option to offer services pro-actively according to your skills and experience.
Fiverr is a hugely-popular freelance gigs site, and a vast amount of work is done through this platform every day. There is certainly a great opportunity to win proofreading work here.
On Fiverr, you offer a gig that you think buyers will find interesting. You can add all kinds of upsells and extras to bump up the value of your gig to several hundred dollars a day. Some proofreaders are making a killing on this site, and you can, too!
3. Writers' Job Boards
Although these job boards are mainly concerned with writing and editing jobs, you can also pick up some proofreading work, too. These sites are great for finding clients who are directly involved in the media world.
This is one of the most popular resources for blogging jobs, and proofreading projects are often posted here.
This site connects you directly with potential clients, so you don’t have to worry about paying commissions to the platform. Some quality jobs are posted here, so make it a top priority.
Here’s another jobs board that you should keep a regular eye on. You will find a variety of interesting jobs posted hre.
The number of jobs posted here may be on the lower side, but they can be of good quality. Many proofreaders have picked up regular clients here.
Having been around for a couple of decades, Journalism Jobs has established a good reputation in the industry. You can find some good gigs for proofreaders posted here.
Try refining your search by state to find jobs that are geographically close to you. Even though the work is generally all done online, this may still give you an advantage.
This is another site that has been around for a long time, and which has a great selection of jobs. You can certainly find a few proofreading jobs here.
Jobs are aggregated from a wide selection of job boards, so you get a wide variety of jobs to choose from. Some big clients hang out here, so make sure you get involved.
This platform exists to connect freelancers with publications that need their services. And that includes proofreading.
You can choose to sell your work or your time - whichever works best for you. You have an opportunity to contact commissioning editors and pitch for work.
4. Content Mills
Content marketing has become a big deal, and that has resulted in an explosion of platforms designed to connect content creators with buyers. There are dozens of these, and they all provide opportunities for proofreaders.
Take some time to visit the most popular of these content mills and identify the ones most likely to offer work to proofreaders. Some of these could provide you with enough work to keep you very busy.
5. Online Advertising
If you have a budget for marketing, the quickest way to find clients is simply to advertise for them. You could literally start running ads today, and have a new client by the end of the day.
The obvious place to start is with Google Ads. These allow you to connect with clients who are searching for proofreaders right now. You only pay when someone click through to your website. The cost per click can be high, but it’s well worth it if you pick up a few good clients.
Facebook advertising is another option. Here the cost per click is generally lower, but you can’t target buyers of proofreading services directly. You need to get creative and find ways to reach potential customers.
6. Regular Jobs Sites
One of the best ways to find proofreading jobs is to check the ordinary job boards. You will be surprised at how often good freelance projects are posted on the big ones.
This massive jobs aggregation system always has a huge number of jobs for proofreaders, and many of these can be done remotely.
The interface is a very simple one, but the site works very well. It certainly delivers in sure numbers, and you need never be short of work if you get good at using Indeed.
Do a search on this site for ‘online proofreading jobs’ and you are likely to get well over 1000 results. So you are spoiled for choice when it comes to opportunities.
One way to get ahead is to download the Monster app and check for jobs on your smartphone. That way you can stay informed of the latest jobs and get your application in first.
You can also find a good selection of proofreading jobs here. SimplyHired is another big jobs aggregator that brings you lots of opportunities.
This site has the advantage of a modern user interface that makes it easier and more intuitive to use. That makes it simple to identify the proofreading jobs that are right for you.
All of the jobs offered on this site are designed with flexibility in mind. So it's perfect for finding freelance proofreading jobs that you can do from home.
You can stand out from the crowd by taking some of the skills tests, and adding your resume. There is a great chance of picking up good work here.
This site is often overlooked by proofreaders seeking work, but it can be a goldmine if you learn how to use it well. One advantage of using this site is that it has a more professional feel overall, and rates of pay tend to be higher.
Finding work is a skill that is well worth learning, as it can pay huge dividends. Here’s how to dramatically increase the number of interviews you get for proofreading jobs:
Another great way to find proofreading jobs is simply to reach out to potential prospects and show them what you have to offer. You can do this more or less for free, and geneate a lot of valuable work.
This can be as simple as using Google to identify companies that may need the services of proofreaders, and contact them by email. To get the best results, don’t email to the general email address or contact form found on the website.
Instead, use LinkedIn and a service like ContactOut or Hunter to find the email address of the person most likely to hire proofreaders. Then send a personal email that demonstrates what you can offer.
You can get even better results if you are prepared to pick up the phone and call. In a world where most people rely on email and online chat, engaging someone in a phone conversation makes you really stand out.
8. Professional Societies
Another way to build relationships with potential clients is to join some relevant professional organizations. Although you probably won’t be able to pitch for work directly, these are great for building contacts.
Once you get to know more people in the industry, you may find that work comes your way naturally. After all, people prefer to hire proofreaders they know, like and trust.
As the largest and oldest national professional organization of editorial freelancers, this is a good place to start. Members include:
The society offers a job listing service, which can help you find work right away. You can also get a listing in the directory, so that hiring editors can find you easily.
This is a professional society that numbers a large number of proofreaders in its membership, creating a valuable and useful community.
You get a listing in the society’s directory, which can be a great source of proofreading work. You can also take part in workshops and training to improve your professional proofreading skills.
This society is an an international members’ alliance of editors working in digital media, traditional print media, corporate communications, book publishing, academia, government, and beyond.
Members work at local papers, websites and large companies, or are freelance professionals united by a love of language and precision. Networking here can produce some great proofreading jobs.
9. Local Organizations
Just because you want an online proofreading job, it doesn’t mean your clients need to be located far away. In fact, many hiring editors prefer to work with someone close at hand. Even if you rarely meet, they are comforted to know that you could meet if necessary.
A good place to start is your local Chamber of Commerce. There you may meet many local executives who need proofreading services for their businesses. You can also attend any relevant Meetups in your area, or join local organization such as:
Any of these can provide you with great local contacts. You should also join business networking groups such as BNI - these organizations are dedicated to helping you further your career.
10. Google Alerts
This is the last option on our list, but is probably the first you should take action on. That’s because it’s the easiest to do, but also the one most likely to produce instant results.
All you need to do is set up Google Alerts (free) for phrases such as
To focus the results more precisely, you might also want to add keywords such as:
Winning the Best Proofreading Jobs
If you are applying for proofreading jobs through the specialist proofreading jobs sites, you may be asked to undertake a test to prove your ability. This should not be difficult to pass, as long as you concentrate and take care.
However, if you apply for jobs on more general job boards, there will probably be no test to take. In this case it’s a good idea to have a sample document that you have proofread. You can share this with your prospective client and show them the errors you spotted, and the corrections you made.
If you don’t have any client work you can use, just create a document and demonstrate the kind of errors you would pick. Google Docs are great for this, as it’s easy to highlight errors, annotate the document with your comments, and then share with the prospect.
If you already have clients (even if they are not proofreading clients) be sure to leverage these. Ask them to give you a testimonial, and to speak directly with your prospect if required.
A Successful Proofreading Career
Follow all of these steps and you should be well on your way to building a very successful career as a proofreader. You can look forward to work that is interesting and enjoyable, whilst also benefiting from a good income and a wonderful lifestyle.
There is everything to play for, so start working on your roofpreading (sorry, I mean proofreading) career today!
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