If you’ve looked around for information on working from home, you’ve probably come across quite a few proofreading jobs. This is one of the more popular inquiries because a lot of people are pretty good at grammar and know how punctuation is supposed to go. Combine that with the benefits of working from home, and you might have a golden opportunity.
On the surface, being an at-home proofreader seems like a great job. Proofreading jobs can provide the flexibility many work-at-home professionals are looking for. In most cases, the work can be completed on your own time as long as you meet your client’s deadline. It can also be performed on a number of devices. You don’t necessarily need a desktop. And, online proofreading work is plentiful. But is it right for you? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Proofreading?
Proofreading is the final step in the editing process. The content and structure have been developed and finalized. It’s time for polishing and getting ready to publish. This final step includes looking for and correcting typographical errors in grammar, style, and spelling.
Everyone that produces content may have the need for a proofreader. This includes bloggers, small business, and large brands. You may be asked to proofread anything from social media updates to emails and blog posts to books. Many proofreaders choose to specialize their services and focus on one main type of content. That could be:
- Student essays
- Court transcripts
- Online articles and blog posts
- Legal transcription
- Self-published novels
- User manuals
- Restaurant menus
- Press releases
You may also choose to work with a specific type of client proofreading all of their documents.
- Court Reporters
- Real Estate Agents
- Local Businesses
There’s also the wide field of copy editing, which is a more in-depth type of proofreading. Copy editors will often suggest changes to a draft or manuscript that go beyond grammar and punctuation to deal with things like clarity, consistency, and brevity. Copy editors might specialize in a particular type of work (like self-published authors of any genre), or in a particular field or industry (like technical manuals for software companies).
What makes proofreading ideal for working from home is that it can most often be done remotely, using a laptop or tablet. Because so much of what needs to be proofread these days is produced on a computer, it’s incredibly easy to share files back and forth around the world.
It’s also easy to produce the work with limited technology. You need a working computer or tablet, an internet connection, and that’s about it. You don’t need a dedicated phone line, a printer, or any other special equipment unless you want some for your own workflow (like a keyboard).
Most proofreading work is done on a freelance or contract basis — not all, but most. If at-home proofreader jobs are something you really want to do, you need to be prepared to set up your own freelance business (which isn’t too complicated but does require you to pay quarterly taxes). You can still work for companies as opposed to ding all your own marketing, but your business is considered self-employment.
Otherwise, you may need to be ready to spend a lot of time looking for a remote employee position — there aren't that many opportunities there for employees compared to independent contractors.
How Much Do Proofreading Jobs from Home Pay?
As with many online jobs, proofreading pay rates run the gamut from very little to very lucrative. It does tend to pay less than freelance writing jobs. Glassdoor has a starting salary of $36,000 for proofreaders compared to $42,000 for freelance writers. And it is production-based pay. You will rarely be offered an hourly wage. Instead, you will be paid by the page proofed.
How Flexible Are the Hours for At-Home Proofreaders?
This is one of the great things about proofreading — more often than not, it’s deadline-driven as opposed to being on the clock for a specific number of hours. Proofreading jobs are generally structured to be incredibly flexible. As long as you can meet your deadlines, it doesn’t matter when you do the work.
It might be a little different if you’re a proofreader in a traditional setting — you might find that you have a specific schedule.
The other “caveat” to the flexibility of proofreading is that, depending on what type of clients you have, you might need to be able to turn your projects around quickly. You might receive a document to proofread and have to return it the next day, for example. This isn’t always the case, but it’s definitely an element of the job for many proofreaders.
What Skills Do I Need?
You will need great vocabulary and grammar skills. Proofreading isn’t just catching spelling errors. You will also need to know things like proper comma usage and standard proofreading marks.
Some sites may want a journalism or English degree. Others may simply want experience. If you don’t have either, you can reach out to small businesses or online publications offering your services to gain some referrals and/or testimonials.
To work for a large brand, content producer or news-centric site, you may need additional, more advanced skills. Many professional organizations and content mills follow AP Stylebook guidelines. The Chicago Manual of Style is another popular style being used by many digital publications.
What Tools Do I Need?
Proofreading is one of the great online jobs that can be done from just about anywhere and on just about any device. Work on your tablet if you would like. There are a few tools that may make your life easier, however.
Google Docs – many online proofreading jobs are done via Google Docs which allows for a markup procedure and adding comments to an original document. Documents can also be shared easily online.
Dropbox is another great option for sharing documents with clients who prefer to use Word or another document form.
Grammarly is a fabulous online tool for spotting grammar and spelling mistakes. The free version will allow you to check WordPress and social media, but you will need a Premium account for MicrosoftOffice products and Google Docs. It can be a huge time-saver, however! It can even make suggestions for sentence structure and that writing style we discussed earlier. It won’t catch everything. Don’t rely on Grammarly to do your job.
McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook is a must-have for any aspiring or professional proofreader. It has a lot of great tips and tools to make your process and business run more efficiently. 007145764X
Finding Work As an At-Home Proofreader
There are a few ways to search for proofreading work, and the way you pick should be determined by the type of work you want to do. If you want to freelance, you’ll be actively marketing yourself. If you want to work for a company, you’ll mostly be responding to positions posted on various job boards. You can also discover companies that work with remote proofreaders by searching on the internet.
There are a few different search terms and keywords you can use to find proofreading jobs. Here are some of the common ones:
- copy editor
- line editor
- academic editor
- book editor
You’ll also want to include the typical keywords that are used for at-home positions:
- home office
The bulk of your interview process will involve those editing tests. This type of work is very much performance-based. It will certainly help if you have an engaging personality, but you won’t be able to be hired if you can’t perform well on an editing test.
If you go the freelance route working for individuals, you’ll probably come up against fewer editing tests so you’ll need to be ready to prove yourself other ways. The best way to prove yourself is with your testimonials from happy clients. You can plan to do 2-3 free or low-paid gigs in exchange for a testimonial if you don’t have any.
Who Hires Online Proofreaders?
There are several sites that are regularly hiring online proofreaders:
- Book in a Box isn’t currently hiring proofreaders, but you can get on their recruiting list. They pay $0.0075 per word and have a 4 to 7 turnaround time.
- CACTUS offers specialized editing and proofreading services and likes their freelancers to have a PhD/Masters/Bachelors degree or expertise in one or more specialized subject areas in physical sciences and engineering, healthcare, life sciences, medicine and surgery, or social sciences. You can earn $1200 to $3000 per month plus bonuses.
- Demand Media, aka studioD, hires freelance copy editors. You will be paid $3.50 per reviewed article and need two years’ experience.
- Domainite pays ridiculously low rates, but may be somewhere to test the waters.
- Edit Fast requires a degree from a recognized university and some past experience. They pay 40% of the contract price.
- English Trackers hires experienced academic editors.
- Gramlee has a really unique application process. They charge clients $.02 per word. They don’t disclose how much of that will be your cut.
- Hello Essay is looking for experienced academic editors with a degree.
- Kibin doesn’t have any proofreader job openings right now, but you can sign up for notifications.
- Polished Paper contracts only “exceptional editors.” You will need to pass their 35-question test.
- ProofreadingPal offers editing services for a little of everything. They are looking for proofreaders currently enrolled in college with a minimum 3.5 GPA or graduates with 5 years of experience.
- ProofreadingServices.com doesn’t list any experience requirements, but you will be required to complete a 20-minute proofreading test.
- Scribendi asks for 3 years experience and a university degree.
- Sibia Proofreading is looking for those familiar with APA, AMA, CSE, MLA and Chicago citation styles.
- WordFirm likes five years experience and a degree.
- Words R U requires a PhD, Master’s or equivalent experience in academic principle.
- Wordvice requires a graduate degree and two years proofreading experience.
- Wordy does not list any degree or experience minimums on their site, but you are required to pass a 50-minute test.
Training and Degrees for At-Home Proofreading Jobs
There are several training programs, certifications, and relevant college degrees that should go on your resume if you’ve got them. If you’re completely serious about becoming an at-home proofreader, it’s also worth considering at least one of these courses or certifications.
You’ll also find it easier to find entry-level proofreading work if you’ve got a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree in a related subject. This doesn’t necessarily mean an English degree — many companies that hire proofreaders want someone with a degree in that industry (like psychology or nursing) rather than a language-related degree. The vast majority will require some sort of degree, period.
That said, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a degree or certificate. With proofreading becoming so freelancer-heavy, you don’t necessarily need an impressive resume full of proofreading work to be able to find freelance gigs.
What you will need, however, is testimonials. A track record of happy clients will go a long way toward selling yourself when you’re freelancing. (Also, freelancing is a great option for people who want to get a certification but can’t afford it yet — you can save your freelancing income up to buy the training.)
How to Qualify to Be a Proofreader
One important aspect of landing proofreading work, especially if you want to be hired by a company rather than freelance clients, is the editing test. Pretty much any legitimate company hiring proofreaders will have an editing test (if not several tests) that potential new hires will need to pass.
To do well on an editing test, you’ll need to have solid English grammar skills. You’ll need to be familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style, at the very least. It’s also highly recommended that you get familiar with AP Style, and if anything you’re doing might be in an academic setting, you’ll need to study MLA format, APA format, or both.
You don’t need special training for any of these style guides (though training is always available). Much of it, you can learn by getting a copy of each manual and finding free training online. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a great place to get started. Once you feel like you have a good grip on a particular style, you can add it to your resume.
Is Proofreading a Career?
One of the neat things about working from home as a proofreader is that you can make it what you want. If you want to be a career proofreader, you can. Many people have! But proofreading can also open the door to lots of other types of work, too, if you’re interested.
For example, a freelance proofreader might become interested in graphic design, based on work experience with ebooks and other digital products. Other proofreaders will branch into freelance writing or offering virtual assisting services in addition to proofreading.
Traditional employment as a proofreader can also open doors for other types of work. You might be able to transition easily into project management or account management, or even get involved in academia or the traditional publishing industry with everything they have to offer.