What Is A Proofreader? An Authentic Online Opportunity!

Hello fellow boomers! Now, more than ever, if we need to supplement our retirement funds, it needs to be from the safe environment of our home.  There are so many options available to us on the internet these days.  In this article, I would like to delve a little deeper into one of those options.  This is an authentic,  100% home-based opportunity and can be done on a part or full-time basis, depending upon your needs.

Let’s get started.

What Is A Proofreader?

A proofreader is someone who searches a completed project for typographical errors. The proofreader works with a facsimile of a document, or a proof, (thus the term).  They look for minor formatting, spelling, grammar, and text errors and confirm that the material is ready to be published.  They are, in fact, the very last set of eyes looking at a project.

what is the difference between a proofreader and a copy editor?

Sometimes these two terms, proofreading and copy editing, are used interchangeably but they are not the same.  It is important to understand the difference.

Copy editing involves checking written materials for spelling, style, punctuation, and grammar before it is given to the proofreader.  A copy editor may make changes such as rewriting sentences, moving paragraphs around, and fixing issues with jargon, wordiness, or transitions to ensure that the written item fits in with the publication.  The copy editor is also a fact-checker and ensures that the table of contents matches the page numbers in a document.

Who Can Become A Proofreader?

Well, the good news is you do not need a degree to become a proofreader. In fact, there is no formal certification required.  I believe proofreading is a great idea for retirees because we all grew up reading actual books and learning correct grammar in school, didn’t we?  If you enjoy reading, have strong attention to detail, a good command of the English language, and enjoy working from home, this could be for you.

Is Proofreading In Demand?

Yes, it is! As the internet expands, more and more people are writing content and it naturally follows that there should be more opportunities now than ever before for proofreaders.  Authors of any type of material need to ensure that the final product is flawless and correct. The whole world is open to you!

Who Utilizes The Services Of A Proofreader?

  • Academics – For example, students writing a thesis.
  • Print media – Proofreading books and newspaper articles.
  • Self-published authors – Proofreading books for writers.
  • Bloggers – Busy bloggers need someone to proofread their articles.  They don’t have the time!
  • Court transcripts – This is a specialized type and involves proofreading a court reporter’s text to ensure complete accuracy before being sent back to the lawyer’s office.
  • Non-native speakers of English – These writers need their documents to be proofread for accuracy for the English speaking market.

These are just a few examples of the types of proofreading you can do.  One of the best ways to become successful is to find your ‘niche’ market.

What Is A Niche

A niche is a market that is more specialized that may hold particular interest for you based upon your own life experience.  For example, you may enjoy novels a lot so why not choose to proofread these?  If you are a retired healthcare professional, you might decide that proofreading medical documents/articles are a natural fit for you.  Perhaps you were a chef or consider yourself to be a ‘foodie’.  You could proofread menus and recipes on food websites.  If you are fluent in another language, you will find proofreading translations could be a great niche.

Are you starting to see the potential here? Niches are everywhere.

Finding your own niche will make you stand out from others who are jacks of all trade and you will be more attractive to your niche clients.  You will increase your chances of getting repeat clients and referrals when you specialize like this.

No matter what niche you choose though, you should have these foundation qualities:

Qualities and Skills Needed For A Good Proofreader

  • Language skills -Good command of the English language. Native fluency is required.
  • Reliability – Clients want to know that when you commit to a project you will complete it within the designated timeline.
  • Accuracy – This job requires attention to detail.  You are the last ‘set of eyes’ on a given project and it must be perfect.
  • Be able to follow a style guide – Clients will often have a style guide that you will need to adhere to. A good proofreader will grasp the style of a written document and ensure that format, spelling, and punctuation is consistent with the style of the material.
  • Work on paper, in addition, to digitally – Many proofreaders like to print out material and view a hard copy as well as viewing it on the screen. This is where those of us that grew up reading physical books have an advantage.  You may pick up on some details you did not see onscreen.
  • Read material from bottom to top – Many proofreaders choose to work from the bottom of a document to the top to avoid being distracted by the meaning of what they are reading and thus spot errors more efficiently.
  • Communication skills – Since you are running a business as a proofreader, you must act professionally when dealing with clients.  This means replying to emails in a timely manner and communicating in a clear, concise, and diplomatic way.
  • Time management – This will be critical to you completing your projects. You will need to schedule your workload, prioritize your tasks based on when the deadline is, and keep yourself free from distractions.
  • Good research skills – you must be ready and able to look up and research words that you do not know.  The client expects you to know the answers.
  • Knowledge of computers and proofreading tools – The majority of proofreading is done online so you must know how to navigate your way around the web.  You must be familiar with the use of tools such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs to accomplish your work.
  • Be able to market yourself – this is a critical skill to develop if you want to be successful.  Once you have built your skills and feel confident, you will be able to market yourself and grow your business.
  • Perfectionist – you really need to be a detailed individual who likes to see perfection in your work as a proofreader.  You will enhance your reputation and become very valuable by delivering flawless documents to your clientele.  This will, of course, help make you successful!

Equipment Needed – Investment In Your Business And Yourself

If you don’t already have one, you will need to set yourself up in a comfortable and efficient work environment in your home.  You will need a desktop or laptop computer. A tablet can work but it will make your life a little more difficult. Your workspace should be quiet and free from distraction. 

You will need to invest in any required software to do this work, for example, Microsoft Word.

Benefits Of Being A Proofreader

  • 100% work from home business
  • low start-up cost
  • work your own schedule
  • be  your own boss
  • set your own rates
  • generate a part or full-time income

What Can You Earn As A Proofreader?

There is no definitive answer to this question because it will depend upon many factors.  The type of proofreading you do, how many clients you have, the quality of work you produce and how quickly you get the job done are just a few of the variables.  It really depends on you because you are in control of your own business.

Here is a page on the US Bureau of Statistics that gives you some idea of the income you can achieve as an employee in this field.

Bear in mind though that if you choose to be an employee, you may need to have a degree.  That is why I prefer the freelance route.  When applying for work as an employee, often times you will be given a ‘test’ document to complete so that they can assess your ability to do the job.

Here are some figures for freelance proofreaders in the US.  This is for full-time work so keep that in mind.

what is a proofreader annual US salary for freelancers

You are not going to become a millionaire but even if you did this part-time, I believe it would be a great way to supplement your retirement income, would you agree?

Where Can I Learn To Become A Proofreader?

Although there are no academic qualifications required to become a proofreader, in my opinion, it is a good idea to take a course that will teach you how to work in this profession.

I have found one that I recommend.  It is based in the UK and it is relevant for the entire English-speaking world because although it is written in British English, it will teach you how to proofread in US, UK, and Australian dialects, which will, of course, make you more marketable.

A major feature of this course, and one that I have not found in other courses, is that if you pass with a score of 80% or higher, you are guaranteed to be able to do freelance work for their sister company and be able to start making an income right away! 

In fact, I was so impressed with this proofreading course that I invested in it myself!  I am currently about halfway through it and I am loving it. I feel confident that by the end of the course I will be able to add to my income stream and work as a proofreader.

If you would like to read my review about the Becoming A Proofreader course you can click here.

How To Find Work As A Proofreader

Here are some links to businesses that have proofreading jobs and do not require that you have a degree:

You can also check out:

There are many forums on Facebook as well that you can join to find work.   Just be very careful because scammers troll these sites as well.  Take your time and do your research.

work for a company or freelance?

As a freelancer, you will have more flexibility because people tend to look for experience and reliability rather than any kind of formal education.  Most often, as a freelancer, you will never even be asked about your educational background.  All the client wants is accurate results within the deadline period.

Of course, it will take time to develop a client base and much will depend upon how much or how little you want to work.  If you need to just boost the retirement funds by a couple hundred a month or a thousand or more, you can do it.  Perseverance and patience pay off and you could be earning a comfortable side income in a relatively short time.

what is a proofreader smiling senior lady at laptop
Proofreading is perfect for retirees!

Final Thoughts On Being A Proofreader

I hope this article has helped you to understand what a proofreader is and whether it is something you would like to pursue.  There are so many positives about this type of work, not the least of which you can do it all from the comfort and safety of your own home office.

I like the fact that you can set up your own business, which to me is always preferable than being an employee.  A degree is not required.  Accuracy and reliability are your friends as well as attention to detail and the determination to succeed.

I truly believe that proofreading is an authentic online opportunity for those of us in retirement which is why I decided to do it myself!  Now is the time to be working from home, especially given this global pandemic.  There is only going to be more work and more jobs available.  I hope you agree and if you decide to pursue this option, I wish you every success.

Other Money Making Ideas

Proofreading is just one idea for you.  I have written an article on Money Making Ideas for Retirees if you would like to see what other options might interest you.

How We Generate Online Income

Philip and I found our own niche when we started our own online business.  We wanted to help others who, like us, needed to supplement their retirement funds.  Our passion is finding authentic, realistic ways for you to create retirement income online.

If you are curious as to what we do I encourage you to read Philip’s article which will tell you all about it and the amazing platform we joined that has taught us how to become online entrepreneurs.

I wish you health, happiness, and success,

Your friend,

Colette

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