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Be a Freelance Proofreader | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

Be a Freelance Proofreader

Date February 2, 2008


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Proofreaders are the unsung heros of everyday writing. Newspaper stories, magazine articles, and book pages have thousands of eyes pass over them before a piece is published.

Without proofreaders, our reading would get slowed down by numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. Not to mention aggravate us too much to continue. While most independent writers have to proofread their own work, there’s still plenty of work for a freelancer to get done.

What will you be doing as a proofreader?

A proofreader’s primary objective is to spot and correct spelling and grammar mistakes. Unlike an editor, you won’t be re-working structure, story, or paragraphs. In fact, you probably won’t be making the changes yourself.

You’ll markup your work using style guides (AP, Chicago Manual of Style) and send it back to an editor for the changes. So, it goes without saying that you’ll need to be proficient with standard proofreading marks.

Who will you be marketing to?

You can find work with major publishers, print shops, publishing consultants, corporations, and other writers who don’t have time to do proofreading themselves.

If you have experience in highly technical areas like medicine or software programming, you’ll be able to target these types of publishers. These specialties also pay the most.

What qualifications do you need?

You don’t need any special certifications to begin a freelance proofreading career. However, most major publishers will require you to take a test before you get steady work. Once you get established with a few good clients, you should see more referrals.

To get the best training, study the standard proofreading marks and apply it to your own work. Volunteer to edit a non-profit’s newsletters. Find a book ghostwriter and offer to do work in exchange for the experience.

How much will you make?

For entry-level proofreaders, you’ll earn from $20-$25 per hour. Rates increase as you get more proficient and can prove to be reliable. Top proofreaders can command $50+ per hour.

You can check the freelance job boards (guru.com, elance.com) to get a little experience under your belt. But remember that employers on these boards are shopping for low price. Try to move away from these boards and into the commercial sector as soon as you can.

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