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Become A Proofreader – No Experience Needed: My Chat with Becca Roberts

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Do you find the world of words, punctuation, and grammar fascinating? Does it make you a little nuts when someone uses the wrong form of “your”, “too,” or “its”? Are you your family and friends’ go-to person for making sure important documents are just right? If so, you could become a proofreader. And, believe it or not, this no experience needed job is in high demand. Yes, even in the AI era. Better yet, this is a work anywhere, anytime option that can be perfect for stay-at-home moms (and dads!).

According to salary.com, you can average $27/hour as a proofreader – even without prior experience. While many prefer general proofreading, some proofreaders earn even more by specializing in the legal or medical fields. But maybe you don’t know how to become a professional proofreader, or how to get proofreading jobs if you don't have experience. So, even though you’re looking for a job you can work from home anytime, you’re leaving your word skills on the table. 

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Courses like Becoming A Proofreader at Knowadays were designed to help you become a proofreader even without prior experience. Even better, Knowadays guarantees work with their partner company, Proofed, for graduates of distinction. That's anyone who graduates with a 80% or higher on the final assignments for their proofreading and editing course bundle! Proofed is one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing startups. That means there are plenty of proofreader jobs just waiting for you, whether or not you have experience!

Are Proofreading Courses Worth It?

While you can find free online proofreading courses, the possibility of guaranteed work seemed like a great idea to me. So I reached out to three Becoming A Proofreader course graduates. All of them work with Proofed and also have roles with Knowadays. None of them had professional experience as a proofreader before taking the course. I wanted to learn about their thoughts on the course and the work that came after. I asked them if Becoming A Proofreader was worth the cost and the work they put into it.

And I wanted to know if you really can become a proofreader with no experience needed. 

My first conversation is with Becca Roberts. After a string of what she calls “that’ll do” jobs, she wanted something more fulfilling.  Now, Becca is a UK-based tutor at Knowadays, and a proofreader (with experience!) and project administrator at Proofed, too. Becca has turned her love of reading and the written word into a career that hits all the right notes for her. And she’s convinced that, if you care about good writing and are willing to learn, Knowadays can help you become a proofreader too – no experience needed!

Want to become a proofreader but have no formal experience?  Knowadays  helped Becca, and it can help you, too!
Want to become a proofreader but have no formal experience? Knowadays helped Becca, and it can help you, too!

Hi, Becca!

Can you tell us a little about your life before proofreading? What wasn’t working for you in your life that led you to want to make a change?

I studied performing arts at university, but my dreams of becoming a professional actor shifted over the years. By the time I finished my degree, I’d decided I would rather keep it as a pastime than a career. 

With that plan off the table, I worked a variety of jobs, mostly in hospitality and retail. I was a bar manager, data entry clerk, bookshop cashier, barista, coffee shop manager, and assistant in an adult education facility. When this final job ended due to the center closing down, this gave me the kick I needed. I realized I could get another just-for-now job or I could, for the first time, actively seek out something I really wanted to do. 

The thought of applying for more “that’ll do” jobs left me dispirited. I’d learned a lot from every job I’d had. But I didn’t feel there was anything I could gain from entering the same cycle again. Working for a big company led to annoyance with arbitrary rules and box-ticking. And working for a small business led to issues with a lack of structure and organization. There didn’t seem to be a sweet spot!

How has your life changed since you first began the Knowadays Becoming A Proofreader course?

Where to begin?! Working through the course itself gave me some much-needed structure in my life. After being laid off, I was able to find a temporary, part-time position in a bookstore. But it was for far fewer hours than I would have liked. Working on Becoming A Proofreader filled in the gaps. I feel that returning to education, especially the self-motivated, elective kind, woke me up and increased my drive – to learn everything about proofreading but also in other aspects of my life.

In the same vein as the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person,” having another task on my plate helped me to better organize my time overall. Also, having a crossover between something I both wanted and needed to do (the course) seemed to shine a light on other things that I wanted to do. I made time for personal projects (tidying the backyard, upcycling a bookcase) around my studies and working hours. I gained a lot of satisfaction from completing a lesson or module. So spending a few hours at my laptop didn’t tire me out. It left me happy and energized and keen to complete something else!

Knowadays partners with a proofreading and editing company called Proofed to offer a work guarantee to high-scoring graduates. You need to get a distinction score of 80% or above on the final assignments to benefit from this, and, well, I won’t brag, but I did get over 80%! So on I went to start as a freelance proofreader at Proofed. By sheer coincidence, I started in the spring of 2020 – just after it became a very good idea to work from home! From there, I continued learning and developing, taking on different types of work and progressing in the company and, eventually, over to Knowadays.

Every stage of the process was interesting and energizing. For the first time, I secured a job (well, “jobs” plural!) that I actually wanted. Honestly, that fact still gives me a buzz!

Yes, you CAN be a proofreader - even if you don't have experience!
Yes, you CAN be a proofreader – even if you don't have experience!

How did you learn about Knowadays courses? What got your attention and made you want to learn more about them?

How do we find out about anything these days? Google! I looked up “how to become a proofreader,” and it all stemmed from that one search. 

There were a few different options available, with varying course structures and price tags. I tried the free trials or sample exercises on those that had them. I remember really enjoying the free trial for Becoming A Proofreader. When I completed the exercise, I expected to get everything right. So there was an equal mix of dismay and intrigue when I missed some errors! I liked the tone of the writing, and I actually learnt something new from the content, which is great to get for free!

Why did you say “yes” to Knowadays? Did you have any doubts or concerns about learning to become a proofreader when you didn't have professional experience? If so, can you tell us about them?

Back in 2020, the company was called “Proofreading Academy,” and it focused solely on proofreading. This was reassuring in a way, since it suggested that the company knew what it was talking about! 

The Becoming A Proofreader course also came with a work guarantee. This offered high-scoring graduates the chance to take up a work trial with a partner company, Proofed. At first, this sounded too good to be true! Other courses charged a lot more with no promise of work at the end! But I read all the information in the FAQs. I looked at the Proofed website, and I read a whole lot of reviews on Trustpilot – it all checked out. Real people took the course and ended up with real work at the end of it. I knew there was a final assignment to get through first, of course, but that sounded like a fair requirement!

In the end, the work guarantee was a major part of what clinched it for me. In general terms and from looking at other proofreading courses, the link between training and finding work worried me, since I knew so little about the industry then. Finding a course that led directly to work after training was a huge relief and an obvious choice.

My only doubts were down to me rather than the course or the company: Should I really make this investment? Can I hack self-led learning? Should I really make such a big career change or, indeed, aim for a “career” at all? The answers turned out to be yes, yes, and yes. The way I got through my self-doubt was by considering the alternative. I could keep a bit of extra money in my savings account, when I had no plans to spend it on anything else, and return to the drudgery of scrolling through open job listings and applying to do things I didn’t particularly want to do. The despondency I felt at this prospect far outweighed my anxiety and nerves at the thought of doing something new. And being one who has never been fond of change, that is really saying something! 

When you started your first Knowadays course, you didn't have formal experience as a proofreader. Why why did you believe you’d be good at it? 

I’ve always been a voracious reader, with a wide vocabulary and knack with language that helped me achieve high scores from junior school spelling tests to English literature exams. 

I’ve also always been that person who spots typos on menus and cringes at the incorrect use of apostrophes! Before taking the course, I’d been doing some unofficial proofreading on the side for quite a while – a friend’s job application here, my husband’s short stories there. So it was really exciting to discover it wasn’t out of reach to make it official.

What encouraged you to take additional Knowadays courses once you were a proofreader with real experience working with Proofed?

Well, the additional courses have been released since I joined the tutor team. So it’s an element of ongoing professional development to take them! The tutors are in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to benefit from these courses for free and, indeed, as part of the role.

How has your journey with Knowadays evolved? We know you began with Becoming A Proofreader and are now a Knowadays tutor and an ”editor wrangler” for Proofed, as well. Can you share more about how you got from where you began to where you are?

I’d say the key factor in how I got to where I am today, in terms of my work, has been saying “yes” to things.

I started at Proofed in May 2020, proofreading essays, cover letters, and other random documents as they came up (the variety of work really is fascinating!). Then I received an email asking new editors if they wanted to try out for a special business client. I thought that could be interesting, so I said yes to giving it a go. Very soon I realized that I loved this type of work – and I was really good at it! The project ran, in various forms, for nearly two years, and I progressed from doing the work, to reviewing other people’s work, to helping to run the project! Because of my involvement, I was invited to help out with another big editing project at Proofed, which then led to yet another one…

I could have ignored that email and continued working on what I knew. Or I could have stuck to editing and not stepped up to becoming a reviewer. I could have chickened out of accepting more responsibility and not helped run the project. But I didn’t. And each step I took made the next one a little less scary.

During all this, at the start of 2021, Knowadays was looking for a new tutor to expand the team. The lead tutor at the time had taken my feedback call after I passed the final assignment, and she remembered me and thought I might be a good fit for the role (there’s a lot to be said for the memorability of nervous energy!). She put out feelers to check on my work at Proofed, and, consequently, I was invited to interview for the role of tutor. 

I hadn’t thought of becoming a teacher before (that being what I expected the role to be like), and I nearly talked myself out of it. But I managed to put my self-doubt aside and say yes to trying something new. I am so relieved and grateful that I did!

It turns out that the tutor role is far more varied than I expected. The tutors are there to help learners, and this includes a whole host of tasks, including marking assignments, replying to emails, and creating new resources and exercises. It also involves taking feedback calls with learners, which is one of my favorite parts of the job.

After receiving their assignment results, each learner can schedule a one-on-one call with a tutor to discuss their work and pick up advice for improving. It’s a delight to speak with people from all over the world, to hear about their lives and goals, and to be able to give them that lightbulb moment when a concept or element of proofreading clicks into place. Plus, who doesn’t love a nice chat being part of their workday?!

How typical is it for graduates of Becoming A Proofreader (or any Knowadays course) to become tutors in the program? Did you need additional classes or training to get to that level?

All of the tutors started as learners, and I feel this is a crucial aspect of the role. Being able to put yourself in a learner’s shoes, as well as having a deep familiarity with the course content, is what allows us to advise, reassure, guide, or support anyone who reaches out to us.

Were there things that didn’t go as you hoped or expected with the course/starting this new business? How did you deal with those issues?

I didn’t really have any clear expectations, so I don’t think I can say that anything was unexpected! 

In general, I’m not good at visualizing the future. I am a planner and an organizer, but this only applies to specific events and actions, usually in the short term. The question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” has always stumped me. So, in signing up for the course, I planned to finish it. In finishing it, I hoped to pass the final assignment. Passing led me to Proofed, and I went on from there, one piece of work at a time. 

Being self-employed and learning how to deal with my own income tax sounded scary, but that turned out to be simpler than I expected!

Becoming a Proofreader will give you experience with the foundations - and the potential for guaranteed work, too!
Becoming a Proofreader will give you experience with the foundations – and the potential for guaranteed work, too!

Can you share what you love most about Knowadays, first as a student, and now as an employee?

That’s a hard one! I think I’d have to say that there is a really sense of “giving” at Knowadays

The tone of the course I took was friendly and open, and I always knew that I could contact the team if I needed anything. It felt like all of this was for me; it never felt like a business transaction or a production line. The contact details on the website were very clear, and there were even a couple of points in the course where it reminded you to get in touch if you needed anything. While you might expect instruction on the correct use of the comma to be dry, it really wasn’t! The content had clearly been written and designed to be fun, engaging, and human. It’s written in second-person direct address (for example, “As a proofreader, you should…”), which made it feel personal and created an ongoing sense of encouragement.

I’ve found this ethos to be genuine and fully embedded at every level since joining the tutor team – it’s abundantly clear that what we do is for learners. We go to great lengths to answer questions, find (or create) resources, offer support, and generally improve the learning experience any way we can – we want to give people everything they need. 

This is reflected within the wider Knowadays team as well – everyone helps each other constantly, and no one is afraid to ask for help because of this. All for one, and one for all!

You now work on the Knowadays team as a tutor, and with Proofed as an “editor wrangler.” Can you tell us about how these roles came about (and what an “editor wrangler” is?!)?

I think I covered most of this above, but that’s a good question about “editor wrangler” since it’s not an official job title! 

At Proofed, there are two main streams of work: documents submitted by customers through the website, which go into a work queue, and special projects for business clients. Proofed employs a number of admins and managers to support freelancers, assign jobs, review editors’ work, and generally keep things running smoothly. Each business project has a dedicated manager, with an assistant who deals with the day-to-day running of the project. This involves assigning documents to editors and reviewers, updating the project style guide, and answering queries on specific documents. 

An assistant typically begins as an editor who shows a real aptitude for the work and is invited to become a reviewer, checking other people’s work. If a support position becomes available, a reviewer may be asked to step up. This is what I do at Proofed and how I got there. My proper job title is “Service Delivery Support,” and I’m responsible for supporting editors and reviewers on a particular project.

Is there anything you wish any of the courses did better or covered more deeply? How responsive is the company to suggestions, and how often are programs updated?

It’s no criticism to our courses to say that anything and everything can always be improved. A proofreader’s skill is based in perfectionism, and you can’t switch this off! 

We regularly work on additions and improvements to the courses, and this is often instigated by suggestions from our learners. Whether it be a request for more examples or details on a concept, which we then add to the course, or for further resources on APA referencing, for which we created a nine-page guide!

I’m proud to say that we’re not only happy to listen, but we’re also happy to respond, adapt, and improve however we can.

If this scene looks like paradise, check out Knowadays today!

Did you begin Becoming A Proofreader with a financial goal in mind? If so, have you reached it, and how long did that take?

The short answer is no. Job satisfaction has always been my goal, and that will forever be more important than earnings. 

Obviously, though, everyone needs to earn enough to meet their needs (plus a little extra!). I think I achieved this once I joined a project team at Proofed. That opened up a deeper pool of regular work. So, I got to where I needed to be within about three or four months of completing Becoming A Proofreader. And I am happy to say that things have only continued to improve since then! 

How long was it before you recouped the investments you made in the Knowadays courses you’ve taken?

Not long! I would guess that I earned the cost of the course back in less than two months of part-time work at Proofed. Admittedly, it was a few years ago now. The course price was a little lower, but it was still a serious outlay for me at the time. It was definitely a huge relief to be earning it back right out of the gate.

If you don’t mind me asking, how much work do you do every week or month? Do you find the work easy to fit into your life? Do you have your own clients outside of your work with Knowadays and Proofed?

The amount of work I do can vary week to week, and month to month. When I started as a tutor, I worked two eight-hour shifts a week. Then I would work at Proofed the rest of the time. That varied from 10 to 30 hours, depending on what was needed, what I wanted to do, and what else I had on. It’s interesting that each tutor has their own shift pattern. This allows a wide spread of coverage across days and times. It suits our global learner base while also suiting each person’s lifestyle. For example, one tutor works three seven-hour days, and another works two four-hour shifts and two eight-hour ones.   

Since becoming lead tutor at Knowadays at the end of last year, I have increased my hours at Knowadays and slightly reduced my Proofed time. But I still have the flexibility to pop in and out as needed. If there’s a big project on, I work a little more. And if I want to spend a sunny day gardening, I work a little less! Also, if I need to nip out for an appointment (or I want to meet a friend for a coffee) I can sign out and make up the time elsewhere if necessary. On average, I work 35–40 hours a week, but I get up early. So this often includes a half day as well as the weekend off. 

I am inclined to be a bit of a work addict, so the hardest thing is reminding myself to stop when I should. Especially due to working from home, it’s very easy to just finish this task…then reply to that message…then quickly fix that…and before you know it, an extra hour has flown by!

Outside of Knowadays and Proofed, I still do that unofficial proofreading for friends and family. I also have a connection to a local poetry publisher, and I occasionally proofread poetry collections, mostly from local writers – a very unique and niche style of proofreading, but one that I really enjoy.

Do you proofreading work anytime and from anywhere!

In your opinion, can a mom with only part-time availability and no experience as a proofreader build a flexible career through enrolling in Becoming a Proofreader?

I will begin by saying that I don’t have kids, so I’m speaking from an outside perspective, but yes! The nature of both the courses and the resulting work means that you can work when you can and/or when you like. All Knowadays courses come with lifetime access, and there are no deadlines, so you can complete them in your own time.

In terms of proofreading, as long as you can return the document by the deadline, you can fit work around your own schedule. It’s even possible to stick to proofreading only shorter documents, so you don’t have to worry about being interrupted while trying to get through a long dissertation.

With work at Proofed, you can see all the information, and you know what you’re getting into before you accept any piece of work. This means you can plan your day or just walk away – it’s totally flexible.

If someone is feeling “stuck” in a career they no longer love, would you recommend Knowadays courses? Why or why not?

In a way, I’ve been there! While I didn’t have an established career before taking up proofreading, I certainly didn’t love my job (or the job before that or the job before that…). It really wears you down.

I can strongly, honestly, confidently, and happily recommend Knowadays courses for anyone who wants a change and thinks that working with the written word is for them. To have training and access to real work in one package really takes the pressure off, and it gives you a clear and achievable goal to strive for. 

What do you think are must-have qualities and skills to succeed with learning through Knowadays? 

That’s a really interesting question! I suppose a little bit of self-discipline is high on the list. I say “a little” because, while you may remember some classes at school being a slog, Knowadays really isn’t like that! The content is written by real people who aimed to make it as engaging and fun as possible. There are plenty of examples to break things up, and the page design has a really pleasing flow that makes it easier to take the information in. However, you still need to be able to sit yourself down and do the work.

I’d also suggest having a think about your learning style before you begin. Do you learn best in short bursts or extended study sessions? Are you someone who likes to take notes? Do you learn best from reading your notes or from the act of copying something out? Do you need personal deadlines to keep you motivated? Answering some of these questions before, or even soon after, you begin will give you the best chance of success.

And one more important skill that many people do not possess – the ability to ask for help. There is simply no need to struggle on by yourself if there’s something you don’t quite get. It is literally what the tutor team is there for! 

What would you say to someone considering a work-from-home career as a proofreader, editor, or freelance writer – even if they have no experience?

If you care about good writing, absolutely go for it! If you simply have a long list of jobs you could potentially do from home, think very carefully about what you will enjoy before you make your choice. These careers are not for the vaguely interested! It takes hard work to get certified and become confident in using your skills, but having a passion for what you’re doing makes everything easier, and it will show in the quality of your work.

I’m not saying it’s easy by any means! For example, every new proofreader is slow. You will question every word, examine every comma, and constantly look up the rules to support your changes. But all of this helps you in the long run – the ongoing training, learning, and attention to detail are what helps you solidify your knowledge, really hone your skills, and build the confidence to work faster.

If you think that proofreading, editing, or writing is the career for you, then go for it!

Can you share three to five tips or insights on creating a successful career and gaining experience as a proofreader through Knowadays?

Put aside your preconceptions. This includes what you expect from “education” or “training,” since it frequently has negative connotations. Also, what you think you “know” about the subject. You might be right! But we were all taught things at school that aren’t 100% accurate. For example, a comma does not signify a pause. You can end a sentence with a preposition, and you most definitely can split the infinitive! In fact, to defiantly split the infinitive is one of my favorite pastimes…

Especially if it makes you a little nervous, don’t feel that you have to turn your life upside down in one fell swoop! Take your time, and ease in slowly if that’s what works for you. You can complete a course and start getting established in a new role before you even tell your boss you’re thinking of making a change. You can be a part-time freelancer alongside regular employment if you want to keep a sense of structure until you can create your own structure on your own terms. My point is that making a change can be done exactly how you want (or need) it to be.

Use everything that is made available to you. If you decide to take a course, complete the exercises, answer the quiz questions, and follow the links. They’re all there to help you.

I have spoken to a surprising number of learners who completely skipped the mock final assignment in Becoming A Proofreader. They were so eager to get to the real thing (or they felt they didn’t need to do it). To me, this just seems a bit silly. I’m not one to pass up a free sample in a supermarket. So I’m certainly not going to skip something in a course I’ve paid for! The material in the courses, plus the additional resources across the website, are an invaluable treasure trove of information. And it’s all there for you! Make the most of it, and it will stand you in good stead for success.

Conclusion: Do You Want to Become a Proofreader (No Experience Needed)?

Does Becca’s story resonate with you? Have you had more than your share of “that’ll do” jobs? Or paying the bills by doing work that doesn't go anywhere or inspire you? Are you a stay-at-home mom (or dad!) who is longing for a part-time career where you can make a difference?

If you’re feeling drawn to remote proofreading, Knowadays’ Becoming A Proofreader can help – whether or not you have experience. As Becca learned, what you most need is a willingness to learn and to say “yes” to yourself. And Knowadays makes that easy with a free mini-course that will give you the feel and flavor of the full course. Plus, you get it with none of the commitment! You'll get a taste of the freelance proofreader experience – kind of like an appetizer. Then you can decide for yourself whether this is the course for you! Just click the button below, then the yellow “Try It Free!” button on the course page.

Or read our experiences with Knowadays free courses

Want to learn proofreading and editing? Knowadays has the perfect bundle for you! You’ll get Becoming a Proofreader and Becoming an Editor for 15% off the price of buying separately! You can pay in full, or split your payments with Klarna. So, if you’d rather not wait – grab the bundle today!

And if you love the idea of working with words, but proofreading doesn’t seem like the best fit for you, Knowadays has other course offerings, too. From editing to freelance writing, speaking to formatting in Microsoft Word, there are options for many types of word-related work.

How Else Can We Help You Become a Proofreader – Even Without Experience?

Do you want to become a proofreader, but thought you needed experience to get work? Has Becca’s story intrigued you? Are you considering saying “yes” to yourself and enrolling in Knowadays? Or do you still have questions or concerns?

Another Proofreading Option

Are you drawn to crime novels and court shows? Still love the idea of proofreading? We’ve got your case covered, too! Proofread Anywhere’s Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice might be perfect for you!

Here at Anywhere and Anytime Careers, our whole team is ready to help you get the answers you were looking for when you searched for “become a proofreader (no experience needed)” or decided to read this interview. Like Knowadays, we’re eager to help you get the answers you need – so ask away!

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