Do errors jump out at you when you're reading something, whether it's a restaurant menu or your favorite blog? Do you roll your eyes when you see ‘you're' spelled ‘your'? Does it drive you nuts when you're reading a book and there are errors galore and you just can't help but see them? You think to yourself, ‘I totally could have proofread that and spared the author the mistakes.'
If that sounds about right, then you have an innate skill that not everyone has. And with that skill, you have an opportunity to create a work-from-home business that provides a valuable service to others. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have a special degree to build a successful career as a proofreader.
Keep on reading for an enlightening Q & A with Caitlin Pyle, creator of proofreading courses that teach both the technical aspects of proofing and how to find clients to build a proofreading business.
1. If you feel like you already are pretty good at proofreading, do you really need a course to teach you how to do it?
YES! Although it's important to have a natural ability to find and correct errors, it's even more important to hone those skills. Grammar is complex and ever-changing, and word lovers need to constantly brush up on their skills and stay up to date with current trends. And with my courses, I not only teach you the proofreading skills you need, but I also teach you how to find the work. No more randomly searching the internet for hours on end looking for jobs!
2. I've heard that it is more profitable to focus on a specific niche/area, so can general proofreading still generate a decent income?
It's always ideal to specialize in a particular niche, no matter what industry you're in. That way, you become a subject matter expert in a particular area and can offer your clients exceptional service in that niche. General proofreading can generate a great income, and it can generate even more if you narrow your focus down from there. Maybe you specialize in romance novels, medical journals, or website content for small business owners. The sky's the limit!
Focusing on a niche:
The general proofreading course focuses on grammar basics and how to start a freelance proofreading business. If you want to start off at a higher level and learn more technical skills, the transcript proofreading course might be right for you. You can check out this handy comparison chart for more information.
3. Is it a career that is flexible and can fit in around the schedule of a busy mom?
4. Can a mom with limited time work just an hour a day and still make a worthwhile income?
Limited time? Yes. An hour a day? Maybe not. It depends on each person's definition of “worthwhile” income. If you're a mom looking to earn a few extra bucks here and there, you could find some small, one-off proofreading jobs that you could fit into an hour. But if you're looking to make more money, say in the $500-$1,000/month range, it'll definitely take more than an hour a day to accomplish. The great thing about freelance proofreading is that it is totally up to you how much time and effort you put into your business.
5. Specifically what kind of skills and previous experience do you need to start out with?
To become a general proofreader, you should have an innate ability to spot errors, a solid attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to learn (and keep learning) new skills.
What you do not need is a four-year English degree or even many years of professional experience.
6. Is it hard to find and keep a steady flow of clients?
I teach you both the skills you need AND how to find clients. So if you follow the guidelines I include in the courses, you should have no issues finding clients. It might not happen immediately after you graduate (although it does for some!), but if you put in the effort and market your business authentically, you will see the rewards. Once you snag those clients, you have to make sure to keep them. You must prove to them you have the skills to back up your marketing efforts and provide quality service each time. My course gives you the knowledge to be able to do that! It's up to you to put in the work for it.
7. What kind of office equipment do you need to get started?
Not much actually! You'll need a computer or tablet (preferably an iPad) and at least one annotation program (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Adobe, or iAnnotate) to get started.
8. What are the start-up expenses involved?
Start-up expenses will depend on what you already have. Some people start out with the bare minimum, while others go all in and purchase everything they might ever need in their business. Like I mentioned above, you'll need a computer/tablet and annotation software. Other tools that many general proofreaders use include a subscription or hard copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, an online subscription to Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Online Dictionary, The Best Punctuation Book, Period, a business website, and memberships to applicable associations.
9. Do you have any advice for moms (or dads) who want to give this a try?
If you want to contribute to your family's income but still be able to stay at home, freelance proofreading could be the perfect fit for you! If you're unsure, I would suggest checking out my FREE 45-minute workshop. It's a no-risk way to learn more about general proofreading — all from the comfort of your own home!
Thank you, Caitlin.
Like Caitlin said, you can get started with general proofreading or you can specialize in a field like court transcript proofreading. Does that sound interesting? Here's a review of Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice, Caitlin's course that teaches you how to become a court transcript proofreader.
Not sure which direction to go? Have other questions or comments? Leave them below 🙂