Do your friends and coworkers call you an English grammar aficionado? Do you have a keen eye for detecting the smallest typographical errors?
If you’ve answered yes to both of these questions, you should consider a career in proofreading.
Pursuing a career as a proofreader is exciting, rewarding, and gives you control over how you want to pursue your career goals.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a freelance proofreader? Here’s everything you need to know about proofreading salaries and how you can start a career as a proofreader.
What Are Proofreading Services?
You have a knack for spotting grammatical errors and a passion for the English language. How do these skills help you become a proofreader?
Proofreading is the practice of reading copy to make sure it’s free of errors. You simply read articles or stories and make sure they’re in tip-top shape before they hit the presses, metaphorically speaking.
Depending on the scope of the project, a proofreader may be in charge of reformatting the content and checking margins. They may add images and headlines to the article before posting it or passing it on to the client.
Many people confuse proofreading with copy editing. Yes, the two are similar. Copy editing, however, involves revision, corrections, and rewriting.
Proofreading occurs after the writer and editor make the necessary edits, revisions, and corrections. A proofreader is the final set of eyes that check for small grammatical, spelling, formatting, and syntax errors.
Besides spotting typos, the proofreader ensures the content is as clear and fluid as possible.
The Skills of a Talented Proofreader
Successful proofreaders need a highly trained eye for detail and patience for tedious work. Every single piece of punctuation, word, and sentence requires careful examination.
This ensures the originality, clarity, and creativity of the client’s work.
In today’s world, proofreaders need to be well-versed in proofreading digital copy. Online blog articles require different formatting, hyperlinks, and best SEO practices. Proofreaders should have experience working in various word editors.
If you have or enjoy practicing these skills, you have what it takes to become a successful and talented proofreader.
How Much Money Does a Proofreader Make?
The big question everyone asks before pursuing a new career is “How much money can you make?”
Well, the answer varies. The average hourly rate of a proofreader in the United States is around $22 per hour or around $45,800 per year.
A proofreader’s salary can reach higher or lower levels depending on several factors.
The most notable factors affecting your pay rate are your work experiences and abilities. Beginner proofreaders will often start at a lower salary unless they have a unique talent or skill set that sets them apart.
Experienced proofreaders will often start at a higher salary. Experience demonstrates a proofreader’s abilities and proven track record and will also help you establish yourself as an expert in the proofreading field.
Other factors affecting salary include the hours you work, your location, and the type of content you proofread. A proofreader specializing in a niche area, like IT, may receive a higher pay rate than a generalist.
Pay rates can vary from as little as $12 an hour to well over $30 per hour. Fortunately, you can grow your skills to earn more.
How to Improve Your Salary
Boost your proofreader salary by improving your skills and gaining experience. Better skills will make you a more desirable candidate for freelance work.
Select work that coincides with your proofreading goals. If your goal is to focus on proofreading and publishing digital content, don’t accept work for print newspapers or marketing collateral.
Savvy proofreaders will find a niche and grow their skills in that area. Doing so will make you an expert in that field and therefore a more desirable candidate.
Clients today are willing to invest in talented individuals proven to produce quality work. This allows you to build your reputation in that area and grow your client pool.
A benefit of freelance proofreading is you have the flexibility to work from anywhere and still enjoy reasonable pay. Proofreading is often a remote job that only requires a computer or tablet and internet access.
The internet is a great resource to find clients all over the world. You may find well-established clients from certain areas, like large cities, for example, that will pay you more than a smaller business in a rural area.
Look for and reach out to potential clients that are outside of your geographical location.
Determine Your Proofreading Rates
There are two main ways a proofreader can set their salary. These include charging per hour or charging per word.
Charging Per Hour
The simplest way of determining your rate is per hour. You will need to give your clients accurate estimates as to how long it will take you to proofread a specific article.
Misjudging the time it takes to proofread a piece of content can result in one of two events. The first is you renegotiate rates with your client and hope they’re willing to pay more. The second is you undercharge and perform extra hours of work for less.
Try establishing a rating system based on the amount of time it takes you to read a specific number of words. You’ll find your estimates will become more accurate as you gain more experience.
Charging Per Word
Another option is to charge per word which offers the most reliable estimate. You can base your rates on each word or per 1,000 words.
Consider adjusting your pay rates depending on the complexity of the content. Complex content can take more time which can cause you to lose money. Include adjusted rates for complex content.
Either option works equally well and will depend on preferences. If you don’t know where to start your rates, consider the average proofreading salary. From there, adjust your rates based on your experience and skills.
While you should never cut yourself short, it’s worth noting you can always raise your prices as you gain more experience and skills.
How to Become a Proofreader
Learning how to become a proofreader is an exciting career venture that offers financial freedom and career flexibility.
Like with any freelancing career, you’ll need the proper skills and experience to become a successful proofreader. Some proofreaders have a background in English, such as English literature, language, or writing.
They also have an acute eye for detail. The job of a proofreader is to catch the finer details others have missed. Here’s how you can become a freelance proofreader.
Sharpen Your Proofreading Skills
You’ve discovered you have the basic skills and the motivation to become a proofreader. Now what?
Start by sharpening and adding to your proofreading skills. This involves reading online tutorials, relearning the basics, and taking an online course. A few key skills worth improving include:
- English grammar
- Digital and print formatting
- Using online editing platforms
- Time management
Proofreading is a form of quality assurance. Growing your quality control skills will improve your ability to spot errors or mistakes in the content you’re proofreading.
Setting goals is a tried and true method of staying on-task and improving your focus. Goal-setting will boost your motivation while giving you a sense of personal satisfaction when you reach them.
The trick is to identify one or more long-term goals and decide how proofreading will help you attain that goal. Next, you can set smaller goals in your proofreading career that will help you reach your larger goals.
A unique aspect of proofreading is it can give you the experience and skills to grow in the content editing industry. Proofreaders can move up as a copy editor, writer, head editor, or managing editor.
Where to Find Online Proofreading Jobs
How and where do you start finding proofreading jobs?
Start your search online before you do anything else. There are many reputable online platforms and websites designed to connect freelance proofreaders with companies and clients.
You will need to market yourself and showcase your previous work. Most of these platforms will have you create a profile sharing your experience, work, pricing, and your unique skill sets.
Don’t have a lot of experience or previous work? Start by proofreading content created by your coworkers, friends, and family.
Proofreading articles for free or at a reduced price will boost your experience. It also offers more practice and will give you more work to showcase in your portfolio.
If possible, start freelancing as a proofreader as a side gig in addition to your current daytime job. Getting your foot into the proverbial freelancer door takes time and patience.
You’ll have the financial security to be more selective with the projects you accept and the clients you work with. The benefit of this is you’ll be able to become a proofreading expert in the specific area you wish to pursue.
Why Not Start a Proofreading Career Today?
Do you have a knack for catching the tiniest details and a passion for reading?
Pursuing a career as a freelance proofreader is profitable, enjoyable, and gives you the flexibility to work at your own pace.
With the right “can-do” attitude and a little practice, you can live the dream of being a successful freelance proofreader.
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