How To Become an Online Proofreader (Actionable Tips + Free Workshop)

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Are you looking for the RIGHT GUIDELINES on how to become an online Proofreader?

Don’t worry; this guide will explain everything and clear up any confusion you may have. It discusses the following the topics:

  • What educational background is required?
  • Necessary skills for success (MOST IMPORTANT)
  • Important tools for making your job easier
  • A road map to help you understand the process
  • Some additional tips to help you out.

So without wasting any time, Let’s DO IT!!!

Qualification Required:

You should have a MINIMUM of high school English knowledge to have a strong foundation in the language.

While anyone with a GOOD grasp of the English language can work as an online proofreader, a degree gives you an EDGE over the competition.

A college or university bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or communications will add WEIGHT to your portfolio.

If you can’t get a degree, enrolling in an ONLINE COURSE designed by an industry expert is another EXCELLENT way to build your portfolio.

Please note that working as an online proofreader in a specific field such as law & medical requires an advanced degree and experience. So, you need to GRIND harder if you choose them.

Summary:

You must have a solid command of the English language. A degree isn’t required, but it can help you build your portfolio and give you an advantage over your competitors.

Proofreading Skills Required:

Do you have the required educational background? Ticked!

Do you have the necessary skills? *cricket sounds*

There are certain skills that are NECESSARY to become a successful proofreader online. 

Congratulations if you already have them! But if you don’t, now is the time to act on it. Here are seven IMPORTANT skills that you should not overlook.

1. Love For Reading

If you HATE reading, you’ll NOT enjoy proofreading. 

Online proofreading jobs require extensive page reading. You must read several pages (in the case of a book) and proofread them before the deadline.

If you don’t have the habit of reading, you’re going to be in BIG BIG TROUBLE!

To get into this practice, read books across different genres and styles. While doing so, get familiar with different writing styles and broaden your knowledge of various subjects.

This will help you get used to proofreading jobs and then you won’t feel BURDEN proofreading several copies.

Summary:

Get into the habit of reading books because it will make you more comfortable doing proofreading jobs.

2. Improve Grammar

Proofreading fundamentals include proper word usage, grammar, punctuation, and spelling correction.

If you don’t know how to use them correctly, you will DEFINITELY miss grammatical errors while proofreading. As a result, your clients will be dissatisfied and may start ignoring you. (NOT GOOD)

That is why improving your grammar is the MOST IMPORTANT skill you should work on.

There are several resources available online that can help you with that. You can even use online grammar checkers to learn how to find errors.

Besides, you must also have CLARITY to distinguish between homophones (words that sound the same but are different in meaning or spelling).

For example, Dual and Duel sound similar but have different meanings.

You’ll come across such words while proofreading copies, and if you know how to correct them, you’ll definitely NAIL your job.

Summary:

Improve your grammar to ensure that your proofreading copies are error-free. You can do that by using online resources and even grammar checkers. You should also learn how to correct homophones.

3. Close Attention To Detail

It is possible to miss a few errors while proofreading due to a lack of focus.

Imagine submitting your work to a client and having them point out some errors you missed.

Isn’t that EMBARRASSING?

That’s why, to produce accurate and error-free results, you must proofread with the UTMOST CONCENTRATION. A keen eye for detail that can spot minor errors that others may overlook is a GIFT. 

Not only will your clients be pleased, but you will also be able to complete your tasks much more ACCURATELY.

Summary:

To spot minor errors that may go unnoticed, you must be able to concentrate and have a keen eye for detail.

4. Be Consistent

When you consistently meet your deadlines, clients will recognize you as someone they can rely on. 

Your reputation will be regarded as professional, and they will be more than willing to support you if you are on a tight schedule.

So, if you’re already a well-organized guy who ALWAYS schedules their work and completes it on time, you’ll be consistent with proofreading jobs as well.

But what if you’re not?

You can follow these few tips that will get you on the right track. These suggestions are not limited to proofreading; they can also be used for other purposes.

  • Create realistic goals that will motivate you.
  • Create a schedule using a planner (VERY EFFECTIVE)
  • Place reminders so you don’t forget your goal.
  • Reward yourself when the task is completed. (MORE MOTIVATION)

Summary:

Clients appreciate Proofreaders who are consistent and complete tasks on time. So, make sure you’re well-organized and able to complete jobs before the deadlines.

5. Learn Style Guides

Organizations frequently adopt or create their own style guide.

If you don’t know, it’s a spelling, punctuation, and grammar manual with complex rules about layout, format, and word usage, among other things.

To work as an online proofreader for various companies, you must know certain style guides that will put you WAY AHEAD of others.

For example, learning the AP Style Guide can OPEN DOORS for you to work with most newspapers and online news organizations.

On the other hand, learning the Yahoo Style Guide can be a way to work with organizations that have a web presence. 

The AMA Manual of Style (medical and scientific publishing) and the Chicago Manual of Style (history, philosophy, religion, and the arts) are two other style guides to consider.

Summary:

Learn about style guides based on your area of interest (online news, medical, scientific publishing, history, philosophy) so that you can work with various proofreading companies and clients.

6. Know Tech Skills & Proofreading Symbols

Sometimes, you may be asked to print out the text, manually proofread it, and then fax it back to the client. 

If you do not understand how a printer & fax works, you will have some INCONVENIENCE.

Though it may appear to be a minor issue, learning it won’t cost you a penny. If someone else can print and fax for you, GOOD for you!

Also, when proofreading on paper, you need to add some symbols to show the client where changes are needed.

Now, what sort of symbols?

You can check out biostatmatt.com’s Proofreading Symbols that have many proofreading and copyediting symbols for reference. Each symbol has its own meaning and is used to communicate the message to the client.

It is no longer necessary to learn the symbols because almost all jobs are now done online, but knowing them will not harm you.

Summary:

Though the majority of proofreading work is done online, you can still learn proofreading symbols to proofread hard copies. Also, make sure that you know how to print and fax.

7. Learn to Operate Softwares 

If you’re a complete NOOB when it comes to email and word processing software, you should start learning them right away.

Clients can send jobs to proofreaders in a variety of ways. They may send copies by email or provide direct access to their website.

Some people prefer to receive proofread copies on word processors so they can easily see the changes. However, most clients prefer word processors such as Microsoft Word.

As a result, you should be familiar with the “Track Changes” and “Insert Comments” features of word processors. These features enable you to keep track of all edits, highlight edited text in a different color, and add comments.

Using them will help you in conveying your suggestions to clients and making things easier for them. That’s EXTREMELY USEFUL!

If you don’t know how to use these features, look them up on YouTube.

Summary:

Make sure to learn how to use word processors such as MS Word, as most clients prefer to receive the final output through them. Learn the “Track Changes” and “Insert Comments” features because they will be used to keep track of edits by highlighting texts and allowing you to add comments.

Tools Required For Proofreading:

Here is a quick list of the necessary tools required to become a proofreader. Please note you can skip the last two if you don’t have them.

  • Computer or laptop
  • Word processing programs like MS Word
  • A Grammar Checker with spell-check and proofreading features. My favourites are Grammarly and ProWriting Aid. Definitely a LIFESAVER!
  • Internet access, preferably broadband
  • Email address
  • Phone number or mobile number
  • Printer for printing pages for proofreading.
  • A fax machine or scanner, as well as the ability to create PDFs.

How to Become a Proofreader Online

Here are the steps one should follow while pursuing a proofreading career.  

Step #1. Choose an Area/Niche

Before starting, it is important to understand where your interest lies. 

Will you enjoy proofreading legal documents?

Or

Are you comfortable proofreading blog posts?

Knowing your area of interest will put you ONE STEP AHEAD of those who have yet to make this decision.

You will gain both EXPERTISE and AUTHORITY by proofreading one type of written copy rather than proofreading anything that comes across your radar. Isn’t that GREAT?

So, concentrate on one area and if required, take the necessary training as well.

Summary:

You should choose an area of interest for the copies you will proofread. It could be proofreading blog posts, books, legal documents, and so on.

Step #2. Hone Your Skills

Once you’ve decided on a niche, look for the required skills. I’ve already mentioned a list of skills you should work on.

So, just SHARPEN and practice them thoroughly.

For this, you can start by proofreading everything you read. It could be on television, in books, in newspapers, or on the internet. Analyze the text with a critical eye, looking for spelling, punctuation, and word usage errors.

To make things simple, ask yourself these questions while proofreading.

  • Is it a cover letter, an essay, or another type of document?
  • What style guide would it adhere to?
  • Which English is used, British or American?

Following these tips will not only DEVELOP a habit, but you will also notice that you can proofread text much FASTER.

When you’re FINALLY ready, you can start taking online tests to see where you stand. Here are a few tests I found on the internet.

Summary:

Proofread everything that comes your way to hone your skills. While doing so, ask a few questions as to what type of text it is, what style guide it might fit into, and what English is used. Once you’re comfortable proofreading, begin taking online proofreading tests to sharpen your skills further.

Enroll in a Proofreading Course:

Investing in a professional course is the best way to learn a skill faster. Many people wonder why they should pay for a course when they can find all of the information online for free.

I’m sure you’ve had thoughts along these lines. However, when you invest in a course, things are different because of the following benefits.

  • You get well-structured content, which free ones do not provide. As a result, you don’t have to spend time researching, curating, and organizing the information on your own.
  • The courses are designed by experts who have both expertise and experience in their respective fields. As a result, you’ll be learning from a reliable source.
  • It boosts your confidence in what you’re learning. 
  • It provides a certificate of completion, which will add value to your portfolio.

If you don’t mind spending money, paid courses are always the best option. So, if you ever decide to take one, I strongly recommend these two proofreading courses.

  • Proofread Anywhere – This course will teach you how to proofread as well as how to start your own online proofreading business. You can attend their AMAZING free workshop (lots of valuable information) by clicking here, and if you want to learn more about them, read this Proofread Anywhere review.
  • Knowadays (Proofreading Academy) – This is yet another excellent course that teaches you how to proofread various documents in different English dialects as a freelance proofreader. You can enroll in their free trial (to get a sense of the style and content of their main course) by clicking here & if you like to explore more, don’t forget to read my Proofreading Academy review.

I don’t mind if you want to learn proofreading on your own, but if you’re like me and want everything on one plate, these courses will definitely be helpful.

Summary:

It will always take time to learn proofreading on your own without the assistance of a mentor. So, if you want to take a shortcut, investing in a legit course created by an experienced proofreader is always the best bet. Proofread Anywhere and Knowadays are two of the most popular online courses out there.

Related Post: Which course is best for you – Proofread Anywhere or Proofreading Academy?

Step #3. Find Proofreading Jobs

As a beginner proofreader, you must accept any job that comes your way. It doesn’t matter if they are small projects because you should be focusing on building your reputation first.

So, with that thought in mind, you can look for proofreading jobs in the following ways.

1. Apply For Online Proofreading Jobs

Many proofreading companies are looking for beginner and experienced proofreaders to help them with proofreading.

Some companies do not require any prior experience, while others may require it. In order to work with them, you must also pass their assessment test.

These companies can be a good starting point if you want to gain some experience and learn what it’s like to work as a professional proofreader.

To make things easier for you, I’ve already written a post that lists all of the proofreading companies hiring people. Simply click the link to learn more about them.

2. Look on Job Boards and Freelance Marketing Websites

To receive opportunities, you must list your proofreading services here. These are the places where potential clients are hanging out. 

You can create an account on job boards like Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, FlexJobs, etc. For freelance marketplaces, try Fiverr, Upwork, freelancer & Guru.

You can also post ads on Craigslist to receive freelance proofreading jobs. Many people have successfully gotten projects using this site. TRY IT!

3. Work With a Publisher or Publication

If you directly like to work with them, you should follow their editors on social media sites like Twitter. 

That’s because most of the time, they will post something when a project becomes available. So, contacting them right away can likely open doors for you. It sounds FANTASTIC, right?

However, they will only consider you if they believe they are throwing money at the right guy. So, to get the job, you must have some prior proofreading experience.

4. Contact Site Owners

There are websites that may be interested in hiring proofreaders to proofread their articles.

To spot one, look for sites with a lot of content. These sites are likely to hire proofreaders to go over their old content.

You can directly contact them via their contact page or simply send a proposal on their social media pages.

5. Work With Non-Profit Organizations or Start-Up Business

You can approach them and offer to proofread their websites for free in exchange for referrals to other paying clients. 

It’s a great tactic and works like CHARM to receive proofreading projects. However, it will depend on your background & specialized knowledge in the specific area clients are looking for.

Some Additional Tips:

  • Most online proofreading jobs (not all) are underpaying that can disappoint you. In such a case, offering additional services like editing and writing is an EFFECTIVE way to DOUBLE your income. 
  • Depending on the clients you intend to work with, it’s a good idea to keep a specialized dictionary of medical, scientific, legal, or financial terminology on hand.

How Much Does a Proofreader Make?

Freelance proofreading won’t make you rich, but it can pay well if you build up a steady clientele.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage is around $21.48 and the mean annual wage is $44k.

While publishers of newspapers, Periodical, Book, and Directory employ the most proofreaders, employment services pay the highest hourly mean wage ($25.05) as of 2020.

If you want to learn more about employment and wage statistics, you can do so by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

So, here you have it.

I tried to jot down everything that a person interested in becoming an online Freelance Proofreader would want to know.

It is now entirely up to you how much effort and time you put into it. All I can say is to take things slowly and not rush them.

Following all of the tips in this guide will UNDOUBTEDLY yield fruitful results. Good Luck!

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