How To Become a Freelance Proofreader With No Experience (Ultimate Guide)

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Do you know a Freelance Proofreader makes $20-$70 an hour for correcting written documents?

You might think, what is proofreading? Can anyone become a Freelance Proofreader? If so, what qualification is required, and how much money can a person earn?

Well, I have discussed everything in this detailed post sharing the exact steps, tools, and resources needed to become a Freelance Proofreader.

If you are curious to know what is it all about and whether it can turn out to be an excellent work from home job? Ensure to read it till the end.

Become a Freelance Proofreader

STEP1: Know Everything About Proofreading

What is Proofreading?

A man proofreading a document

Proofreading is a process where an individual, known as a Proofreader, check & fix grammatical, punctuation, spelling, typo errors from a written document/copy.

It is the last step in the entire editing process, after which the copies are printed, published, or submitted.

The copies can be novels, textbooks, children’s books, online or university course content, website pages, blog posts, presentations, newspapers, magazines, ads, pamphlets, legal documents, transcripts, court reports, podcast pages, resumes, scholarship essays, and so on.

Difference Between Proofreading And Editing?

If you think Proofreading and Editing are the same, then you are totally wrong.

As discussed earlier, Proofreading mainly deals with grammatical, typos, spelling, punctuation errors, whereas Editing is all about fixing the overall quality of the copy.

Editing ensures correcting:

  • the overall structure to improve the flow.
  • improve the clarity of sentences.
  • quality of evidence and analysis.
  • enhancing language use.
Difference between Editing and Proofreading

How Much Does a Proofreader Make?

Proofreader’s Earning

An Average Freelance Proofreader charges anywhere between $25-$45 an hour, whereas an experienced proofreader earns up to $50-$70.

Usually, earnings depend on your experience and the type of copy you are working with. If the copies are legal, like a court or medical transcript, you can earn more than general documents like a blog post.

For example, Greg Ioannou, an experienced Proofreader, makes a minimum of $50 per hour for proofreading 3,000 words.

Quora user sharing his Proofreading income
Quora user sharing his Proofreading income

STEP 2: Learn The Skills Required For Proofreading

I know proofreading sounds like a simple job, but actually, it’s not that easy.

There are a few things you must know before trying your hands at this job. If you are not aware, you may find it hard to proofread copies, which might affect your deadlines.

So, what am I talking about? 

Well, it is not something unusual for which you need to take a separate training. In fact, you might already be good at it. 

Here are the skills a Proofreader must possess –

  • Good focusing power.
  • A meticulous eye for details so you can spot errors quickly.
  • Strong grammar, punctuation & capitalization rules.
  • Aware of conventions in native languages. For example, a proofreader must know the difference between British & American English.
  • Aware of style guide rules.

Besides, you should also enjoy proofreading, else you may find it boring.

STEP 3: Understand All the Pros and Cons

If you don’t know the good and bad sides of any job, you may develop higher expectations, which can backfire if things won’t work your way.

That’s why before you become a Proofreader, it is necessary to know all the pros and cons.

Pros of Proofreading

  • You can work on your own schedule, which gives you more flexibility.
  • Spend more time with your friends & families as it gives you a lot of freedom.
  • You can also work as a Proofreader alongside your day job.
  • Proofreading is a remote job for which you only require a laptop and internet. So, keep traveling and work from anywhere.

Cons of Proofreading

  • At some point, you may face a scarcity of jobs if you are working with Online Proofreading companies. That’s why it’s always a good idea to join multiple companies to have continuous work.
  • Freelance Proofreaders may face difficulty in finding clients. This is the troublesome part, where you have to find & turn people into customers to get recurring work.
  • Being a beginner, you won’t make enough money, but things will change as you gain experience.

STEP 4: Implement Tools Required For Proofreading

Proofreading tools are a savior for beginners that help them find and fix errors, which otherwise takes time when done manually.

Without tools, there is a high probability of missing a few errors, which your eyes may not spot. This can lead to unsatisfactory work, and who knows, your clients may stop giving you any further work.

That’s the reason one should always add a few proofreading tools in their arsenal, along with their meticulous eyes, to provide better results.

If you do not know which tools I am talking about? Here are three of them.

1. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid website homepage

ProWritingAid comprises a grammar checker, style editor, and editing tool designed to have error-free writing.

If grammar is not your cup of tea, this tool should definitely be on your go-to tools list while proofreading. 

Here is why I recommend them.

  • It automatically suggests 1000s of style improvements to make sentences short and concise.
  • This tool finds out repetitiveness, vague wording, sentence length variation, over-dependence on adverbs, passive voice, over-complicated sentence constructions, and so on.
  • It highlights all the errors within a few seconds and fixes them with a single click.
  • ProWritingAid has an in-built word explorer and contextual thesaurus that helps you to find the perfect words for your sentences to make your point clear.

If you are serious about proofreading and likely want to use this tool, click here to use their free trial.

2. Grammarly

Grammarly is another grammar checker similar to ProWritingAid that detects grammatical errors in real-time. You can either use it as a browser add-on or integrate it with Microsoft word.

The free version only supports spelling and grammatical correction, whereas the paid plan offers.

  • Advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure.
  • Vocabulary enhancement suggestions.
  • Genre-specific writing style checks.
  • Plagiarism detector to check over 16 billion web pages.

Personally, I use a combination of both the tools for my blog post writing. You can use them for proofreading instead.

3. Additional Resources

Apart from the tools, I would like to suggest a few books to level up your proofreading game.

STEP 5: Learn From The Experts

No matter which skill you learn, at some point in time, you will need proper guidance from professionals to move on to the correct path.

For example, when I started blogging, I was completely blank & didn’t have a proper roadmap to pull it off. Though I used to read several articles & watch YouTube videos to feed myself with knowledge, I was still stuck in the beginner zone.

I always felt like there are more strategies and secrets that experts don’t want to give it away for free. (as Joker says – If you’re good at something, never do it for free)

So, after a few months, I finally enrolled in a paid course to learn blogging in a step-by-step manner. The result was – I came out of my beginner zone and achieved more success both in income and traffic.

The point is – learning from the experts is the best way to speed up your growth. For just a small investment in the beginning, not only you can earn significantly more than your investment but also gain success & feel more confident in a very short span. 

Join this 76 minutes free workshop by Caitlin Pyle, who is a well-known name in the proofreading industry. She pulls off six figures from her proofreading business & is ready to spill the secrets in her course ‘Proofread Anywhere‘.


General Proofreading Workshop

Step 6: Practice, Practice & Practice

You must have heard the phrase – Practice makes a man perfect. This is accurate for proofreading.

Nobody becomes a great proofreader just by taking a course. Even if you take the top course out there, you won’t become a good proofreader if you won’t practice.

For example – You can’t become an excellent football player by just knowing the rules unless you regularly practice the game. The same concept applies here.

That’s the reason I am listing a few links where you can take online proofreading tests to hone your skills. Just click the link, read the rules, and begin.

Step 7: Offer Your Proofreading Service

You can offer it in three ways.

  • Join Online Proofreading companies
  • Offer service via Freelance websites
  • Start your own Proofreading Business

1. Join Online Proofreading Companies

Though you won’t make much joining proofreading companies, it is still a great way to practice your skills and make extra money on the side.

All you need to do is – pass their preliminary test comprising grammar-based multiple-choice questions & a proofreading test.

If you already have strong grammar, you will not have a problem joining them. Else, do a bit of preparation before applying.

Here is the list of 15 companies to apply for Proofreading jobs.

2. Get Proofreading Jobs Via Crowdsourcing Marketplaces

Even though proofreading companies are a good starting point to get some experience, you won’t earn much compared to Freelance Proofreaders.

The reason is that you have to stick to the rate that companies are charging for files. So, if it is less compared to the standard price, you can’t do anything. 

On the other hand, when you work independently, you can set your own rates that give you a better chance to earn more. 

Sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Indeed, Craigslist is a great place to find clients interested in working with Proofreaders.

But to get their eyeballs, you need to create a strong profile listing all your previous work and experience. This way, when clients check your portfolio, you have a better chance to get the project.

I suggest you check out this course that teaches how you can start a Proofreader career on Upwork. You can copy the same model on other platforms as well.

3. Start Your Proofreading Business

Crowdsourcing marketplaces and online companies have a common problem that affects your earning & that is – commission.

Usually, both of them take a percentage of your earning as a commission. So, whatever you make till the end of the month is not 100% earning. 

As a beginner, it is alright as you are more interested in improving your skills. But when you are an experienced proofreader who has completed several proofreading projects, it is a better idea to shift towards your own business.

Though it will be the biggest hurdle you face, you can still pull it off if you take proper guidance from an expert someone like Caitlyn. 

Her free workshop is definitely a good starting point to get introduced to this business & then you can decide whether it is your cup of tea.

Final Thoughts

This was the simple roadmap on – how to become a Freelance Proofreader.

If you want to do it as a side hustle, you can join the companies and crowdsourcing marketplace. However, if you aspire to become a full-time Proofreader, enrolling in a legit course is a better choice than figuring out yourself.

Now it’s your turn to let me know – what’s your take on Proofreading, and which path is the most suitable for you?


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