How to Make Money as a Freelance Proofreader

Want to work at home or start a side hustle as an online proofreader? This guide will help you get started!

Interested in starting a blog and making money from home? I earned my first $200 within 3 months of starting Frugal on the Prairie then went on to earn a full-time income from home about 6 months later! If you're ready to get started, I have a step-by-step tutorial for setting up your domain and hosting here, which can be a headache to figure out by yourself if you've never done it before! I also highly recommend and use Bluehost for my hosting! (<---That's an affiliate link but girl, I never recommend something I don't love or use ;) reelance proofreading is quickly becoming one of the most talked about jobs for anyone who wants to work at home or have a side hustle. Are you interested in doing it yourself? This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information.

I've got Caitlin Pyle, a freelance proofreader and creator of Proofread Anywhere, on the blog today and she's giving us all the secrets to getting started and how much money you can expect to make.

When Caitlin began working in proofreading, she quickly became known as "Eagle Eyes" because she was so good! She's used her talents and success to create an awesome proofreading course you can take online so you can get started in freelance proofreading too.

I had a lot of questions for Caitlin and she was kind enough to spill all of her secrets. Check out our Q&A session below.

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What is a proofreader? A proofreader is someone who spots stray errors in any kind of text. Often confused with an editor, a proofreader only points out and/or corrects the errors in the text as-is. An editor actually edits... changes sentence structure, fixes grammar, etc.

How did you get started as a proofreader? What do you love about your job? I actually started while I was living abroad in Germany back in 2007. I proofread website text and dissertations written by non-native English speakers. Then, in 2009, I started working at a court reporting agency as a receptionist. It caught on quickly that I was really skilled with the written word, and before I knew it, the transcript team had recruited me to work with the reporters and proofreaders who freelanced with our agency.

What I love about proofreading is how flexible it is -- I just need my iPad and email. There are no ringing phones, coworkers to interrupt me, or constant deadlines. Most jobs have a two-day turnaround, so I can work it in on my own schedule.

How do I know if proofreading is the right job for me? You have to have the "eagle eye" -- errors jump out at you; you're always the person people come to with their writing to check it for those pesky stray errors. Most people who have the eagle eye know they have it. Any kind of freelance job, too, takes work to build. If the idea of using your brain and learned skills and hard work to build something worthwhile gets you pumped up, that's also a good sign. If you'd rather someone just hand you every opportunity instead of taking action, freelancing probably isn't a good fit for you.

Are there enough proofreading job opportunities out there? Definitely. As long as there is printed word -- which will be forever and always -- there will be a need for proofreaders. My course focuses on the specific niche of proofreading for court reporters; however, many students have been able to apply their skills for proofreading of all kinds of texts, including eBooks, blog posts, and grad school dissertations. Excellent writing makes the best first impression in the business world -- especially online -- so people with eagle eyes that can provide assistance in this area will always be in demand.

Let's talk numbers. What kind of income could be earned working as a proofreader? General proofreading is much more competitive, so the earnings are lower than proofreading for a niche like court reporters -- usually $5 per 500-1000 words of whatever kind of text, whether it's online or hard copy. General proofreading, however, is easier to get into. So it's a give and take.

Transcript proofreaders, like me, earn between $0.30 and $0.45 per page on a two-day turnaround transcript, and if you read 40 pages per hour at even the lowest page rate of $0.30, you'd earn $12 per hour. $0.30 per page is VERY low, though. The average is $0.40 per page these days, so those same 40 pages per hour would earn you $16 per hour. Beginners generally start out at 40 pages per hour. Speed can and does improve over time, but it's recommended to go sloooooowly while you are learning the ropes. One wrong move could cost you a client and your reputation in the court reporting world, so knowing what you're doing and doing it with excellence is non-negotiable.

Page rates can go up depending on how quick of a turn around the client requires. My rush rate is $0.65 per page; on a 100-page job that I'd likely be able to proofread in about two-and-a-half hours, I'd earn $26 per hour. Not bad at all!

What kind of expenses should I worry about? For general proofreading, not too much. For transcript proofreading, you DO need training unless you feel like making a fool of yourself :-) Training isn't cheap, but I've never met anyone who said it wasn't worth it -- there are a lot of intricacies and details to learn in this niche that aren't an issue in traditional proofreading. A good reference text (usually less than $60 a pop) is also a worthwhile investment and something you'll use a lot.

As for general overhead expenses, a good cloud accounting software, like FreshBooks, is recommended, and that could either be free or about $200 per year, depending on how many clients you invoice with the software. This is one recurring charge I gladly pay: it helps me keep my expenses and income super organized.

I also use an iPad mini plus a $10 app to do my proofreading work. Like FreshBooks, these are totally tax-deductible business expenses, and they're one-time investments as well. I'm not a big fan of paying recurring fees for services/software unless I really have to.

You've sold me! How do I get started in proofreading? Is there a certification I need? There are no official certifications for transcript proofreaders. If you're just interested in seeing if proofreading for court reporters would be a good fit for you, I'd recommend checking out my free 7-day intro course -- you'll dive a little deeper into the world of proofreading, meet some other proofreaders, and learn more about what it takes to build a business as a proofreader.

After that, if you choose to pursue a career or side hustle as a freelance proofreader, consider enrolling in my intensive training program, Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™. The marketing module alone is worth its weight in gold.

Do you have any tips for someone who wants to proofread?

Check out the resources on my website here.

We've got tons of great resources to help you get into general proofreading and lots of tips and tricks for building a strong freelance business.

Want to work at home or start a side hustle as an online proofreader? This guide will help you get started!