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How to Become a Freelance Proofreader Online: 12 Illustrated Steps

how to become an entry level freelance proofreader online

Online proofreaders help businesses with an online presence check their content for errors before posting on their website, social media accounts, and email newsletters. The reason that online proofreading is growing so quickly is because every business needs an online presence to be successful in today’s market. Online proofreaders get paid to correct grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation. If you have an eagle eye for details, strong writing skills, and can read quickly you can make extra money as a freelance proofreader.

Proofreader Job Description

The proofreader is responsible for checking and correcting grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling in text (including books, magazines, websites, transcripts, emails, and social media posts). A proofreader is also responsible for ensuring that the text is coherent and engaging to the audience.

Not sure if proofreading is right for you? I wrote a helpful guide about the best 30 stay at home mom jobs, including proofreading. The guide takes into account how much time you can invest, how much money you need to make, skills, and your goals.

~ This article may contain affiliate links. I only suggest product or services I believe will benefit my readers. All opinions are 100% mine! Read the full privacy policy here ~

Learn Proofreading Skills

Step 1 Understand Explicit Skills Needed to be a Proofreader

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A proofreader has to have a love of reading and a love of grammar. Proofing text online requires that you have a knowledge of sentence structure, grammar: correct word usage and punctuation, correct spelling for words, common word confusions,  and understanding the writer’s intent. You will also need to know standard proofreading marks.

You also need to have good communication skills, detail oriented, and be able to concentrate for extended periods of time.

Step 2 Attention to Detail

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Proofreading is a job for people who pay attention to details. You need to be able to read quickly and have an eagle eye for catching mistakes in a variety of texts. This requires that you create a system for catching and marking mistakes as you read. You can develop the skill of focusing on details with practice.

Step 2 Establish Strong Writing Skills

the ultimate guide to proofreading for moms

Establish strong writing skills by taking English, Journalism, and Literature classes at the high school level. Continue your education through community college courses or a bachelors degree. Some jobs require that you have a bachelors degree in communication, journalism, or English.

Step 3 Expand Computer Skills

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Become familiar with online proofreading and editing tools available in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. You may be asked to collaborate on a writing project and will need to use “comments” and other ways to communicate with the team. You may be asked to proofread the document online or you could be asked to print the document and manually proofread.

There are other helpful online tools that you may want to use including

  • Dropbox – a great option for sharing documents online whether in Word or another format
  • Grammarly – online tool for checking spelling and grammar errors. It can make suggestions for sentence structure and writing style. You will need a premium version to use Grammarly on Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Be careful though, it doesn’t catch everything.

Step 4 Enroll in a General Proofreading Course

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General Proofreading: Theory and Practice is a course created by Caitlin Pyle, a full-time proofreader who the course to help others find a flexible way to work anywhere in the world. The General Proofreading course helps beginner proofreaders learn how to set up their proofreading business and attract ideal clients.

The best part of the course is the supportive community and a method to acquire the skills you need to be a successful proofreader. Caitlin Pyle has created a way for anyone to make proofreading their job. You don’t have to have a college degree or more than a high school diploma.

The course covers 9 modules including proofreading basics, proofreading practice, and a final exam if you choose to take it. You can learn more about the course from former student Heather Kraft who is now successfully working as an independent proofreader in this review of the General Proofreading course.

Step 5 Learn Different Writing Styles

proofreading online writing styles

As a proofreader, you should become familiar with different writing styles. Most companies choose to follow a style guide and some use their own in-house guide. There are different style books that you can use to build your knowledge of writing styles including the following…

Step 6 Choose a Proofreading Niche to Focus On

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One way to develop your proofreading skills so that you are quick is to focus on a particular niche to proofread. Different areas have different styles of writing and expectations for the work. For example, conversational style blog posts are very different from legal documents. But there are opportunities to make money doing both types of work.

If you specialize in a specific niche this could create the opportunity to raise your prices and provide a service that is unmatched by other proofreaders who don’t have as much experience in your field.

  • Student essays
  • Thesis
  • Court transcripts
  • Blog posts
  • Books
  • Legal transcription
  • Medical transcription
  • Self-published novels
  • User manuals
  • Restaurant menus
  • Press releases
  • Online Magazines
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media Posts

Step 7 Practice Your Proofreading Skills

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Practicing your proofreading skills will help you get faster, which means more money as a proofreader! There are some simple ways that you can practice proofreading.

Start by proofreading things that you already read, whether you are scrolling through Facebook or reading a novel. Practicing with different types of content will help you know which area you can proofread quickly and where you should focus your business.

Take online quizzes to help you become faster with proofreading.

Find someone who can give you feedback on your proofreading work. Often times people can help us to see and understand things that we are missing.

How to Find Online Proofreading Jobs

Step 8 Decide to be Independent or an Employee

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There are many companies that hire proofreaders to work remotely. You can work for a company or start your own small business. There are pros and cons to both types of proofreading jobs.

Employee work as a proofreader pros you don’t have to worry about finding the work. The company provides you with the projects to do. The con to working for a company is that you typically don’t earn as much money. The price is set by the company and rarely changes even as you gain experience.

Small business owner as a proofreader pros owning your own business means you have flexibility and higher earning potential over time. The cons to owning your own business is that you have to market your business and find your own clients. It is possible to top out at about $50 per hour as a proofreader, which you would then want to add additional services to increase your income.

I write about the best proofreading jobs for beginners in this post and you don’t have to have a degree or take a course to get started with these.

Step 9 Search FlexJobs for Legitimate Online Proofreading Jobs

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When you want to find legitimate remote or work from home jobs, FlexJobs is the best online job search engine to help you find the perfect job. I personally love FlexJobs because their jobs are all vetted before they are posted on the FlexJobs job boards and they will only post jobs that are with legitimate businesses.

The other thing that I love about FlexJobs is that they provide helpful trainings on searching for remote jobs and other topics related to successfully working from home.

Step 10 Pitch Services to Online Business Owners

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One way to find amazing clients is to follow online business owners that you love and offer free feedback about their content. You can then send them a pitch letter for your services explaining how you can help them improve their brand, grow their business, and increase their sales.

Online business owners love to hire from within their audience, because they know that person connects with their work and understands the voice of their content.

Step 11 Set Up Your Own Website

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Starting your own website is a great way to share your resume and portfolio with potential clients. This can be a very small 2-5 page site that explains your services, shares recent work, and includes an about me page. Every business needs an online presence, and you can think of your website as your online business card with pertinent information.

Step 12 Build Your Resume

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Now it is time to build your resume. This can be done by offering free services to a few people that you admire in exchange for work to add to your portfolio or a recommendation that can be added to your site. You may also want to build your resume by working independent contractor positions with companies to gain some experience

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