How to become a professional proofreader

The road to becoming a proofreader is one that requires careful planning. You need to cover the below-mentioned steps and do your best in every aspect. It might take time to get recognized and start getting gigs, but it will be worth it. Proofreaders are in high demand because a lot of people can write or want to write – but not all can proofread.

Being a professional proofreader gives you the chance to improve other people’s manuscripts and drafts. It’s a great responsibility so it’s only natural that you do your preparation first to avoid any nasty surprises later.

A proofreader’s proficiency isn’t typically judged by their work. “I proofread this particular book” doesn’t allow potential clients to measure your abilities. Therefore, you have to throw most of your weight into the preparation and qualification aspect.

Let’s see the 7-step journey of finding proofreading jobs.

Step 0: The qualifications and education you need

The right qualifications and education are very important. Many clients select between proofreaders based on these factors alone. A master’s in English or publishing will be great.

Step 1: Finding a job vs. being a freelancer

There are two ways you can go about things.

Being a freelancer allows you to set your own prices and work at your own time slot. This, however, comes with no promise of constant pay or work. A larger agency might be a better choice if you’re looking for financial stability and a constant stream of work.

If you go for a job then the employer might take a proofreading test after checking your qualifications. Do mock tests to better prepare yourself.

Step 2: Know the game

Know to proofread inside out. Read books on the art of proofreading. It’s so much more than just checking grammar and spelling errors.

You need to make valuable additions to a manuscript, provide the author with your insights, and point out otherwise hard-to-spot errors and awkward mistakes.

For example, if you are going to be reviewing fiction then it’s part of your job to also check for consistency and any plot holes.

Step 3: Proofread manuscripts for free to hone your skills

You can start to build your portfolio and accumulate experience by proofreading for free.

  • Proofread your own writing or older manuscripts.
  • Ask your friends if they have something in need of proofreading.
  • Advertise your free proofreading service on social media.
  • Find literature online such as fanfictions or short stories by unpublished authors and proofread them. First ask for permission, of course, unless if you’re doing it purely for practice and you won’t be sharing the work as part of your proofreading portfolio. 

Step 4: Competitor analysis 

Have competitors or inspirations. Follow them routinely and find out how they do what they do. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should follow proofreading agencies as they don’t make their work open to the public.

What this means is following proofreaders for tips and tricks. Also, read plenty of books from reputable publishers – they are of course proofread. Try to find manuscripts for the same and compare the two.

Step 5: Work on a USP

Have a USP. What do you offer that others don’t?

This is completely personal and depends on your skills. You can’t make it big without USPs in most cases.

Step 6: Get your own platform online and chalk out the pricing

If you’re going the freelancer route then it’s important to have your own platform. It’s typical for proofreaders to advertise their services with free social media pages but professionals always have websites.

This is also the time when you chalk out the pricing details. Approximate the expenses after factoring in software and PC costs, education, bills, and a profit. You will be able to arrive at an hourly rate pretty easily with this. 

Step 7: Advertise and market your service

The last step is to put yourself out there. List yourself on freelancing websites. Have a social media presence. Perhaps spending a little on ads will net you good returns.

Marketing can be done both organically and with paid ads – the choice is up to you.