Freelance Proofreading Jobs for Beginners and Pros

Freelance proofreading jobs for beginners and pros, is it something worth trying out?

Are you good at languages? Be it English, French, Spanish, Arabic, or even your native local language. Are you one of those people who can quickly point out spelling and grammatical errors when reading an article or email?

Do you know where to insert a full stop, comma, question mark or leave them out?  Are you confident with different style guides such as AP, MLA, APA, or CMS style guides?

If you have impeccable spelling and grammar skills and answered an emphatic yes to the above questions, you may want to consider taking on online proofreading jobs. Yes, grammar and spelling skills are not only a reserve for writers; you can also earn some good money as an online proofreader or editor with these skills.

If you’ve been browsing the internet, looking for a side gig, you may have come across online proofreading jobs for beginners. If you can easily point out punctuation errors and have a good command of the language, you may be among the people who are looking for more info about this particular type of gig. 

The question however is, do you have what it takes to be a proofreader?

With the growth of the internet; there is about 2 billion websites and over 400 million of those are active. With these staggering numbers, there’s a huge demand for content and more so online proofreaders to get good quality content that has zero spelling and grammatical mistakes. Everyone wants their content to standout and the best way to do this, is to have grammar error free content for their readers.

Can you make money online as a proofreader?

A lot of freelancers, both newbies and veterans are making money online with remote proofreading jobs. The challenge, however, is finding legit proofreading jobs that pay well. I know it can be tricky to find a proofreading job that is the right match that’s why; I’ve taken out the guesswork, searched, and listed online proofreading jobs for beginners, intermediate, and pros. Go through the list and pick out what suits your level, apply, and continue practicing your proofreading skills while you wait for feedback on whether you got the gig or not.

The writing process

All the way from pre-primary, you learned your language, and in high school, during your English lessons, you learned more about the writing process. However, the processes may vary depending on what your intentions are. If you’re writing your copy with the intent of publishing it at some point, there are four distinct phases your copy will have to go through before it’s published. Proofreading is part of the final editing process.

  1. Prewriting. This is where the brainstorming sessions happen, information gathering, and note-taking.
  2. Drafting. This is where writers focus on the content and structure; putting your ideas into sentences and paragraphs. At this phase, you don’t have to worry much about spelling and grammatical errors.
  3. Revising. This is where you refine your prose and work on your document being reader-centered.
  4. Editing. Once you’ve gone through the 3 stages, your copy is now ready for editing.
  5. Proofreading is the final phase before you hit the publish button.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is the process of reading through a galley proof or an electronic piece of writing to ensure accuracy and consistency in spelling, grammar, formatting and punctuation.

Proofreading is the final stage in publication and to be a great freelance proofreader, you need to be detail oriented with a very keen eye to spot mistakes that would otherwise render the publication unprofessional.

With all the content that is being published every day, there is an increased demand for proofreaders. From enterprises, to small businesses and even mom and dad bloggers, anyone who produces content at some point is in need of a proofreader.

As a proofreader, you may work in-house or as a freelancer depending on the type of clients you want to work with. With most companies preferring ad hoc hiring to cut on overhead, you’re better off working as a freelance proofreader.

As a freelance proofreader, you may end up working on different type of content from fiction and non-fiction books, emails, blog posts and even social media posts. If you prefer working for a single client or love forming long term work relations, here are some of the focus areas to get proofreading clients:

  • Real estate agents
  • Consultants
  • Personal coaches
  • Bloggers
  • Your local brick and mortar businesses

What is the difference between a Proofreader and an editor?

Most people confound proofreading and editing. While the skills required for both might be similar, these are two distinct roles.

Editing focuses on the core of writing. As an editor, your work is to go through the copy, check for things like language clarity and sentence structure. As an editor, your work is to help improve on the text tone, readability and clarity.

Proofreading on the other hand focuses on missed or inaccurate punctuation, misspellings and potential run on sentences. Proofreading is the last stage in the writing procedure.

Freelance proofreaders work for newspapers, publishers, and other places that depend on perfect grammar when publishing. Proofreaders usually receive transcripts and note any alterations required by typists, editors, or writers.

In several instances, proofreaders also ensure that there’s correct spacing so that the transcript isn’t cut off during the printing procedure.

Do I need freelance proofreading training?

A college degree isn’t required to make money as a freelance proofreader. If you have a writing-related degree, it may be beneficial. However, it’s not a requisite. If for some reason you’re not confident with your skillset, you may opt for online courses to hone your proofreading skills.

What Proofreading Skills Do I Need?

Apart from having good time management skills, as a freelance proofreader, your grammar skills should be top-notch coupled with great vocabulary.

Depending on the type of clientele you want to focus on, as a freelance proofreader, you will need to familiarize yourself with different style guides. If your focus is proofreading academic papers for students, you should acquaint yourself with the MLA and APA style guides. The Chicago Manual Style and AP Stylebook are mostly used by content mills.

Do I Need To Have a Degree to Work as a Proofreader?

To work for certain organizations as a freelance proofreader, you may be required to have a college degree, however, in some instances all that is needed is your expertise and the ability to provide an error-free copy. If you’ve enrolled in an online course and are confident about your ability, but have zero testimonials to show, approaching small businesses, your acquaintances that run blogs or online publications, and offering your services to gain some testimonials and referrals is a great option.

What Tools Do I Need to Work as an Online Proofreader?

If you’ve made up your mind to work as an online proofreader, there are various tools you’ll need at your disposal in order to deliver quality work to your clients. There are so many tools out there, but here are a few that will get you started:

Google Docs – a lot of online proofreading jobs can be done using Google Docs thanks to its smart styling and editing tools. All you have to do is create a free Google Drive Account, and you client will be able to share a link to their document for you to proofread.

Dropbox – if you have a client who prefers to use something other than Google Docs, Dropbox is a great alternative for sharing files. You can start with the Dropbox basic option; it’s free and comes with 2GB of storage. There are options to upgrade if you require more storage capacity and other features.

Grammarly is a great proofreading tool. Though it’s not a pair of human eyes, and might give suggestions that don’t apply to your work, it does a great job of helping you spot some spelling mistakes. The free extension works well with Google Docs. For a start, you can sign up for the free version, and upgrade to the paid version for more advanced features.

Spellchecker if you’re using Microsoft Word, you should make good use of the inbuilt spellchecker which does a great job at picking out spelling and grammar mistakes. Simply open your word document, head to the “Review” tab, and click on the “Spelling and Grammar” button.

How do I  handle my First Proofreading Job?

So you’ve landed your first online proofreading job, but do you have what is required to get the job done? We know it can be scary but here are a few tips to help you get started and hopefully help you get the job done correctly:

Understanding the instructions

Before you get started on the job, you need to be sure your understanding of the task at hand aligns with what the client expects. If your understanding of what proofreading is, is different from what the client expects, it’s safe to decline the proofreading job or discuss and reach an agreement before you start.

Find out if there are any specific style guides that need to be followed and if you’re familiar with them.

If the document has been handled before by another professional, find out what the client didn’t like from the first outcome and if it’s something you’re comfortable rectifying.

A client, who has never published before, may be looking for editing services and confuse it with proofreading. You really don’t want your first proofreading job to be a nightmare and be left with negative reviews at the end of it.

Don’t make any assumptions and always remember every client’s needs are unique. Be open-minded and be client-focused, yes it’s okay to offer some guiding tips on how best to get the job done but never shut out your client’s ideas and thoughts, no matter how flimsy they may appear to you.

Sampling the job

Once you’ve had a discussion with the client and have a better understanding of what is required of you as a proofreader, it’s safe to get a sample, at least 5% of the document to understand the amount of work you’ll put in.

Your proofreading rates

You’ve had a chance to go through the sample document, and you know what is required of you.

What proofreading rate should you quote?

If you’re a newbie in freelance proofreading, you may be advised to quote low rates or even work for free just to get your foot in.

It may sound like a good idea, but if you plan on building your career as a freelance proofreader, and you believe you’ve got what it takes to deliver quality work, it’s okay to charge market rates and may be offer a small discount for repeat clients or above X number of words.

Always remember, the rate you quote, speaks volume about you and how you value yourself. Some clients may decline working with you if you quote below market rates because they’ll think, you won’t put in the much needed effort to deliver quality.

Gather all the required materials

With all the excitement that comes with landing your first job, don’t forget to confirm you have all the materials required. Double check the documents sent you and have a backup elsewhere in case any of them get corrupted.

Agree on a suitable deadline

This being your first job as a proofreader, you’ll need to be careful not take on rush jobs or agree on unreasonable deadlines. If you’ve never tested yourself to understand how long it would take to handle X number of words, it’s safe to only take on proofreading jobs reasonable or flexible timelines.

How do I find work as an online proofreader?

There are several ways to find work as an online proofreader. It all depends on how you plan to work. You can work as a freelance proofreader or for a company.

To work as a freelancer proofreader you may want to sign up on different job boards and create a strong profile to market your services. If you intend to search the internet for proofreading jobs, here are some keywords and search terms to work with:

freelance proofreading jobs
  • Proofreader
  • Proofreading jobs
  • Proofreading jobs for beginners
  • Proofreading job
  • Academic proofreader
  • Book proofreading jobs
  • Book proofreader
  • Fiction proofreading jobs
  • Proofreading fiction novels

Since you plan to work as a freelancer, in your search, you may want to include search terms that are typically used for work at home jobs such as:

  • Freelance
  • Gig
  • Remote
  • Contractor  

The beauty of working as a proofreader is that your work is performance based. As a freelance proofreader, most of your interviews will involve proofing small samples and showcasing testimonials from previous clients. Whatever job you work on, make sure you deliver your best so as to get great testimonials.

Where Do I Find  Proofreading Jobs?

Breaking into a new field is never easy and this is no different for anyone looking for proofreading jobs. Chances of getting hired if you have no experience are close to zero and to gain experience, you need to be hired.

As an online freelance proofreader, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Sign up to as many job boards as you can. Different clients prefer different jobs, but remember you won’t know what works best for you and where to find your type of clients until you’ve tried it out.

Here’s a great list of companies that allows you to create your profile and market yourself as a proofreader, and what’s more they have opportunities for beginner online proofreaders.

Where to Find Freelance Proofreading Jobs

  • Upwork – this is one of the leading online marketplaces where you can source for proofreading and editing jobs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner proofreader or a pro, they have something for everyone. Lately, it’s not easy to get in so you may want to be a little careful when creating your profile to increase your chances of being accepted into the platform.
  • Fiverr – works almost like Upwork but a little bit different. Whereas in Upwork you have to bid on jobs, in Fiverr, you create gigs that clients check out and buy. It’s a good place to start with small jobs as you gain experience.
  • Scribendi – unlike the two above, Scribendi is a bit choosy on who works with them as freelance proofreaders. To qualify, you need a university degree, three years’ experience in writing, editing, or language teaching, have native level English skills, and be able to proofread at least 1000 – 1500 words per hour.
  • Wordvice – requires you to either be enrolled or have completed a graduate degree and have two years of experience.
  • EditorLive hires editors to proof business and academic papers with very tight deadlines ranging from 3 to 72 hours. If you are skilled in APA, Chicago, AP, MLA, and CSE style guides and can produce 95% quality, you may want to submit your application.
  • Proofreading Pal hires proofreaders to proof and edit all types of documents. Some of their requirements include being enrolled as a graduate or postgraduate student in an accredited United States college or university and have a minimum GPA of 3.5. If you’re a graduate, you should have a minimum of five years of editing and proofreading experience.
  • ProofreadingServices offers both part-time and full-time proofreading opportunities. The pay ranges from USD 19 to 46 an hour depending on the turnaround time.
  • FlexJobs is a job site where you can search for remote opportunities including proofreading jobs for beginners.
  • LinkedIn though a networking site, you can always find jobs and this includes proofreading and editing jobs on the platform. Make sure your profile stands out and has the relevant information that will help clients and even hiring managers to spot you.
  • Babblytype is marketed as a transcription site but often hires skilled proofreaders and editors.
  • American Journal Experts hires editors who have expertise in specific backgrounds to help researchers who are non-native English speakers in proofreading their manuscripts.
  • Enago specializes in academic, scientific, and medical manuscript editing and proofreading. Their qualifications are a bit high. To qualify to work for them, you need to be an expert in your field with a Master’s, Ph.D., or postdoctoral research experience. In addition, you also need to have academic editing experience and be a member of acclaimed editing and publishing associations like BELS, EFA, and EASE etc.
  • Book Editing Associates hires proofreaders, ghostwriters, copy editors, and publishing consultants. To qualify, you need 5+ years of editing experience, pass their editing and proofreading test, and be willing to commit long term.
  • Scribbr hires freelance editors who are native English speakers. Some of their qualifications include having a bachelor’s degree and be able to commit at least 10 hours of work per week.
  • Scribe Writing formally known as Book in a Box. If you’re hired as a proofreader, you’ll be required to work on a book from start to finish which can take up to four months. At the time of publishing, there were no proofreading jobs available but there is a ghostwriting opportunity. You can sign up for alerts.
  • Prompt though not offering proofreading services, Prompt hires writing coaches to help students with their admission essays. If you have an undergraduate degree,  with experience in professional writing or editing, you should give this a try. Pay starts at $20 an hour.
  • Wordfirm Inc. often hires skilled editors. Their requirements include a college degree and at least five years of practical experience.
  • Net Transcripts is a transcription company but is always on the lookout for transcription proofreaders from time to time.
  • Reedsy is a freelance site that focuses on working with authors. Though it’s free to join, they charge 10% commission on every task you complete.
  • Words R U requires the applicants to hold a master’s, Ph.D., or equivalent professional experience in any academic discipline. One must also have at least two years of professional experience as a proofreader, editor, or copyeditor. The company is currently hiring editors who are available to work on weekends.  
  • Lifetips as the name suggests focuses on offering simple understandable tips. They have positions for writers and editors and offer salary plus medical benefits.
  • Gramlee doesn’t clearly state their application requirements; one has to fill out a Google Form to submit an application. They charge their clients three cents per word but don’t disclose how much is paid out to proofreaders and editors.
  • Edit 911 you need a PhD in English to qualify to work as a proofreader.
  • Cactus Communications offers full time, contractual, freelance, and internship opportunities. They offer specialized proofreading and editing services. To qualify to work as a freelance proofreader, you need to have excellent English skills, hold a Ph.D., Master’s, a Bachelor’s degree, or expertise in one or more specialized subject areas in engineering, physical sciences, healthcare, materials sciences, life sciences, medicine, and surgery.  
  • Polished Paper has opportunities for exceptional editors who have passed their 35 question editor test.

Proofreading FAQ

  1. How much do freelance proofreading jobs pay? Can I make a living wage out as a freelance proofreader?

Like any freelance job, freelance proofreading pay varies from very little to lucrative salaries. From skill level, how you market yourself and even the industry you’re working in may play into how much you earn as a proofreader.

According to PayScale, the average proofreader hourly pay is $17.89 this can go to as low as $11.76 or as high as $30.11

In November 2020, Glassdoor reported the average annual salary of a freelance proofreader to be $61,000. This can go high or low depending on your experience and skill level.

2. What qualifications do I need to work as a proofreader?

Some of the key skills you need in order to work as a proofreader include having a keen eye for details, being able to pick out grammar and spelling mistakes, and a good command of the English language. English is the world’s business language and most content is published in English. As a proofreader, it’s okay to have mastery of your native language and English as a second language.

3. Do I need a degree to start proofreading?

While a degree may be a requirement to work for some companies, it’s not a must have for you to work as a proofreader. However, if you want to work in a specific niche like healthcare, or engineering, having a degree, masters or PhD in that specific field would be ideal. That said, you need to learn the skills and processes for you to easily break in to the proofreading industry.

4. How flexible is it working as a freelance proofreader?

The beauty of working as a freelance proofreader is the flexibility that comes with it. You can work anywhere and at any given time of the day or night as long as you meet your deadlines.

5. What are the must have tools to work as an online proofreader?

A laptop or tablet should be top of the list when shopping for your tools of trade. A quiet working environment and stable internet connection is also very critical. If you don’t have a home office, you may want to set up something or look into co-working spaces near you.


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