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How To Make Money Proofreading: Ultimate 2023 Guide

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Nowadays, it’s possible to earn money in many different ways. It’s possible to earn online, work remotely, and even find new ways to earn extra income that you wouldn’t have even thought of ten years ago. That’s why more and more people are looking for a side hustle to earn money, and the question is: “Which method is the best?”

Although it’s impossible to find a clear winner, as it depends heavily on personal preferences, it’s possible to give recommendations for the most profitable side hustles in different categories.

Proofreading jobs are increasingly becoming more popular because you can do them remotely and in your own free time, without too many obligations and requirements.

I’ve been working in this field for the last three years and found it such a great opportunity that I decided to write an article about it!

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the process of reading an article after it has been completed by an author to detect inconsistencies and syntactical or grammatical errors, and to ensure that the article functions smoothly.

Depending on your language and grammar skills, proofreading is a quick activity that you can do in your spare time to earn extra money.

For example, I’m a university student and I picked up proofreading as a side hustle before I even started writing because I was able to proofread a few articles after I got home from the university, making it a time-efficient and profitable side hustle.

Later, I also started writing, a more profitable side hustle but it also requires more creativity, knowledge and time. So it’s less time efficient and only suitable when longer periods of spare time are available.

Proofreading Vs Copy Editing

Often with larger articles or books, it’s necessary to do more than one check to ensure the accuracy of the final product. In these cases, a copy editor is hired to thoroughly check and edit the text for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes before passing the article on to the proofreader.

The main difference between the tasks of these two professionals is that copy editors often have to make structural changes, reorganize the text, add small sections, and rewrite unclear paragraphs.

The proofreader’s job, on the other hand, is to put the finishing touches on the article and make sure that it reads well and doesn’t contain any unclear passages.

Before we go too far, I wanted to introduce you to the ‘gold standard’ of online proofreading courses, Proofread Anywhere. This is NOT a sponsored post (we are an affiliate, but they aren’t involved with this article in any way) we just feel so strongly about the value of this course we wanted to pass it along.

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So, in general, copy editing jobs require more responsibility, skills, and time, but they also usually pay a higher rate. However, for smaller jobs, one proofreader is often responsible for both processes, as the structural changes aren’t as big for a short article.

What Are the Pros And Cons Of Making Money Proofreading?

In the course of my experience as a proofreader, I’ve found that this side hustle has more advantages than other common online money-making methods.

First of all, proofreading is an activity that can be performed by practically anyone who has sufficient language skills. Additionally, to find the first jobs and earn money online as a proofreader, you don’t need a certification or a specific qualification.

Secondly, as a student, it’s important for me to have a side hustle that I can do online and on my own schedule, and proofreading offers just that. I can usually do all my online proofreading assignments either after dinner or early in the morning before class and send them to the client for review, without being pressed for time except for a deadline.

On the other hand, proofreading has become very popular, so there is a lot of competition, especially for freelance proofreading jobs. But it’s also true that there are a lot of jobs out there, so in the beginning, you might be forced to lower your price for a few jobs just to gain some experience. But once the ball gets rolling, you should be set!

Another advantage of proofreading services is that each job takes only a short time. So you can work for many clients at the same time, maximizing your profit and time efficiency.

Also, there are many paid AI tools, such as Grammarly Premium that you can use to speed up the process and increase the efficiency of your work. However, it’s important to know that these tools can’t replace proofreading skills and you shouldn’t rely on them completely, as the article might be marked as AI-generated.

How To Start Making Money?

Making money by offering freelance proofreading services or starting your own proofreading business is relatively easy, as a variety of proofreading and editing jobs are posted every day.

Personally, I find proofreading jobs online on major freelancing platforms that allow me to reach more potential clients, gain more experience, and increase my rates. Below, I’ll introduce you to three alternatives that you can use to find the best online proofreading jobs and get started with this side hustle.

Upwork

Upwork is the platform I use most often and through which I reach most of my clients. It’s set up like a marketplace where clients can post a job and freelancers can apply for it.

The biggest drawback is that in order to apply for a job, a freelancer has to spend “connects,” an in-app currency that is pretty hard to get, especially in the beginning unless you purchase it.

However, I really like this platform because I can choose when I apply for a job and which jobs I apply for, so I can control both the number of clients and the type of clients I work for.

Fiverr

Fiverr, Upwork’s main competitor, works on a completely different basis. On this platform, freelancers post their services and it’s then up to the clients to find the best freelance proofreaders on the platform.

The biggest disadvantage of this method is the fact that freelancers are ranked based on ratings, the number of completed jobs, and money earned on the platform, making it extremely difficult to get a foothold on Fiverr.

Also, to be competitive on the platform, you need to search engine optimize your profile so that it appears on the first page of search results and you have a chance to get your first job.

When I first started using Fiverr, I spent tens of hours researching and optimizing my profile to make sure it appeared on the first page. After a few weeks, I managed to get my page on the first page of results more than 1000 times per day.

But despite this good result, I couldn’t gain as much steam as I did with Upwork. On the other hand, many people I work with say they prefer Fiverr over Upwork. So it’s best to try both and then decide on the best deal for your needs.

FlexJobs

This last alternative is for freelance proofreaders who are looking for a more stable job, such as a part-time or full-time proofreading position.

The main advantage of such a platform is the fact that you only have to go through the research process once and after that, you have a secure source of income without having to constantly look for new clients.

Other Viable Options

It’s also important to mention that besides freelancing, there are many other ways to earn money with online proofreading jobs.

For example, it’s possible to set up a website and start a proofreading business that you advertise through Facebook and Google ads.

Once you have acquired enough proofreading skills and experience in proofreading, it’s very easy to find freelance proofreading jobs online. So perhaps you could even adopt a mix of all the above methods to exponentially increase your returns.

Sharpen Your Proofreading Skills and Acquire Certifications

Even though getting started in proofreading is easy and doesn’t require any certifications, it’s always a good idea to acquire some over time to increase your rate and find proofreading jobs online more easily.

There are many free online proofreading courses that will give you all the information you need about the profession. These courses won’t only help you earn more money but would also make you faster at proofreading, and allow you to handle more clients at the same time.

But even though free online courses might provide all the results you need, it’s important to keep in mind that when you buy an online proofreading course, you often get a certificate of completion. You can add these certificates to your freelance profile, which will set you apart from other freelancers without qualifications and significantly reduce the competition you face.

Expand Your Niche

The third step after choosing a platform and getting a certification is to expand your niche. When you’re starting out, it’s always a great idea to choose a small niche, as there is less competition and you can gain your first customers and increase your reputation without much trouble.

However, once you have built a good reputation, you should increasingly expand your niche and comfort zone to attract more customers. It may also be that you have already expanded your niche to include an entire topic. In this case, you could turn to a completely different topic.

For example, when I started proofreading and writing, I chose the stock market as my niche because I’m very interested in it and have a lot of experience with it. Over time, I expanded the niche to cryptocurrencies, forex, financial modeling, and more. And now that it’s summer and I’ve more time, I started working for a couple of automotive websites, another passion of mine.

If you know more than one language, you can also expand your services to proofreading in other languages or proofreading translations.

The most important thing is that the more you expand and grow your freelance proofreading business, the more money you’ll earn!

Build A Solid Client Base And Increase Your Rates

The final step after expanding your reach is to build a solid customer base and increase your rates. Although clients with a one-time project can be a great opportunity if you only have extra free time for a few days, it might be a good idea to compete for longer-term clients if you know you’re heading into a slower period at your college or your workplace.

The main advantage of long-term clients is the fact that you have a steady client base to offer your proofreading services to, without having to constantly apply for online proofreading jobs.

The second advantage is that you can get more accustomed to each client’s writing style and content, making the whole proofreading process faster and more accurate.

Finally, you should increase your fee. If you’re looking for jobs on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, you’ll have to set your rates way below average to get your first job. But after a while, you can raise your rates again.

When I created my Upwork profile, I waited two months to get my first proofreading job. In the meantime, I had sent out hundreds of proposals, but what ultimately helped me get the job were smaller tasks I did for other clients.

In my first two months on the platform, I took jobs like voice recordings or website testing, which paid poorly but were necessary to increase my job success rate and profile ratings. However, by staying consistent, I managed to increase my rates and earn the “top rated” badge on Upwork, helping me land the best online proofreading jobs.

The most important advice I can give freelance proofreaders like you is to set your prices and expectations low in the beginning. In the beginning, a few completed jobs and good reviews are worth much more than a single job with a higher rate. Over time, you can raise your rates to earn it all back!

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a freelance proofreader or you have a business offering editing and proofreading services, this side hustle has significant earning potential.

If you decide to go for it, be prepared to work from the comfort of your home, choose the number and type of clients you work for, and get another source of income.

The biggest downside to this side hustle is the fact that it can be difficult to find proofreading jobs for beginners due to the high level of competition. But if you follow the steps in this article, you’ll be able to start your career as a freelance proofreader in no time!


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