How to Become A Proofreader In 5 Steps (Even As A Beginner)

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If you like to edit writing and can quickly catch grammatical errors, you might have wondered how to become a proofreader.

Becoming a proofreader requires you to have a sharp eye for typos and a passion for grammar rules. It will be your job to make sure pieces are polished and error-free.

Each day will be full of looking over various writing pieces, staying on top of all the newest editing techniques, and double-checking your work to make sure it is ready to be published.

Whether you want to be a proofreader on the side or want to turn it into your career, this article will cover the basics of proofreading and everything you need to know about how to get your foot in the door.

What Do Proofreaders Do?

Proofreaders typically focus on fixing punctuation, grammar, and any other sentence structure issues. They usually don’t focus on fixing the larger issues of a piece and instead just make sure it is free of any essential errors.

If you want to do the deeper editing, you might want to become a general editor or a copy editor.

If you are a person who has always been able to see a typo or grammar issue while you are reading, you might be perfect for this career. It is also exciting to help a piece of writing come to life and be a part of the process.

What Skills Are Needed As A Proofreader?

While proofreaders don’t always do deep editing, such as reformatting whole chapters, they need to know all of the basics of proofreading, grammar, and sentence structure.

It doesn’t mean you always have to have the nitty gritty rules memorized, but you better know how to look up the editing questions you have in the various reference books you have.

Not only will you need to know your grammar rules, but you will need to be able to do your job quickly if you want to make a good living. It will take some time as you improve your skills to become proficient, but it will be worth it.

You might also need to improve other skills such as communication, networking, and your personal organization to make sure you can find jobs and do them well.

Where to Find Proofreading Jobs

When it comes to looking for proofreading jobs, once you have a plan, they should be easier to find.

We will get into more of the details below, but the main thing you want to know is that you are going to need experience and to start putting together a portfolio to demonstrate your knowledge and experience.

If you are new to editing, you will put it together as you go. However, if you have some experience as an editor, you will want to hunt through your work archives to find and explain what you worked on and did.

You will also want to document any kind of education, courses, or experience you gain along the way that is related to your editing skills.

How Much Do Proofreaders Make?

On average, proofreaders make $22.50 per hour in the United states.

Depending on if you want to find a traditional job or take on freelancing work, you might be able to make more or less than that.

It will also depend on how fast or slow you are at proofreading in general. If you decide to take on clients or do this as a side hobby, if you can edit quickly and proficiently, you will be able to make more.

Thankfully, proofreading is something you could easily do as a remote job if you choose to look for something with that kind of work flexibility.

How To Become A Proofreader?

Now that you know all of the basics of what this career requires, let’s go through some of the step-by-step actions to get the ball rolling.

#1 – Catch up on your editing, language, and grammar knowledge

The first thing you will need to focus on if you want to become a proofreader is sprucing up your editing knowledge.

You will want to spend time reading through editing books, getting caught up with the newest rules, maybe even taking a course, and generally improving your editing knowledge.

Even if it’s something that comes naturally to you, there are probably a few rules here and there that you might not know about.

You might even need to take a proofreading for beginners course to quickly get caught up to date on the basics.

#2 – Practice, practice, practice

Once you have the basics down, constantly practicing your editing skills will go a long way. You could edit your own work or edit the work of other people.

You might even join groups to offer your editing skills for free just to get the practice.

Either way, you will need to practice a lot and often to make sure your skills are constantly improving so you can eventually find some work as a proofreader.

#3 – Find a way to get real world experience

Once you feel comfortable with the basics and editing pieces, you will want to start applying these skills to actual written pieces in the world.

This step will look different for everyone, but you could apply for an internship at a local business or college paper, offer your skills on a freelance site, or offer your work somewhere else.

You essentially want to put yourself in a position where people can give you feedback and you can start to work one-on-one with people who could potentially offer you real world experience.

It is easy to edit at home and assume your skills are great, but it is different when you can actually work directly with people and receive real feedback.

As you start to build your work, you’ll want to organize it and keep it altogether so you can build your portfolio. This will give you something to show off to people so they feel comfortable hiring you. It also prevents you from looking like someone completely new to the field.

#4 – Network and look for paid work

Now that you’ve worked with some people and are starting to feel comfortable with that approach, it is time to start finding paid work.

This is where you officially become a proofreader and start getting paid for your expertise.

You can start by asking people you know if they need any help from a proofreader, but outside of that you can start to look on job forums or freelance sites for people who need proofreaders.

Joining networking groups or being involved in groups that would need proofreaders (such as blogs that publish regularly or authors groups) can also help you get your foot in the door.

#5 – Level up your skills

Once you have the basic knowledge and you have some real experience, you will want to focus on leveling up your skills even more.

Now that you’ve worked with people, you most likely know more limitations you have or things you want to improve.

This is a perfect time to take additional, advanced courses or lessons to improve your skills and become better as a proofreader.

What To Do Next

If you want to start out as a freelance proofreader, you won’t want to miss this quiz:


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