How to Become a Proofreader: 6 Essential Steps for Beginner Freelance Proofreaders
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If you are wondering how to become a freelance proofreader to help writers polish and edit some common grammatical errors before they publish the article for others to read. Then, you are not alone.
While many authors and writers use grammar tools like ProWritingAid or QuillBot to help with the basic automatic fixing of common mistakes, I believe they need a professional proofreader to pay more attention to detail in order to identify errors and improve readability.
For this, you need to have a good command of grammar and the ability to pay attention to detail in order to become a proofreader. This is a learnable skill, and if you have a proper learning plan plus your time and commitment, then this proofreading career may be the one for you.
In this article, we will show you the 6 best tips you should implement to build a successful career as a proofreader, including some essential tips on how to find a freelance proofreading job on different professional jobs and freelance sites.
What skills and qualifications do you need to become a proofreader?
Proofreading and editing are the final stages for your article or blog that are being checked to ensure it is free from common mistakes and ready to publish to the online world.
For this reason, if you want to become a proofreader, the core skill competencies you should possess are high attention to detail, and a great command of grammar, spelling, and style to name a few.
As long as you can work on your skills and learn from other successful proofreaders’ tips and techniques. Definitely, you will see a noticeable improvement in what you aim for in the foreseeable future.
The good thing about becoming a proofreader is you have the option to decide your own working hours and work remotely, thus, allowing you to make additional income as a side hustle or build your career as a freelance proofreader in the long run.
The following are several skills and qualifications to consider learning and help you to find a side gig work for proofreading jobs.
- High attention to detail: this skill is considered the core competency every proofreader must possess, it is because they need to have a keen on detail to read multiple times and be able to identify and fix errors before publishing the article.
- Love to fix grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes: the first rule to acquire this skill is to have an excellent command of English, where you have the meticulous grammar skills to highlight and edit common mistakes writers make. This is how you can earn money as a freelance proofreader.
- Exceptional communication skills: to deliver satisfactory service to clients, you need to have good communication skills to interact with writers and editors and explain to them confidently the errors and suggestions for improving readability.
Even though acquiring a certificate or academic degree is not 100% essential, it is a bonus to show clients and employers you have formal training skillsets that allow you to perform the job better.
Indeed, if you search for proofreading services on professional job sites, some employers require candidates to obtain a degree or certificate.
The 6 best practices to start a career as a proofreader
If you want to build a career in proofreading and editing service, there is no magic button as it requires you to take immediate action every day or week to advance your skillsets. This could be providing proofreading for your friends, or family members or offering free service to local businesses.
After a certain period of time, I believe you will make big progress in terms of building a strong foundation and can confidently connect and offer service to clients.
The following are the 6 essential tips and tricks that will definitely advance your proofreading skills.
Select a niche based on your skills and experience
The first and foremost important is to identify the type of proofreading service you want to focus on and deliver service to writers or website owners.
This could be based on your current work experience and available skill sets that you have done in the past, either at work or university.
For example, if you regularly provide a proofreading service to your college friends, or yourself, then you must have the skills necessary to proofread essay papers for students in your local area.
In the beginning, you should only focus on one area, once you have grown your experience, then you can consider offering other types of proofreading services. Here are some common proofreading works for your consideration:
- Blog posts.
- Academic research papers.
- Business annual report.
- Research articles.
Practice Proofreading skills
Perhaps this is the most important factor that plays an influential role in your success. In fact, “nobody is perfect”, this notion provides a clear message to those who want to become freelance proofreaders, without regular practice, you will not advance your skill sets and will stay in the same spot forever.
For this reason, the direct approach to improving your proofreading skills is to take everyday action to practice. This could be providing free service to others and reading as often as possible to hone your skill sets.
In particular, you can proofread blog posts, essay papers, and website articles as a way to practice and be able to identify common spelling and grammar errors. Don’t forget to read multiple times to ensure it is free from mistakes.
Remember, the more you practice, the higher your chance of becoming who you are in the future, in other words, you will have more experience to easily identify and correct errors for others.
Get familiar with different style guides
Besides finding common spelling mistakes, typo errors, and missing punctuation to ensure the book or content is polished and enhanced readability. It’s important to familiarize yourself with different style guides associated with the industry niche you want to focus on.
It’s because each style guide has its own rules and specific requirements so you need to learn and follow these guidelines to provide quality service to clients.
Here are several style guides to consider:
- APA style ( American Psychological Association).
- AP style ( The Associated Press Stylebook).
- MLA style ( Modern Language Association).
- Chicago style ( The Chicago Manual of Style).
For example, APA and Chicago are the two most popular style guides that are used mainly for academic research and essay papers.
For this, take time to research and get familiar with different style guides, you don’t have to memorize everything, but it’s a bonus if you understand each style guide rule set.
Related: The Top Freelancer Tools List
Build a proofreading portfolio
The most important factor in landing a proofreading job online is to concentrate on building your online profile professionally. In this case, clients will notice that you have several online profiles on Fiverr, Upwork, and other social media sites.
They may consider hiring you for a proofreading role once you meet some of the job requirements, and indeed, have delivered a few services on freelancing websites.
It can be challenging for beginners to build a standout professional proofreading portfolio, the direct approach is to provide proofread samples, either you proofread at university and provide free service.
Don’t forget to choose the best proofreading samples which demonstrate your skills and work experience. And, you can share with employers or clients when applying for a role.
Network with other proofreaders and key industry leaders
As a beginner freelance proofreader, the main obstacle to breaking into the industry and finding the right proofreading and editing jobs is to build your reputation and let others know that you are offering service within the industry.
It could be done by networking with other editors and learn from their experience. This helps you to understand what you should do and not do. In other words, it provides valuable information about the job opportunities you could grasp in the future.
In particular, there are many opportunities to connect with others in your industry, the key thing is how you use the advice and tips to your advantage.
- Attend both local and virtual industry events.
- Join professional proofreading organizations like the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading ( CIEP) on LinkedIn.
- Sign up for a Proofreading workshop and get a certificate.
Focus on providing high-quality service
If you want to build a successful career as a proofreader, there is no hidden magic, in fact, you should aim for quality rather than quantity, which means don’t be obsessed with profit because it may have a negative impact on the quality of service you provide.
In particular, provide top-notch service to your first client to ensure they are satisfied with your work. For this, they will leave great feedback or refer you to their friends and colleagues. This is how you would be able to make money as a proofreader.
Becoming a successful proofreader requires obtaining relevant skills and work experience that allow you to deliver a perfect service to clients or employers.
Once build a great work portfolio and have a reputation in the industry. It would open many other opportunities, such as full-time, freelance, or contract roles.
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