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How to Become a Proofreader

So you want to become a proofreader? That’s great! You’ve come to the right place. We’ve helped thousands on their journey to become freelance proofreaders, and we’ve got all the advice you need to get started. Our top five tips for becoming a proofreader are to:

  1. Polish your understanding of English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  2. Research and develop some of the other skills you’ll need to proofread effectively, such as computing skills, communication skills, and attention to detail.
  3. Look for chances to volunteer to gain experience of proofreading in practice.
  4. Research where you can find proofreading work.
  5. When you have some experience, look for ways to develop your career.

For more advice on how to become a proofreader, read on below.

1. Polish Your English-Language Skills

To work as a proofreader, you’ll need an excellent understanding of the English language.

You don’t need to know everything at first as English can be very complex. But it is important to review the basics of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Don’t assume you know all of this from school, either, as some of the rules we learn when we’re growing up aren’t always accurate! For instance, were you ever told that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition? That’s actually a grammar myth. And do you think that a comma indicates a pause? Well, sometimes. But there are plenty of rules about comma usage that don’t involve pauses at all. And a good proofreader needs to know these by heart.

As such, if you want to become a proofreader, it pays to go back to basics! Make sure to review the rules you think you know. And never assume you already know everything.

If you’re not sure where to start with this, our Becoming A Proofreader course is a great option. It will cover not only all the English skills you need, but also how to specialize in different kinds of proofreading, including working with academic, creative, and business writing.

Sign up for a free trial of Becoming A Proofreader today to find out more.

2. Research Other Freelancing Skills

As well as language skills, a freelance proofreading career requires:

  • Communication skills – Proofreaders need to be able to communicate clearly with clients, some of whom may not speak English as a first language.
  • Computing skills – Most modern proofreading involves using a computer, especially Microsoft Word, but this can involve an array of programs.
  • Attention to detail – As a proofreader, no mistake can get past you. You’ll need a keen eye and the ability to stay focused to spot every last error your clients leave behind.
  • Budgeting and organization skills – As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for your own finances and organizing your own time. As such, these are key skills to develop!

You might feel confident about the above already, but it never hurts to polish your existing skills either. Think about what you might need to improve to succeed in your new career.

3. Volunteer For Experience

When you first start out, it might be tricky to find paid work. But you can usually volunteer your services somewhere as a way to get some valuable experience.

To get started, ask family and friends if they’ve got anything you could proofread, such as CVs, cover letters, and student essays. Alternatively, look online for creative writers or charitable groups who are seeking help with proofreading.

For more information on gaining experience as a freelance proofreader, click here.

4. Research Where to Find Proofreading Jobs

Once you have some experience, where can you find paid work as a freelance proofreader? Some common options for finding proofreading work include:

  • Signing up with proofreading agencies, such as our proofreading partner, Proofed. You can even get guaranteed work with Proofed if you pass Becoming A Proofreader with a high enough grade at the end of the course (80% or higher).
  • Joining proofreading and editing societies, which typically feature an online directory where members can advertise their services (as well as access other benefits).
  • Using freelance marketplaces, where you can create a profile and advertise your services or bid for particular jobs. Click here for more advice.
  • Using social media sites such as LinkedIn to advertise your services.

For more advice on finding work, see our post on the topic here.

5. Look for Ways to Increase Your Business

Once you have a bit of experience under your belt, you can start thinking about the future and how to grow your freelancing business. This might include:

  • Developing a website to promote your proofreading and editing services.
  • Putting together a proofreading portfolio to impress potential clients.
  • Gathering client testimonials to demonstrate the quality of your work.
  • Being more active on professional social media networks.
  • Researching clients you’d like to work with and contacting them.
  • Making useful contacts by networking with other proofreaders and editors.

If you can do at least some of these, you should find it much easier to establish yourself as a freelance proofreader and editor. It’s just a matter of where you choose to focus first!

Become a Proofreader

We hope this list will help you meet your goal of becoming a proofreader. To take the best first step possible, sign up to the Becoming A Proofreader course! This will teach you all of the skills you need to get started, giving you the perfect platform for launching your freelance career.

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