Proofreading Jobs: 7 Best Places to Get Started

By Stacy Garrels | April 25, 2021

Proofreading jobs are like weeds; there’s always one available somewhere. Learning how to write well, after all, can be challenging. The rules of grammar are constantly changing, especially if you want to write for international audiences. After you’ve stared at your own work for hours at a time, too, it can be a relief to have someone else step in and make minor fixes for you.

There’s a difference, though, between proofreading content for a friend and making a proofreading job your primary source of income. Not only will you need to find proofreading work if you want to make a consistent income, but you’ll need to adapt to the fast-paced nature of social media marketing if you want to generate a consistent list of clients. Alternatively, if you want to work with a proofreading bullpen, you’ll need to determine what kind of rates you want to make and what kind of boundaries you want to set between your remote job and your personal life.

Should You Get a Proofreading Job?

Leaving the traditional workspace for remote work can be challenging, especially if you don’t know what to expect. On the outside, working from home seems like a dream. Your kitchen is just steps away; you can spend the afternoons with your kids; you can run groceries in the middle of a shift, and no one can stop you.

Working from home isn’t all fun and games, though. If you want to succeed as a freelance proofreader, then you need to have the skills and the self-discipline to stand out in the field. Without a comprehensive knowledge of grammar, syntax, and sentence structure, you won’t be able to provide your clients with the services they need. Similarly, if you’re not able to start working, say, in the middle of a Friday when you want to go partying instead, then you’re going to develop a reputation for unprofessionalism among online writers.

Before you start searching for online proofreading jobs, then, make sure you’re prepared for the kind of work these jobs involve. The industry needs people who are more than just whizzes with the English language – it needs folks who are dedicated to their craft and willing to go the extra mile, as well.

Proofreading, Copywriting, and Editing: What’s The Difference?

There’s a lot of overlap between freelance fields involving the written word. Proofreading gigs, however, are not the same things as copywriting gigs, and neither gig should have the same expectations as an editing gig.

What’s the difference, then, between all of these positions, and how can you determine which is the best for you?

Proofreaders

Proofreaders oversee a client’s use of grammar and spelling. It’s the job of an online proofreader, then, to come and look at a client’s piece moments before the client sends that piece off to a publisher or supervisor.

Proofreaders are not encouraged to suggest structural changes to a piece of writing or to even focus too closely on the quality of the language a writer chooses to use. Instead, a proofreader identifies any grammatical errors in a piece of writing, corrects or marks them, then returns the piece in question to a client. The client, then, can make revisions to the reworked piece before sending it on its way.

Copywriters

Copyeditors step into a client’s world shortly before a proofreader might. In essence, copywriters do what proofreaders do, only more specifically. While a proofreader may look over a client’s piece for spelling errors and misplaced punctuation, a copyeditor is expected to address a client’s work on a sentence-by-sentence level. Copywriters, with this in mind, can just as easily address the clarity of a written piece as they can the use of the Oxford comma.

Editors

Editors have a little more flexibility than their peers when it comes to addressing a client’s work. These parties, unlike proofreaders, take a look at a client’s work early into the writing process. A client may send along an incomplete draft of a piece, for example, requesting direction, just as soon as they may send in a polished piece of work.

With that in mind, the responsibilities an editor has to their clients varies from situation to situation. Editors can fix spelling errors and correct a client’s grammar, yes. They can also, however, recommend page cuts, address a piece’s internal consistency, and suggest alternative directions for a piece to go in. Editors can also ensure that a client’s piece is truthful or in-line with commonly-known facts.

Overlap Between the Fields

The great news for freelancers in any of these fields is that any and all experience pays off. If you spend a few years, for example, working as a freelance copyeditor, you can translate that work into employment as a proofreader. As you leap between these fields, however, make sure you understand what it is that your clients expect of you and how you can meet – or exceed – those expectations. The more work you take on, the bigger your name will be in the field, and the more likely you’ll be to draw in the big bucks later down the road.

The Best Online Proofreading Jobs

So, you’re ready to start working as a proofreader. You’ve got your red pen at the ready and your PayPal account set up. Where can you go to find the best online proofreading jobs?

1. Contenta

At first glance, Contenta looks like any other job board for writers, editors, and proofreaders. In many ways, this is the correct assumption to make about the platform. Instead of letting you collaborate with a supervisor, like other bullpen platforms would, Contenta gives its users access to clients looking for someone to take on their work.

However, Contenta is a platform that only accepts proofreaders with previous experience. If you’ve been an online proofreader for friends, students, or other clients, then, you can hop onto Contenta to start making more advanced industry connections.

Do note, though, that you have to pay to become a member with Contenta. If you want your membership to pay for itself, you’ll need to make sure that you’re taking enough work through the platform to not only pay off your membership dues but to turn a profit for yourself, as well.

2. Book Editing Associates

Looking to forgo online proofreading in favor of work in the world of publishing? There are ample job opportunities for you online. Book Editing Associates, for example, allows proofreaders to dip their toes into the world of traditional and self-publishing from the perspective of – you guessed it – a proofreader.

Book Editing Associates requires that all of its proofreaders commit to their work on a full-time basis. Ideally, proofreaders should have five or more years of editing experience or a catalog of published books to their name. Anyone interested in working for the company will need to pass a copyediting and proofreading test to start taking on jobs under the company’s name.

3. Proofreading Services

Whether you’re interested in part-time or full-time remote online proofreading jobs, Proofreading Services can help you out. The platform operates as a proofreading bullpen, meaning that you’ll be assigned work by a supervisor while working for them. You will make money based on your ability to submit an assignment within a timely manner, meaning that you can make as much as you want.

You don’t need any previous experience to start working with Proofreading Services. Instead, all you need to do is pass a 20-minute screening test after you submit your application. If the company likes the work that you do, you can start taking on work.

4. Scribendi

Similar to platforms like Fiverr and Guru, Scribendi lets you create a profile detailing your proofreading experience to potential clients. Instead of having to apply for positions, however, Scribendi lets you take on work for a variety of clients at your leisure. Upon getting accepted as an online proofreader with the company, you can access their job board and pick what kind of work you want to do for yourself.

Scribendi pays its online proofreaders through PayPal, regardless of where they’re working from. Do note, though, that this is another platform that requires its proofreaders to have experience before they join up. Ideal proofreaders should have worked the circuit for at least three years, either writing as a freelancer or working with an established organization. Provided a proofreader has those credentials under their belt, they can start making per-assignment wages and controlling their own work hours.

5. Cactus Global

It’s not always a good idea, whether you’re working as a freelancer or as part of a bullpen, to establish a niche genre for yourself to work in. While specific knowledge of one industry over another can serve you well, that knowledge can just as easily handicap you when you try to go look for other work.

Cactus Global, however, rewards specialized experience among its proofreaders. The company looks to hire freelancers with explicit experience in medical and/or scientific fields. The company is ranked among the top one hundred remote employers in Forbes and encourages its employees to take on work that they enjoy.

Once again, however, this is a platform for freelance proofreaders with previous experience. The company prefers to hire proofreaders who’ve been in the industry for at least two years and who can soundly pass tests regarding their grammar and industry-specific knowledge.

6. Proofreading Pal

In the world of online proofreading, experience often translates into cash. Proofreading Pal is one of many platforms that rewards education and experience with higher-paying work. For example, college students who are working towards a degree or looking for something to do with a degree they’ve just earned are encouraged to start working with Proofreading Pal – so long as they have about five years of proofreading experience under their belts.

Proofreading Pal works as a proofreading bullpen, allowing its users to choose what jobs they take on and how much, subsequently, they work. Anyone who applies is encouraged to answer a short questionnaire, which the staff with Proofreading Pals will respond to in two weeks or less. If you get accepted as part of the team, you can start generating part-time or full-time wages, with rates capping at $3,000 per month.

7. Starting Your Own Business

At the end of the day, you always have the option to go into freelance proofreading. Freelance proofreading lets you operate free of a bullpen’s set rates and clientele list. Instead, you’ll have the opportunity to choose what clients you want to work with, how much work you want to take on, and what rates you want to work for.

Online proofreaders who work freelance can still use a few online platforms to find jobs. Fiverr, Upwork, and Guru can all connect proofreaders with clients looking for guidance. The practice, however, is often about who you know. Freelance proofreaders have to do as much networking as they do actual proofreading if they want to have successful remote careers.

With that in mind, only go into proofreading as an independent contractor or free agent if you’re prepared to do a lot of personal marketing. You’ll need to build up your presence not only on job boards but also on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Share your proofread work with the world and let everyone know that you’re open for business. As you generate a client list, start posting to an online portfolio so that future employers know where to look for your work.

It’s hard to kick off a career as a freelance proofreader, but that doesn’t mean that the effort isn’t worth it. If you’re diligent, you can captain a successful remote career in a proofreading position as either a side hustle or a full time job.

Let Swagbucks Help You Supplement Your Income

Remote work as a freelance proofreader isn’t the only way to supplement your income without leaving home. If you want to use the breadth of the Internet to your advantage, or if you want to add to the income a proofreading job brings in, then you can make an account with Swagbucks.

Swagbucks helps people make money from the comfort of their homes. You can create an account and then answer surveys, watch videos, and play games in exchange for points. You can then exchange those points for cash or gift cards through third-party platforms like PayPal.

Use the flexible nature of the Internet to your advantage. If you’re looking to make money on the side, try your hand at proofreading – then see what kind of cash Swagbucks can help you get your hands on.

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