How to Become a Proofreader and Make Money from Home

Proofreading is a legitimate work-from-home job that gives you the opportunity to make an income from the comfort of your own home.

According to Merriam Webster, to proofread is “to read and mark corrections in (something).” This is exactly what happens when you proofread from home. A proofreader reads a piece of content to find grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or punctuation problems. This isn’t full-fledged editing, so you don’t need to worry about things like sentence structure, or paragraph coherence. Instead, you’re just looking for basic errors.

Unlike other work-from-home positions, you don’t need any special equipment apart from a computer and a reliable Internet connection, and there is no customer service aspect to the work.

To become a proofreader, you need to have the necessary skills of attention to detail and good English grammar, define your niche and pick the type of proofreading you’d like to target, take a training course, and find clients online.

Working from home as a proofreader is something that you can easily fit into your day as a side hustle. If you wanted, you could even make this a full-time job.

Some of the perks include the opportunity to work for yourself, the chance to make money wherever you have an Internet connection.

Interested in learning more about how to become a proofreader? Read on and find out all about this work-at-home job in this proofreading guide.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. 

how to become a proofreader

Know the different types of proofreading

Not all proofreading is the same. Since there are lots of different kinds of content out there, it makes sense that there are different types of proofreading to suit differing needs.

These are the different types of proofreading you should know about:

Academic proofreading – Academic proofreading deals with research and academic works. Different types of content within this field include things like research papers, journal articles, white papers, and thesis projects.

To be an academic proofreader, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of the different style guides (MLA, APA, Chicago). You also need to know formatting rules for things like footnotes, tables, references, and bibliographies.

Business proofreading – A business proofreader needs to know how to work specifically with software and materials typically found within business environments. A business proofreader also needs to understand that their proofreading should echo the organization’s voice and style.

General proofreading – To be a general proofreader, you don’t need training in any specific specialty — instead, you’ll just offer proofreading services for a variety of websites or publishers.

Translation proofreading – If you are bilingual, you can offer translation proofreading services. While this includes the same scope as general proofreading, you also need to be another set of eyes in ensuring that the translation makes sense. Even if you aren’t the person doing the translating, you should ask to have the source document on hand so that you can double-check that the intended meaning is accurately conveyed.

Figure out your proofreading niche

Because there is just so much content out there, you have the freedom to pick and choose what kind of things you want to proofread. In fact, it can be better to choose an area of focus, or niche. It looks better to prospective clients when you are able to tell them that you have a specialty or area of expertise.

Not sure what kind of proofreading niche is for you? Here are some of the options:

  • Books or ebooks
  • Academic papers
  • White papers
  • Technical manuals
  • Blog posts
  • Transcripts
  • Court reports
  • Legal documents
  • Magazine articles

You might opt to choose two or three niches, but if you do go with more than one, ideally they should be all related. This will allow you to hone your craft within your specific area and will prove much more valuable in the long run than trying to simply offer any kind of proofreading to every client who comes your way.

Take a course to hone your skills

Once you understand what proofreading is, the different types of proofreading, and what niche you want to serve, the next step is to learn how to proofread. While much of it requires a good grasp of grammar and attention to detail, there is also a portion of proofreading that needs to be learned. That’s where a good course comes in.

If you want to fully understand how proofreading works, you need to find someone who can teach you. I recommend Knowadays as the best proofreading course out there.

Proofreading Academy goes over everything you need to know about working from home as a proofreader, including the following:

  • Proofreading and editing basics
  • Common spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Other common errors
  • Academic proofreading
  • Creative writing and the publishing industry
  • Business writing

The Knowadays course also offers plenty of practice modules to help you get a handle on what it takes to be a proofreader.

One of the best things about taking the Knowadays course is that if you successfully complete it, you are guaranteed employment afterward through the proofreading company Proofed.

This means that not only do you get the training you need to successfully make it as a proofreader, but you also get a job when you’re finished.

This course has an overwhelming number of five-star reviews from its users. If you want to learn more about it, read my Knowadays review or head directly to the site itself.

Invest in a grammar checker and know your style guides

Part of successfully working as a proofreader involves having a firm handle on English grammar rules and a working knowledge of the rules for various style guides. Your client may have a particular preference for either the AP Style or Chicago Manual of Style, so familiarity in both these areas will be helpful.

Grammarly is a free Grammar checker that everyone who writes anything online should be using. It’s easy to set up, and it will immediately point out spelling errors or inconsistencies in a text. While there is a free version, if you’re working as a proofreader you should invest in the paid version, which offers more features and functionality.

In addition to Grammarly, it’s a good idea to purchase both the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook. These aren’t mandatory or required in order to work as a proofreader, but they can be immensely helpful when you want to fulfill a client’s needs but can’t quite remember the specific rules.

Each is available on Amazon (affiliate links): Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook.

Find clients

Once you’re ready to begin work, there are two ways you can start making money as a proofreader: you can choose to work freelance, which means that you essentially work for yourself and find your own clients, or you can find a proofreading job with an agency that will hire you as an outside contractor.

As with most things, each comes with its own pros and cons.

Freelancing perks include:

  • The ability to charge your own rates (which usually means a higher income for you)
  • The chance to be more selective in the work you take or refuse
  • Better control over the hours you work

Working with an agency also has its own benefits, including:

  • The opportunity for more steady work and hours
  • Dealing with the client isn’t necessary; instead, you’re dealing with a professional

You don’t have to choose one or the other, you can do both.

For instance, if you successfully complete the Knowadays training course, you are guaranteed employment through its sister company, Proofed. This is a great way to get some work right off the bat and gain experience, but it isn’t the only way to work.

Once you have some experience working with agencies, you’ll likely be in a good position to branch out on your own and find clients willing to hire you, since they can see that you have experience in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Become a Proofreader

There are a lot of misconceptions about proofreading. Some people believe that it’s old-fashioned and not really done anymore. Others say that there are no proofreading jobs, or it’s some kind of fake job like envelope stuffing. I’m happy to tell you that all of these misconceptions are false.

Is proofreading in high demand?

There is consistent demand for proofreading jobs online. As of August 2021, there were an estimated 1.8 billion websites on the Internet, according to Statista. Those websites are home to a lot of content – much more than could ever be counted. While not all website owners care to hire a proofreader, there are plenty enough that certainly do. Due to the ever-growing amount of content, both in print and online, there is plenty of regular, steady work for proofreaders who want to work from home.

Do I have to have a degree to be a proofreader?

While many proofreaders have a Bachelor’s degree in English or journalism, you don’t need to have a degree in order to work as a proofreader. As long as you have a thorough understanding of grammar and know how to do the work, you can make money with this job.

Do you need any qualifications to be a proofreader?

You don’t need any special qualifications to be a proofreader, but there are characteristics that can help you succeed in this job. Because proofreaders get paid to find written mistakes, it is helpful if you have a good grasp of grammar, are good at spelling, and are able to pay close attention to detail.

How much can a proofreader make?

As a general rule, a full-time proofreader makes an annual salary between $45,000 – $55,000. Like most work-at-home positions, the amount a proofreader makes depends on how often they work, how many clients they have, and what they charge.

Here is the average proofreader annual salary based on several outside sources:

Data SourceProofreader Annual Salary$52,653$54,095$46,243

Remember that all of these salaries depend on a lot of different factors, including how much you work and the rates you charge. Still, they’re nice to know for a ballpark figure.

Find Out More About Proofreading

Are you ready to find out more about how to become a proofreader? Visit Knowadays to learn about how you can become a proofreader from home.

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