If you are a stickler for grammar and boast an eye for punctuation and spelling, professional proofreading could be the ideal job for you. But, and it’s a big but, there are a lot of other people out there who also think it’s the ideal job for them. Competition is tough but with hard work and diligence you can raise your status above the masses. Here are our top tips on proofreading jobs – how to get them and where to find them.
Register with a professional body
The Society for Editors and Proofreaders www.sfep.org.uk are the go-to organisation for proofreaders. You can become a member for £100 a year and from there you can upgrade to different levels according to your experience and qualifications. They also offer a variety of well-respected courses to further your credentials and earning potential.
The suggested minimum hourly rate is £23.35 according to the Society for Editors and Proofreaders but many of the freelancing sites are flooded with proofreaders offering bargain rates. Sadly proofreading is a skill that some clients are reluctant to pay properly for. When you are at the beginning of your proofreading career, be prepared to take on work at a slightly lower rate but don’t try to compete with the cheapest. The www.sfep.org.uk has excellent advice on pricing jobs for newbie proofreaders.
Consider your existing experience
Even if you have no editorial experience, your career history may lend itself to demonstrating proofreading credentials. In previous jobs did you ever have to check a colleague’s training notes, presentations, marketing literature, website content or even letters to clients? Flesh out these examples to use in your biography on your own website and in any professional directories you join.
Create a professional website
For a minimal outlay you can set up your own website which will enhance your prospects and ensure that potential clients take you seriously. There are easy-to-use, customisable templates to help you create a professional image for your business. Search for web builders and you will find an overwhelming choice of providers, including Wix, Duda, Weebly and Squarespace.
Get active on freelancing sites
There are many portals offering work for freelance proofreaders, but as mentioned above you will be up against people prepared to work for next to nothing. With some effort you can establish yourself as a trusted proofreader and receive decent money from reputable clients. Make sure you spend a bit of time on your proposal or bid for each job. You’d be surprised at how many people submit bids riddled with mistakes. Also take your time to complete any skill tests available – this immediately raises your status. Try www.peopleperhour.com www.upwork.com, www.FreelancersintheUK.co.uk, www.freelanceuk.com and www.freelancer.co.uk.
Get clear on what proofreading is
Proofreading is not editing. Proofreading identifies the superficial flaws in a text, like spelling, grammar and punctuation. It should be the final part before a text is ready for publication. Editing incorporates proofreading but also looks at how information is presented and the feel of how things are written. All too often potential clients will request a proofreading of their text when what they actually need is an editor. Always request a sample of the work to be proofread and don’t be afraid of turning work down if you feel that the client needs an editor’s eye before being proofread.
Make local contacts through networking events and direct approaches to small and medium sized business. If you spot an error in a leaflet for a local business or a typo on someone’s website, by all means approach them, but do so tactfully. That error has been made by someone, and nobody likes to have their mistakes highlighted. Promote the benefits and cost saving solutions you can provide.
Find your niche
If you happen to have a background in a specific field of expertise, like science, education or finance, then you can boost your earning potential enormously. Proofreading for subject specific journals certainly demands a premium. Again, see the www.sfep.org.uk for more details.