The common belief these days is that editing and proofreading can be done practically by anyone who wants to earn some extra cash. People think that any well-read person who can spell right can build a career of a proofreader. Actually, it takes a bit more than that. In case you feel like proofreading is your thing, here are some words of wisdom for you.
Know the right terms
“Proofreader”, in fact, is a very specific type of work. This includes exclusively checking the material just before it is published. Many people think that it also includes checking manuscripts of novella and making comments (it is actually called copy-editing), checking if the facts in a paper are true to life (it is fact-checking), writing a text based on some key points (it is, in fact, copywriting) and suggesting certain changes to a text (it is a job of a substantive copyeditor). The profession you most likely want is called copyeditor, not proofreader.
Get the knowledge
Correcting someone’s mistakes and making someone’s ideas look right is not an easy job, to be honest. You have to enjoy it; that is the first rule. And of course, you need some theoretical knowledge. The best option is taking some classes. There are some really good courses for writers, proofreaders and publishers these days. It will cost you some money, of course, but you will become a certified expert. You surely should take classes in case you do not have any editing and proofreading experience but you want to get good clients and make decent money.
Are you ready for this work?
First of all, you need to decide if you are disciplined enough to do a freelance job. If you need a constant control from managers, it is not for you. A proofreading job has some moment you need to be comfortable with:
- You need to be very concentrated and have a quiet place to work where no one will bother you;
- You commonly don’t choose the subject to work on unless you are a hardcore editor with tons of experience. At the end of the road you will most likely get something boring and not interesting at all;
- It is a repetitive job, especially if you work with the same group of people (students, for example).
- You usually have strict deadlines some of which will require working more hours.
This job is not only bad points, though. Here are some advantages you can get:
- If you are proofreading some news, for example, you read it first before other people;
- If you don’t like crowded places and prefer being alone, it is perfect for you;
- You can work from any place;
- You can constantly get new knowledge on different subject.
Dealing with customers
You will need to be a professional and know the etiquette of working with customers. You will have to find the right way to talk to any particular client, to explain all the aspects of your work, to show what changes you made to their work and why it is better this way. You will require good discipline to meet every client’s deadline. And besides that, you will need to expand your client base by different means. That brings us to the next key point.
Build your client-base
The best way to do this is to be very professional so that your current clients suggest your services to their friends and colleagues. You need to be very careful to keep your good name and do all the tasks on time.
You can also make business cards and give them away any time you can. Besides that, make your resume look perfect. Write all the things you can do besides copyediting itself (it may be transcription, translation, copywriting, localization from different variants of English and other things). Your previous work experience is also very important to mention.
Is it really your cup of tea?
Let’s take a small test. The following are the things you need to do to succeed in copyediting. If you are fine with most of the points, go ahead. So, you should:
- Be ready to work on subjects you have absolutely no interest in;
- Be ok with working alone all the time;
- Have other skills you can brag about in your CV;
- Not be bored by this kind of job and not lose focus after hours of similar reading;
- Be ready to work super hard;
- Be a good expert in English and know the standards;
- Take quite pricy classes to improve your knowledge;
- Be ready to be a freelancer with all its unpleasant sides (busy weekends or not seeing people, for example).
Hopefully, you get the idea of what kind of job it is now. If you are attracted to all the positive sides of copyediting and are not frightened by its cons, you will be fine!
Alyce is an inspired blogger, private tutor and educational consultant who is passionate about everything related to writing. Now she has found herself as a private consultant/educator, providing seminars and workshops to teachers of English. The focus of her presentations is how to motivate students to enjoy writing and to help them in becoming creative and proficient writers both for their pleasure and coursework assignments. She loves to share her experience in these fields. Stay tuned to get more actionable tips about writing!