If you get excited whenever you catch spelling and grammar mistakes, proofreading might be a great money-making side hustle for you. Lovers of grammar; punctuation; and accurate, clear writing can turn proofreading talent into cash.
But how much do proofreaders really make, and is there a demand for them?
Yes! Because written content continues to grow, the demand for skilled proofreaders is always growing. Think about blog posts, ad copy, research articles, resumes, technical manuals, marketing emails, and more. Writing is everywhere, and it all requires thorough review.
Proofreaders who make sure all this content is error-free can make an average of $25 an hour, with some jobs paying much more. Not only that, proofreading works beautifully as a side gig because you can set your own hours, work from anywhere, and get started with little to no upfront costs.
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What Do Proofreaders Do?
Proofreaders meticulously comb through written text, detecting and correcting errors in grammar, spelling, syntax, and punctuation. They ensure the content is clear, accurate, and easy to read.
Proofreaders may also make sure text follows a specific style guide, or is written in a voice or tone consistent with other written work for the client.
Beyond these technical aspects, proofreaders offer that final set of eyes on a document, ensuring it gets the message across effectively. And they can do all this online while working from home, the coffee shop, or anywhere with decent WiFi.
To learn more about starting a proofreading side hustle, see our article, How to Become a Proofreader.
How Much Do Proofreaders Make?
If you’re just starting out as a proofreader, you can expect to earn $15 to $25 per hour on average. Experienced proofreaders bring in as much as $40 to $50 per hour.
Knowing how to use semicolons correctly will only get you so far. To maximize your income as a proofreader, consider these tips:
- Specialize in Niche Markets: Focus on specific industries or types of content to position yourself as an expert in a particular field. For example, you might niche down in technology blogs. Or if you’re a foodie, you’d be great proofing social media posts for local restaurants.
- Offer Additional Services: Proofreading dovetails with several related services like editing, content writing, or virtual assistance.
- Build a Strong Reputation and Portfolio: When you cultivate a strong online presence, gather testimonials, and showcase your best work, you are more likely to attract high-paying clients.
How Proofreaders Get Paid
Most proofreading jobs pay in one of these three ways:
- Per Hour: Getting paid by the hour is common when the client is a publishing house or other organization that employs you regularly. The rate can vary significantly depending on your experience, expertise, and the complexity of the assignment.
- Per Page or Per Word Rate: Some proofreaders make their money per page or per word. Freelance proofreaders who work project-by-project may work this way. The rate is usually determined by the density and complexity of text on each page or the total amount of words.
- Project-Based Rate: In some cases, a proofreader might charge a flat fee for an entire project. The rate is usually negotiated in advance based on an estimate of the time the project will take.
What Skills and Qualifications Do Proofreaders Need?
You don’t have to have a degree or experience to get started. But to be an exceptional proofreader, you’ll need the following skills and talents:
- Attention to Detail: An eye for spotting errors and inconsistencies.
- Grammar and Punctuation Expertise: A solid foundation in grammar rules and punctuation usage.
- Knowledge of Style Guides: Familiarity with popular style guides, such as APA or the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Education and Certifications: While not required, completing proofreading training can enhance your credibility and marketability. Our article 7 Best Online Proofreading Courses can help you figure out which one is best for you.
Make extra money proofreading!
This FREE training teaches you how to start making 4 figures a month from home as a proofreader.
Startup Costs and Tools for Proofreaders
If you already have a computer and an internet connection, you can get started in proofreading without spending a dime. That’s part of what makes it such a good side hustle to jump into and make money right away.
Making a small investment in tools used by proofreaders can help you produce more accurate work and deliver faster results. Some of these tools even have free versions that work just fine as you’re getting started. Here are two of our favorites:
- Grammarly – For grammar, punctuation, and spelling help, Grammarly is highly accurate and easy to use. If you add the extension to your browser, it can provide automated assistance in several different apps like Word, Google Docs, and even emails and text messages.
- Hemingway Editor – For help spotting complex or confusing sentences, you can’t beat Hemingway Editor. By copying and pasting text into the app, you can see highlights of different types of writing challenges — and with the paid version, you’ll get suggestions on how to fix them.
AI Versus Human Proofreaders
If you’re worried you can’t make money as a proofreader anymore because of AI, let me put your mind at ease. AI-generated content is correctly spelled and has commas mostly in the right place, but it’s far from perfect.
As a human proofreader, you can catch errors in tone, clarity, or style, like overusing a slang word or writing too formally for the audience. Additionally, tools that check spelling and grammar still require a person to review suggestions and accept corrections.
Finding Proofreading Jobs
To find proofreading jobs as well as deepen your understanding of how much proofreaders can make, explore these options:
- Freelance Platforms: Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr offer a multitude of freelance proofreading projects.
- Networking and Referrals: Tap into your professional and personal networks to seek referrals and recommendations from satisfied clients. For example, if the salon or barber shop where you get your hair done has a presence online, they may need a proofreader for their website updates, blog articles, or social media posts.
- Online Job Boards: Websites such as Indeed, FlexJobs, and LinkedIn regularly feature proofreading job postings. Most of the online proofreading courses also give you access to a job board to help you make targeted connections with clients looking to hire.
- Tell Friends and Family: Advertise your availability and skills on social media. Referrals go a long way to building a solid side hustle.
Factors That Impact How Much Proofreaders Make
When setting your rates, you will typically be able to charge more if you have more experience or if you’re an expert on a topic or style format.
In addition to experience and expertise, the complexity and length of the text to be proofread plays a role in how much you can get paid. Academic and technical texts, or those requiring knowledge of specific style guides, often command higher rates.
The turnaround time — the speed with which the client needs the work done — can also impact pay. You may be able to charge a “rush fee” for urgent jobs.
How much money you can make as a proofreader comes down to your goals. If you can invest in an online course up front, you can learn how to market yourself, how to acquire clients, and how to discover tools that will help you work accurately and efficiently. But even if you want to get started right away with no out-of-pocket costs, you can!
Start by creating a profile on sites with proofreading jobs, then embrace continuous learning, hone your skills, and stay up to date with industry best practices. Your passion for language, eye for detail, and ability to work quickly and accurately shape your success.
Yes! With the increase in online work, online learning, and online content creation, the need for strong proofreaders is growing.
Salary and job sites like Indeed.com show proofreaders make $20 to $40 an hour depending on experience and location. Focusing on a niche and collecting references from satisfied clients may help you reach the higher end of that range.
No! You can get started right away as long as you have a good command of the English language including grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The more specialized or technical your skills, however, the higher pay you can earn.