Proofreading is one of the best online jobs because it's flexible, it pays well, and there are virtually no start-up costs. This makes it a great side hustle for teachers, college students, those working a traditional 9-to-5 job, and anyone who wants to supplement their income.
Not everyone is cut out to be a proofreader, but it might be a solid option if you:
- Cringe when your friends mistakenly use they’re, their, and there in texts
- Obsessively edit your emails over and over again
- Know how to use a semicolon properly
- Spot punctuation or spelling errors when you're reading magazines, blog posts, menus, books, and more
If that sounds like you, then keep reading to find out exactly what proofreaders do, how much they make, how to find proofreading jobs, and more.
What is proofreading?
Proofreaders do a quality check on written content, ensuring that it's free of spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. They are usually the last set of eyes on a piece of content before it's published.
Proofreading is an extremely important part of the writing process, and it can be done completely online these days.
Because proofreading is an essential step in virtually every industry, you can find proofreading jobs online for everything from blog posts, admission essays, ad copy, resumes, books, and much more. And many of the proofreading jobs available are for freelance or part-time work.
Want the fastest and easiest way to start proofreading?
Proofreading Launchpad takes you from “I don’t know how to get started” to “I just landed my first paying client!”
Proofreading vs. editing
Proofreaders are sometimes confused with editors or copy editors. Copy editors make substantial changes, like restructuring written content or rewriting entire sentences. The work proofreaders do is just as important, and it happens after a copy editor has made changes.
By the time a proofreader gets the content, the piece is entirely written. Proofreaders aren’t changing the tone, style, or organization of a piece of writing; they are just fixing little errors that writers inevitably miss no matter how many times they reread their work.
Think of proofreaders as the last line of defense for catching any typos, misspellings, or minor grammatical errors.
How much do proofreaders make?
The amount of money you can make proofreading varies based on your experience and the type of clients you work for. We've looked at job sites to find salary data, and proofreaders make $20-$40 per hour.
Here's the data we found:
- Salary.com puts the median proofreader salary at $54,805 a year, and the average hourly wage of $20-$30
- Indeed reports that proofreaders average $24.92 per hour, and report hourly pay for top proofreading jobs in the U.S. at $26-$41 per hour
- ZipRecruiter says proofreaders average $47,171 annually or $22 an hour on average
- Glassdoor lists the average proofreader salary of $40,609
- UpWork says the median rate for proofreaders is $25 with a typical range between $18 and $35/hour
Do I need special skills to make money proofreading?
One of the cool things about becoming a proofreader is that you don't need specialized training. It is important to have excellent grammar, punctuation, and spelling — but that's obvious!
Time management and communication are two other extremely valuable skills, and there's a good chance you've already developed those skills running a household, working your 9-to-5 job, or with another side hustle.
Not all, but some proofreading jobs require familiarity with specific style guides, i.e. MLA, APA, or Chicago style. Fortunately, you can find free guides online or check out style guide books from the library to freshen up on those styles.
Do I need a degree to find proofreading jobs?
No, and this is another reason it's one of our favorite work-from-home jobs! Proofreading doesn't always require a bachelor's degree in English or Journalism or any other type of degree. Occasionally, a client will require a bachelor's degree, but most of the time, your references and track record are far more valuable.
As long as you possess basic proofreading skills — excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation — you can start to make money proofreading.
There are tons of freelance proofreading jobs out there if you know where to look and how to set up your business. The Proofreading Launchpad course outlines proven strategies for finding clients, how to set up your proofreading business, and an in-depth look at essential proofreading skills. It’s the fastest and easiest way to start proofreading! Join the Proofread Launchpad waitlist.
Pros and cons of proofreading
One of the best ways to decide if something is a good fit is to weigh up the pros and cons, so here are a few:
4 essential tools for beginning proofreaders
Proofreading is an incredibly accessible job because you don't need a lot to get started. However, there are a few tools that are vital to your business. Bonus: most are free or super inexpensive!
- Spellchecker: Even the best writers, editors, and proofreaders will accidentally misspell a word now and then. Blame it on our fingers! Basic spell-checking software that comes with your computer or word processing program is a great must-have tool for proofreaders.
- Grammarly: You can go one step further than your spellchecker with a Grammarly subscription. Grammarly is an online writing assistant that checks for spelling, grammar, concision, formality, and more. You install Grammarly on your computer, and it will even check your emails and social media posts, which is really helpful when communicating with clients. Basic Grammarly is free and checks for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. You can upgrade to Premium for $25/month and access features that check for plagiarism, tone, fluency, formality levels, and more.
- Google Docs: If you have a Google account, then you already have Google docs. What's so nice about it for proofreading is that you can see a history of edits, collaborate with clients, and it's easy to send and receive documents.
- Dropbox: Not all of your clients will want to use Google Docs, which is why setting yourself up with a free Dropbox Basic account.
14 best online proofreading jobs from home
Now that you understand what proofreading is, how much proofreaders make, and what's required, here's a list of places to find proofreading jobs.
If you're looking for proofreading jobs for beginners, Fiverr is one of the best freelancing platforms to start with. The way it works is that you create a profile and list your services, and then companies and business owners can search the platform and send you a work order.
The most successful freelancers on Fiverr have professional-looking profiles, offer clear outlines of what services they deliver, and define their work by niche. What we mean by niche is specializing in a specific industry or type of client. For example, you can advertise that you specialize in proofreading personal finance blogs, romance novels, college admissions essays, and so on.
UpWork is another solid option for proofreaders who want to start with no previous experience. UpWork is similar to Fiverr, but freelancers can also browse open job listings and pitch clients with proposals. Having a professional-looking profile and writing personalized proposals is the best way to get noticed on UpWork.
3. American Journal Expert
American Journal Experts provides English language editing and other manuscript preparation services to researchers, scientists, and scholars. To work as a proofreader for AJE, you’ll need to be an expert in a particular field. Being an expert means you have specialized knowledge or skills in one of the industries they work with.
Babbletype provides market research transcription and translation services for companies. They hire professional proofreaders and editors to ensure the consistency and accuracy of their transcription services.
5. CACTUS Global
CACTUS Global provides English writing services for scholarly and medical publishing. They have freelance and full-time work from home positions. Cactus does require that its editors have expertise in the fields of study they are editing, such as engineering, healthcare, life sciences, medicine, or surgery.
Domainite is a content mill that finds freelancers to churn out quick and inexpensive content to companies. The pay isn’t awesome, but it’s an option for finding beginner proofreading jobs so you can build your resume.
7. Edit 911
Edit 911 offers premium editing services for books, dissertations, and other documents. They say, “No other editing service has higher standards,” and that might be true because they require their editors to have a PhD.
8. Editor Live
Proofreaders for Editor Live earn an average of $750 to $1,800 every two weeks and work in four-hour “collection” shifts. The requirements to work for Editor Live are passing a two-part exam and to either be enrolled in an accredited university with a GPA of at least 3.6 or have a bachelor’s degree with 5+ years of professional experience.
The way Freelancer works is that companies and individuals list jobs and their budgets, then freelancers bid on the work. You need to set up a freelance proofreader profile before bidding on work.
10. Polished Paper
Polished Paper connects editors and proofreaders for academic, manuscript, professional, and personal writing. There is a 35-question test to pass before getting hired.
ProofreadingServices.com has over 10,000 clients using quality proofreaders and editors on a variety of projects. They hire editors with experience as teachers, professors, newspaper and magazine copy editors, and other relevant job fields.
Scribbr is for students who want someone to polish their essays, dissertation, or thesis. They hire editors that are available for at least ten hours of work each week, have proofreading experience, and hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
13. Scribe Writing
Formerly known as Book in a Box, Scribe Writing offers book writing services. Proofreaders work on book projects that generally take around four months.
Scribendi provides proofreading and copy-editing services for authors, academics, companies, students, and individuals. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree and three years of experience.
How to get online proofreading jobs for beginners
Now that you know where to find proofreading jobs, the next step is landing those jobs. There's no magic pill to make money proofreading, but here's what you can do to position yourself to break into the market, land your first job, and grow your proofreading business, whether it's a side job or turns into a full-time business:
- Find one or two platforms to focus on when you are first looking for jobs. Fiverr and UpWork are great places to start.
- Research each job board or platform to learn the best practices for making money. We have an UpWork review, Fiverr review, and FlexJobs review to get started with.
- Consider offering discounted services to land your first couple of jobs in exchange for reviews. Reviews are key to establishing yourself on platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. While you can't demand a review, you can explain that you're building your business and are interested in getting feedback that can be shared with future clients.
- Reach out to your network for your first job. This is one of our favorite strategies for starting a business — use your network! Your network includes your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. You can post on social media or email them to let them know that you've started proofreading and ask if they have any leads for proofreading jobs. Your first paying job could be as simple as proofreading your cousin's resume. Just make sure you ask for a review!
- Start a website. You can start a WordPress site for as little as $2.95/month with Bluehost's discounted pricing (WordPress is what we used for this site!). All you need is a simple page that introduces who you are, reviews from past clients, and the services you offer. This is a great way to share your business and reach clients who aren't on freelance platforms.
- Join proofreading and writing groups on Facebook. One thing Facebook does really well is community groups. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free groups for freelancers, and these groups often share new job posts before they hit the big job boards mentioned above. Search for ones that are specific to freelance writers, editors, or proofreaders.
How to make money proofreading: the final word
Learning how to make money proofreading is a great way to supplement your income and work from home. The biggest thing is knowing where to look for proofreading jobs.
Proofreading Launchpad is a great way to jumpstart your business because this course teaches you essential proofreading skills, proven strategies to find clients, and how to build your business.
Proofreading isn't for everyone, and that's okay. But if you are detail-oriented, motivated to complete projects by deadlines, and committed to producing stellar work for your clients, proofreading is a great side gig.
According to salary data and job sites, proofreaders can make $20-$40 per hour.
Proofreading is an excellent side hustle because there are low to zero startup costs, it doesn’t require a degree or specialized training, it pays well, and you can scale it into a full-time business.
Overall, vacancies for proofreaders has decreased since 2004, but it’s expected that demand will start going up between now and 2029. We believe that the rise in online work, online learning, and online content creation will be responsible for that increase.