Proofreading Jobs: Pros And Cons
You are probably reading this because you searched online for proofreading or work from homejobs and landed here. We’re sure the descriptions that went with the proofreading job ads left you wondering what a proofreader really is since they vary wildly depending on who wrote them. The problem of words answering to many definitions plagues most jobs you may do from home.
Proofreading is a form of editing but focuses on correcting minor problems, like misspelled words. Spelling, punctuation, and formatting along with necessary grammar corrections all fall into the wheelhouse of the proofreader. Editors do the same thing except they may rewrite entire blocks of text to help the piece read better. They may remove or even add words.
Having a clear definition of the term proofread is crucial if you plan to pursue a career or extra money by becoming a proofreader. Be wary of jobs that advertise themselves as seeking a proofreader, yet their job description sounds like they really want an editor. They don’t know what they want either and working with them won’t turn out to be fun or rewarding.
In spite of the many definitions following proofreaders around, working as one has many benefits. On the flip side, like all jobs, there’s a dark side to proofreading. If you think a proofreading job working from home is a great idea, you need to understand all the pros and cons before committing to a project and chasing down job leads.
The Pros Of Online Proofreading Jobs
If you plan to look for proofreading jobs, treat it like a business. Most publications don't employ full-time proofreaders since the editors usually do the job anyway. So, you’ll need to find work on your own and actively search for jobs and market yourself. So, make up your mind now to call it a business you plan to use for extra money. Technically, this paragraph is almost one of the cons.
Let kick of the pros section by looking at how cheap it is to start a proofreading business. There’s almost no overhead since you work from home and it requires no special tools. You need a laptop, but you probably already have one for other reasons. You’re paying the rent or mortgage along with your other household bills anyway because you live there, so those don’t count toward overhead.
You may want to subscribe to a website that keeps you up to date on the popular style manuals, but this expense is still pretty low, and we don’t consider it a con. You’ll want to study and develop a working knowledge of these styles and style guides:
Whoever you proofread for will let you know what technique they use for their publication or work. Many print and online publications tend to follow the Associated Press Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style while academic work may need to match the MLA Handbook. Some medical journals and magazines use the AMA Manual of Style, but most prefer the APA Manual.
The only other real expenses include things like your website or office software. Hosting for a simple website to create an online presence may cost less than $10, and they often come with free website templates to get you up and running. Avoid using website hosts that don’t allow you to use your own domain name. Doing so may make you seem unprofessional to many job advertisers.
We recommend going with Microsoft’s Office 365 if you need office software. A subscription is less than $10 for the basics, and it comes with a terabyte of cloud storage plus you get all the office products like Word and Excel for use online and from your laptop. If $10 isn’t in your budget right now, Libre Office offers a free alternative to Microsoft Office 365, and it opens and edits Word and Excel files.
You don’t need an office or a storefront to operate a business online. Your couch is your office, and your website is your storefront. That's another colossal business expense gone, and you get to work in your pajamas. Check your local and state laws, but most home office expenses including a portion of the monthly utility bills and rent may be tax deductible if you’re working from home.
You technically don’t need any kind of training or a degree to work as a proofreader. However, this pro comes with its own pros and cons. Without a little background in publishing and some kind of language-related degree, it may turn out to be challenging to find work as a proofreader. You may need to take poor paying jobs to gain experience and build a reputation to get better-paying gigs.
The number of jobs and clients you may find online is almost unlimited. Proofreading jobs pop up in nearly every industry because virtually every business produces some form or advertising collateral or other documents that need proofing. They know spelling and punctuation errors cast shade on their professional ability, so they may seek proofreaders to make sure everything is written well.
The Cons Of Proofreading Jobs
Working from home is a dream job for many people, especially if you get to make a decent living doing it. However, it’s not easy to work from home. Procrastination is your enemy and lurks around every corner while holding your motivation hostage. There’s no boss there to guide you or make sure you’re working, and it’s not easy being your own boss. Consider this paragraph carefully while deciding.
People will steal your time and not pay you. No one is going to pay you up front for a proofreading job, and sometimes you get ripped off. You’ll need to work hard to get the experience and reputation necessary to land big jobs or contracts with reputable companies to avoid getting ripped off. They’re only stealing your time, but it’s lost money any way you look at it.
Deadlines may be brutal and unforgiving. You may be the entire office staff at your proofreading business, so scheduling is part of your job as well. Deadlines have the word dead in them for a reason and missing them may kill the chances of that client using you again. A client may need 50,000 words proofed in three days and be willing to pay more, but it’s still hard to meet short deadlines.
You don’t need much proof that you can proofread, but it may help when you try to get better-paying clients. If the job ad says they prefer someone with an English degree or journalism degree, someone with one of those degrees will try to get the job. If you don’t have either degree or a comparable one, you won’t get the work. You may be the world’s greatest proofreader and still lose work to a degree.
Developing a client list filled with well paying, repeat clients doesn’t happen quickly. It may take months if you work hard and don't sleep but expect it to take much longer. It is possible to earn a decent living as a full-time proofreader, but people doing that now worked hard for a long time to get the experience and portfolio the needed to build their client list. You’re also the marketing staff in this business.
Should I Try Applying For Some Proofreading Jobs?
We can’t make that decision for you, but we encourage you to try if our definition of proofreading appeals to you and the cons section didn’t scare you away. The cons section sounds rough and it is hard to build a proofreading business, but it’s worth it in our opinion. If you can avoid procrastination and motivate yourself, you’re already ahead of nearly every other proofreader out there.
Read the job ads you plan to apply for carefully to make sure their definition of a proofreading job and your idea of a proofreading gig match. Spend a few minutes looking for reviews of the company or person advertising the job to make sure they don’t have a reputation of not paying, or other people found working with them was difficult.
Other than continually working hard and running from procrastination, proofreading jobs may be some of the easiest work you’ll ever do. It sounds hard if you linger in the cons section above or worry about getting ripped off, but doing the job is simple and doesn't take much time. If you’re careful, you may avoid a lot of the cons altogether like not getting paid or working under tight deadlines.
Proofreading jobs are everywhere, and almost anyone can do the work provided they understand grammar and have a good eye for details. Stay organized and schedule everything to avoid nightmarish deadlines and you'll find the job easy and rewarding. Honestly, the hard work and pitfalls aren’t that bad when you consider you get to work in your pajamas on your couch and take breaks anytime.