There are a whole host of different jobs freelancers can do, from things like accounting or digital marketing to the more unusual roles of expert bed-tester or a professional bridesmaid.

The beauty of freelancing is that whatever your skill, no matter how niche, as long as there’s a gap in the market for it and demand for what you offer, you can carve a career out of it.

One pretty popular line of freelancing is proofreading. Here, we look at:

  • What a freelance proofreader does
  • The different types of proofreading
  • The skills proofreaders need
  • What a freelance proofreader can typically charge
  • Some must-have tools and software for freelance proofreaders

 

What is a freelance proofreader?

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance proofreader, the first thing is to make sure you understand exactly what the role requires.

In the general sense of what a freelancer is, it’s an independent professional who works for themselves rather than being employed by a business. This means a freelancer will usually work for more than one business or client at a time, juggling multiple projects simultaneously.

In the context of proofreading, a freelance proofreader is an expert in the field who works for themselves, offering their services to several clients on either a short-term, long-term or ad hoc basis.

Either way, freelance proofreaders generally tend to work remotely and according to their own schedules unless specified by the client and agreed by the freelancer, providing services such as:

  • Reviewing written content for errors and to ensure proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and formatting
  • Copy editing, which involves improving the style, clarity, and coherence of the text, as well as consistency in tone. However, this isn’t always a proofreader’s job and sometimes there will be a dedicated copy editor available to do that
  • Ensuring that the written content is well polished before being published or submitted
  • Working with authors, businesses, students, publishing companies, agencies or even fellow freelancers.

 

Are there different types of proofreaders?

Yes, there can be different types of proofreaders for different categories of written content.

A proofreader can work with various types of written documents, including articles, essays, reports, manuscripts, websites, marketing materials and much more. It really depends on the type of business or client you’re working with.

Common categories or industries that call for freelance proofreading include:

  • Legal
  • Academic
  • Technical
  • Publishing
  • Website
  • Translation or localisation
  • Books
  • Editorial

Proofreaders can choose to specialise in specific industries or types of content, while others prefer to offer general proofreading services across multiple subjects or formats.

To get started as a freelance proofreader, you need to decide if you want to have a specialist niche or if you want to keep your offering more general.

Base this decision on your skills and experience but also on your interests – it’s nice to enjoy what you’re proofing after all, and this will help you deliver your best work.

 

What skills do proofreaders need?

To be a successful freelance proofreader, there are a number of hard and soft skills you need to have under your belt and that every client will be looking for.

 

Hard skills:
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Proficiency in the language you’re proofreading
  • Excellent grammatical knowledge
  • Competence with any software and systems required
  • Great research skills (in case you need to fact-check)

 

Soft skills:
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Laser-sharp focus and concentration
  • Patience and flexibility
  • Willing and able to work independently
  • Broad general knowledge

 

What rates can freelance proofreaders charge?

What you can charge as a freelance proofreader depends on your experience and knowledge. You can also take factors like the length of the project and the deadline into account when pricing. If it’s an extensive project with a tight deadline, you might be able to charge more.

However, the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) suggests that the minimum rate for proofreading is £29.85 per hour as of March 2024.

You can use this as a base to calculate your fees if you’d prefer to charge by the hour, day or per project.

Sometimes, the client’s payment processes will influence how you charge or invoice, but you shouldn’t let them dictate your costs. Entering into a price negotiation is okay and pretty normal, but don’t let a client push you into agreeing to a fee you aren’t comfortable with.

It’s important to remember that when you’re self-employed, freelance fees need to cover more than just the specific skills you’re providing.

As a freelance proofreader, what you charge should also take into consideration things like:

  • National Insurance
  • Pension contributions
  • Holidays
  • Sickness leave
  • Work-related bills
  • Training
  • Software, equipment and supplies
  • Subscriptions

 

Must-have tools and software for freelance proofreaders

There is a plethora of different software and apps out there designed to help self-employed professionals, including a whole host of AI tools for freelancers.

 

An AI writing assistant

Something like Grammarly can act as a great supplementary tool to support your proofreading. As an expert, it’s not something you should rely on entirely, but it can help bolster your efforts and eliminate any human error (because you’re only human after all).

 

A project management app

A project management platform like Trello or Asana are great ways to manage multiple projects and organise deadlines efficiently. An app means you can do it straight from your phone from wherever you choose to work.

 

Cloud-based bookkeeping software

When running any kind of business, staying on top of your finances is crucial. Cloud-based bookkeeping software will make recording things like expenses and managing invoices much easier as you can access your accounts from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Good bookkeeping habits will make your life a whole simpler when it comes to tax return time too.

 
Find even more advice and guidance for freelancers in our info hub!

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