Is Freelance Proofreading for me?
Thinking of becoming a freelance proofreader? I’m sure you’ve already thought about some of the rewards if you’re reading this, and yes there are certainly many:
Being your own boss – yes this certainly has its upside, but it also means that all the responsibility lies with you, and you have to do your own quality control. You have to pay for your own training and professional development, which is essential if you are to get into the proofreading business. An industry-recognised course such as PTC (Publishing Training Centre) Basic Proofreading, or SFEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders) Proofreading courses will set you back about £400. These courses are rigorous and require a lot of time and commitment, but they will give you a good basic skill set. You would also benefit from joining an organisation such as the SFEP so that you can be part of a community and be supported at all stages of your career. This would be another £100; however, SFEP members do get a discount on course fees. The financial cost is modest compared to setting up some other businesses. The main cost is in time, and you will need another income, at least for the first year.
Having a flexible work schedule – one of the biggest attractions! But the flip side is that you have no boundaries in that you’re not ‘at work’, or ‘at home’. This is one of the biggest adjustments to make, and you will find yourself working at all sorts of odd hours which might have been unthinkable in your previous job. The reward however, is that you are working for yourself and not someone else, and that means that you have ownership over what you are doing. It is very important to build in time off, this takes discipline and is never easy ! There is no doubt that you will need to work hard; it's not an easy option, especially in the first few years.
Doing a job you enjoy – this is maybe the greatest reward! I have always loved language and reading and cannot believe that this is now my actual job. Chances are that if you are working in an area you enjoy, you will be good at it – and you do need to make sure that you are good at it, otherwise life could become very stressful. Do as much training as you can afford, financially, or time-wise. There is also an issue to consider when making your hobby your job, so take time to think carefully about this!
Earning an income – this is not a job that is going to take you into the higher tax bracket, however, it should be able to provide you with a reasonable income long term, but not for a few years. You will need to think carefully about charging reasonable rates for your work – even if it means losing work along the way. It’s very tempting to take on low paid work in the first few years, but after your first few pieces, you need to be acting and charging like a professional. You will also find during the first year or so that your speed will be slower, which means that you cannot do the volume of work. Remember, that most proofreaders will say that they can only do 4–5 hours maximum in a day of actual proofreading and then their brains begin to fry!
Use the expertise you already have – your career so far has not been in vain. Whatever area you have worked in, someone somewhere will be writing about it, and they will need proofreaders.