Make Money by Proofreading Documents


Did you know that you can make extra income by proofreading blog posts, articles, e-books and other materials bound for publication either offline or online? In fact, there is a lot of demand for this type of service. There are a lot of companies that offer writing services. These companies are all over the place. The problem is, somebody still has to step in to make sure that these materials are completely free of typos and other basic mistakes.

You may be thinking that there is a lot of software currently on the market like WhiteSmoke or Grammarly, that makes these problems go away. Now, here’s the problem, just because you can copy and paste materials into those online tools doesn’t mean that you have done a good job catching typos, grammatical mistakes or inconsistencies. In fact, these mistakes crops up quite a bit, and a lot of these online tools can sometimes do a spotty job of detecting them and fixing them.

Why do companies hire Proofreaders?

Online publishers and book publishers, whether independent or part of a larger company, need to produce professional materials. That is what makes them credible. People are not going to take them seriously if they produce garbage. There is really no other way to describe online content, like articles, blog posts and e-books that are littered with all sorts of basic mistakes. Would you take a blog post seriously if it has so many misspellings, that it seems like whoever wrote it did not even finish 7th grade? You probably wouldn’t. Those people would have a tough time thinking that the writer is some sort of authority. They wouldn’t trust the content.

It all Boils Down to Trust and Branding

Let’s put it this way, if you don’t trust something that you read, are you likely to take the advice of whatever it is that you’re reading? Probably not. Most people think exactly like you. This is why there is a tremendous demand for proofreading. A lot of companies produce an enormous amount of materials for their chief. Online content is now outsourced on a large scale on the Internet. In fact, almost all online publishers outsource the actual reading, writing, researching and outlining of their materials.

It’s not like they can’t do this type of activity in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe. They definitely can. The problem is skill. A lot of these publishers have such large-scale operations that they simply run into Manpower issues. They merely don’t have the labor for it. In addition, keep in mind that a lot of online publishers are based in countries that have high labor rates. In Australia, the minimum wage is so high that it’s really very expensive to hire somebody to write blog post after blog post.

Not surprisingly, a lot of these companies turn to content developers or producers in places like the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, and other places. These are places that have a lot of people who speak English as a second language. These are millions upon millions of people with awesome English skills. Still, as educated, qualified and professional as these offshore writers may be, the stakes do fall between the cracks. Since English is not their first language, there are idiomatic or standard phrase errors that they make. People just talk a certain way or write a certain way in certain cultures. That’s just the way it is. Your job, given this background, it is no surprise that online publishers will always need proofreaders.

Are you qualified to be an Online Proofreader?

Now that you understand that there is a huge demand for proofreading, the next question is: Do you have the qualifications for proofreading online materials? The surprising answer is yes. Seriously. If you finished high school in the United States, or you finished college in a country that speaks English as a second language, there is a very high chance that you are qualified to proofread online documents.

This is especially true if you spend a lot of time reading a lot of blog posts, articles, and other materials written in the English language. The more familiar you are with English text, the higher the likelihood that you have the basic skills needed to proofread online documents competently.

What is the job of an Online Proofreader?

An online proofreader has to do the following:

– Spot obvious grammar issues
– Identify and fix misspellings skipped by online checkers and tools
– Identify and correct logic issues and discrepancies in the text
– Fix any formatting problems

As you can tell, a larger part of the job of a proofreader doesn’t just focus on technical issues. Those people can spot a typo a mile away. Now, most people can be counted on to fix a typo fairly quickly. It’s the inconsistencies and logical problems of sentences and paragraphs that take a lot more work.

This really is the meat and potatoes of an online proofreaders’ job. Let’s face it, if your job is just to identify simple typos, those are probably taken care of by a trained piece of software. You have a job as a proofreader because you actually get to read and understand the materials. You use your common sense. You pay attention to what the text is saying, and you compare it or you reference it with your experience to see if it’s right. Does it make sense on a shallow level? Does it make sense on a deeper level?

What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing Online Content?

A lot of people mistake proofreading with editing. In fact, there are a lot of online ads for freelancers that seem to confuse the two. Here’s the problem: You have no business taking a proofreaders pay for editing work. Seriously. You are selling yourself short. Editing is a type of work that takes place on a completely different level.

What Proofreading is

Proofreading is primarily all about typos and fairly shallow structural issues with a document. That’s basically it. If something is proofread, a lot of the shallow and most obvious issues are taken care of. The result is a document that is polished and clean. However, if you are looking to produce the very best blog post online article or book, that’s not good enough. Clean is no way near the standard that you should be shooting for.

What Editors Bring to the Table

An editor actually reads through the book and makes judgment calls regarding the content of the book. Proofreaders on the other hand, focus on the form of the content. Whether it’s a blog post, an article or a book, the review is restricted primarily to the actual form. This means moving paragraphs around, changing words around, using one type of word instead of another type, cleaning up any kind of grammatical issue, making sure that the piece looks professional. Even so, that’s the best they can do.

The Difference Between Proofreaders and Editors: Editors Go Deep

Editors can go deep into the guts of the article, the blog post, and make radical changes. They can even redirect the whole focus of the article. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with how shallow the blog post treats a particular subject, so they bounce the material back to whoever wrote it. They would ask a lot of questions, and they would say that a lot of these are not addressed by your blog post. You make all sorts of promises, but you fail to deliver because of reason number one, two three, and so on and so forth.

Editors are basically managers of the context. They get that right. They have the authority to demand more of the author. Proofreaders on the other hand, are simply freelancers given the task of polishing something that somebody has made. It’s like I create a vase. Maybe I cut glass or use some sort of composite material, but I end up creating a vase. When I give it to you, and you’re the proofreader, all you are authorized to do is to make sure that the edges are not sharp and the vase is shiny enough. So you polish it, you clean it up, you even put a label on it. It looks awesome. But that’s the best you can do. On the other hand, an Editor can smash the vase, and send it back to me in pieces and say, “Reassemble these parts so it would look different.” See the difference?

Remember, if you take a job as a Proofreader, you are not an Editor

If your client asks you to make editorial decisions regarding the material that you’re assigned, you need to refuse. You are being asked to do a set of duties that are way beyond your pay grade. A proofreaders job is essentially just to clean up. That’s pretty much the long and short of it. Anything else is editorial work. Editors make a lot more money than proofreaders precisely because they have a longer list of responsibilities.

Also, their decisions carry a lot more weight. If an editor makes the wrong call, the book, blog post or article is probably not going to be as effective as it could otherwise have been. That is how important editorial decisions are, and that is why they get paid way more than proofreaders.

Are you qualified to proofread online materials?

How do you know if you’re qualified to earn money as an online document proofreader? Here’s a quick checklist:

You have Excellent English Skills

You should take an online grammar test and score close to 100%. If you keep messing up certain basic concepts like subject-verb agreement, you probably are not ready to be a proofreader. You might want to tighten up your skills before you apply for such a job.

You Read a Lot

Excellent proofreaders never get tired of text. This is going to be a problem because to be an excellent proofreader, you basically have to run your eyeballs through every line of text in a document. You can’t say to the client that you just skipped every other line, or you just look at the big picture. They’re not going to take that for an answer. You drop the ball. You have to process the whole document, line after line after line.

The best way to get this type of focus and discipline is to simply get used to reading a tremendous amount of words every single day. Of course, this is not the kind of thing that you pick up overnight. You have to work at it. Maybe you can make it a point to read five articles a day. And then once you become comfortable, go on up to seven articles, and after that ten. Scale it up until you reach a point where you are essentially processing tens of thousands of words every single day.

Here’s the good news: Properly trained readers can actually read over 100,000 words every single day. It takes quite a bit of patience, focus and training, but people do get there. You need to be one of these people if you truly want to be a good proofreader.

You have to know the right Proofreader tools

You have to be aware of tools like WhiteSmoke, Grammarly, and other online checkers. These tools are great because they do pretty much 50% of your job for you. This leaves the other half, which you have to take responsibility for. You have to actually read the materials line by line and make sense of what’s going on so you could look for inconsistencies and other structural problems and fix them.

You have to be a Good Writer

Since a key part of proofreading are identifying problems with the text, and then correcting it, this means that you actually have to know how to write. I’m not just talking about somebody who is literate. I’m talking about somebody who actually knows how to right well. The funny thing about most proofreader job ads is, they tend to focus on a proofreaders ability to spot errors. While that skill forms a big part of the job’s requirements, the other half is missing.

So what? You’re able to spot the problems. The problem will still remain unless you clean it up yourself, or you bounce it back to the writer. Normally, a lot of online publishing companies simply have too many projects. The writer who produced the piece of content that you have proofread and had problems with has moved on to another set of writing assignments. Usually, they can’t be bothered to backtrack and revise whatever it is that they produced. You’re going to have to step up. You’re going to have to clean it up yourself.

This is why it’s really important for proofreaders to have solid writing skills. They can’t just point out the problems and expect other people to clean up the issues that they have spotted. Usually, it’s all about spotting the problem and solving the problem yourself.

Where to get Online Proofreading Jobs

If you’re looking to freelance as an Online Proofreader, the good news is that you can find this type of work pretty much all over the Internet. Here are just the three basic types of websites you could check:

Freelance Platforms

The most obvious choice for proofreaders looking for work are online freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and These websites cater to global clients looking for specific types of services. Proofreading is a very highly demanded skill set, so these platforms have quite a large number of proofreaders advertising their services or clients posting their projects looking for proofreading services.

Classifieds Sites

A lot of large classified ad websites like Craigslist, have a writing and editing section. You might want to check those types of websites to find proofreading work. There is a tremendous amount of demand for this type of service from classified ad sites because this type of service is periodic. People don’t need a proofreader 365 days a year. A lot of companies simply go to Craigslist to post periodic jobs when they produce a batch of documents or content that they need proofed.

Job sites

Interestingly enough, one of the most consistent sources of proofreading jobs that I have seen are job sites. Now, you may be thinking that you’re a freelancer, and you just want to work from time to time instead of taking on a full-time job, why am I recommending a jobsite? Well, a lot of companies that advertise for proofreader jobs actually don’t want to hire somebody long-term. You’re doing them a big favor by saying to them that “I’d like to apply for the proofreader job, but I only want a short-term engagement.” This way they don’t have to worry about keeping you on the team for a very long time.

They don’t have to worry about additional costs like insurance, and wage increases, or any of that. Instead, they just look at the services that you offer on a project per project basis as a means of not only saving money, but giving them the flexibility to move from project to project. If you set it up right, and you approach the right people through jobsite, your search for proofreading work can definitely produce a win-win situation.

The Final Word on Proofreading for extra online income

To be successful as an online proofreader, you can’t wait for clients to come to you. You really can’t. You have to be proactive. You have to hit the three sources that I mentioned above. You also have to have your portfolio ready. Your portfolio should consist of the original source material, and your cleaned up version. The difference must jump out at the reader. This is why you should save the worst drafts that you’ve come across, and then clean it up. Do an amazing job cleaning them up and making them look professional. If you do this right, whoever reads the before and after pieces can easily tell that you are a professional.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to keep in touch with people you’ve done proofreading work before. A lot of these companies and individual business people are actually too busy to put out ads. They need proofreading work because they’re cranking out content but they simply just don’t have the time to put up an ad or go to freelance platforms to scout for a freelancer.

When you take the initiative, and you go through your list of past clients that you’ve actually delivered materials to, you tap into a very powerful source of sales. But if I told you that the cheapest and easiest way to generate a new business is through old customers. These people already know your work. They’ve already seen what you’re capable of. That is why it is easier to convince them to place a new order.

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