Are you a lifelong reader? Can you spot a grammatical error from a mile away? If so, then a side hustle as a proofreader might be the right choice for you.
A side hustle is any kind of job or task that a person can do to earn extra cash in addition to their regular, 9-to-5 job. Finding the right side hustle can be difficult, but one option that is increasingly in high demand in the market is proofreading.
Since one of the basic requirements of a side hustle is that it can be done anytime (evenings, early mornings, during lunch breaks, etc.) and from anywhere with a WiFi connection, proofreading absolutely fits the bill.
But what exactly do proofreaders do? And how can you get started proofreading as a side hustle?
This article will take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of this particular side hustle and give you a step-by-step guide to getting started.
TL;DR: How to Proofread as a Side Hustle?
Although it helps to have prior professional or academic experience, if you’ve decided that proofreading is the right side hustle for you, the only thing you’ll need to get started is a computer with a fast internet connection and a way to market yourself to potential clients.
What Do Proofreaders Do?
A professional proofreader does the final check on written work before it’s published.
Their job is to review the text carefully for spelling and grammatical errors and to ensure that it is as polished as possible before publication.
Proofreaders can work for more traditional outlets such as newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and journals, as well as more contemporary options like businesses, corporations, websites, and blogs.
Some proofreaders specialize in particular areas, such as academic proofreading or business communication proofreading.
No matter the area, a proofreader must have a sharp eye and an innate understanding of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
How to Proofread as a Side Hustle
Getting started with a proofreading side hustle isn’t hard: in fact, it’s one of the easiest side hustles in terms of material requirements and qualifications. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.
If you’re considering starting a side hustle as a proofreader, the good news is you don’t need anything that you don’t (probably) already have. In other words, the startup costs are very low – or even nonexistent!
- A strong WiFi or cable internet connection
- A laptop or desktop computer
- A clean, quiet place to work
- Access to a printer (not always required, but often)
- An up-to-date, polished resume or CV that lists any relevant professional or academic experience
And that’s it! Proofreading is a truly flexible side hustle in that it can be done anytime and from pretty much anywhere, allowing you to fit projects and assignments into your schedule easily.
Of course, the basic materials aren’t the only things you need to be a successful proofreader. You’ll also need the basic skills required to excel at the job. These include:
- A high level of expertise with grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as an innate sense of stylistic elements of language, such as tone, voice, pacing, and readability.
- A careful eye for detail (after all, proofreaders are hired specifically to catch the tiniest mistakes that others may have missed).
- Prior academic or professional experience with writing or editing (not required, but very helpful).
- Knowledge of style guides and ability to follow them carefully.
- A love for reading and writing (let’s be honest, it’s hard to do your best work if you don’t like what you’re doing!)
If this list has left you doubtful about whether proofreading is the right side hustle for you, don’t worry! There are tons of other great side hustle options you can explore, including other ‘micro-tasker’ side hustles that allow you to earn cash without taking too much time out of your day.
On the other hand, if you think you’ve got the skills to turn proofreading into a successful side hustle, then it’s time to find clients.
How to Market Your Proofreading Side Hustle
Once you’ve decided you want to start a side gig as a proofreader, the obvious next step is to start finding clients.
There are several ways to do this, and employing a combination of all of them is the best way to ensure that you’ll have the most success.
1. Check Out Employment Sites & Job Boards
Where better to find a job than on an employment search platform like Indeed or Glassdoor?
Although sites like these are generally associated with full-time, regular employment, plenty of companies and employers also post on these sites looking to hire part-time or project-based proofreaders.
Simply search “proofreader” and adjust the settings to “part-time” and “remote.” Have your resume and/or CV ready to go, and be sure to apply quickly to anything that looks like a good fit! The best jobs tend to go quickly, so searching frequently and applying fast is key.
One important thing to remember is that a part-time gig like this may come with less flexible expectations, particularly regarding the volume of work you take on and the time(s) of day when you get your work done.
If this is of concern to you, then a better option for you would be to…
2. Join a Freelance Platform
As the number of people looking to work remotely has boomed, so has the freelance marketplace industry.
A freelance marketplace is a site where prospective freelancers can make a profile advertising their particular set of skills, and potential clients can contact them for projects that fit their talents.
Popular freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com are essentially middlemen, helping to connect talented individuals with the clients who need them.
It’s free to make a profile and market yourself on most sites (although you’ll need to apply and go through a lengthy approval process if you want to market yourself on Toptal).
In your profile, be sure to mention any relevant qualifications you have, including past proofreading or editing projects that you’ve worked on.
One of the downsides of freelancing platforms is that you’re competing against potentially thousands of other candidates, so your qualifications are the best way for you to stand out from the crowd.
Not only do most of these platforms bring the clients directly to you, but they also allow you to bid on projects that you think you’d be a good fit for. Pitching directly to clients is another great way to stand out from the herd and start earning extra cash quickly.
Best of all, you can set your own hourly price – although you should be careful not to over- or underprice your work.
3. Make Your Own Portfolio Site
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to find a way to distinguish yourself from all the other proofreaders out there. Proofreading is a fairly competitive side hustle, so having an edge is crucial.
One way to give yourself a more professional appearance is to create a website for your proofreading services.
This can be a simple, one-page portfolio-style website that includes:
- Your name and contact information (a business email address is best)
- A professional photo (optional but recommended)
- A brief description of your skills and areas of expertise, plus any relevant biographical information
- Your updated CV and/or resume
- A list of previous proofreading work or relevant credits in the field (if any)
Don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy enough to build a website from scratch – very few people are! Fortunately, there are tons of great, no-code website builder tools that you can use to create a sleek, stylish website for a reasonable cost.
One of the best of these is Wix, which lets you choose from thousands of unique templates that you can then customize with an easy, drag-and-drop editing tool.
No matter which website builder you choose, the important thing is to make your website look as polished as possible (no typos or spelling mistakes, obviously!) and include any and all relevant work or educational experience that qualifies you to work as a proofreader.
If you’re just getting started, you may have to think creatively here and include things such as writing contests or prizes you’ve won (or even just a life-long love for reading).
Why should you become a proofreader?
One of the great things about proofreading as a side hustle is that it’s easy to get started, and the startup costs are relatively low.
In terms of physical materials, you’ll primarily need a computer and a fast internet connection (plus occasional access to a printer).
Because proofreading is a competitive field, it’s also good to have items on your resume that can boost your credibility in the field.
These could include prior experience in the field, a BA or MA in English, adjacent work experience (such as copywriting or editing), or even your own personal blog or writing samples.
How much do you get paid as a proofreader?
This will almost entirely depend on what your credentials are, as well as how much experience you have in the field.
That said, the average proofreader’s salary ranges from $15 to $50 an hour.
How can you start a proofreading business at home?
If you’ve decided to take your proofreading side hustle to the next level and turn it into a business, you’re going to need to devote more time to finding new clients and building up your portfolio of work.
The more work you’ve done, the more professional you will appear to new clients. Make sure you update your website to reflect your progress and advertise your business wherever possible.
For both professional credibility and tax purposes, you may want to consider founding an LLC (limited liability company).
Plenty of people have successfully turned their side hustles into a business, and there’s no reason you can’t be one of them. However, building your proofreading business will take a lot of time and effort, so you’ll need to prioritize it above other interests.
For more detailed information, check out my guide to turning your side hustle into a business.
The Bottom Line: Turning a Love for Words Into a Side Hustle as a Proofreader
All in all, proofreading can be a majorly rewarding side hustle.
Not only can you set your own schedule and take on as much or as little work as you can handle, but you’ll also get to earn money just by flexing your awesome spelling and grammar skills.
It may not be the easiest field to break into, but put in the work, and you’re sure to see the rewards.