If you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad, making money while traveling around the world, or just simply searching for ways to make extra cash for your next vacation, then becoming a freelance, online proofreader is the way to go. However, as with any job, there are both pros and cons of being a proofreader.
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I first started proofreading professionally while living abroad in Japan, and the extra income allowed me to spend many months backpacking around the entire country, from Okinawa to Hakone, Tokyo, and Kyoto.
While I absolutely love proofreading (and the money and freedom that it affords me), I have a fair bit of experience dealing with the downsides to working as a proofreader. So, if you’re wondering if proofreading is right for you, keep reading; today, I’ll go over the 15 biggest pros and cons of working as a proofreader.
☞ SEE ALSO: How to Become a Proofreader
Pros of Being a Proofreader
First, let’s focus on all of the incredible benefits of being a proofreader. Here is my list of the top nine advantages of working as a freelance, online proofreader:
1. You Can Work from Anywhere
First and foremost, the greatest advantage of working as an online proofreader is that you can do it from anywhere in the world. From a beach in the Caribbean to the mountains of Nepal, all you need to make money as a proofreader is an internet connection and a laptop.
This was the greatest allure for me when I first started out as a professional proofreader; I was looking for a way to make good money without being tied down to a specific location. Proofreading has allowed me to work while visiting countries including Japan, Scotland, Greece, Germany, and more!
2. It’s Easy to Get Started
Another great benefit of becoming a professional proofreader is that it’s surprisingly easy to get started. All you need is an internet connection, access to a laptop, and some basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation, (which most people already have). You don’t even need to invest in any special tools or software, Microsoft Word will do the trick, (although proofreading software can increase your efficiency).
All I had when I first started out as a proofreader was an old laptop and a Microsoft Office subscription, and I was set.
3. You Get to Be Your Own Boss
Another benefit of working as an online proofreader is that you get to be your own boss. Wave goodbye to having to deal with picky, micromanaging supervisors. By becoming an online proofreader, you’re open to start doing things your own way.
This is one of my favorite aspects of being a freelancer; you get to set your own hours and workload, which allows you to work when it’s most convenient for you. Not only does this give you more freedom and flexibility in terms of your schedule, but it also reduces stress and promotes a better work-life balance.
4. There is a High Demand for Proofreaders
Next, one of the greatest upsides of working as a proofreader is that there’s a high demand for them. With so much written content out there in the world (from emails, student papers, dissertations, novels, short stories, blog posts, news articles, and more), there’s always a need for proofreaders to ensure that written materials are free from grammar and punctuation errors.
5. There is a Lot of Flexibility
Another benefit of being an online proofreader is that there’s a lot of flexibility in the role. You can work when and where you want, take breaks when you need to, go to the grocery store in the middle of the day, and skip the rush hour traffic.
6. You Get to Choose Your Own Hours
If you’re still asking yourself “Is being a proofreader worth it?”, then consider one of my favorite advantages of being a proofreader: you get to choose your own hours.
If you’re most efficient in the middle of the night, you can work then. If your friend asks you to go to brunch on a Wednesday, you can go. As your own boss, you have the freedom to choose when you work, and how long you work for.
7. You Get to Choose Your Clients
Another one of the best parts of working as a proofreader is that you get to drop clients that you don’t enjoy working with.
Now, this might not be possible early on in your proofreading journey, as it can be challenging to find consistent proofreading work at the start. However, as you build up your experience and reputation, it’ll become easier and easier to drop the clients that you find challenging to work with.
8. There is a Lot of Variety
One of the reasons why I love working as a proofreader is that there’s a wide range of job opportunities available. Sometimes, I’ll proofread a sociology paper on cultural appropriation, and other times, I’ll go over a PowerPoint presentation on the life cycle of roundworms!
With such a wide variety of work available for proofreaders, it’s exciting to know you’ll likely learn something new every time you pick up a new job.
9. There are Many Websites Available to Find Work
Last but not least, one of the best parts of being a proofreader is that there are many different websites available to source and secure new jobs. From building up a client base on freelancing platforms such as Upwork and FlexJobs to joining a proofreading company like Scribendi and Scribbr, there are many websites available to help you find work.
Cons of Working As a Proofreader
Now that we’ve gone through all of the advantages of working as a proofreader, let’s focus on the disadvantages. These are the top six cons of being a proofreader:
1. It Takes Time to Build a Consistent Client Base
It can be difficult for beginner proofreaders to get steady work, as it takes a little time and patience to build a client base. And unfortunately, sourcing new clients and applying to new jobs doesn’t pay the bills. Consequently, it can take a while before you start making good money from proofreading.
2. Deadlines Can Be Tight
Another downside to working as a proofreader is that you may occasionally be inundated by strict deadlines. Whether you unintentionally confirmed too many jobs at once or you procrastinated, approaching deadlines can be super stressful. Moreover, if you don’t complete the work by the deadline, your professionalism, credibility, and pay can suffer.
3. You Might Have to Deal with Tricky Clients
Another significant disadvantage of working as an online proofreader is that you sometimes have to deal with tricky, picky, and bossy clients. And while it’s true that as a freelance proofreader, you can drop any clients that you don’t like working with, sometimes you have to deal with these overbearing clients due to a shortage of work. And trust me, it is not ideal.
4. The Work Can Get Repetitive
While I mostly enjoy proofreading, I admit that it sometimes gets boring. And when you’re dealing with a particularly repetitive or tenuous proofreading job, it can become downright painful. When I get these sorts of jobs, I simply try to grind through it, so I can get it done and over with ASAP.
5. It Can Be Isolating
If you’re still contemplating whether or not choosing to become a proofreader is a good option for you, then consider one of the biggest downsides of being a proofreader; you mostly work independently, with no co-workers or supervisors. While this can be an upside, it can also feel isolating.
To help curb these feelings of seclusion, I like to join Facebook groups and forums for online proofreaders. It’s a great way to seek advice and connect with fellow freelance proofreaders.
6. There is No Safety Net
Finally, one of the biggest downsides to proofreading is that it doesn’t provide a safety net. As a self-employed freelancer, your pay cheque is completely dependent on the amount of work you accomplish. So, if you’re experiencing a dry period with little to no work, you simply won’t get paid.
How to Find Proofreading Jobs
Now that we’ve gone over all of the pros and cons of being a proofreader, you may be wondering how to find proofreading work in the first place. To help you out, here are my top five recommendations for how to find proofreading jobs online:
- Through a proofreading course: One of the best ways to find work as a beginner proofreader is to take the Knowadays Becoming a Proofreader course (use promo code GOATS10 for 10% off), which comes with guaranteed work with their partner company, Proofed. This is one of the best investments you can make as an aspiring digital nomad, as it will teach you how to excel as a professional proofreader while providing consistent proofreading work thereafter.
- Upwork: As the largest freelance job platform out there, Upwork is packed with an abundance of proofreading work. This makes it the perfect website for both new and experienced proofreaders to secure new clients.
- FlexJobs: FlexJobs is one of the biggest websites to find freelance work, and its job board is filled with proofreading job opportunities. Although it costs $14.95 per month to access, the fee makes the jobs less competitive than those found on Upwork.
- Scribendi: A company focused on providing proofreading and editing services, Scribendi is constantly looking for new remote editors and proofreaders. I joined Scribendi when I first started proofreading, and it was amazing to get consistent work as a beginner; I definitely recommend checking it out.
- Scribbr: For a proofreading and editing company focused on student papers and dissertations, you have to check out Scribbr. While it can be tenuous to finish the application, you’ll be able to find consistent work once you’re accepted.
Pros and Cons of Working as a Proofreader: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about working as a proofreader:
There are many incredible benefits to working as a proofreader. You get to work from anywhere in the world, you have the flexibility to choose your own hours and be your own boss, and there’s a high demand for thorough and efficient proofreaders.
Proofreading can occasionally be stressful, especially if you procrastinate on some upcoming, strict deadlines. The best way to avoid stress is to finish your work early and to only accept jobs that you know you can handle given your current workload.
Yes, you can definitely make a living as a proofreader. However, it can take some time to build up a consistent client base and to maximize your speed and efficiency at proofreading. As a beginner proofreader, you can expect to make $12 to $15 per hour.
Some of the disadvantages of being a proofreader include having to deal with picky clients, being overwhelmed with strict deadlines, and occasionally working on repetitive, tedious jobs.
Yes, proofreaders definitely get paid well; on average, proofreaders make $25 to $45 USD per hour, depending on their experience, qualifications, efficiency, and subject area.
Proofreading can be an amazing career, especially if you’re detail-oriented, interested in reading a wide variety of papers and written work, and have a passion for grammar and punctuation.
Is Being a Proofreader Worth It?
Overall, only you can decide if the flexibility and ability to work remotely is worth the lack of benefits and the time it takes to build your client base and reap the rewards.
It also comes down to how much you like to proofread. If you love to search for the grammatical and spelling mistakes in a piece of writing, creating the perfect product for clients, then you would love working as a proofreader. But, if you hate nitpicking and prefer to look at the bigger picture, proofreading might not be right for you.
And if you’re still not sure if proofreading is right for you, I recommend trying it out regardless. That’s truly the best way to determine whether being a proofreader is your next path.