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If you have a knack for grammar, an eye for typos, and a serious passion for the English language, you can earn an average of $54,290 per year as an online proofreader.
Better yet, you can work from home (or anywhere with an internet connection!), set your own schedule, and work as much—or as little—as you want.
But if you’re new to the game, you may be a little lost.
Plus, scammers are everywhere. You need to protect yourself from scams and find legit opportunities that’ll pay your bills.
It’s definitely tough out there for new remote workers.
So we want to set you up for success.
By the end of this guide, you will know:
- What proofreading jobs really are, and what they involve
- What skills or certifications you need, if any
- How much money you can expect to make as an online proofreader
- How to find legit proofreading jobs for students, parents, writers, and anyone else looking for more income
- Plus other tips like what tools and software you need, how to avoid scams, and more
Welcome to your online proofreading career – let’s start!
Table of Contents
- What does an online proofreader do?
- What qualifications do online proofreaders need?
- How much do entry-level online proofreading jobs pay?
- What kind of jobs can you get as an online proofreader?
- The Best Places to Find Proofreading Jobs Online
- Must-Have Tools for Online Proofreading Jobs
- Being a Freelance Proofreader Online: The Good, The Bad, the Boring
- Advanced Tips: How to Market Yourself as a Pro Proofreader
- Don’t Become a Victim of Proofreading Job Scams
- Final Words
What does an online proofreader do?
Proofreading is the last part of the writing, editing, and publishing process, focusing on surface errors, such as misspellings, typos, and missing words.
As a proofreader, it’s your job to clean up the content before it goes ‘live,’ aka posted offline or online.
Proofreaders check for:
- spelling mistakes
- grammar errors
- inconsistencies with formatting
- missing punctuation marks
- ambiguous language
- repetition of words or phrases
- incorrect word choice
- run-on sentences or comma splices
- unclear references to time or place, etc.
- and many more
It’s a tedious but critical job, which is why proofreaders are so in demand.
Proofreading vs. Editing
Proofreading and editing are often lumped together, but they’re different.
Editing focuses on the big picture (structure, tone, language, logic) while proofreading focuses on the details (typos, grammar, spelling, punctuation).
A good editor will look at a written work and ask themselves questions like:
- Is the piece written in a style that is appropriate for the audience?
- Does it make sense?
- Is it too long/too short/filled with unnecessary information?
- Are there any style issues (passive voice, wordiness, “deadwood,” etc.)?
A good proofreader will look at a written work and ask themselves questions like:
- Is this the correct spelling?
- Do I need to rephrase this section for clarity?
- What punctuation would make this sentence better?
- Is this the right word for this sentence?
Together, editing and proofreading turn a written draft into a masterpiece.
Who Uses Proofreaders?
The short answer is anyone who wants to put out the best writing possible.
But here’s a longer (but not complete) list:
- Marketing agencies and marketing departments of companies large and small
- Content creators for web and print media
- In-house editors for publishing houses and independent authors
- Online content creators such as bloggers
- Businesses with technical documentation (think user manuals, product instruction booklets, etc.)
- Freelancers who need to have their work reviewed before they submit it to clients
- Students who want to hand in error-free papers, reports, or other academic documents
- Creators of visual content like videos or infographics
- People who don’t speak English as a first language and need an extra hand polishing their content
What qualifications do online proofreaders need?
Do I need to have a degree to proofread?
No. Degrees and certifications are good to have, but they’re not required.
In the world of freelance proofreading, employers look for a few basic things:
- Computer Skills
Unlike other traditional proofreaders who work on paper or by hand, online proofreaders work on a computer.
At the most basic level, you should know how to use email, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and search engines like Google.
Want to stand out from other beginner proofreaders? Familiarize yourself with the following:
- Time tracking software like Time Doctor (commonly used for hourly proofreading projects)
- Project management software like Slack and Asana
- Google Workspace tools like Sheets, Slides, and Drive
- Microsoft Office tools
- Video conferencing software like Zoom for online meetings with clients
- Online chat/messaging apps like Discord, WhatsApp, and Skype
These are common tools that clients use when working with any freelancer, not just proofreaders.
If you know how to use them, that’s one less barrier to getting hired.
- Ability to follow directions
In some companies, proofreaders need to work on multiple documents for different clients or brands.
Employers want someone who can quickly understand the topic and apply a variety of style guidelines.
For some proofreading jobs, you’ll be working with sensitive documents like legal files, financial reports, etc.— you need to keep information safe.
Proofreading jobs often require you to work on different topics at different times of the day.
You need to switch gears easily without losing your focus or getting distracted by outside factors.
And finally, employers look for an online proofreader who is reliable and consistent in what he or she does—especially with delivering high-quality work on time!
Should I take proofreading courses?
You don’t really need a course to proofread online, but it’s definitely a huge plus!
If you’re a beginner, getting some proofreading lessons under your belt can help you land better gigs in the long run:
- Some of the more advanced proofreading skills you learn in classes, such as how to edit documents using the APA, Chicago, and MLA citation styles, will keep your resume fresh.
- You’ll also discover amazing proofreading tools that can make you a better and faster proofreader.
- It shows that you have initiative plus the commitment to your personal and professional growth.
So if you want to take a course, we say go for it!
You can easily find a ton of free proofreading courses online.
How much do entry-level online proofreading jobs pay?
The hourly rate for an online proofreader with no experience ranges from $9 to $25 or more per hour.
There are a few factors that can influence proofreading salaries:
- The type of proofreading you’re doing (editing, content writing, etc.)
- Who you’re working for (individuals, small businesses, established companies)
- Which online platform you get the job from
- Where your employer is (e.g., companies in San Francisco, CA offer some of the highest rates for proofreading jobs)
What kind of jobs can you get as an online proofreader?
No matter what platform you use – Upwork, Fiverr, job boards, etc. – online proofreading jobs are pretty much the same.
As long as it’s written content, it needs a proofreader.
Here are a few examples:
- Web content for websites and blogs
- Marketing ads
- Content for social media posts, emails, and newsletters
- All types of scripts
- Proofreading transcriptions
- Product descriptions for e-commerce sites
- Marketing emails and marketing collateral (flyers, newsletters, brochures, etc.)
- Personal documents like wills, birth certificates, and wedding speeches
- Legal documents and contracts
- Instruction manuals
- Book manuscripts and memoirs
- Resumes, cover letters, and personal statements for job applications
- Research papers
- Business reports and presentations
The types of industries, companies, and clients are as endless as proofreading tasks.
The takeaway? Online proofreaders will never run out of work.
The Best Places to Find Proofreading Jobs Online
To start earning money as a proofreader, you need to know where to find the best jobs — the ones that pay well and provide regular work, whether you want a full-time or a part-time gig.
Don’t worry: you don’t need to start from scratch.
We explored job boards, forums, review sites, and other sources to find the best places on the internet for proofreading gigs.
Here are our criteria:
- Beginner-friendly: There should be available jobs for people with no proofreading experience
- Easy to use: The site should be easy to figure out even for first-time freelancers
- Full of useful resources: Are there coaching and freelance guides for newbies? Do they have tutorials? How much support do they give new freelancers?
- Reliable online payment methods: They should use secure online payment methods like PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, etc.
- Variety and number of proofreading jobs: Can you actually find proofreading jobs on the site?
- Variety of project types: Freelance proofreaders should be able to choose between full-time employment, part-time work, or project-based assignments.
The result is a powerful list to jumpstart your online proofreading career.
Let’s dive in!
Upwork is an online site that connects freelancers and clients, making it perfect for beginner proofreaders.
Average proofreader rates on Upwork are $18 to $35/hr, but experienced proofreaders can charge $100 or more per hour for more specialized niches like legal, tech, and medical.
You can get paid on Upwork weekly or after finishing a project/task (there’s an automatic 5-day security hold).
What’s great about Upwork is the escrow system – clients will deposit the payment for the project before you even begin a proofreading task. It means you don’t have to worry about getting paid.
How to sign up on Upwork:
- Sign up on the Upwork website.
- Complete your freelancer’s profile 100% before applying for jobs.
- Search for proofreading and editing jobs you think you can do.
- Submit a bid to apply.
Indeed is one of the largest and best job boards in the world. It attracts millions of job seekers every single month – including those who are looking for entry-level proofreading jobs.
You can earn anywhere from $0.50 – $5 or more per word as a freelance proofreader.
The pay will vary depending on the type of project you work on. For example, proofreading legal documents generally pays more per word than editing articles for a blog or website.
How to sign up on Indeed:
- Create an Indeed account and fill out your profile.
- Wait to get verified.
- After you get approved, explore proofreading jobs on Indeed.
- Apply to the jobs that interest you.
FlexJobs offers remote, flexible, and part-time proofreading job opportunities.
They charge a small fee for membership, but it’s also worth every penny.
FlexJobs vets all jobs before listing them on their boards, so you’ll only find legitimate proofreading jobs online on their site.
You also get full access to career coaching, webinars, resume reviews, and ongoing support.
Most FlexJobs projects pay between $15 and $30 per hour. Some positions offer benefits like health insurance or retirement plans. You can get paid by PayPal or check depending on your preference.
How to sign up on FlexJobs:
- Use this link to Register on FlexJobs.
- Choose a membership plan and pay after registration.
- Get immediate access to online proofreading jobs on FlexJobs.
Fiverr is a freelance marketplace where you can sell proofreading services to clients.
You can make anywhere from about $5 to $250 per project, depending on the complexity and how much the client is willing to pay.
How to sign up on Fiverr:
- Sign up at Fiverr’s website.
- Create a profile and fill out the information about yourself.
- No need to wait for approval – start posting your proofreading services and wait for clients!
Scribendi is a great resource for beginners because it puts you in direct contact with proofreading clients, so you can get feedback on your work.
The hourly rate of Scribendi proofreaders ranges from $10 to $45 an hour, paid monthly through Payoneer.
How to get online proofreading jobs on Scribendi:
- Go to Scribendi.
- Fill out the information fields with your details.
- To proceed, you need to agree to the work-related questions on the page.
- Finish your application.
- Wait for approval.
- Start applying for proofreading jobs.
Scribbr is a great resource for beginning proofreaders because they have a large client base of students who need help with their writing, making it easy to find work.
As long as you’re willing to do the work, you can make a decent amount of money on Scribbr as a beginner—around $15-$20/hour.
How to apply as a Scribbr editor:
- Take the language quiz.
- If you pass, they will send you the editor application form.
- Complete three assignments.
- Wait for Scribbr to review your application.
- If you’re accepted, you’ll undergo the Scribbr academy.
- Start earning money as a Scribbr editor.
ProofreadingServices.com is a great place to start if you have no experience.
While it does require an assessment, the application process is extremely easy, and the pay is competitive.
Beginners can make around $19 to $46 per hour and can be paid through PayPal.
How to apply to ProofreadingServices.com:
- Use this online application form.
- Fill out your information.
- Take the 15-minute multiple-choice quiz.
- Answer the writing sample section.
- Complete the professional experience checklist.
- Submit your application.
- After you get approved, you can start taking proofreading jobs.
Gramlee is another terrific site for newbie proofreaders.
It’s a great way to gain experience and learn how to work with different manuscripts. No degrees or prior experience is required, and they’re always hiring.
Proofreaders on Gramlee earn around $10 to $18 per hour.
How to apply as a Gramlee proofreader:
- Fill out this 2-page Gramlee employment application.
- Wait for them to get in touch and give you the go signal.
- Choose your availability.
- Start taking proofreading assignments.
On Freelancer, proofreaders can expect to earn an hourly rate of $10-$20+.
Payments are made on a set schedule, and proofreaders can choose from different payment methods.
How to sign up to Freelancer.com:
- Sign up on the Freelancer.com website.
- You can use your email or Facebook login.
- Choose a username.
- Enter the job board.
- Select your top proofreading skills.
- Fill out your personal information and upload a photo.
- Verify your account through email.
- Start searching and applying for proofreading jobs.
Domainite is a company that offers online marketing services. They hire freelance proofreaders to improve content for their client’s websites, blogs, social media, email campaigns, etc.
The pay is low at $0.25 per 100 words, but if you’re looking for experience and material for your portfolio, it’s something to consider.
It’s also a useful option if you want to niche down proofreading web content.
How to apply as a proofreader on Domainite:
- Apply here.
- Fill out your personal information.
- Complete a short editing test.
- Confirm that you know how to track changes on Microsoft Word.
- Submit your application.
- Wait for them to reach out and schedule an interview.
- If approved, they’ll start assigning proofreading jobs to you.
Must-Have Tools for Online Proofreading Jobs
Working from home as a proofreader is a dream come true for many people.
You get to set your own hours, work in your pajamas, and have no need to deal with the terrible commute and annoying office politics.
However, it requires some special tools to make sure you can work effectively and efficiently.
Get these ready:
First, and most importantly, you need a laptop or computer.
While you could get by with just a tablet, it’s much easier to have a full-sized keyboard at your disposal while typing.
We also recommend having at least 8 GB of RAM and an i5 processor (or equivalent) in your computer for processing power and speed.
Internet & Word Processor
You will also need an Internet connection (preferably high-speed), as well as some word processing software like Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
These are standard programs that most people already have installed on their computers, but if not, they’re free to download or use online.
Online Payment Account
Of course, make sure clients can pay you for your proofreading services.
Look up PayPal, Payoneer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other options to see which one is right for you. Most of them are free to sign up and only take a minimal transaction fee.
Being a Freelance Proofreader Online: The Good, The Bad, the Boring
Being an online proofreader is awesome, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
Here’s an honest look at the pros and cons of working from home as a proofreader:
Pros of Being an Online Proofreader
- Limitless earning potential
You can set your own rates depending on your experience and specialty, so there’s no cap on what you can make.
Even better? If you have a knack for juggling multiple clients at once, nothing is stopping you from working for more than one person or company at a time!
- You can be picky about clients
In addition to setting your own rates, you get to choose who you work with.
With a little bit of networking and savvy business sense, it’s possible to build a sustainable client list that’ll keep you busy with proofreading projects for months (and maybe even years) to come.
- Work on proofreading projects you actually like
Aside from filtering your clients, you also have the freedom to pick and choose which projects interest you the most.
That means if legal jargon isn’t your thing, but novels are, then you have the luxury of focusing solely on book proofreading jobs instead of being forced into taking on every job that comes along.
- Work from anywhere
Being an online proofreader means you can work exactly where you are the most comfortable and at your peak—whether that’s in your bed or on the beach.
- No dress code
Wear whatever is comfortable and work in your pajamas if that’s what floats your boat.
- Set your own schedule
This means that you can take time off whenever you need to—whether it’s for a quick trip to Target, a dentist appointment, or for your niece’s birthday party.
As long as you can meet your proofreading deadlines, you have 100% control over your time.
Cons Of Being An Online Proofreader
As with every job, there are some things you ought to know before you take the leap.
Here are potential downsides to working as a proofreader online:
- It requires a lot of discipline
You are your own boss, which means it’s easy to slack off if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
It can also be hard to focus on your work with everything going on at home, especially if you’re sharing your workspace with family members.
Boredom can also strike at any time. And since you’re at home, it’s so easy to fire up Netflix, play with the cat, or take a nap instead of forcing yourself to work.
- You pay for your own work expenses
And then there’s the fact that online proofreaders have to pay for their own equipment: computers, internet costs, office supplies, and sometimes even training programs.
This can make it tough if you’re on a tight budget or if you don’t have access to credit cards and other forms of funding.
- There are no employment benefits
You won’t receive benefits through an employer when you work as a proofreader because employers don’t provide benefits unless they’re legally obligated to do so—and they’re not legally obligated in this case.
- The pay can be unstable
Another potential problem is that working online means there’s no guarantee that you’ll always have work.
And because cash flow is so inconsistent, expect some weeks where all your money goes straight toward bills, and others where you have enough leftover cash for a nice dinner with friends or family.
- There’s potential for burnout
When it’s so easy to just walk over to the next room and start work without having to go through a commute or change into work clothes, it can be tempting just to “keep going” when you’re almost done with a project.
This can lead to burnout over time, especially if you don’t take regular breaks and enjoy downtime during your days off.
Ultimately, as long as you set realistic expectations and establish boundaries, earning money as an online proofreader is a terrific option despite the potential downsides.
Advanced Tips: How to Market Yourself as a Pro Proofreader
Even as a beginner, the difference between earning small or big pay is in how you market yourself. Here are some tips:
Set Up a Professional Editing Website
If you’ve never created a website before, you may be nervous about getting started. But don’t stress! Creating an online proofreading website is a lot easier than it sounds.
Plus, having your own website can help your career in several ways. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- It gives you more credibility as an online proofreader.
- You can use it to advertise your proofreading services.
- You can include testimonials, to show potential clients why they should hire you instead of other freelance proofreaders.
- It makes it much easier for clients to find and contact you!
No need to be a tech whiz – here’s how to build your proofreading website for free.
When you’re first starting out as a proofreader, it can be tempting to cast your net wide.
But if you want to land big clients and make serious money, it’s better to go narrow.
What It Means To Niche Down
When you niche down as a proofreader, it means that you specialize in a specific type of writing, such as blogs, fiction novels, resumes, or articles about finance.
This can help set you apart from other proofreaders and attract clients who are looking for someone with your exact skill set.
How To Choose A Niche
This depends on your own interests and skills.
If you like baking and are really good at it, maybe you want to focus on proofreading recipes. If you like reading and writing fiction, maybe you want to focus on novels.
Imagine what kind of proofreading clients would bring you the most joy: Do they love working with pets? Are they entrepreneurs?
The more specific your answer is, the better—but don’t feel like it has to be set in stone right off the bat. You can figure it out along the way as you get more experience doing proofreading jobs.
Start cold pitching and do it often
Cold pitching is a term used to describe sending an unsolicited email to a client, asking them to hire you for a job.
It’s called “cold” because you have no previous relationship with the client—you’re just reaching out and asking for an opportunity.
Some proofreaders might be hesitant about cold pitching at first.
After all, it can be nerve-wracking to send emails out into the world and hope someone responds, especially when you’re new to the field.
But it can also be a great way to get started as an online proofreader.
Here are some tips that will help:
- Keep your pitch short and sweet; think one paragraph or less.
- Be clear about what you can do in that first paragraph. For example, how long have you been proofreading? What projects have you worked on? What is your background?
- Proofread your pitch. Even if English isn’t the recipient’s native language, they’ll be able to tell if your pitch is riddled with errors, so make sure it’s polished before you hit “send.”
Don’t Become a Victim of Proofreading Job Scams
Here’s a harsh truth: fraudsters are using proofreading job posting sites to scam beginners like you out of money and personal information.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
You know in your heart what your skills are worth, so don’t let anyone talk you down from that.
But if the job post promises the moon—like if they claim they’ll pay you $500/hour when most professional proofreaders charge around $20/hour—it might be a scam.
Don’t ignore your intuition!
Do some digging
The internet is full of information about people, so if something about an ad seems suspicious, look into it.
Google the company name and see what comes up. Are there multiple complaints about them?
Do any other proofreaders warn against working with them? Searching for reviews online can give you a better idea of whether or not a company is legit.
Look at their website… or lack thereof
Many scams start with a website that looks like a real company.
If the site looks sketchy or the company has misspelled words, or if the site is asking for too much information (like your credit card number or social security number), then it’s likely not a legitimate business.
Here are ten more scams that target online freelancers.
All in all, a proofreading online job can be one of the more rewarding freelance gigs out there even for beginners.
You can earn money at home, connect with interesting companies and individuals, and even have some fun along the way.
Just make sure to do your research and keep an eye out for scams. Good luck!