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If you have experience in proofreading and editing, setting up your own proofreading business can be a good way to monetise your skills. With a lot of proofreading software now attracting potential customers away from proofreaders, it's important to find your niche so you can stand out in the market.
Read on to find out how to set up your proofreading business for success.
A proofreading business helps clients review their written work so it's publication-ready. A good proofreader will correct any spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, and ensure the work meets any relevant style guide.
Before you launch your own proofreading business, it's important to have a clear plan. The following steps will help guide you through the process:
Starting your own proofreading business requires a lot of patience and diligence. You'll need to have an attention to detail and have a good grasp of the English language including grammar, punctuation, spelling and style.
As a professional proofreader, you will also need to be familiar with different style guides. A style guide is a document that provides guidelines for the way the work should be presented. Popular style guides include:
In addition, if you have corporate clients, they may have their own style guides for their content and branding which you need to be familiar with.
While you don't strictly need formal qualifications to start your business, having a degree in the relevant field will be a big help. Qualifications in English Language, English Literature, Journalism or Creative Writing can lay the initial foundations for a quality proofreading business.
In addition to certified professional qualifications and courses, there are many online courses that will help you develop proofreading skills. In an industry that continues to shift online, you'll find a whole database of courses on proofreading, copy editing and developmental editing.
Taking courses is just one way of gathering the skills and knowledge to start a proofreading business. There is a huge selection of books written by those who have turned their language skills into a successful enterprise.
A proofreading business will require a few important pieces of equipment and software. These may include:
Your business may also benefit from subscribing to proofreading software. Some popular proofreading software on the market today includes:
There are a few different ways to set up your proofreading business. Choosing the one that best suits your needs can depend on several factors, including the size of your business, how many employees you have and how many external investors you have in the business.
Here are a few of the most common ways to structure your business:
As a Sole Trader, your business is based around one single person, and every decision and responsibility rests with that Sole Trader. This is an ideal structure if you are one person working within a small business model and have a small turnover. One possible drawback from choosing this structure is that losses, debts and legal liabilities all lie with that one person.
A Partnership business is similar to a Sole Trader but involves two people instead of one. Both partners have equal rights in the company and must make decisions together. This can be a good choice for those going into business with a partner or friend.
Registering your business as a Company will treat the business as a separate entity to you and the employees. Although there is a bigger chance of having lots of set-up costs, a business can also sell shares to raise capital.
Most of the time, proofreading businesses might operate as a Sole Trader because it's an easy, cheap and effective way to set up a small company. However, as your business grows you may consider changing your legal structure to register it as a Company.
As with any new business, having the correct legal documents in place is important to safeguard your work.
Other useful documents may include a Data Sharing Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement, although most of the time the client will provide a copy. If you want to take on additional staff, you will also need an Employment Agreement.
Building up a customer base is important for the success of any business, and especially so in the world of proofreading. Most of the time, you will find customers through online sources, so having a strong business website is a great first step. It's a good idea to share a biography detailing your academic background, any relevant experience (for example working in an editing role) and post some of the projects you worked on.
In order to find customers, you can sign up to freelancing websites such a Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com, and online marketplaces like Airtasker. That way, you can actively respond to requests for proofreading work and get testimonials from clients. You can also browse Seek, Indeed and other job platforms for casual proofreading jobs.
Knowing how much to charge your customers can be a difficult decision to make. Proofreading businesses tend to charge by the word or by the number of pages you are reading. You can also charge your customer by the hour.
When deciding how much to charge, ask yourself:
What are the pros and cons of starting a proofreading business?
How can I market my proofreading business on social media?
When you work in a competitive industry, having a website alone may not be enough to attract clients. Many proofreaders have a presence on social media so potential clients can find them easily. Depending on your expertise, social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be useful if you use them to make connections with authors and other editors.
Are proofreading courses worth it?
Proofreading courses can provide even expert readers and writers a more effective way of approaching their work. You can fill gaps in your knowledge and learn to avoid outdated grammar rules. Completing a proofreading course can also help make a good impression on potential clients because it shows your commitment and professionalism.Back to top
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