Business Overview

A proofreader reviews the written word in its various forms for clients and corrects for spelling, punctuation, and typos. To start a proofreading business, you must have a strong command of language usage, spelling, and punctuation. Depending on your clientele, you might be reviewing and correcting the language used in books, magazine articles, web content, ads, packaging, student assignments, or virtually any other vehicle of written communication.

Who is this business right for?

In addition to being a meticulous writer from a mechanical standpoint, you must be the kind of person who pays close attention to detail. Keep in mind, a proofreader is not the same as an editor. You’re not reviewing what your clients are trying to communicate, but rather how they write it in terms of spelling, punctuation, typographical errors, and word usage.

What happens during a typical day at a proofreading business?

Today, most of your work will be acquired and executed online, so you’ll spend plenty of time behind your computer screen. Also keep in mind that everything you write online will be seen as an example of your work, so be careful. You don’t want to be thought of as the proofreader with too many typos or spelling mistakes. Here’s how your time might break down.

  • Attending to your online presence in terms of posting to your blog, contributing to social media, and updating/upgrading your website content.
  • Interacting with prospective clients, usually online but possibly by phone, or even face to face if they’re located near you
  • Proofreading your assigned materials, and addressing client comments

What is the target market?

Anyone who writes for the public and requests proofreading assistance is a potential client. This could include editors and publishers, authors, business owners, or corporate communications clients, website owners, college and even high school students, ad agency creative directors, and the owners of small public relations firms, among many other client types.

How does a proofreading business make money?

You’ll charge your business or personal clients for your work. This might take the form of a per-page, per-word, or per-hour fee structure.

What is the growth potential for a proofreading business?

The business has picked up recently in at least one market area with the upswing of self-published novels. While authors in conventional editorial relationships can rely on their publishers to attend to proofreading responsibilities, independent authors are on their own. However, the proofreading field is highly competitive so it’s important that you carve out a niche where you can effectively compete.