Tuesday, March 7, 2023

How to Get Started as a Proofreader Online

So you want to be a proofreader? It's a rewarding job that you can do from anywhere in the world! I have worked on Fiverr for 10 years, including while homeschooling my kids, while traveling with my husband for his job, watching my son at basketball practice, teaching at the homeschool co-op, on my back deck on gorgeous summer mornings, and so much more! 
To start proofreading on Fiverr, simply sign up. Then follow these steps and tips, and you'll soon find yourself with a successful work-from-anywhere business! 
1. Do some research and recon work — Start out with the main Writing & Translation section, then dive into the Proofreading section to find out how others are working their gigs. Some questions to keep in mind are:
How many words are others proofreading for $5? (Don't forget that Fiverr takes 20%, but consider: Fiverr is attracting the clients for you, handling the payments securely, and providing a platform for showcasing your work and glowing reviews.)
How fast is the turnaround? How quickly can you complete 500 words of proofreading (you can earn more if you can get a job back to a client quickly)
Personal experience: I started out proofing at a ridiculously low rate of 3,000 words for $5 (profit = $4) and got VERY busy but wasn’t making good money at all. Once I gained more experience, I was able to raise my price to $5 for 500 words. That may still seem low to some of you, but remember this is not developmental editing; this is simple proofreading/copy editing with a little formatting thrown in here and there for extra-great service. I often earn tips from clients because I provide professional service. 
*You can start by offering more words and then reduce the words per gig as you gain experience and reviews.*
2. Set up your gig — Fill in a wonderful profile with your photo and information about yourself. If you'd like to see my profile and gigs, I am here. After your profile is polished, create your first gig. After some time has passed and you've proven yourself as a star seller, you can create several more gigs. Later, you can also offer Gig Extras, like charging more for extra-fast delivery, proofreading more words, accepting a tip, etc. You need to decide if you want to proofread large projects or stick with small ones. You can adjust your delivery time later if you get swamped, and you can even put your gig on Vacation Mode.
Yes, there are tons of other proofers on Fiverr, so you have to stand out. Make a video to go with your gig and make sure you say your price is “exclusively on Fiverr” or it will be rejected.
3. Promote yourself — Now it's time to head to social media to promote your gig. Personally DM friends and family to let them know you've started a new business venture. 
It's rare that I just do a job for $5. Mostly I'm doing much larger jobs and creating custom offers for those jobs. I also will sometimes do a job within 24 hours for an extra fee of $15 (profit = $12 just for being fast, moving that client to the top of my queue, and clearing out my schedule for a bit). I have acquired many clients who return to me to proofread their book projects, some of which are quite large. Sometimes you even get tips!
Here are some questions I was asked recently:
1. On average, how long does it take to build a clientele base? Would I have to work full-time hours? You definitely don't have to work full-time hours, although it can be tricky sometimes depending on the client. The key is to be clear on boundaries. For instance, I let potential clients know that I'm not available on Sundays or Wednesdays. I recently had a potential client ask me for ongoing proofreading but always with a 24-hour turnaround. I told him the best I could do would be a 48-hour turnaround on business days only. We are getting along quite well, and this client introduced me to the concept of a Milestone on Fiverr (each Milestone is 20,000 words for $200 (net $160), and we keep track of word count on a shared Google Sheet; we communicate and share projects using Slack).
2. What would be a fair, average price? You'll have to decide that for yourself based on some research and also knowing your own skills. If you've got a bachelor's degree in English and have been proofreading and editing for 20 years, you've got to charge more! Fiverr even has a special section called Fiverr Pro where you can offer your services for much higher prices if you offer exceptional service. When I was new, I offered 2,500 words for $5 but now that I have 10 more years of experience and over 2,000 reviews, I charge $5 for 500 words. 
3. How would you calculate the price for each document? I charge by word count. If a resume is 650 words, that would count as two gigs of 500 words at $5 each. You might only charge $5 total for that. If they want it within 24 hours, I charge an extra $15. Keep in mind Fiverr keeps 20% of every sale, so I'm making $8 for that resume and $12 for the rush fee. Then buyers are always welcome to tip if they like :-) For book projects, I usually calculate a lower rate if the book is pretty clean already. So I might charge $5 per 750 words, giving the buyer a nice discount. 
Check out this post on 9 places where you can find a job as a proofreader! And please check out this post All About Making Money on Fiverr.

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