Can I Be A Full-Time Proofreader?

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by elizabethjwiegner

How much can you realistically make as a proofreader?

Can that include making a full-time income as a proofreader?

It’s one of the biggest questions I get asked, but it’s not as easy as just quoting a ZipRecruiter’s salary rating for you.

For instance, ZipRecruiter says a full-time proofreader’s salary averages about $45,000 a year (with ranges between $20,000 and $75,000 a year),

But not everyone wants or needs a full-time business as a proofreader, and not everyone starts their proofreading business off with a full schedule of clients. (I was a part-time proofreader for over a decade because that’s what worked for what I wanted out of my business!)

There are a lot of factors that go into how much you can make as a proofreader. And it wouldn’t be fair (or even possible) for me to quote you a guarantee of what you can make. The awesome thing about proofreading is how much you make as a proofreader and whether you’re a full-time or part-time proofreader depends on YOU and what works with your schedule and the clients you want to work with.

In this proofreading live, I go deeper than a yearly salary range and break down what goes into making a full- or part-time income as a proofreader so you can see what makes sense for you and your proofreading business goals. Watch the live replay below or scroll down to read the transcript. (I share a screenshot of some of my own earnings as an example in the video!)

Resources

Links mentioned in live:

Hey there! Welcome to another proofreading live, and today we’re going to be talking about one of the most common questions that I have been getting as a proofreader. And that is can you be a full-time proofreader? I love that question because it means that you’re thinking big. You’re not wanting to go in and just half doing it. Maybe I want to do it. Maybe I don’t. You’re thinking I want to be a proofreader, and can I take this full time?

Now, there are full-time proofreaders. There are part-time proofreaders. Does full time work for you? Well, that’s what we’re going to be covering today, so let’s just dive right in!

The short answer is yes, you can be a full-time proofreader and -- I don’t want to put a but there because that kind of makes it seem like ugh. But and -- there is something you need to -- there are a few things that you need to consider before you decide to go full time as a proofreader, and we’re going to cover those right now.

So you can be a full-time proofreader. A few things -- that’s what I just said. All right, I’m not going through my slides very well. Full time means a different number to everyone -- where you live, what your lifestyle is, what your family size is. So when somebody first asks me, can I be a full-time proofreader, I don’t ever want to just say straight up, flat out, yes, you can be because I don’t know what your situation in life is, like what -- I obviously don’t need to know your finances. You know those the best.

And you know, it can be different where you live. Like my -- what I need full time as -- there’s two people in our household. I live in Oklahoma. It’s going to be different than maybe a family of five that’s living in New York City or in Los Angeles where the cost of living is a little bit higher. Full time is just going to be different depending on what your expenses are, where you live, and how much you actually need to make ends meet.

So I never want to just say straight upfront yes, you can do full time because it’s completely doable to make 20, 30, 40, maybe even $50,000 a year as a proofreader, and you also aren’t going to be probably making six figures as a proofreader. Now, here’s the thing. I want to put a little asterisk on that because it maybe like, oh, I was really hoping for more of that as a proofreader. It’s because, and I’m going to go through a few things that you have to keep in mind depending on the type of clients and all that that you get as a proofreader and how much you can make as a proofreader.

The other thing to keep in mind is a lot of proofreaders -- they’ll start out wanting to be full time, but as you get into the world of working from home, you find that there are a lot of different things that you can do besides proofreading. A lot of proofreaders are also writers or editors or they may be virtual assistants. Maybe they do customer service, answering emails, or maybe they end up helping build websites or helping students with maybe their social media accounts.

So a lot of people start out as part-time proofreaders, and then they add -- eventually start adding a lot of full-time services on, and that’s another topic for another Live, and that’s one of the things I love about proofreading is you get a lot of different opportunities when you start proofreading to add on. And you can also just be a proofreader too, right? I did just -- I’ve done proofreading for quite awhile, and I love doing that part time. I did it part time. I’m doing it full time now.

And it just depends on what your interests are, where you’re at in life, what you want out of proofreading in your work-from-home side hustle or business, whatever you want to call it. And I’ll go through those, what you need to consider to be full time, and if it works for you.

So your income as a proofreader can depend on how many hours a week you want to work. Now, full time for some people can mean can I be a proofreader 40 hours a week, or sometimes full time -- so somebody says am I making a full-time income. And you can work 40 hours a week. You can work more than 40 hours a week as a proofreader, and we’ll go through the pricing like what usually you can make as a proofreader per hour, but your income is going to depend on how many hours a week you work.

And you can do 40 hours a week as a proofreader. It’s much more common to do more like part time, like 20 hours or less a week as a proofreader. Most people find that that fits their schedule better. It fits -- if you have kids, it fits working with your kids. Or if you already have a full-time job, they find it fits in better there. Like I said, it all depends on your lifestyle, what you’re looking for, proofreading -- your proofreading business to work for you.

So it can depend on how many hours a week you want to work. It can also depend on the type of proofreading that you want to do, and we’ll go through prices here in just a little bit on what you can price your services. But the type of proofreading you do can make a difference on how much you make. So if you want to do -- it depends on the type of proofreading in the sense of are you going to be doing a lot of technical work, like are you going to be reading construction documents or medical documents?

Or are you going to be proofreading fictional books? Fictional novels are going to not cost as much to proofread as it is -- you’re not going to charge your client as much to proofread a nonfiction -- or a fiction novel as you would to sit down and read a medical paper. It’s going to be vastly different. If you’re going to be working with college students to proofread their papers, it’s going to -- you’re not going to charge as much for that as you would if you were working on a nonfiction book with an author.

Publishers will pay different amounts depending on what types of book that you’re working with publishers with. And so it all can depend on what type of proofreading you do. And now how you decide the type of proofreading that you want to get into I cover that inside Learn How to Proofread and Learn How to Get Proofreading Clients. We talk about that more and picking your niche and all that. But it depends -- the kind of income can depend on what kind of proofreading work that you do.

And then it can also depend on your clients so how many clients you have, what kind of clients you have, and how consistent your clients are. That’s a big range right there. So some - like if you get a -- for instance, if you work with a publisher, you could potentially make a couple thousand a month. That can be one client that you’re working for. That’s the type of clients. And it can be consistent work because as publishers they’re all putting out work, or they’re all putting out books all the time.

And let’s say you work for a blogger. They may put out one blog post a month. It’s going to be quite a bit different on the income that you’ll be making as opposed to how much work they can send you. And then there are a lot of one-off clients. They have just one letter that they want you to proofread, or maybe it’s an author, but it’s just they have their one book they want to put out and they’re good. Or maybe somebody needs their social media post proofread. It all depends on the type of client, the amount of work that they can send you per month.

And here I have an example of it, an example of my own -- I pulled some invoicing numbers from my own, and I’m going to pull this -- make this bigger so you can see it. All right, there we go. I think if I can -- yes, I can point to it here. You can see with the arrow. All right, so here is -- I always bill once a month, and I talk about billing inside of my course, Learn How to Get Proofreading Clients, because billing is a very important, very big part of proofreading for you to get right.

I bill once a month for the previous month, so this is my billing in March for my work in February. And you can see I have quite a few clients because proofreading is my main source of income, and so I have to have a lot of clients to keep that up with the type of clients that I like to work with. For instance, obviously these are not all publishers. These are individual clients that I work with, and you can see from in one month, and these are -- I blurred out their IDs and their names just for their privacy’s sake.

So these are all different clients, and you can kind of see the range of the different clients that I have, so this client right here, over $600 for February. This client right -- it was about $60. So you can see the range on the clients. If I just worked with this client, like if my goal was to make $500 a month as a proofreader because I needed to help cover rent or I had a really nice car payment that I was paying off that I wanted, then I could be fine with one client, whereas the $60 -- that could be totally fine too.

So here’s the thing about proofreading is proofreading is what works for you. What do you need out of your proofreading business? Do you need to cover a couple nice restaurant bills that you want to have per month? Eating out is really big for me. I love to be able to eat out. Are you wanting to cover a gym membership? Are you needing to cover rent? Or maybe you want to have a nice car payment. Those things are all things that you can consider as you want. What do you need your proofreading side hustle to do for you? And then you find the clients that will fit that.

So, for instance, because I am full time, this is an example of I have several clients. I didn’t even count up how many I have right here that I billed for that month. And you can see they have a variety of -- and then next month it’s going to look different. So you can see it all depends on the client and what you need.

Now, for me, I need a lot of clients because I can’t just do $60 a month, and I can’t just do $600 a month, but if that’s what you need, that’s perfect. The other thing to keep in mind is even the same client that you have can really vary, and here’s an example. This is a client right here. This one client in November -- she was almost $1000 that I brought in on that one client, and then just the month previous, brought in way less. And that’s totally fine. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? That’s what she needed, and that was fine.

But if I just relied on one client to support -- maybe I need $1000 a month -- then it’s not going to cut it per month. So that’s one thing that, as you’re looking at what kind of clients you want to work with is considering how much work they’re going to have for you, what kind of client you’re working with, like what kind of -- how much work are they going to give you, what kind of work, and then make sure that they can be consistent or that you’re getting enough clients consistently enough to cover what you need.

This is another reason why looking at this right here, I mean you can see that it really varies, and it’s very important what kind of clients you get and why it’s important to always be keeping up on your marketing and maybe -- I don’t have to market anymore as a proofreader and -- just because I’ve been doing it forever.

And if I did want to go get new clients later, let’s say these clients aren’t enough and I needed more, then I need to be keeping -- like my social media fresh, my resume and my info sheet and my cover letter is fresh, so that way if I needed more clients I can go get them if, for some reason, this monthly amount isn’t working for me. So it’s very, very flexible for what you need in your business.

Now, for some of you, you may look at this and be like, that’s not even close to what I need. And in that case, you’ll probably want to do proofreading with somebody else, something else that you want to do. Like if you wanted to be a writer or if you wanted to be a virtual assistant or do social media work if you’re needing anything more than $50-$60,000 more a year. That’s what I would recommend. I’m not saying you can’t do more. It is possible. But that’s something to keep in mind are the type of clients you have and how much work they can send you.

All right, so the other things to keep in mind are what are your prices because that’s going to depend. Obviously, that kind of goes hand in hand with what kind of clients you have because it’s going to depend on how much you can charge depending on the type of work. And then what are your rates or your prices that you’re setting? And the Editorial Freelance Association, the EFA, has a rate chart that is super helpful to be a really good starting point for you to see what kind of rates a proofreader can charge.

I’m going to drop the link in here so it’s easier for you guys to click on instead of having to type it in. I’m dropping it in the chat right now. Okay, so this is a good starting point, and pricing your services is a much bigger topic. I talk about it inside my course. But the rates that -- you can kind of see they break it down per hour, per work, per page I believe is what this rate sheet has.

So you can get an idea of what is the average price that proofreaders charge per hour, and that can give you an idea. Okay, if I can get 40 hours a week of clients and this is how much they can charge, this is what I can make. But also keep in mind it’s just not setting your prices. It’s also going and getting those clients. So what I talked about in the previous slides about how many clients you have and what kind of clients, your rates go hand in hand. You have to be able to have both in order to make your proofreading business work. So it’s not just a matter of you set your prices, you start your business. You also have to have the clients to go with it.

And then I also cover what to charge inside Learn How to Get Proofreading Clients. It’s one of the mini courses that I have to help you be successful in your proofreading business because the efa.org -- they have great rates, but it all depends on exactly where you’re at and your goals for your proofreading business on what rates to charge and what clients to work with. And I help go through that inside my Learn How to Get Proofreading Clients so that way you don’t have to try to figure it out on your own. You’re not left on your own on that.

And then how much you want to make depends on you because you are in charge of your own success as a proofreader. So you know you can -- some people start out proofreading, and they have big goals. They want to be full time as a proofreader. They have the time to dedicate to proofreading full time a week. But they don’t set up their business. They don’t go get clients. And they don’t show up for themselves and work on getting more clients or being consistent with the work that they do get.

They don’t develop relationships and show up for the clients as they should, which I talk about inside Learn How to Get Proofreading Clients as well because it’s just as important to get the clients as it is to then nurture your clients and to show up and be the best person that you can be for your clients. And there are some people that they may only have five hours a week to work on their proofreading business, but they are going to give it 200% on those five hours, and they will make more money than the person who signs up for a course, thinks it’s great, maybe names their business, and then sits back and does nothing.

So the person who shows up and works hard and treats their clients well and continually follows up and works on making themselves better and better and better -- they’re going to do better than the person who has plenty of time but doesn’t actually work. And that’s one thing that I love about having a proofreading business is how you want to run your business, how much money you want to make, what kind of clients you want to work with -- that is up to you. You don’t have a boss sitting over there, telling you that this is who you -- what rates you must set or what kind of clients you must work with.

That’s up to you. You don’t have to worry about reporting to somebody from a 9-to-5 and being stressed out about it. You can show up and you set your hours. You set the clients you want to work with. You set your rates, and you go out there and get those clients, and you do an amazing job. And you make money proofreading. It really doesn’t get much better than that, and that’s -- I love being able to show up and know that I’m in charge of my own success. I’m not depending on a boss or another business to send me a paycheck. I’m responsible for my paycheck and working with the clients that I want to work with, and I love it.

The clients that I work with now are -- they’re amazing. I love my clients, and I love showing up and working, and I love invoicing and getting paid every month too. It just all goes hand in hand together. It’s amazing.

All right, you can get your proofreading business started today, so if you want to be a part-time proofreader or full-time proofreader or whatever your income goals that you are working on, keep everything in mind that I talked about, and you can get started today. There’s no point sitting and waiting one more second about would I be good at proofreading? Is this something that I would like? Can I be a full-time proofreader? Just get started because you can sit and wonder all the time if you’re going to be a full-time proofreader, but if you actually never get started proofreading, then I can guarantee you, you will not be a full-time proofreader if you don’t just get started.

It’s really easy to get started. I’ve made it super simple because it was -- I’ve spent a lot of mistakes trying to figure out how to be a good proofreader over the years since I started proofreading in 2006, and I want to make it a lot more simple and straightforward and easy for you so you don’t have to worry about all that. You can just jump in, get started working on your proofreading goals so that you can go out and be paid as a proofreader.

So head over to theproofreadingbusinesscoach.com. I’ll drop the link right here in the comments to make it easy for you to head over there. And I will see you guys on Wednesday, Wednesday at 6:30. I know it’s Saturday today. I had an issue with the Live earlier this week, but I’ll see you guys on Wednesday 6:30 central. Until then, go get started on your proofreading business. You’ll be that much further ahead on Wednesday than if you just sat around and thought about it.

If you guys are watching this later and have questions, drop them in the comments, and I will be sure to answer them as they come in. All right, I’ll see you guys on Wednesday.

 

Thank you for watching!

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