As proofreaders, our specialty is fixing mistakes – and the world is full of them!

If we see an error, we want to fix it. That’s what makes us good at what we do. We notice details most people don’t, and we’re excited to use that skill to help others improve their work and look their best.  And if you’re like me, it’s hard to turn off that part of your brain. Whether we’re reading social media posts, articles, or emails, those mistakes jump out at us 24/7.

But sometimes this awesome gift we have can lead us into making our own big mistake. One that might seem like a good idea at first but can actually ruin client relationships later.

The big mistake

I’m talking about publicly pointing out other people’s typos and grammar errors, and/or sending unhelpful emails to call attention to writers’ errors. 

It’s understandable. We get irritated seeing how often people overlook the spellings and grammar rules that are obvious to us. And if we’re being honest, maybe we do it because we want to show off a little bit and prove we have what it takes to be the go-to proofreader for all the clients out there that need us. If they can see we know our stuff, why wouldn’t they want to hire us?

But in reality, that’s the opposite of what you want to do – and here’s why.

Why it’s a big mistake

People feel embarrassed and frustrated when their mistakes are pointed out, especially in public. We all know that feeling, and it can turn a good day into a bad one.

When someone writes a post or an email, they took time to do that. Especially for business owners or authors, they not only took their time, they also put a lot of emotion behind their content. It’s not just a post talking about something in their business or their latest book. It’s a post that encompasses their hard work and dreams they’ve invested in their business/book. It’s something they’re excited about. And then when they get a *you’re comment, it’s devastating to them!

Don’t be the person that devastates them.

Think about it – even as proofreaders, we’ve made typos when we’ve published things before. What does it feel like when someone points your mistake out in front of others? You don’t just feel like they called out an error on that one post you wrote – it feels like your whole business got attacked.

At the end of the day, the last thing a client wants to do is hire someone that pulls them down. Instead, they want someone who supports them and helps them shine. Even when we have the best intentions, we can push away potential clients by tearing them down instead of showing them how we can help them be their best. 

As proofreaders, we are here to make the world a better place, and we need to help our clients feel confident and successful.

The solution

So how can you be part of the solution? How can you get clients without embarrassing them? 

You get clients by building a genuine connection with them. You’re following them or reading their content for a reason! Use that to show genuine appreciation for them and share what you have to offer.

This doesn’t mean sending them a list of your prices right away, and it certainly doesn’t mean sending them an email every time they make a mistake (that gets old really quickly).

Instead, it means forming a relationship with them so you can work together. You can do this by engaging with them in a meaningful way on their social media, emails, etc. Answer the questions that they’ve shared in their emails. Comment on something that you found helpful or enjoyed on their social. Tag them and let them know you appreciate the content they’re producing. It means the world to a business owner to have people who consistently interact with them positively and treat them like a person.

If you noticed a glaring error that they can easily fix (so on a social media post, blog post, website, etc.), you can gently and privately point out the mistake. But do it in a way that shows how easy you are to work with! Instead of saying, Hey, you have an error on your website, screenshot the error, give them the link to where it’s at, and say what the correction needs to be. 

Make it easy and straightforward for them! Business owners and writers are busy people. They don’t have time to hunt down an error that you vaguely mentioned. Instead, when you make it simple to find and fix an error, all they have to do is take that info and make the change.

You’ve benefited them by helping them look better, and you’ve also shown them how straightforward and thoughtful you are to work with.

If you’ve been publicly (or constantly) pointing out grammar errors and typos, you don’t have to make that marketing mistake anymore. You now know how to approach it the right way so you can reach out to potential clients, form connections with them, and help them be their best. And that’s what proofreading is all about! 

What to do from here!

Want to learn more about proofreading and how to get clients? You’re in the right spot! I teach you the ins and outs of how to proofread, set up your business, and genuine, personal marketing inside both my general proofreading and transcript proofreading courses. To learn more about which is the perfect fit for you, tap here!

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Text says, "Are you making this mistake as a proofreader?" picture shows women's hand holding a pen over a type-written document next to a laptop on the desk as well as a plant on the desk

Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wiegner is a work-from-home proofreader and business coach who teaches other readers and typo fixers how to build a life of freedom as a proofreader. Her energy, love, and personalized support are second to none in the proofreading world.