How to Make Extra Income as a Proofreader

Guest Post by: Phon Baillie

Do you like to read? Can you read a blog post or book and spot mistakes in the text and know how to fix them? Would you like to make extra money from doing those two things? If so, then proofreading would make an excellent side hustle for you. 

Proofreading is a skill that is in demand. Content is being created at a fast pace, and people expect quality. Any entrepreneur, business owner or writer will tell you that proofreading is invaluable for helping them create worthwhile and trustworthy content. In this post, you'll learn what exactly proofreading is, why it makes a great side hustle and how you can get started. 

What Is Proofreading?

Many people think you need an English degree or special certification to work as a proofreader, but the truth is you don’t. Proofreading is considered to be the easiest form of editing, and it’s the last chance to review text for mistakes before hitting publish. Proofreaders also ensure that a message is clear and consistent.

A proofreader’s job is to:

  • Correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting
  • Flag obvious issues in commonly known facts
  • Spot inconsistencies in word use
  • Follow style guides and maintain consistency 
  • Preserve the writer’s style and message

Why It Makes A Great Side Hustle

Aside from the wonderful fact you get to make money from reading (yay!), I've outlined some reasons below. But first I want to say what I think is the best reason of all: it's a skill that’s applicable to any industry. 

Proofreading doesn’t require physical prowess or specialized equipment, and every industry creates content. Whether it’s mechanics, academics, or health and wellness, the required proofreading skills are the same. 

Here’s why you should consider freelance proofreading:

  • Low start-up cost. 
  • Flexibility: work around your day job or availability in your schedule.
  • Low stress.
  • Work from anywhere: as long as you have a laptop you can proofread anywhere.
  • It’s a lifelong skill you can utilize it when you need it, whether it’s for your own writing or others’. 
  • It gets better: over time and with additional training, your skills can evolve into other forms of editing, like copyediting.

Is It For You?

While it's a skill that anyone with an excellent command of English can do, it's important for you to understand the industry and what potential clients expect. That's why I created my free 5-day course, Intro to Proofreading, so people can learn more about proofreading and how to fix some common errors. 

Here are certain qualities you need to have to start proofreading:

Love of Reading

Proofreading is reading and keeping your eyes open for errors. If you don't like to sit down and focus in solitude for hours at a time, then proofreading may not be for you. Even if you don’t find the project you’re working on interesting, you have to be able to stay engaged and focused.

Ability to Spot Details

Your ability to spot little details like an extra space or missing punctuation will make your job as a proofreader much easier. Anyone can spot the obvious errors, but you have to be able to spot not-so-obvious ones, as well.

Ability to Work Independently

Freelance proofreading is a solo job, and you have to be able to manage your time and projects without any supervision. Once a deadline is set and the work is sent, you’re left alone. Part of a proofreader’s job is being able to problem solve and research issues on your own.

An Open Mind

There are rules and guidelines of the English language that you need to know, but you don’t always have to follow them. Remember that language evolves, and you have to be accepting of a client’s voice. Everyone's writing style is different, and it’s important to preserve a client’s style even if you disagree with the content.

A Natural Talent With Language

You need to have an excellent command of the English language. This means you can recognize obvious grammatical errors, and know the basics of spelling and punctuation. For example, you can recognize when a writer has used both past tense and present tense in the same sentence.  

How To Get Started

You don’t need much to get started. Here’s a list of the basics you’ll need to operate your side hustle:

  • Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: It’s the industry standard in North America, and you can access it online for free.
  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Editing programs like Microsoft Word (Track Changes) 
  • An internet connection to find work, communicate with clients, market yourself, and to receive and send work
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, which is considered THE bible of all style guides, and is preferred for proofreading books (free 30-day trial
  • The Associated Press Style Book (preferred by some businesses and publications, also for digital content)
  • Productivity tools like Asana and Trello to help manage your marketing and projects

In my ebook The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Proofreading, I guide readers through everything they need to know to get started and to find work.

Types Of Content You Can Work On

  • Blog posts
  • Digital content
  • Books
  • ebooks
  • Journal & magazine articles
  • Reports & white papers
  • Academic papers & essays
  • Marketing & sales material
  • Brochures & flyers

Where To Find Work 

There are numerous sites to find freelance proofreading jobs. Some are job posting sites and others are job bid sites like Upwork.

For general proofreading work:

If you have a higher-level academic background like a masters or PhD, then you can also approach editing agencies, who match proofreaders with clients for work.   

Some Tips For Your Hustle

Gain some experience so you feel comfortable proofreading text and to discover your workflow. "Warm up" by doing some volunteer proofreading for a friend, family member, or associate. This will be valuable experience for you to include in your resume, and don’t forget to ask for testimonials. You're more likely to be considered for a job if you have some professional experience behind you.

Learn to market yourself. Working with text is only part of having a proofreading hustle. There are also business skills you need to have in order to maintain it.

Build up your mechanical skills through courses so you’re able to proofread confidently and on a wider range of projects.

Reach out to your network. Networking is the fastest way to find work. Tell everyone you're venturing into freelance proofreading and are open to opportunities and referrals. 

Get on social media and market yourself for free through platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Part of having a side hustle is, well, hustlin’, so be persistent and keep looking and applying to job postings. Get creative in your job search. Think of who writes content and approach people. 


Do you think you could work as a proofreader? I’ve been proofreading for over 15 years, and these are the tips that I’ve been sharing with people to help them start making extra money on the side. Proofreading is a very rewarding skill, and it’s something that you can draw from throughout your life. 


Phon Baillie is a freelance proofreader, editor and entrepreneur. She believes that language is democratic and fluid, and loves to hear what the newest word on the street is. Fun fact: Phon has proofread over 1,500 books and counting!






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