Start A Proofreading Side Hustle
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard the term “side hustle” used in the media, or read about it in articles and blog posts. It’s more than just a trend, though, as many people are looking for ways to make extra money, and also to find joy outside of their day jobs.
In this post I’ll discuss what a side hustle is and why proofreading makes an excellent hustle.
What Is A Side Hustle?
A side hustle is basically a business you have to make extra money on top of your regular 9 to 5. It can be services you offer, like proofreading, or products you sell.
It can be done in the evenings after work, on the weekends, or whenever you have spare time. Keep in mind that side hustles require commitment and perseverance in order to be successful.
A side hustle can be something you’re passionate about and are already skilled at, or it can be a skill that you learn. For example, many people take their creative skills and set up Etsy shops where they sell their crafts or designs.
Sometimes side hustles take off and grow into successful ventures. Did you know that Apple started off as a side project for founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak while they worked for other tech companies?
Why Have A Side Hustle?
Is it something anyone can do? And why would you consider having one?
The truth is that these days many people aren’t making enough income from one job to make ends meet or to maintain their quality of life. For many, a full-time job barely covers the necessities like rent, food, and utilities. So if you want to have money for new clothes, medication, or toys for your kids, a side hustle can make a difference.
It’s not always about the money, though. They also allow people to find joy from work that they might not find in their current job.
People who love to read have started side hustles as writers, bloggers, editors, and proofreaders. When I had a corporate job, I had proofreading and writing side hustles that allowed me to be creative.
There are many benefits to starting a side hustle:
- Pay off debts sooner
- Spend time doing something you truly enjoy
- Become an expert in a specific niche
- Diversify your income stream
- Expand your network by connecting with people you wouldn’t normally
- Stimulate your mind with new experiences and skills
- Build your confidence
Proofreading As A Side Hustle
Do you have a knack for spotting errors in text? Do you have a great command of the English language?
If so, then you’re an excellent candidate for proofreading. Proofreading is a flexible, low-stress side hustle that you can balance with your full-time job.
A lot of students in my Intro to Proofreading course want to start proofreading because they love to read and have a sharp eye for detail. If you want to learn more about proofreading, sign up for my free 5-day proofreading ecourse.
I think those are excellent reasons. Proofreading takes something you’re passionate about and allows you to make money from it without having to invest years of education and training. Also, how many of you are already proofreading for free for friends and family? Why not make money off it, right?
Here are a few reasons why proofreading makes a great side hustle:
- It’s a lifelong skill that can be applied to any industry
- It doesn’t require an English degree or special certification
- Can be done from anywhere offline
- You set your own hours
- It doesn’t require a lot of equipment or tools
What Is Proofreading?
Proofreading is the last step of the publishing process, and it’s the final chance to correct any surface mistakes in content. It’s considered the easiest form of editing because it isn’t as technical as copyediting and doesn’t involve reorganizing or rewriting sentences.
A proofreader’s job is to:
- Correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting
- Flag obvious issues such as incorrect trademark use or commonly known facts
- Spot inconsistencies
- Follow and maintain the writer’s style
Skills You Need To Work As A Proofreader
Like I mentioned before, you don’t need a degree or certification to find work as a proofreader. However, you do need to be trained in practical proofreading skills. Here’s a list of the skills you need to start freelance proofreading:
1. An excellent command of English
You need to be aware of the context and intent of the content you’re working on, and know if it’s presented clearly. That means you can recognize obvious grammatical errors, know the basics of punctuation, and can navigate through reference texts.
For example, you recognize when a writer has used both past tense and present tense in the same sentence. Your process will be much faster and smoother if you know how to correct the obvious errors without having to check with style guides or dictionaries.
2. An eye for detail
You need to be able to spot inconsistencies such as if the writer has capitalized a word in a previous paragraph but doesn’t in another. Or you notice when a word is missing from a sentence, which is a common mistake. For example, can you easily spot the missing word in the following sentence?
He walked into the room and sat the chair.
Correct: He walked into the room and sat on the chair.
3. Be trained in proofreading skills
It’s important to be trained in the art of proofreading. It’s not as simple as correcting typos, and while it may be described as catching surface errors, there are deeper considerations to take into account.
Proofreaders must know how to recognize and maintain a writer’s voice, follow style guides, and work within context. There are also practical skills to know like working with editing programs and using proofreaders’ marks.
Training programs that teach you how to work on various kinds of content, like my course Proofreading Pro, are invaluable.
4. A love of reading
This sounds obvious, but you must love to read, since proofreading is basically reading and fixing the errors you come across. Even when you don’t find the project you’re working on interesting or the writer’s style isn’t compelling, you have to be able to stay engaged and focused.
5. The ability and willingness to market yourself
When starting a side hustle, think of yourself as an entrepreneur. You’re in charge of research, finding work, delivering your projects on time, communicating with clients, and being paid for your services. Being able to market yourself is key to getting work, and with social media it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
What You Need To Start
Part of why proofreading makes such a great side hustle is because there’s very little start-up cost involved. To get started you need:
- An internet connection
- A computer
- Access to online or print resources
- Guide on managing a business or side hustle
You can read this post I wrote on how to work from anywhere as a proofreader for more information on what else you need.
I also recommend you take a look at books that’ll teach you how to manage a business. The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Proofreading was written specifically to help people start, launch, and maintain every aspect of working as a freelance proofreader.
After having worked as a proofreader for 15 years (10 of those as a freelancer) I can tell you that proofreading has only gotten easier. It really is a skill that develops and refines with time, and can become second nature to you.
I’ve proofread full-time and as a side hustle, and it’s helped me pay off debt, make ends meet, and work from home so I can raise my son. I’ve been able to work on different types of content within various industries without a problem.
If you have a gift with language and want to start bringing in extra money on the side, do you think you could try proofreading? Share in the comments below!