7 steps to grow your proofreading business

Dec 11, 2020

Proofreaders are in optimal positions to expand their income, as the skill set required for proofreading is versatile. There are a number of ways in which proofreaders can diversify into blogging, ebooks, and content creation to boost their income, and leveraging existing clients to grow your work base can be done in a few simple steps.

Read on to discover how to take your income to the next level.

1) Leverage Your Current Clients

So you’ve got proofreading skills and you need to put them to use. Chances are that as a freelancer, you already have some current clients for whom you’re writing on a regular basis. If you’re not the only writer they’re employing, go check out some of the copy you didn’t write for them - most likely while you’re scanning it over you’ll spot something you could improve on.

Impress current clients with your attention to detail and meticulous close reading and your copy clients can turn into proofreading clients in an instant. You’ll get more work from the same client, which minimizes admin, too.

2) Always Hit Your Deadlines

In this industry, it’s startlingly common for freelancers to miss deadlines. Whether people have taken on more work than they can manage or misjudged their turnaround times, clients are used to it. By meeting deadlines, you’ll stand out from the crowd, receive more offers for work, and get more work done in the time frame!

Remember, clients are often reluctant to employ proofreaders because they’re inclined to think they’ve already produced a finished product. Proofreading can seem like a luxury to them. In this environment, there’s no sense in making them wait.

3) Make Payment Easy

While a direct bank transfer might work for you, it’s important to think about what works for your clients. PayPal is widely trusted by clients, and if you offer this as a payment option, some of that trust brushes off onto you.

Trust is absolutely integral to the proofreader-client relationship. After all, they’re handing over their work to you and putting faith in your skills to improve the finished article. Making payment easy is about more than just functionality, it’s about building a strong relationship with your clients.

4) Offer Additional Services

Most clients are used to the standard proofreading service - they’ll get their document back, hopefully within deadline, with a few improvements here and there.

What they’re not used to is awesome service that goes above and beyond.

Invest a little additional time in communicating what you’ve changed to your client so that the work you’ve done stands out. “By making it clear how you’ve improved their work, the value that you’ve added will be evident and clients will be happy to hand over the cash,” says Elizabeth Henkle, a proofreader at Paperfellows. “I like to include a short document of my own making that runs through common errors and how to fix them - clients will appreciate that you’re reaching out.”

5) Pay Attention to Detail

Never take your clients for granted. Give 100% to every project and you’ll build strong relationships with clients that translate to more work for you. Once you’ve finished proofing a piece, tools like Grammarix, Acacdemized and Simplegrad can give the document a final check, ensuring that you’re turning in work of sterling quality each and every time.

6) Diversify

Proofreading skills are exceptionally versatile, so if you want to boost your income you can diversify in other ways. If you’ve already built a document about grammar and common mistakes, you could easily expand this with your specialist knowledge into an ebook.

“Starting a blog about your proofreading can expand your portfolio and open up new opportunities for more writing and content creation work," says Kelly McDougald, a writer at Stateofwriting. “Keep an open mind about what you can turn your hand to - there are so many opportunities to make money out there.”

7) Solicit Testimonials

Ask every client for a testimonial, even if you aren’t going to use them all immediately. Building up a portfolio of client reports can give you the opportunity to demonstrate social proof to a wide network of potential clients. This will give you the legitimacy that people need to build a working relationship with you.

Proofreaders are well placed to leverage their skills and boost their income through a variety of means. Stay open to opportunities, utilize existing client relationships and grow your network. Your freelance career is just getting started.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Katherine Rundell

Katherine Rundell is a freelance writer. She started freelancing after losing her job in the 2008 crash and it turned out to be the best thing to happen in her career.