Freelance Tips: How to Gain Experience as a New Proofreader

Freelance Tips: How to Gain Experience as a New Proofreader

  • Sep 18, 2021
  • 6 min read

It can be hard to get experience as a new proofreader. With many companies requesting former experience for full-time proofreaders, and some clients not wanting to take the risk of hiring someone with no experience, it can seem impossible to get your foot in the door. But becoming a freelance proofreader needn’t be so difficult. Follow these five tips to gain experience as a new proofreader and take advantage of the opportunities around you:

  1. Proofread free ebooks for online collectives to gain real proofreading experience.
  2. Volunteer for friends and family to get constructive feedback and develop your skills.
  3. Ask at your current job if there are any proofreading opportunities to help you practice.
  4. Reach out to non-profits or new companies that produce written content.
  5. Take proofreading courses to hone your skills and practice on sample documents.

Following these tips could get you on your way to landing your first paid freelance proofreading job. Check them out below.

1. Proofread Free Ebooks

Distributed Proofreaders is an online collective that turns public domain and out-of-copyright books into free ebooks for Project Gutenberg.

This project scans print books into images and then converts them into text. They always need proofreaders to check the converted text against the scanned images (also known as reading against copy). And once you have more experience, you can also get involved with later rounds of proofreading (and even formatting) these texts.

If you are looking for real proofreading experience, volunteering for Distributed Proofreaders is a great place to start. And it’s completely remote, so you don’t need to worry about where in the world you are. It’s also very flexible in terms of the hours you can work.

You can find out more about the project and sign up via their website.

2. Volunteer for Friends and Family

Proofreading for friends and family is a great way to practice your skills and gain experience in a safe environment (i.e., one where your professional reputation isn’t on the line).

Most people you know will produce written documents at some point in their life, such as resumes, cover letters, or even personal blogs. And offering to proofread these documents is a great way to gain experience while helping those close to you.

Make sure to ask for feedback. Getting feedback from family and friends will help you develop your skills and identify any areas of weakness before you take on your first paying clients.

And if you get positive feedback, you can ask to use it in a testimonial to put in your portfolio or on your website.

3. Look for Opportunities at Your Current Job

If you’re planning on becoming a proofreader but currently have another job, there may be opportunities to proofread there. Your company may produce reports, contracts, memos, or other written documents on a regular basis. So it’s definitely worth asking whether you can be involved in checking that work.

You may get one-off or regular proofreading depending on how receptive your company is to your request. In either case, you can list this experience on your CV or resume when applying to full-time proofreading positions.

4. Reach Out to Non-Profit Organizations

Charities and non-profit groups often have very limited resources, so volunteering your services to them could be a great way to gain experience as a new proofreader. Plus you might end up supporting a great cause.

You could also get in contact with new journalistic publications and start-ups to offer proofreading work. These kinds of organizations often produce lots of copy in need of proofreading but lack the budget to hire someone for it. Offering your services could help you gain valuable experience and even open you up to further opportunities in the future.

Whenever you reach out to companies, even if it’s only to volunteer, make sure to be clear about how your proofreading can have a positive impact on their organization.

5. Do a Proofreading Course that Includes Practice Documents

If you’re really struggling to gain experience as a new proofreader, consider investing in some training. Many proofreading courses contain documents and activities to help you hone your skills.

Completing training can also give you valuable accreditation that boosts your resume and helps you secure job opportunities.

Our Becoming A Proofreader course, for example, is full of training documents specially designed to help you develop your skills, making it a great way to gain experience as a new proofreader and become fully equipped to go and start your own freelance proofreading business.

You can also take advantage of our guaranteed work offer if you complete our Becoming A Proofreader and Becoming An Editor courses with distinction grades of 80% or above. Register for the courses today, or check out our free trial to sample the content.

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