How to Quit Your Job and Become a Freelance Proofreader

Do you find yourself longing for a better work-life balance? Craving more flexibility? If this sounds like you, freelance proofreading might be the answer. But as satisfying a career as freelance proofreading can be, it’s not something you should dive into unprepared. This is especially true if you’re currently working a more traditional 9 to 5. With that in mind, we’ve got some practical tips on how to quit your job and become a freelance proofreader:

  • Set up strong foundations for your business by thinking in advance about a business name, service rates, and online marketing.
  • Prepare for any initial irregular pay by creating a budget and beginning to save. 
  • Do some freelancing work alongside your main job to get yourself into the swing of things.
  • Find regular clients to give yourself more job stability when you’re starting out.
  • Motivate yourself with short- and long-term goals.
  • Perfect your skills and learn the tools of the trade.

Read on to find out about these in more detail.

Plan the Details in Advance

Even the most skilled proofreaders will struggle if they haven’t prepared the tools they need to promote themselves. 

So before you make the switch to freelancing full-time, you should work on setting up the foundations of your business. This might involve:

Of course, you don’t need to complete all of these at once. Think of them as a checklist of tasks you can tick off as you approach freelancing full-time.

You should also take some time to adapt to working from home. Start setting up a dedicated workspace, whether this is a spare room, garage, or table in the corner of your living room.

Create a Budget and Start Saving

Though freelancing can offer more flexibility than traditional work, that freedom comes with the caveat of an irregular paycheck. You may find yourself busy with multiple projects one month, then have much less work the next.

You can make sure you’re prepared for financial insecurity, though, by creating a budget for when you make the switch.

Track your current expenses and compare these with what you’ll be spending as a freelancer. Consider:

  • What you’ll save on. For example, you probably won’t be paying for transport to and from work.
  • What you’ll spend more on. You may need to invest in software and equipment for your home workspace.

You should also start putting some money away into savings while you’re still earning a steady income, to provide you with a safety net in case of lean months and emergencies. Exactly how much you save will depend on what’s realistically achievable for you, but having a buffer of 3–12 months worth of pay put aside is a good range to aim for.

Start Freelancing on the Side

Don’t quit your day job just yet! Taking the occasional proofreading job alongside your main job is a great way to ease yourself into it, and will help you gain confidence and experience as a freelancer.

There are plenty of online marketplaces out there that advertise one-off freelancing gigs. Fiverr and Upwork are some of the better known platforms, while smaller sites like AngelList and Remote will have less competition. You can even try finding proofreading jobs using social media. Have a look to see what best suits your needs.

It can be hard to decide when to take the plunge from part- to full-time freelancing. Some important things to consider include: 

  • How much money you’ve put into savings.
  • How much time you feel you can dedicate to freelancing 
  • How prepared you feel to make the transition.

Look for Long-Term Clients

While it can be useful to test the waters at the start of your career with short-term proofreading jobs, ideally you’ll want to find a couple of long-term clients to work with too.

These are clients who will require your services on a regular basis and may even offer long-term contracts. Being able to depend on some regular sources of work will provide you with more job stability, and mean you can spend less time hunting for new clients and more time actually proofreading (not to mention earning!). 

You might also consider signing up for flexible work with an agency. Keep in mind, however, that most agencies will require you to have some proofreading experience.

Set Goals that Motivate You

It’s easy to lose motivation when transitioning to a new career. It can be all too tempting to stick with the safe option (i.e., your current job) when faced with the possible risk of switching careers. This is why it’s important to set goals to provide yourself with a sense of direction and purpose.

In the long-term, your main goal will probably be to fully transition to freelance work. Set a realistic date for this, informed by your budget and preparation progress.

And to prevent that goal from seeming out of reach, create a timeline of smaller goals that you can achieve in the short-term. These might include some of the points we mentioned in previous steps, like setting up a website, securing new clients, and working out your rates.

Another way to motivate yourself is by writing a business plan. If you define your services and target clients and set marketing goals, your path to success will become clear.

Take Some Time to Train

Though you don’t need specific qualifications to be a proofreader, it’s important to make sure you have the right skills at your disposal.

Professional training will help you hone your eye for detail and keep you up to speed with the most common errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. It can provide you with skills and knowledge specific to particular forms of writing, such as research papers or financial documents.

For example, our Becoming A Proofreader course has modules dedicated to proofreading academic, business, and creative documents and provides an in-depth look at the practical details of freelancing. On top of that, if you achieve a distinction score of 80% or above in both Becoming A proofreader and Becoming An Editor, you are guaranteed work opportunities with our partner company, Proofed, making your transition to freelance proofreading even smoother.

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