The Pros and Cons of Starting a Proofreading Business

How to Make a Living Off of Your Grammatical Know-How

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Do you have experience writing and editing? Are you detail-oriented and able to provide constructive critiques? Do you frequently catch typos and grammatical errors in books, advertisements, and articles, even when you are reading for enjoyment? If you have an eye for detail, love to read, and have experience with writing structured content, a proofreading business might be the perfect business idea for you.

Proofreading is the process of checking content for quality, flow, typos, and grammatical errors. As a proofreader, your job is to fix grammatical errors and assess the content for consistency and accuracy. Consider some of the pros and cons involved before starting such a business.

The Pros

There are many reasons why a proofreading business is a good option when you're ready to become a business owner. Some of the benefits of starting such a business include:

  • Startup costs should be relatively low, especially if you are operating your business out of your home. Aside from standard office supplies, basic startup costs can be limited to maintaining a current version of Microsoft Word and online subscriptions to standard style guides such as the Associated Press Stylebook, the MLA Handbook, the APA Manual, and the Chicago Manual of Style, as well as any other specialized style guides that your clients use.
  • No storefront is needed. Your base of operations likely will be your home, and you'll be able to deduct the expenses for your home office when you file your taxes.
  • While you don't need any formal training or certification, a background editing news copy or working as an English or composition teacher will make it easier to market your value to potential clients.
  • A broad range of potential clients are available. Possibilities range from individuals seeking help with resumes, cover letters, or other important documents to businesses seeking professional editing for proposals or detailed reports. You can seek the broadest possible range of clients, or you might choose to specialize in one area where you have the most expertise.

The Cons

It's important to consider the challenges that may be associated with starting a business before you take the plunge. Potential challenges of starting a proofreading business include:

  • An exceptional command of the English language is not enough to be a good proofreader. It's imperative that you have a working knowledge of multiple style guides and the ability to adapt from one to the other based on client and assignment.
  • It also is necessary to be comfortable with different styles of writing. For example, a business proposal should not look or read like a journal article describing scientific research. As a proofreader, it's important that you can adapt quickly from assignment to assignment.
  • Deadlines sometimes can be tight. Especially in the business world, clients may need an assignment to be turned around within 24 hours or less. You have to be able to work well under that kind of pressure.
  • It can take a long time to build up a steady client base. Selling the value of your work might be as challenging as selling the fact that you are the right person to do the work—especially in a culture where speed and internet shorthand sometimes take precedence over accuracy and well-written prose.