We’ll let you know how to become a proofreader, what it takes to succeed in the industry, and everything else you need to know about becoming a proofreader in retirement.

The easy way to make money in retirement: become a proofreader

by | Oct 21, 2022

Freelance proofreading is one of the best ways to make extra money and stay busy after retirement. 

While it may not be for everyone, it’s a flexible job that allows you to draw from previous knowledge and experience, or learn a new skill and stay sharp through retirement. It’s great for those who aren’t into customer service or “salesy” jobs, and it’s the perfect job for those who love reading or are introverted.

Many retirees today are now flocking to the world wide web for proofreading jobs and finding it incredibly rewarding, which is why we’re going to welcome you into the world of proofreading. 

We’ll let you know how to become a proofreader, what it takes to succeed in the industry, and everything else you need to know about becoming a proofreader in retirement. 

What is proofreading?

Proofreading existed in a time before digital publishing gained popularity, from the traditional publishing industry. It was the final review of a piece, responsible for catching grammatical, spelling and formatting errors or inconsistencies. 

Though the text itself may go through “top editing”, “line editing” and “copy editing”, some errors still get missed in the early review stages. For this reason, proofreading was designed as the last opportunity to correct any errors that were missed, carried out right before it’s published. 

It’s great for those with a keen eye for detail who are willing to share if they don’t understand something. If the proofreader is having a hard time understanding? The audience will too. But be wary – many writers may not even glance at their content again before they finalize it. 

How much do proofreaders make?

Of course, one of the most important questions involved in becoming a proofreader is how much you’ll actually get paid. Obviously a lot of factors will dictate how much you get paid, but here are a few statistics to help:

  • According to information published by PayScale.com, the average proofreader in the US makes around $19.57 an hour. The bottom 10% earn just over $12 an hour and the top 90% sitting at $30 an hour, though some do receive an additional bonus of anywhere from $312 to $5k.
  • According to Salary.com, the national average proofreader salary is just over $55k a year and the average range falls between (approx) $42k and $70k a year. 

Years of experience, cost of living, the size and scope of duties, and the current market will all impact the amount you’re paid, but this is just a rough guide to get you thinking about the possibilities out there.

Proofreaders make around $20 an hour, but this all depends on your experience and niche.

Proofreading vs copy-editing 

As we mentioned before, proofreading is different from other styles of editing as it is the absolute final edit on a final draft. It mainly focuses on fixing capitalization, punctuation and spelling errors and looking for consistency and formatting errors. 

Though you’ll need to let people know your thinking on any major issues, you shouldn’t be moving paragraphs around, rewriting sentences, or commenting on plot, characters or setting in books. 

A copy-editor instead will focus on providing feedback on sentence structure, making sure the project is consistent with the style-guide, fact-checking and checking over the table of contents to see if it matches page numbers. But they’re not the final set of eyes on a project – that’s the proofreaders job!

How to become a proofreader in retirement:

1. Decide if you have the skills

Proofreading is an easy skill to pick up, but it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to have exceptional attention to detail and be able to work relatively fast for a lot of jobs out there. You may need to learn specialized skills beyond traditional punctuation and grammar, but the fact is that skills vary across different types of proofreading. 

Lach, a retiree of 9 years, did an interview with Phon of Edit Republic on his part time proofreading gig, and shared this advice on getting started:

“Do not be afraid to learn, and practice on ads on the bus, and newspaper columns; restaurant menus almost always have a typo. I learned to read as I was ill a lot as a child so being able to read is [necessary], but so is facility in writing. It is not just knowing spelling and grammar.”

It’s about what works for you, so carefully consider whether proofreading is something that seems aligned with your person, and go from there!

2. Get training

Once you’ve figured out whether or not proofreading is a job for you, it’s a pretty good idea to get some training. Even if you’re pretty well-versed in the English language, it can help to refine your skills and learn how to set yourself up for this job. 

Proofread Anywhere teaches people how to become a proofreader with really useful courses. They even have a free introductory course to figure out if it’s the right fit for you. 

With Proofread Anywhere, you can learn exactly what proofreaders do (and don’t do), how to avoid making the most common mistakes new proofreaders often make, how to identify potential prospects and so much more. It’s an affordable, easy, and fun way to get into the proofreading business.

No matter how well-versed in the English language you are, further proofreading training can help immensely

3. Determine your niche

Once you feel you’ve got the skills for proofreading and are ready to enjoy it, it’s time to explore the niche options available for this job. There are dozens of different proofreading niches, all you need to do is find the one that fits your strengths and time availability. 

  • Print media proofreading:

This is the more traditional style of proofreading. Checking for spelling, grammar and formatting issues in media including newspapers, books and other printed or online publications. 

  • Marketing materials:

When large companies spend thousands on printed and online ad campaigns, one mistake could cost them big. A marketing proofreader checks for spelling, grammar and formatting of ads, press releases and emails.

  • Academic proofreading:

Academic proofreaders check references, citations and style in assignments, dissertations and course materials, as well as the usual grammar and spelling. 

  • Transcript proofreading:

YouTubers and podcasters often need to transcribe their audio for use on their website, which means proofreaders here check that the automated transcription makes sense and is formatted correctly. No – they don’t have to write it, they just need to proofread it. 

  • Proofreading translations:

When it comes to proofreading translations, you may need proficiency in the translated language, but not always. These proofreaders make sure the meaning and context of the translations are accurate. 

  • Legal transcript proofreading:

This type of proofreading is a little more unique in that there’s no grammar or style correction. It’s merely the checking of accuracy of court reporter transcripts, ensuring accuracy between the audio and transcript, and correct punctuation. It’s a little more lucrative and consistent than other styles of proofreading.

legal transcript proofreading is a little more unique, lucrative and consistent

4. Set your rates

Beginner freelance proofreaders charge anywhere from $10 to $35 based on things like document length, turnaround time and skill set needed. Which means, the more specific your expertise, the more you can charge. 

However, when starting out, don’t be disappointed by all the low-paying proofreading jobs. In the early days, just take what you can get and make it a point to continue learning and niching down as you gain more experience. 

Don’t forget – every job you do will add up in the long run and, if you do a really good job of it, your name won’t take too long to get around to a few friends or colleagues of those you’ve worked with. 

5. Look online for online jobs for beginners

Decide how you want to approach your proofreading job. Most will find freelance proofreading online to be the easiest way to get in, however, it’s worth exploring the web for all your options. 

Upwork, Fiverr and LinkedIn are all great places to post your resume when you’re still in the early days and not certain on where to start. 

Freelance proofreading is one of the best ways to make extra money and stay busy after retirement, especially for those with a keen eye for detail, a passion for language, and those who can’t handle the idea of resorting to customer service or a sales job. 

While it may not be for everyone, this flexible job is much easier to crack into than you’d think and, with so many different prints available today, there’s always someone in need of a job done. 

Meaning if you want to earn a little extra cash from the comfort of your own home? It’s the perfect method to do so.