Make Money Proofreading By Becoming A Freelance Proofreader

Hello! Today, I have an amazing interview to share with you that will show you how to make money proofreading by becoming a freelance proofreader. I recently had the chance to interview Caitlin Pyle, the blogger behind Proofread Anywhere, who explains how this may be a possibility for you. In 2014, Caitlin made slightly over…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: September 2, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Hello! Today, I have an amazing interview to share with you that will show you how to make money proofreading by becoming a freelance proofreader. I recently had the chance to interview Caitlin Pyle, the blogger behind Proofread Anywhere, who explains how this may be a possibility for you.

In 2014, Caitlin made slightly over $43,000 by being a freelance proofreader, while also going on several fun vacations.

If you are looking for a new job or even just a side hustle, this may be something that you want to look into.

Check out the interview below for more information on how to make money proofreading by becoming a court transcript proofreader or a freelance proofreader.

Caitlin also has a great FREE 7 day course just for people who want to stop wasting time and start making more money with their proofreading skills. I definitely recommend that you check it out.

If you want to become a general proofreader instead (such as for books, blogs, and so on), Caitlin has put together a FREE 76-minute workshop, where she answers all of the most common questions about becoming a general proofreader, and she even shows you how to use the most popular tools used by proofreaders around the world. You can sign up for free here.

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Here is how you can make money proofreading:

How did you get started as a court transcript proofreader?

I have been proofreading all kinds of text since 2007, but I got into transcript proofreading in 2009.

My first job after graduating college was as a receptionist at a court reporting agency in town. I quickly moved up the ranks into transcript production, which is where I learned the ins and outs of transcript format and the common mistakes that can be found in transcripts.

At the agency, we required the freelance reporters that contracted with us to not only have every job proofread, but they also had to upload their proofreader’s corrections as proof they had it done.

We were very strict! Yet even when the reporter had the job proofread, we still found tons of errors at the office!

Excellent proofreaders were very hard to find back then. I worked for the office until the summer of 2011. We parted ways, and I went to personal training school. I had a few proofreading clients on the side, but had no idea I could make an entire freelance business out of proofreading.

One day the following summer, one of my clients suggested I email her manager who was looking for quality assurance proofreaders. From that email, my career as a proofreader catapulted.

What is a court reporter, and why proofread specifically for them?

Court reporters use digital stenography machines in combination with computer-aided transcription software to write verbatim records of various legal proceedings. They report depositions, trials, hearings, arbitrations, case management conferences, compulsory medical examinations, examinations under oath, and pretty much any other type of legal proceeding. Because of the sensitive nature of legal proceedings, it’s imperative that as many errors as possible be eliminated from transcripts — an especially major error could ruin an entire trial!

Many people ask why reporters use court transcript proofreaders instead of just using spell check or grammar check.

Thing is, they do, but it’s not enough.

See, they could use the proper spelling of the word, but it could be the wrong word altogether! An example is “affect” and “effect” or “principal” and “principle.” Spell check may pick that up on occasion, but often the basic spell check within court reporting software would not detect this.

For the accuracy required in transcripts, the human brain is irreplaceable both for court reporters and proofreaders. Court reporters who use freelance proofreaders — good proofreaders, that is — know how valuable that extra set of eyes is to the quality of their product. Reporters don’t get paid for the time they spend proofreading their work, either, so outsourcing it to a proofreader saves them time — time they could use to take more jobs.

A fresh set of eyes will 99% of the time catch more errors than the same eyes who saw the text from start to finish, too. An excellent proofreader is a huge asset to a court reporter — especially a court reporter who wants to make more money.

What kind of money can be made as a proofreader for court reporters?

Keep in mind, I had been proofreading for three years before I even had the slightest clue I could make real money doing this. So I had plenty of practice by the time I signed on as a contractor with an agency and as a result, my numbers grew faster than they would’ve if I’d been starting from scratch.

My first month working for the agency (August 2012), I made $1,300.

By December, my name had traveled to enough reporters that I was earning $4,000+ per month — full-time income, and double what I was making working at the agency after college. I had unintentionally stumbled across a great freelance career, and it eventually replaced my various personal training gigs.

I earned more than $40,000 per year in 2013 and in 2014 from proofreading transcripts alone.

In that time, I trained several people one-on-one to do this type of work as well, and late 2014 I launched my blog, Proofread Anywhere, which offers lots of free blog content in addition to intensive training on exactly how to proofread transcripts and grow a side business — or full-time business — as a proofreader.

Most students have reported earning between $500 – $1000 in their first two months after their training, but a good number have made quite a bit more than that.

The record is $3,200 in the first month. That’s not as common, but it’s possible. It really takes time to build a freelance business and market it, no matter what industry you want to break into.

A little more on pay: court reporters are paid per page, and proofreaders generally earn about 10% of the court reporter’s page rate — the average pay rate is $0.35 per page.

Now, that might sound like pocket change, but transcript pages are double-spaced and much less dense than a book page, so the time it takes to proofread each page is dramatically reduced in comparison to a textbook. If you proofread 30 pages per hour, at $0.35/page that’s $10.50 per hour.

Your speed does increase as you get better at the work, and the software you use to do the work also helps a lot with becoming quick and efficient. So if your speed increases to 45 pages an hour, $15.75 would be your hourly rate. If you increased your rate to $0.40 as you get more experience, those same 45 pages would earn you $18 in an hour.

Once my business grew, my rate was $0.45 per page for regular turnaround, and if it was a rush job with fast turnaround, I charged $0.65 per page.

It takes time to make money proofreading and to build speed without sacrificing accuracy, so I always caution students not to aim for what I earn right away — it took me quite a while to get there!

Can you also make money freelance proofreading for others?

Yes!

Actually, many of my students have been offered opportunities to proofread for blogs, law firms, and even for authors. The pay is not generally anywhere near as good for other types of proofreading, but when you’re side-hustling and trying to pay off debt, every little bit can help.

Blogs are actually a great submarket for freelance proofreaders. I’ve even hired several of my own students to help me proofread my blog content! Well-written, error-free blog posts pack a heavier punch for readers on the hunt for useful content, whereas blogs riddled with errors may give readers the impression you don’t take your time putting it together.

Proofreaders can really help polish blog content and make it shine.

Can anyone make money proofreading?

NO.

Big, fat no, actually 🙂

Having an eagle eye for detail is critical, and not everyone has it. If you frequently need to use spell check to find errors and find yourself eternally confused with punctuation, it’s likely not a natural skill for you and proofreading wouldn’t be a good fit. However, those whose eyes are drawn immediately to errors in text, love punctuation and spelling, and overall enjoy reading would be a much better fit for this type of work. It’s not easy, though, so even if you do have that “eye,” it’s no guarantee you’ll make money proofreading.

You have to be motivated and committed to learning. If you go into learning this expecting other people to do it for you, you’ll be disappointed.

The students who succeed are not only excellent at proofreading; they are positive, persistent people who are committed to what they’re trying to build and don’t give up when it gets tough. And as with any sort of business, it WILL get tough… but it’s worth it.

Why do you need training to do this type of work?

The quickest way to get your name tarnished in the world of court reporting is by trying to jump in without having a clue what you’re doing.

Court reporters can spot incompetence from a mile away. Even if you do know exactly what you’re doing, if you haven’t learned how to communicate effectively with your target market, you’ll still risk coming off like a rookie, and you could blow your chances very quickly. I’ve received emails from people who are English majors and are ultra-confident they already know what it takes but “just need to learn how to market.”

Thing is, proofreading transcripts is so much different than proofreading a paper or a blog post.

Transcripts are all spoken word, so the grammar can’t just be fixed; the words can’t be rearranged if it sounds weird. As a transcript proofreader, you need to understand that, plus understand exactly what a court reporter goes through, how they do their job, exactly what kinds of errors you need to find, be knowledgeable in legal terminology, and know how to provide excellent service for your clients.

That’s why I created Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ — so you can learn how to do the work and how to get the work.

What if you’re not sure proofreading is a good fit?

I’d recommend checking out the site, our extensive FAQ posts (there are close to 40!), and enrolling in our free 7-day intro course.

You won’t learn how to do the work or how to get the work in the free intro, but you will learn more about my work as a transcript proofreader, meet current and former students, and have an opportunity to ask any questions to determine if it’s a good fit. We’ve even got a few quizzes to help you gauge your eagle eye ability 🙂

What specific steps does a person need to take in order to make money proofreading?

Step one is learning. You’ll be on this step for a while 🙂

On average, it takes about 2-4 months to learn how to do the work properly. It’s serious business working in the legal world, so shortcuts aren’t recommended when it comes to education.

The training takes you step by step through learning the industry, the necessary punctuation rules, over 3,000 practice pages, setting up a business, and lastly, an enormous module on marketing. A lot of people want to know how to market before they even know how to do the work, but we save marketing skills for last because it can actually be very overwhelming to learn how to get work before knowing how to do it. Once you learn how to do the work (and do it well!), your confidence grows exponentially and you can start learning marketing knowing you have a marketable skill.

Once you do learn marketing, being persistent and thorough in your marketing efforts is critical, too. We give you all the tools to learn modern marketing techniques, but you have to understand them, implement them, and be consistent with them over time. Any business owner knows marketing is a consistent effort. Staying connected with other freelance proofreaders (and transcript proofreaders) is another great step to stay motivated and up to date on industry happenings.

How much does it cost to start this side hustle and how much on a monthly basis to maintain it?

Our 7-day intro course is totally free, and our program options start at $197. The full course is $897, which includes lifetime access, ongoing support, and lifetime membership in our student community on Facebook, where questions get answered in mere minutes.

Students tend to earn their investment back within a month or two after the training — we’re really proud to be able to say that!

Other than that, we do recommend using an iPad for the most efficient method of proofreading. Check out this link for details on exactly why we recommend an iPad.

Overhead costs are generally very low — there isn’t much by way of monthly expenses unless you pay for a specific accounting software or some kind of pay-as-you-go productivity app. There are free accounting options available, like ZohoBooks, and even free ways to create your own logo and website. There’s only a cost if you choose your own domain or use premium design tools.

Marketing doesn’t have to cost anything but time and only costs something if you choose to invest in business cards or something like a premium LinkedIn membership. Those can be a good investment if it helps you get more clients.

What do you love about being able to make money proofreading? What has it helped you do?

It’s so flexible and much more autonomous than an office job. Because I don’t have to be in an office and I only use email and an iPad, I can live and work anywhere there’s internet access.

My husband and I have been able to travel for a solid five months this year, and we have plans to travel for eight months of 2016, too. I’ve even been able to meet several students in my travels: two in New York City, and four in Ecuador, of all places.

Being an excellent transcript proofreader doesn’t require you to live in any particular place; it just requires you to turn around quality work that helps your clients shine.

That’s another one of my favorite parts — you get to play an integral role in producing excellent work. It can be a little scary for some people knowing they’re 100% responsible for the quality of their work, and if they screw up it could cost them, but for me, it pushes me to always be my best when I’m the one in charge!

Lastly, are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to become a freelance proofreader?

Definitely take the free intro course first to see if it’s a good fit for you. It’s not for everyone. Don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be an overnight success or a quick-fix, get-rich-quick thing. It’s NOT. It takes lots of hard work and persistence.

If you choose to enroll in the training, make good use of the extensive support forum and our Facebook group instead of trying to do it all alone. There are so many helpful people there (including me) to answer any questions. Because we have students around the world, there’s usually someone there to answer your questions at any time of the day.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, you can check out Caitlin’s courses here.

Did you enjoy this interview with Caitlin from Proofread Anywhere? Are you interested in learning how to make money proofreading by becoming a transcript proofreader?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. lovely and interesting post, thanks for sharing it!!

  2. I love this! In what seems to be millions of years ago, I was an editor for my undergrad newspaper. It seemed like our copy editor made bank because she was working part-time for “real” local papers as a proofreader while we were all clamoring for $5/hour babysitting gigs. It was great to get more insight into this!

  3. Bryan

    Great post and very informative. This sounds really interesting. I can write a great post or a report but never without many typos or errors. While I don’t think I’ll be a good proofreader, it certainly great to know how to find one. Haha.

    1. Send me an email, Bryan — I know several hundred great proofreaders ๐Ÿ˜‰ caitlin@proofreadanywhere.com

      1. Amy

        This is right up my alley! Friends & coworkers always have me proof their work, posts, etc. Do you provide referrals upon course completion?

  4. Elizabeth

    Wow. I’ve been looking for a potential side hustle for a while and this is right up my alley! Definitely checking out this website!

  5. Thank you for sharing this interview! I would love to make money working as an editor/proofreader. This is definitely something that I need to look into.

    1. You should definitely look into it Kristi.

  6. Great interview and potentially a very interesting freelance gig. I’ve worked as a stenographer for government before and I can confirm that even the biggest sticklers for spelling and grammar (myself included) make mistakes.

    1. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. Thanks Emma!

  7. Very interesting post. I have been looking for a remote side gig I could get into and since I love correcting typos (I freak out if there’s a typo on my blog posts!), this may e right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Chris Laymon

      Since I love correcting typos, this may BE right up my alley. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Michelle, this online side hustle is really cool and I can do proofreading because I have experience in editing content and worked in publishing industry for some time. Thanks for sharing this story and idea.

  9. Wow. I found this very informative and really amazing. Great work on writing this. It’s so wonderfully put. Thank you. Good luck with everything.

    1. Thanks! Are you interested in trying it out?

      1. Maybe, I recently started blog. I wouldn’t mind trying it out. Who knows I might be good at it. And eventually quit this second job that I got. It’s just too exhausting and not what I thought it would be. Enough with my rambling lol. Say I would want to start how would I go about it.

        1. If you are interested in starting, I highly recommend checking out the course that is mentioned in this interview.

          1. Awesome thanks.

        2. We have a free 7-day introductory course on the website, as well, to help you learn more about what it entails ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Great. I’ll look into it. Thanks.

  10. Proofing online text successfully requires a knowledge of correct word usage and punctuation, spelling words correctly and understanding what the writer intended to say through careful re-reading of the text.

  11. Proofreading? Why not? I am gonna look for online job requiring this skills. Thanks for giving me an idea Michelle.

    1. It is necessary to be a native English speaker.

  12. This is interesting besides the fact that anyone can make money blogging and from affiliate marketing. Sharing this information with others is quite thoughtful of you Michelle. Thank you so much for keeping people in the know about virtually unlimited ways to make money alongside daytime employment.

  13. … except that it *isn’t* a course to “help you proofread better.” It’s a course on building a freelance business as a specific type of proofreader in a specialized niche where training is highly recommended. I’ve seen too many people try to go it alone, and they have no idea what they’re doing — they essentially shoot themselves in the foot and destroy their reputation in the process.

    I do agree — and my students would, too — that the course is super duper, though ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Gina Love

    Is it really this easy? I quit my $45,000 job as a restaurant manager a month ago because my husband was MY boss. I decided happiness at home was much more important because we were bringing work home daily. It was VERY stressful. What is funny is that I have been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and obviously linking back to blogs. Almost every single post I read has at least one spelling error, or punctuation error or some sort of error. I have never claimed to be perfect but I think I would really love this because those errors drive me nuts! Like bonkers! I am going to your link to see if I would be a good fit. Not going to lie, I don’t really have the money to pay for the courses seeing how I have no income of my own. However, If I feel it is something I am interested in I am going to sign up for the 7-day course and see where that goes. I am happy to have found this post. Thank you!

    1. It’s not easy… at all ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s real work to build, but if you’re passionate about finding errors/using your eagle eyes and want to use them to earn an income, it’s very much worth it. The work isn’t easy, the course isn’t easy, and I am not an easy teacher ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. Caitlin @ Moveable Mess

    I love this post! It really seems like something I could do. Thanks for the ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Sheri Snyder

    This sounds like something I’d be very interested in. But alas, it will have to wait until I can afford to invest in it. Thank you so much for the information!

  17. Kaitlynn Baker

    How exactly do you become a freelance proofreader? I wouldn’t even begin to know where to find clients. And what would you use as credentials?

    1. Katie Chase

      There are a couple of links in the article above that will take you directly to Caitlin’s website. You will find everything you need there. I have taken and graduated the course AND have successfully made a nice side income from proofreading for court reporters. I highly recommend the course. Caitlin is awesome, as is the student community. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Connie

    I was a court reporter for seven years and for the last eight years I have worked as a legal editor at a codification company. Two completely different proofreader worlds. Court reporting is very persnickety work. It is NOT easy. You cannot change words to make it read better, you cannot add or remove words. A comma or period in the wrong place can change the entire meaning of what was said. People under oath are usually nervous and use wrong words, improper English, incomplete sentences, false starts and stops, they stutter, trail off, nod or shake their heads, etc. All of this has to be written and punctuated in a way the reader gets a verbatim transcript of what was said how it was said. IT IS HARD WORK! But if you are a perfectionist (read as anal), don’t mind pulling an occasional all-nighter and are just a wee bit crazy, this may be the perfect career for you! I would suggest you purchase errors and omissions insurance just in case. (Yes, you are hired by the court reporter, but when you work on transcripts you are ultimately working for lawyers! I will be retiring from my editing job soon, and I have thought about doing this part-time to earn a little extra money while being able to travel. Even with my experience, I surely won’t hesitate to take this course as a refresher.

    1. Hey, Connie!! You would be in good company; we’ve got several other former reporters who’ve switched to proofreading as well. It’s funny you mention errors and omissions insurance. I was just speaking to my attorney recently, and she said since it’s not the proofreader’s name on the transcript but the reporter’s, the proofreader cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions; only the reporter can. I ran that by one of my long-time clients and she agreed — reporters should definitely consider the insurance, but proofreaders aren’t held liable since their name isn’t on the job. We’re kind of ghosts :-)!!

  19. I had started my career as a finance writer. Proofreading didn’t strike as an idea then. Will definitely recommend it to my juniors. Thanks!

  20. This sounds like something I may need to check into! Thanks for posting! I spent 6 months as the Editor for our local town newspaper, however, that may not be such a great thing since grammar and AP style is a huge importance. However, I do have a degree in Legal Studies and a degree in Criminal Justice and have poured over several courtroom transcripts for both degrees. Who knows, maybe I can make this a side hustle!

    =) Bridget

  21. This is insane that I ran into this post because I’m funemployed, trying to figure out what my purpose is online (I’m a blogger) and how I can help others. While I’m not sure court transcripts is my cup of tea, it’s worth looking into since I do enjoy all the court jargon I see on TV/documentaries.. it’s got me curious. Ultimately, I would like to be a proofreader for bloggers, but I think this would be a great start. Thank you Michelle for sharing Caitlin’s content! I will see how in the world I’ll come up with money for the first 7 day course.

  22. Tony

    The real question is how many hours did you work proofreading to make 43-stacks in a year. That’s a lot of pages.

    1. It is a lot of pages! ๐Ÿ™‚ I mainly had a part-time schedule, so about 20-25 hours a week. Flexibility at its best.

      1. James Middlebrook

        ~100 pages/hour is doable for well-practiced eyes and fingers!