Make a Full Time Income Proofreading
One of the most intriguing side hustles that I’ve found in my searches might be proofreading and court reporting. I’ve been called a “grammar freak” in the past (but don’t go through this with a fine-toothed comb looking for errors… I’m sure there are many!), so the idea of getting paid to proofread really piqued my interest.
I actually got lucky enough to sit down with Caitlyn Pyle from Proofread Anywhere and talk to her about how she teaches people how to make money proofreading.
I’ve actually been lucky enough to speak with Caitlyn quite a few times, and each time I send her an email, I cringe thinking about a number of errors she’ll find! But that’s her job! She’s an incredibly talented woman who saw a need for training for other people just like her to get started proofreading.
She’s incredibly modest in our interview, but she really downplays how amazing it is to make a full time income proofreading or court reporting. And not just the freedom of being your own boss, but also the income that she is able to earn and the income that she has helped others earn has been incredible!
How to Make Money Proofreading with Caitlin Pyle
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog?
I actually got started by getting fired from my 9-5 job! I worked at a court reporting office and had started proofreading for some of the reporters there. When I got fired, I kept proofreading for the reporters just as a freelance proofreader. This gave me time to study to become a personal trainer. I personal trained for a few years, but I didn’t like how I was tied down to appointments and specific gyms.
My husband Ben encouraged me to start teaching others how to proofread for court reporters, so I decided to start sharing that knowledge with others. That push was what I needed to start turning my knowledge into an online course and to start blogging!
How did you get started as a proofreader?
I started general proofreading back in 2007. I have always loved to travel, so while I studied abroad in Germany, I proofread for non-native English speakers at the university I was attending. Then in 2009 I started working at a court reporting office as a receptionist. When my boss noticed I had a knack for proofreading, she got my name out to the court reporters I worked with. I would proofread their transcripts when I got home from work.
As I moved up at my job, I learned all I could about the court reporting world. When I got fired from my job in 2012, I started full-time proofreading. For the next three years, proofreading was my primary income.
What do you love most about being able to make money proofreading? How has it helped open doors for you?
I love being in charge of my own life! I’m not tied down to a desk working a 9-to-5 job for someone else. I have the freedom to work when I want to, even if that’s early in the morning or late at night. My life doesn’t have to wait to get crammed into my precious after-work evening hours. If I need to stop and get laundry done, I can. I can go pick up groceries whenever I want and even take a nap if I need to. And I never have to request time off! Essentially, I set my own schedule, and it has freed up my life to spend it how I want, not how a corporation tells me I have to.
What is a court reporter?
If you like to watch crime shows on TV, you have probably noticed a man or woman sitting at a little desk in a courtroom listening closely and typing on a keyboard. That’s a court reporter! They take down word for word what is being said during a court proceeding. Afterward, what they typed up in court is turned into a transcript. And that transcript is what proofreaders look over before it’s turned in to whomever requested it.
Why proofread specifically for court reporters?
It’s a great niche to work in! Unlike general freelance proofreading, you aren’t competing on Fiverr or Upwork for work that you end up only getting paid a few dollars for. Court reporting is a popular occupation for people to be going into! Which means there will always be work for transcript proofreaders.
What kind of income can be made as a proofreader for court reporters?
This actually depends on the individual. When proofreading court transcripts, you are paid by the page. So it really depends on how messy the transcript is, how heavy the topic is, how quickly the proofreader can read and mark up a page, and how much you charge per page. The method of proofreading you use can also make a big difference. If you’re using a slower method of proofing, like printing out the transcript pages and marking them up by hand, you will make far less per hour than you would if you used your iPad to make corrections. Most of my students tend to make about $17 an hour from the start. As they get faster through experience, their income naturally increases.
Can you make money proofreading for others as well as from court reporting?
Sure! You can still make money through freelance proofreading. But the potential you have to make more money is significantly better than just general proofreading. Court transcript proofreading is more technical and requires specific knowledge and training to be proficient at it. Because of that, though, the competition out there is not nearly as high!
Can everyone make money proofreading?
Honestly, it’s not. And that’s okay! You don’t want to force yourself into yet another profession you aren’t passionate about.
Those who could be a good proofreader are patient. They love words and all the nerdy grammar rules. They’re always spotting errors. They are self-motivated. And they enjoy working on their own.
On the flip side, it probably isn’t a good fit for you if you have a hard time using punctuation and have always struggled with spelling. If you have a hard time sitting and reading for extended periods of time as well, you probably would have a difficult time being a proofreader.
Why do you need training to do proofreading?
As I taught myself to proofread transcripts, I learned the really hard way and with lots of trial and error. Through my mistakes in the past, I learned you definitely need specific training to be a good, efficient proofreader. Particularly with court transcript proofreading, it isn’t just about knowing how to spell and the difference of when to use “there” and “their.” It’s about understanding the court reporter profession, knowing the basics of court transcripts, how to market to court reporters — and so much more!
I make sure I cover all the bases in my course, so all my students graduating from my course have not only the knowledge but the practice under their belts to go out and become an excellent proofreader.
What if you’re not positive that proofreading is a good fit?
A lot of people ask that question! So I created a free 7-day intro course to help you find out! It’s packed full of a LOT of different tips, including a guide on how to set up a website and how to get started as a freelancer.
It also gives an introduction to transcript proofreading. It’s definitely different from general proofreading, and I go into how it’s different to help you get a feel for it. Plus we test you on your abilities! You get the opportunity to see just how good your grammar skills are. I don’t want people signing up and spending money on something they won’t like or won’t be good at. So I make it my priority to help you make sure this could be a good fit for you.
What are the specific steps that a person needs to take to make money proofreading?
I cover this extensively in my course. Of course, I’m not going to give away the secrets on how to market yourself and get clients here. 🙂 It’s extremely important before a proofreader starts marketing themselves that they have the training needed to make themselves excellent. My course goes through eight modules of extensive training and testing before we even start talking about how to go out and find clients and start making money!
As I mentioned above, my free intro course gives some pointers on how to get started with general freelance proofreading. If you are interested to know, be sure to sign up!
How much does it cost in starting to make money proofreading and how much will it cost to maintain it?
The supplies and costs are minimal! All you need is the price of the course + an iPad to get started and maintain your side hustle.
Are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to make money proofreading like yourself?
Stay on top of your emails! It’s important to be prompt with your correspondence. It shows you are not only available but reliable as well, and that you take pride in putting the client first.
You can sign up for Catlin’s free 7-day course here and see if proofreading is for you!
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