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Proofreaders or copy editors delve in and read other people’s articles, papers, essays, and even newspapers to edit, correct spelling, grammatical errors, and even provide content editing. Once a proofreader has finished their job, the article, essay or paper should be ready to go to print or submitted to a class professor, magazine or customer.
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Starting a Home-Based Proofreading Business
Search for home-based proofreading jobs online and you’ll find so many hits it’s hard to decide where to start. A tip to keep in mind is that most of these “hits" are companies who want to sell you proofreading software or a book to help you jump start your career working from home as a proofreader.
In other words, it’s best to skip these websites and offers that appear to be free and start your proofreading business on your own with a little help from the World Wide Web and your creativity.
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The Basics of a Home-Based Proofreading Business
To help you start working from home as a proofreader, follow these tips:
- Take a Class - If you don’t have any prior experience, other than working with relatives and friends in the proofreading business, take a course. You can find proofreading courses online and at your local community college. Most courses cost between $35 and $100 and choose one that includes a certificate of completion as well as a continuing education credit.
- Get Yourself Noticed – At the inception of your proofreading business, start by making flyers and brochures and leaving them at local colleges and universities while you find other resources to build up your customer base.
- Build a Website – Create a website and invest in learning about how to market your website so it gets noticed and receives visitors. Make sure your website clearly defines what you do, your experience, some samples, and prices.
- Calculate Income and Expenses – Just as an outside-of–the-home business owner would, you need to create a budget showing income and expenses to determine profits. Be realistic about how many proofreading jobs you feel you can obtain for at least two years out to determine income projections. For expenses, you will need to consider printer cartridges, paper, stamps, utility and phone charges, advertising, health care, and sales taxes. Generally, if you complete a proofreading job for a person or company outside of the state where you live, you will not have to charge sales taxes. If you complete a job for someone within your state, you will need to charge and pay sales taxes.
- Equipment and Space – For tax purposes, you should value your equipment and ask an accountant about your home office space. Both of these can be depreciated and used as an expense at tax time. Make an appointment with your accountant to discuss how to budget as well as record keeping for your home-based business.
- Explore the Web – There are proofreading and copyediting opportunities abundant on the Internet. Beware of places that charge you money to find you a proofreading job. Consider searching for online proofreading jobs as an investment of your time because often, it may take you a while to find jobs that are truly available. Keep notes of places that you find that seem desirable as well as names of companies you want to skip. Learn how affiliate marketing can boost your home-based business. Often, places like Craig’s List will have job opportunities you can apply for online. Another website that is dedicated to offering real work at home jobs is StaffCentrix.
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What Should You Charge?
When you first begin working at home as a proofreader, you may not have much experience behind you. Prices for copy editing and proofreading can be charged by the word or hour.
In today’s world of proofreading, expect to charge and receive somewhere between $30 to $100 for a 500-word page document or $60-$100 per hour of your time. If you are just starting out, you only may be able to charge on the lower end of the scale and raise your prices once you have some experience behind you.
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Promote Your Home-Based Proofreading Business
In any home-based business, unless you are established, you will need to search for customers and keep customers coming back. Here are a few ideas on how to promote your proofreading business:
- Social Networking – Websites like MySpace, Facebook, Digg and LinkedIn are just a few places you should advertise your business.
- Blog – Start a blog and promote your blog. Write on your blog everyday to keep readers coming back. Learn ways to monetize your blog to bring in a few extra dollars.
- Cold calling – Don’t be afraid to cold-call local newspapers in your area to see if they are in need of a proofreader.
- Brand Yourself – Instead of calling your business Jane Smith Proofreading, consider a catchy name that clearly states what you do and is a name people will remember. Keep your business name short and to the point.
- Advertising Tools – Keep enough brochures and flyers on-hand and distribute them when you grocery shop, attend school events or other functions. Find online websites that will advertise your business for free.
- Chamber of Commerce – Most local Chamber of Commerce organizations will let home-based business owners join for an affordable fee based on gross sales. If your business name appears in the Chamber of Commerce, not only can you use this as an advertising tool, you will be privy to Chamber of Commerce events to attend to obtain and entice future clients.
- Expect Down times – In every business, there are slow times, so prepare for them. Take the down time opportunity to expand your customer base and visit local companies and stores to let them know who you are and what you offer.
- Reward Referrals – If a current customer refers someone to you, reward your customer with a discount on their next job. Ask satisfied customers to write how satisfied they were and ask if you can reprint the comments on your website. Avoid using customer’s last names, however.
- Network – Read Entrepreneur Online Home-Based business section everyday for tips and ideas. Network with other home-based business owners on Biznik, a free networking website full of marketing ideas, advertising tips, and how to grow your business guides.
Working from home as a proofreader and starting your own home-based business is not impossible. You will have to provide a little imagination, creativity, time, and effort to get your business up and running. With that time and effort will come customers to help your home-based proofreading business grow.