WHY: life brings change, and I needed new skills to stimulate extra income. I loved to write and I believed freelance proofreading was both practical and feasible while juggling other commitments, which included my family and work.
WHO: mainstream education such as university wasn’t an answer that was workable for me at the time. A friend had done a children’s writing course and out of curiosity (which I have in large doses), I researched the College that offered this particular course and many others.
WHAT: before too long, the diverse and wonderful world of correspondence education opened up for me. These particular colleges have courses on anything and everything; different mediums for learning e.g. hard copy, online, and so forth, as well as many options of payment to suit all budgets, and good tutor and college support. Well, this has been my experience of the college I’ve studied with and continue to further my studies with.
WHERE: it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, where your tutor is, whether your hair is a mess or whether you still have your PJs on. The flexibility is endless depending on your lifestyle. I took my study notes with me everywhere and utilized opportunities to study wherever I could.
HOW: slowly I learned new skills, and new ways of looking at words, marks on pages, funny squiggles that suddenly had new meaning and in doing so, discovered my weaknesses in writing that I could turn into strengths. I was able to use proofreading techniques in everyday situations, in every publication I picked up and within any career choice (but I still had a love of writing and believed that this would be a solution to paying bills and buying food). I was both right and wrong at the same time.
WHEN: Finally … with my diploma in hand, where to next? Here it is that truth goes in two different directions. In truth, freelance proofreading can be done anywhere via an internet connection. By reality, there will be the percentage of folk who have the opportunity to work within a company, or they may have been in the right place at the right time, or live in a city that demographically fosters more interaction with proofreaders than in other parts of the country.
This is not easy to research prior to studying in this area and something only experience can offer you. I had the great opportunity of being granted freelance proofreading from a large company in a major city to the one where I lived; a not so major city, and one that holds many businesses that redirects the area of publishing at their head offices in the major city.
This opportunity was fantastic for the hands-on experience that cannot be offered within a course of study. Alas, this company was bought by a larger company and this opportunity went out the window. But, because I had experienced this opportunity; and knew it could be a reality, and I had little experience in such things, I continued to believe for a number of years that more opportunities from the major cities would come my way. Wrong. I kept up the practice in the meantime, proofing for family and friends while continuing to search for work.
If you have particular skills and expertise, then follow through.
In the end, I learned to look outside the square. If you have particular skills and expertise in a certain area, then follow that tracks through. I loved education, so it still remains my major proofing interest. I made up flyers and placed them in universities or city writing centres, anything was worth a try. I felt like giving up many times. I was still working part-time; had gathered some freelance work, but would have starved if I’d relied only on that and it was inconsistent.
This fact is so important. Keep one foot in regular employment that brings in a stream of income while continuing to search for freelance proofreading work. I had the opportunity to proof some theses from uni students in different subjects but keep in mind it is difficult for them when they are doing their Masters and may also have limited income to pay you with. And you have to make sure that you do get paid. This can bring certain hurdles, sometimes after many hours of proofing for another person. I learnt to read job ads on the Internet that I thought offered an
Newsletters are a good opening to offer your services in freelance proofreading.
Three strong messages I learned:
1. Keep one foot in regular employment as you seek freelance proofreading work.
2. Don’t put all your energies into one skill – look further for an area that you can work parallel in e.g. I continued my studies in freelance journalism to open up a greater skill base.
3. Look outside the square – never has there been a time of greater publications in any format, so, offer your freelance proofreading services everywhere. I no longer rely on it as a single income earner, and that is what I believed was possible right from the start. Now I work within education in a different format. Creating and proofing activity kits for kids as a support to teachers and, being creative, it’s also as an outlet for kids. It promotes reading, comprehension, creativity and learning about words in a creative and easily receptive learning medium.
Freelance proofreading is possible, but it’s up to you to make it possible in any way that works for you and it can lead in many different directions. That is the joy of words, language and books in any form. I will continue to study, hoping to combine photography with words and hey, I can do all my own proofing. How cool is that!