Every new business owner’s worst nightmare.
You’re passionate about what you do. You’ve got the skills to do the job. And you know you can help other people improve their businesses with those skills.
But… these people will never know how you can help them if you’re too afraid to put yourself out there.
Marketing is a necessary evil. It’s how people know you exist and that you can help them.
So how do you let people know you exist?
Social media plays a huge role in marketing, but it’s not all online these days. Networking in person is still a worthwhile activity.
Beth attended a workshop in her local area one month after graduating the General Proofreading course… and she came away with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR new clients!
Read her story below to find out more.
Q: Hey there, Beth! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
I’ve worked in many different roles, including legal secretarial and database work. I’ve even been a videographer for legal depositions, a recorder for Senate hearings, and a voice actor! I eventually took a contract position through HCL to work at Google, where I worked in machine learning. I wrote documentation and trained people on machine learning tasks, among other things. Working there was so amazing!
That said, something was still missing in my life. An accident almost killed me about a decade ago, and since then, I’ve been examining what’s important in life and analyzing what is holding me back. I realized that I was procrastinating on making any big life changes and was stuck in what I call “the fear loop,” so something had to give.
Q: Procrastination and fear hold so many people back. I’m glad you broke out of the fear loop! When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?
I’ve been working for about twenty-five years, and in most of those positions, being the team editor, writer, or proofreader was one of my “other duties as assigned,” but it was never my title. After running across PA by accident, something just clicked. I realized that proofreading would be a great fit for me as a “real” career and not just a part of a job.
Q: A lot of people don’t realize they can turn proofreading into a full-time job. You’re proof they can! What was the most challenging part of getting started?
Getting out of my own way! 🙂
Fear is a powerful thing, but when it comes to something like taking a course or trying something new, fear is a false construct. It’s part of a story we tell ourselves to mitigate our risk, but it has no actual value to us. After all, no harm can come from learning new skills or refreshing old ones, right? Once I jettisoned some of the fear, I was off and running.
Q: I love your attitude toward fear! What was the most valuable thing you learned during the course?
That what I do with this as a career is ENTIRELY up to me.
It wasn’t the grammar or the marketing, though I learned those, too.
The real takeaway, for me, was that I have the power to change my life, and by taking that first step with PA, I feel like not only was I trained for a career in proofreading, I was also given several tools — including mindset tools — to make a success of it.
Q: Having the courage to start your own business often requires a change in mindset. That’s why I include access to the Money Mindset Transformation workshop as part of the General Proofreading course package! How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?
Let me share a story of what I call “the ripple effect” that can occur when you have faith in what you’re doing:
I graduated at the end of 2017, and by January 2018, I had built my website and printed some business cards. I hadn’t done much marketing, yet, as I was just ramping up and was still working full-time and blogging part-time. Originally I had planned to work at least another 8–12 months while proofreading as a side hustle, but that rapidly changed.
In late January, I attended a local workshop, and the instructor asked the class: “If today were your last day alive, what would you regret?” When it was my turn to answer, I said, “That I never started my own business.” She asked what type of business, so I told the class about my new direction in proofreading and how I hoped to launch it this year, and also about my negativity-disrupting blog, positively b.e.e. Several people asked me for my card that day, so I handed them out to the class.
In early February, someone from that workshop asked me to proofread a two-page letter. She was officially my first client.
By March, I’d decided to leave my full-time job much earlier than anticipated so I could focus on building my business. It was never going to be “the right time” for me to leap, so I just ripped off the Band-Aid and did it. Within two days of turning in my notice, the instructor who asked that all-important question back in January contacted me to proofread her next book! And then someone else from that class called me. And then someone else after that! I got a few new subscribers to my blog, too.
So let’s recap: at ONE workshop that I took ONE MONTH after graduating, I got several clients and readers, simply by being myself, carrying some business cards, and speaking my truth about my dreams.
Overall, I’ve had about a dozen individual clients, and three of them are multiple-repeat clients. In addition to those, I passed rigorous testing for two different companies who hire freelancers to proofread and edit reports, essays, and research papers.
Q: Bravo, Beth! Way to put yourself out there. How long did it take you to recoup your investment?
I think it was about three months.
Here’s what some of Beth’s happy clients have to say!
Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
In my opinion, investing in yourself is always worth the money, period. If you want to learn proofreading as a skill and as a business option, here’s a way to do that. It was worth the money, to me, to purchase the highest tier at the time so that I could be tested on my skills and earn a certificate. It gave me that extra boost of confidence when it came time to market myself, plus the post-graduation support included in that tier has been great!
As to advice: if you’re hesitating, reach out to the PA team and ask questions. They are very responsive! Read the PA blog, do your homework, and read about the success stories… and then take a good hard look at what false limitations you are placing on yourself. If there’s a goal you want to meet, and becoming a freelance proofreader will help you reach that goal, then what are you waiting for? Don’t let fear stop you from doing this or anything else you want to do with your life.
This concept of taking action to follow your dreams is something I teach on my blog all the time, and it’s why I love Caitlin’s energy and course so much. She totally “gets it” and is living proof of what is possible if you put your mind to it.
Q: Aww, shucks! Thanks, Beth! Taking action instead of waiting for things to happen is a surefire way to get closer to achieving your dreams. What does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?
Since quitting my day job, I feel like I have a much better quality of life. There was an adjustment period where I felt adrift for the first few weeks due to a lack of 9–5 structure, but now that I’m used to it, I love it! For example, I have the freedom to take the car in for an oil change and work from the waiting room, instead of having to schedule it on a Saturday or take time off work.
Additionally, in any 9–5 jobs I’ve held, people often passed illnesses back and forth, but now I don’t have to worry about getting sick at work. The one time I did get sick since working from home, I just worked in bed! That’s the nice thing about proofreading; you truly can do it from anywhere!
I’ve had some high points and some low points, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If work is a little slower for any period of time, I make sure I am moving my business forward by expanding my skills, taking courses, re-evaluating my marketing, reaching out to people, doing research — whatever else I can think of to make the most of every single day. I’m in control of my life, and I like it that way.
Finally, I love my little office, which my husband built for me. [See attached Instagram pic of my desk]
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
Freelance proofreading has only been the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey! For example:
- I’ve branched into editing and writing services in addition to proofreading.
- I’ve been interviewed by various entrepreneurs about my perspectives on life, and I’ve spoken publicly about mindset.
- Starting from this month, I’ll be a co-coach in an online class.
- My blog, positively b.e.e., recently hit its one-year anniversary! I love writing about topics to disrupt the negativity we encounter in our everyday lives!
My point is: when you take a course with PA, where it takes you is all up to you. You can do as much or as little as you want. Signing up for a proofreading course may just be the first step on your path to working at home, but it certainly won’t be your last if you decide to take it farther.
Wow! Who else loved Beth’s story? I’m so impressed by how she put herself out there to attract proofreading clients. Freelance proofreading is only the beginning of her journey, and I have no doubt she’ll be successful at anything she sets her mind to.
Want to learn the skills that’ll help you attract proofreading clients? Check out our free workshop for info on how to get started.