I’m going to ask a hard question: Why is investing in yourself a struggle?
You know what kind of life you want, and you have a pretty good idea of how to achieve it, but you struggle to put your money where your mouth is.
It might be because you’ve gotten so caught up with helping everyone else reach their dreams that you’ve forgotten about your own.
Maybe it’s because you’ve spent money on education before, and it didn’t work out exactly how you thought it would.
It can be scary to spend money on something you don’t 100 percent know will work out.
But there’s a difference between spending money and investing.
If you funnel money toward something you actually use to grow your income — you’re investing.
You need to commit to investing in yourself and your future.
I don’t mean choosing something because it worked for someone else. I mean finding something that’s a good fit for YOUR skills and interests. And continuing to level up your skills so you can grow your income and help even more people.
Danielle struggled to decide if she should invest in doing courses that would allow her to create the life and freedom she wanted. She decided her future was worth that investment — and so can you!
Take it away, Danielle!
Q: Hi, Danielle! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
I’m from California, but I’ve lived abroad in Spain for several years working as an elementary school English teacher.
I always had a blast teaching, but salaries are generally pretty low in Spain, and teaching (unless you’re a government teacher) is no exception. I was okay with less income in my early twenties, but as I approached my twenty-eighth birthday, it was time to start thinking long term. When I asked for a raise, I was told that unless I earned a degree from a Spanish university, my earning potential had topped out.
That was a pretty devastating moment, especially since I knew that changing schools wouldn’t necessarily solve this problem. I started what would be my final year of teaching knowing I had to make a change but unsure what that would look like.
Q: That sucks, but I’m glad you were able to make a change. When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?
Everybody who takes the course tells a similar story, and mine is no different. I’ve always proofread for my friends and family, and I’ve always proofread in previous jobs.
As I started to job hunt and think about what to do next, I ran across PA. Right away, it seemed like the perfect decision. I did some research about the course, and it didn’t take long to decide that it was the right next step for me. I’d always loved proofreading, and the thought of doing the General Proofreading course truly excited me.
I enrolled right before my twenty-eighth birthday in mid-November, and I turned in my final exam just after New Year’s Day.
Q: Tell us a little about your transition from proofreading to writing. What made you make the switch?
Proofreading was never the be-all-end-all to getting into the freelancing world; it was merely my starting point. I’ve always been interested in making use of my writing skills, and I knew even as I was doing the PA course that I wanted to add another skill to my wheelhouse. Once I passed the final exam, I enrolled in a writing course, which helped me see that I wanted writing to be my main source of work.
Q: It’s all about figuring out what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. What kind of writing do you do?
SEO articles and blogs, mostly.
Q: What was the most challenging part of getting started?
Deciding that my future was worth making close to a $1,500 investment in two courses. I also did all the legwork for my freelance career while holding down a full-time job, so between my nine-to-five, the freelance groundwork, and trying to get to the gym, I was pulling some late nights and didn’t have a lot of free time.
Q: I love your attitude! Spending money and investing in yourself are two different things. I’m so glad you made that decision! What was the most valuable thing you learned during the GP course?
To question everything. Look up a word if it’s unfamiliar. If the client has used it correctly, then you learned a new word. If they haven’t, you just saved them from embarrassment. I still consider myself a rather slow proofreader, and part of that is because I’m always checking to make sure every little detail is correct.
Q: Great advice. A good proofreader doesn’t assume that something is correct; they check! How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?
In terms of proofreading, I was lucky enough to get some bites from my social network after announcing my new business, so I got a client right away. This client has been pretty steady, even though she doesn’t send me a lot of volume, and I’m currently working with another on a book, which is exciting.
The majority of the volume of my work comes from writing, however, and I have one main writing client who sends me work.
Q: Tapping into your social network is a very effective strategy for getting clients. How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?
It took me about six months.
Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
For me, the question was if it was worth the investment to have the life I envisioned. Living abroad comes with certain challenges, and not being able to go home as much as I liked was one of them. Now that I’m a freelancer, I can go to California whenever I want, and that’s an investment I wouldn’t hesitate to make again.
And about proofreading specifically, if you love proofreading and you’re ready to work hard, I would say to go for it. There’s no time like the present to start living the life you want.
Q: What does your life look like now as a working freelancer?
I structure my day as I please, which is so liberating. I wake up around 8:00 a.m. and am usually at the gym by about 9:00 a.m. Being able to go to the gym in the morning has been an absolute game changer for me because I get to put a tick next to the first to-do item of the day, and it gives me energy to get through everything else.
When I get back home, I spend the rest of the morning doing some freelance work for my old company in the US (non-proofreading related), and then from after lunch until the evening I write. The great thing about all of this is that it’s completely flexible, so if something comes up, I can change my schedule as needed. Plus, I love being able to do random errands during the day when other people are at work.
And perhaps most importantly, I was able to spend five weeks at home over Thanksgiving and the holidays this past year, and that’s something that would have been impossible before.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
I was amused when I was asked to do this interview because, truth be told, I don’t feel like a success story quite yet. Sure, I’ve hit a few of my goals, but there’s still a lot on my to-do list. The first objective I set was to make $500 a month, which I’m happy to report I’ve achieved, and my next goal is to make what I made at my teaching job. I’m getting close, but I’m not quite there yet.
The process is long, and you have to be okay with that when you start. I left my job at the end of last July, and I’m further along than I could have imagined I’d be, but I also still have a long way to go. You have to be fine with knowing that not everything will happen right away.
Yep! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; proofreading is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. Accepting that it will take time is hard. But setting small incremental goals will make the process a lot easier. Celebrate each win, no matter how small! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Danielle!
If you’re ready to invest in yourself and start creating the kind of life you want like Danielle did, check out our free Intro to Proofreading workshop to learn how you can get started.