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From Ranch Sitting to Proofreading: How Joann Boosts Her Income

We talk a lot on this blog about moms who want to increase their income. 

Because a large number of my readers are moms with young kids, we share stories about how many of them get to work from home and look after their kids thanks to proofreading. 

But I don’t want to forget about the other moms (and dads) out there. 

I know some of you need the flexibility to take care of your parents now that they’re getting older. 

They gave us life and looked after us for many years, and there comes a time when we want to repay that kindness. 

If you’re looking for a way to be available when they need you but still earn an income, working from home as a proofreader could be the answer. 

It works for Joann! She has been running a ranch and pet sitting business since 2013, but now that her mom needs her help a bit more, Joann was looking for a way to earn extra money that would allow her to be home more. Proofreading to the rescue!

Keep reading to hear more about Joann’s story!

Q: Hi, Joann! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?

Need to increase your income? Joann has many income streams -- from ranch sitting to proofreading!

Prior to becoming a full-time proofreader, I had already become disenchanted with the healthcare and corporate worlds working 50–60 hours a week for someone else and had started my own business as a ranch and pet sitter. 

Before I go any farther forward as to how I ended up as a proofreader, let me share a bit about my varied career background. After growing up surrounded by animals on a farm in Ohio, I pursued two successful careers in the medical field. First, I went to school and then worked as a nuclear medicine technologist and a manager of a nuclear medicine department. I then went back to school to become a licensed veterinary technician, worked in a small animal hospital, and then at a cutting horse ranch (an equestrian competition where a horse and rider separate a single cow from a herd of cattle) where I was in charge of the daily healthcare of 30+ horses and the mare/foal operation. Those were fulfilling, rewarding, but very long, hard days. 

Then I jumped over to the corporate world where I experienced many more career twists and turns ranging from a pharmaceutical sales rep, software trainer, regional account manager, business analyst, and ending as a project manager for a software company. 

At the time, it never occurred to me to become an actual proofreader even though I became known as “the proofreader” to check documents and manuals for errors at every company I worked for. It was an interesting, crazy, and varied career for sure! I was ready to hop off the corporate world bus after twenty-four years, but what was I going to do for income since I was not near retirement? Do you know that saying about life coming full circle? Mine did twofold.

I parlayed my animal and vet tech experience into a successful ranch and pet sitting business in 2013. However, to generate enough income, I had to be booked to stay at clients’ houses at least twenty-five days a month. I was fortunate to have enough clients to generate the needed income, but it kept me from being available as much as I needed to be to care for my mom who had started having health problems. 

This led to a search for another revenue stream that could add to my existing income, allow me to reduce the number of ranch and pet sitting clients, and care for my mom. In steps Proofread Anywhere!

Q: Variety is the spice of life! It’s awesome that you also earn money looking after animals. When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread legal transcripts?

I “unofficially” proofread in my corporate life for over twenty years. I’ve always been a voracious reader who noticed typos and errors in documents and books. And I have always been fascinated with the legal and medical fields. I was searching for a way to reduce the hours that I was away from home with my other business and give me the flexibility to care for my mom while providing enough additional revenue. My search led to Proofread Anywhere’s Transcript Proofreading course, and the idea of delving into the legal world proofing transcripts for court reporters sold me on giving the course a try. I did some research, realized it could be a great fit, and in April of 2019, I jumped in. 

Q: What was the most challenging part of getting started?

Need to increase your income? Joann has many income streams -- from ranch sitting to proofreading!

For me, finding the time every day was the most challenging in the beginning. After the first two months, I made the conscious decision to put PA as a daily task on my phone with a reminder to literally block the time out. I chose to start thinking of the PA course as a part-time job. Once I did that, I was able to sail through the course and practice transcripts in about two months, passed the final, and graduated in August of 2019. 

Q: I love that tip! You would never not show up for your job. What was the most valuable thing you learned during the course?

The most valuable thing I learned was actually more of a reinforcement of what I already knew: You have to keep trying new things and learning to keep growing no matter how old you are. I am not a “spring chicken.” Keep at it when it is hard, frustrating, and challenging.

Q: How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?

It took me a little over a month to land my first court reporter through an ad I placed in an industry-specific Facebook group. I currently have two reporters that send me consistent work every week, three others that send intermittent work, and I have built a relationship with a medical research company that sends translated interviews at least three or four days a week. 

I am very blessed to have a court reporter who has at least two or three daily jobs every week. Those higher rates add up quickly! 

I am still growing my business, but it has been so rewarding to see the growth every month. Since November, I have averaged between $1,000 to $1,550 a month proofreading. Although it is less than a lot of other proofreaders, I am happy that every month my income has been higher, my business is growing, and I have the flexibility to do what I want and care for my mom.

Q: That’s awesome, Joann! I’m glad you found a way to increase your income while also being available to help your mom. How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?

It only took a month after I landed my first two CRs to recoup the cost of the course, plus the other software and memberships I had purchased.

Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?

My advice is to treat the course like a job and do not try to rush through the course. Take the time to practice, practice, practice. There were times of frustration, discouragement, and questioning myself if I could do this. I will admit it was harder than I thought it would be. Do not give up! Use the Facebook group for questions and moral support. Use all the resources listed in the course. Life can get in the way, so if you must take a break from the course, set a goal to restart on a specific day and hold yourself to it.

Q: Excellent advice! We recommend those resources for a reason. What does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?

My life as a working freelance proofreader can be crazy at times, especially when a daily is thrown into a nicely scheduled week. I would not change it for anything though. In the beginning, I was terrified to turn down a job because I was afraid the CR would not use me again. I have not found this true at all. This was a valuable lesson that gave me the strength to control my schedule, have the flexibility to meet family needs, and take a bit of time to just breathe.

Need to increase your income? Joann has many income streams -- from ranch sitting to proofreading!
Joann’s “old girl” Maggie — a rescue that found her shortly after she moved to Texas 10 years ago!

Q: You’re the boss, Joann! You’re the one in control of the schedule now. Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?

Those of you still going through the course are in for a wonderful bonus after you graduate. The PA Grad Huddle Facebook group is absolutely the BEST! I am blessed every day by the interaction, support, help, and encouragement we give each other.

Our Take

I love that proofreading gave Joann a way to care for her mom without sacrificing her income. It’s one of the most flexible ways to make money! Most people can fit a proofreading side hustle into their lives, regardless of whether they have young kids, elderly parents, a full-time job, etc.

Your Turn

Need to find a way to care for your elderly parents but still increase your income? Check out our free 7-day Proofreading Intro Course to see if proofreading legal transcripts is what you’ve been looking for!

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