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This is an update of an interview that was conducted in 2020.
We get asked all the time if you can make money proofreading online even if you don’t live in the US.
And our answer is always YES!
As long as you have a laptop or tablet and a reliable internet connection (and the proofreading skills to complete the job!), you can work anywhere as an online proofreader and earn extra money.
Here’s one of our Transcript Proofreading graduates who’s making money proofreading online outside of the US!
Rae is a Canadian who currently lives in Mexico, and she has NEVER met any of her clients, or potential clients, face-to-face. Her location simply doesn’t matter because all communication and work can be completed online.
Keep reading to learn more about Rae’s story!
Rae’s Transcription Background & Proofreading Experience
Q: Hi, Rae! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
Before crossing paths with PA, I was already a full-time, professional freelance transcriptionist and proofreader occasionally working in the legal field.
In late 2008, I quit the rat race after a short career in the Canadian civil service, bought an RV, and hit the open road. I quickly realized that I needed to find something I could do from home that would be portable.
It took a few years, but I settled on transcription due to the low start-up costs and started doing that full-time in 2011. I had also been doing a little proofreading here and there for about twenty years and knew that was actually what I wanted to do, but I didn’t have the mental energy or budget to go back to school to get any sort of certification or graduate degree that would truly get me in the door in the proofreading field.
Transcription clients cared more about my performance than my credentials, so that was just easier and a smaller investment.
By late 2015, I knew that I had to get out of transcription as I was close to hitting the ceiling earnings-wise and was tired of not being treated like the professional I was. I happened to come across the Proofread Anywhere Transcript Proofreading course and knew it would be the perfect fit for me, but the time wasn’t right.
Fast forward to late 2018, I’d emigrated to Mexico, was staying put in one location for longer than six months for the first time in over a decade, and the transcription field was going through a lot of transitions that resulted in rates going even lower.
It was really time to get out. My tax advisor told me that the PA course qualified as a tax deduction for me and that I needed it for my 2018 taxes, so it was time to become a proofreader. The course took me a full year to complete because I wanted to get through all the practice transcripts without rushing.
Why She Chose to Start a Proofreading Business
Q: I’m glad the timing was finally right and you decided to take the leap! When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to make money proofreading online?
I have been proofreading since I was a teenager — books, websites, marketing manuals, college papers, etc. I’ve always loved languages (I speak three, and the English language is actually the second I learned!). I’ve always been a reader and a writer.
University taught me the CMOS and AP style guides. Legal transcription introduced me to the styles and resources used in that industry. So, I never really made a decision to learn how to proofread; it’s always been something I dabbled in and knew I wanted to do full-time.
Proofread Anywhere gave me a certificate that gave me the resources to reach clients I couldn’t find before.
Q: Investing in yourself can open a lot of doors. What was the most challenging part of getting started?
Transcription is mentally exhausting. It was hard to get into the headspace of committing to working on the course for an hour or two most evenings after writing all day. And I didn’t do it most days, hence why it took so long.
Her Experience With Proofreading Opportunities & Clients
Q: Taking the course does require an investment of your time, but it’s worth it in the end. What was the most valuable thing you learned during the course?
How to market myself to court reporters and where to find them.
Q: How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?
It only took a few days to find my first proofreading gig. I finished on December 9th, so everyone was looking for coverage for the holidays!
I currently have eight transcript proofreading clients, but I’ve also found legal transcription clients and one audio-to-text proofreading client through resources provided by the course.
I’m currently juggling fourteen freelance jobs total, including transcription clients I’ve had for a very long time (one for ten years).
Here’s what some of Rae’s happy clients have to say:
How Freelance Proofreading Jobs Paid for Her Course
Q: That’s amazing that proofreading transcripts led you to finding other clients as well. How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?
I paid off the course in about three weeks — but only a small part of that was proofreading work.
Taking the course gave me access to some Facebook groups that wouldn’t let me join before. Through one of those, I got a huge and very lucrative rush transcription contract one weekend that covered something like 90% of the cost of the course! But I still say that counts because I would never have found this now repeat transcription client with my old networking resources. That single client’s invoices 100% paid for the course.
Since I graduated on December 9th, strictly in online proofreading jobs and not other work directly received from taking the course, it took just over four months to recoup the cost of the course.
Advice for Beginner Proofreaders
Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
Get some transcription experience first so you understand what you’re doing as a professional proofreader. I found that that was the biggest deficiency in the course. I’ve had several clients who have tried other PA proofreaders before me and who say that there is a huge difference between an experienced proofreader who understands transcription and one who doesn’t.
I also think that you need to be a writer and a reader to be a good proofreader. Just one course on punctuation and spelling mistakes isn’t enough. You need to know how language flows naturally for the actual mistakes to pop out at you. Otherwise, you will be like some online proofreaders I’ve met who struggle and find the work tedious and slow because they question everything.
For me, the Transcript Proofreading course was absolutely worth the money. The course hasn’t changed my life yet, but I know it will once I get a stable enough base of proofreading clients to do this work full-time.
I think this course is worth money to anyone who uses it as continuing education, and I’ve recommended it to several fellow transcriptionists also looking to get out of the field. But I wouldn’t recommend the course to someone with no prior experience in the field as I don’t feel the course is complete enough and may give false expectations for someone with no prior related experience. [Beginner proofreaders with no experience would be better off taking the General Proofreading course first.] That’s not to say I haven’t met PA grads with no prior transcription or proofreading experience who are doing very well, but it seems like they might be the exceptions.
Life as a Freelance Proofreader
Q: What does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?
I enjoy working so much more. I really love this profession.
Transcription always felt like something that paid the bills, but I never warmed up to it. My proofreading career doesn’t feel like work in the same way.
I mean, I just got back from “vacation,” during which I worked almost full-time without resenting it! All I needed was my iPad, which I could reach for while waiting at the airport, for a meal at a restaurant, sitting in a park, or even in bed in my rental apartment.
Before, I transcribed while traveling around Europe for nine months and I dreamed the whole time of being able to just work from my iPad because it was so hard to find a quiet place with a proper desk to work from, plus I had to carry so much equipment. I’m now living that dream!
Also, online proofreading jobs pay a lot better than transcription, despite needing the same skill set. In the weeks I have a full proofreading load, I’m working a lot fewer hours for the same or better money. I’ve taken up two outside hobbies since I graduated and I actually have time for them!
Advice for Finding Remote Proofreading Jobs
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
Cast a wide net when looking for potential clients and job opportunities. There is a current slowdown in the industry due to the pandemic crisis. Some jurisdictions are proving to be slower than others in getting set up for electronic depositions.
Colleagues who only have clients in slower areas are really struggling. But I have clients in about a dozen states, plus in Canada, so things are thankfully steady right now if not a tad slower than normal (fingers crossed!).
Also, I’m sure that in-person marketing really helps, but I’ve found success in my freelancing career without ever having met a single client in person. So if you’re someone living in another country (like I am), don’t let that stop you. Just take responsibility for things like time zone differences, payment processing fees, and even communications (like being the one to make the long-distance phone calls).
Proofreading Services Rate
My hourly working rate ranges from $20 USD to $40 USD. Most days, I’m earning about $25 USD per hour. That’s reading 63 pages per hour at my standard rate. This is pretty good, but remember that I have taxes, business expenses, health insurance, etc. to deduct from those earnings, plus I don’t get paid vacations or holidays. But it’s plenty for me because I live in Mexico, which has a much lower cost of living than the U.S. or Canada.
I’ve seen many graduates who are brand new to this who work at a much slower pace. This is often because they have no experience reading and/or writing all day and lack an understanding of transcription, which makes them question and mark up everything possible. They’re usually the ones who complain about earnings being lower than they expected. But I’m seeing similar numbers to mine from those who are experienced proofreaders.
Speeding up Your Proofreading Tasks
Work processes also affect speed and therefore the hourly working rate. I’m pretty streamlined and efficient because I use a lot of stamps and other shortcuts to reduce how much time I spend marking up a transcript. It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to send a client back a transcript with lots of annotations as it makes it clear you spent a lot of time on the transcript, but that’s actually not always that helpful and can even overwhelm the client.
Also, proofreaders who work around a lot of distractions, like at their kid’s soccer game, often report slower progress than those, like me, for whom this is a full-time job with my proofreading services being done in a dedicated, distraction-free workspace during set hours.
An Update from Rae in 2023
As this interview is from 2020, we reached out to Rae to see how she is doing and if her proofreading skills have led to her success.
Job Opportunities and Working as a Scopist
Can you update us on where you are now, what you’re doing for work, do you still feel like the course set you up for success?
Well, I’m not proofreading transcripts full-time, but I’m still working full-time in the legal industry as a scopist (providing editing services to court reporters).
Up until the pandemic, being mobile was my only priority. I took a short trip to Oaxaca City right before the pandemic shutdown, lived the dream of working from anywhere with my iPad, and I loved it. But then the world shut down and I realized that I was not happy just proofreading on my iPad at home all day.
It was hard to get into work mode when I wasn’t sitting at a desk and I didn’t find the work engaging enough. A lack of online proofreading jobs meant that the pay wasn’t great, either. So my mind began to open up to other possibilities.
I don’t know how many people had told me that I would want to transition to scoping, but I couldn’t imagine it at the time that I was starting with proofreading transcripts.
Working in a Windows environment was a non-starter, I didn’t want to work my way around the world lugging a heavy foot pedal again, and the startup costs for scoping were intimating. But there was also this pandemic situation that could last for another month or a decade. Who knew?
Scoping would definitely provide me with a better income and would be more engaging. By this time, there was software called Parallels that would let me run Windows software alongside my Mac applications, so I wouldn’t really be working in a Windows environment.
I approached a couple of scoping schools and one of them put together a curriculum to fill in the gaps in my experience so I could start scoping as quickly as possible — just the note reading and Case CATalyst modules.
I spent August and September of 2020 getting ready to scope and really began at the start of October. With my experience, I had no trouble lining up quality clients immediately and I haven’t searched for work since.
Still Earning Money Online
I’m earning about double what I was averaging while proofreading and am much happier. I still do a few remote proofreading jobs for a couple of reporters, but that’s really overtime work for me, a chance to keep my skills sharp, and an opportunity to get paid to cuddle with my cats on the sofa!
The income from scoping made it possible for me to buy the house I’d been renting in Mexico and has definitely shifted my priorities. Now, I want to travel as much as possible without having to work, so being mobile in my job isn’t nearly as pressing as it was before the pandemic.
Was the Proofread Anywhere Course Worth it?
I do feel that, for me, the Proofread Anywhere course did set me up for success in terms of teaching me how to make the connections I needed to keep moving ahead in my career.
I’m still surprised by all the twists of fate that led me here, but I am still working with the proofreading clients that I picked at the beginning, so there is continuity there.
Thank you for such a thorough response! We wish you the best of luck as you continue your freelance lifestyle!
Once You Start in the Industry, You Can Always Shift
Rae is proof that, even if you start out making money proofreading online and choose to shift into a different career, the skills that you learn from taking online courses can still provide you with opportunities that you never could have imagined before!
We love to hear from students and graduates who are finding their way in the freelance world. If you would like to share your proofreading journey with us, please send an email to our Content Manager, Reyné, at [email protected].