Moving around can be really exciting!
You get to experience different parts of the country or world and meet new people.
I know what I’m talking about here: I’ve pulled up stakes several times and lived in Germany, South America, and Phoenix, Arizona.
But it can be difficult to start over every time you move. Constantly trying to find a new job and establish yourself in a community takes time, and you’re just getting settled when you have to pack up and go again.
You know the problem with most jobs? You can’t take them with you if you move to another state or if you want to travel to other countries. And they tend not to be very flexible if you need to stay home with a sick kiddo every now and then.
Luckily for me, I was able to take my proofreading business on the road.
So if you need more flexibility in your life, you need to find a job you can take with you wherever you go or one that will fit around your family’s needs.
As a military wife, Jody was used to starting over every time her family moved, but she was looking for a job that could move with her. Now she’s finally got her dream job as a proofreader!
Keep reading to find out more about Jody’s story!
Q: Hi, Jody! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
I’m a classically trained Master’s-level musician married to an active duty Air Force member with three tween/teen kiddos. Talk about a hodgepodge! I have restarted music lessons and school subbing jobs wherever we move and have greatly enjoyed our nomadic life — but not only am I thrilled to be working for myself now and joining the self-publishing industry, I don’t have to start over every 2–3 years!
Q: That’s awesome! It will make your next move so much easier. ? When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?
I remember catching a spelling error in a book very early in my elementary school years. That point was when I realized that HUMANS work on books — they don’t just come to life in perfect form! That was the first time I ever told my mom, “Someday, I’m going to proofread books. That’s my dream job.” Well, it’s a business, not a job for someone else at present, but I am truly working out my dream!
Q: What was the most challenging part of getting started?
Definitely all the business “administrivia.” There are so many little pieces to setting up a business, so many small expenses that add up, so many receipts to track… Haha!
Q: The business side does take a little getting used to, but once you set up a system, you’re good to go! What was the most valuable thing you learned during the General Proofreading course?
Hmm. I’d balance that twofold.
For the language/writing end of things, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style have been the greatest discoveries/resources for the book publishing world.
For the business end, having a sequential series of steps to actually set up an online-based business was very helpful.
Q: How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?
It took almost four months to land my first paying client. Ten months later, I am almost to my tenth collaboration listed for sale on Amazon, with two clients aiming for trilogy publications!
Q: Ooh, that’s exciting! How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?
Roughly seven months.
Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
Know that this is one step in a learning process — and that you’ll certainly be challenged to keep learning (but you’re not alone in the journey!). I’m glad Caitlin is super honest about the fact that this is not get-rich-quick, but if you are wired to proofread, then it really won’t feel like “work.” I can’t wait to fire up my computer and get going every day!
Q: So true! Proofreading is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme, but doing work you enjoy is very rewarding as well. What does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?
On a typical day, I run my kiddos to their respective schools, walk my dog, check in on messages. Then I consult the project list I made the night before, grab my laptop, and either start in on a project for a client or continue my professional training as I broaden my services. (I’m expanding to line/copy editing and formatting book interiors.) There are always the miscellaneous items like orthodontist visits, sick kiddos at home, and I still don’t have all my Christmas decorations put away (Shhh! I’m going to rearrange the garage! That’s a legit reason, right?!) — but I love the flexibility of working for ME.
I try not to look at “I’m not getting paid right now” as “I’m totally a failure,” since there is SO MUCH MORE to learn, especially as I narrow in on my niche — and I’ll be a better professional for the learning that is turning into expertise.
Q: I love your attitude, Jody! I’m a huge proponent of continuous learning and striving to provide the best service you can for your clients. Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
- Time is your friend.
- Learn to quiet your inner proofreader. Text “K” and “wat u doin” at least twice a year so you remember that it IS shorter to use fewer letters and to remind yourself that YOU need a proofer when YOU’RE the writer. There’s nothing like sending a contract to a new client with a huge typo. (It keeps me humble, anyway.)
- Surround yourself with positive people as much as you can, both in your learning process and as you’re building your business. (And YES, ask questions in the PA Facebook group, but find the “search” box and check that first, because I guarantee someone else has asked that same question at least once. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to Veterans Day and the City of Smithville… ) 😉
- This line of business is a series of open-book tests. The resources are awesome and the companions are pretty cool. And nerdy. ?
- Don’t be afraid to have a *job* support your *business*. Paychecks are necessary in some seasons. You’re not a failure if you’re not uber financially successful on day 1 or 100 or 500.
- You don’t need #allthethings to get started. 🙂 There is specific marketing help available once you get to that stage (and we grads keep a running conversation about who is hiring and what the work environment is like) — but plan to keep it simple when you start out. Remember, YOU’RE growing, too!
I love that Jody shared all her best tips for survival as a new freelancer with us! It’s totally representative of the kind of support she and other students give in our Facebook groups. We’ve built up a close community over there, and we all want to see each other succeed. Congratulations on your success, Jody!
Are you a veteran or military spouse looking for a location-independent career? Or maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom, retiree, or just looking to earn some extra money on the side? Whatever the case, proofreading is an AWESOME way to make money from literally anywhere! Get started with my free proofreading workshop to see if it’s the right fit for you.