Words cannot describe how PUMPED I am for today’s interview!
So why exactly am I doing a little happy dance in my apartment with my puppy looking at me like I’m crazy? Because today I am publishing the first official General Proofreading success story!
Derek graduated from the course and was able to land his first client within days of marketing his business. How awesome is that?! When I heard this, I knew we had to share his story with y’all. When you do the work and put yourself out there, you WILL see results — it’s that simple. And Derek is proof that you can do it, too!
Take it away, Derek!
Q: Hi, Derek! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
For the past couple years, I’ve been working for the biggest hotel company in the world. Sounds fancy, right? At least one year of that has been in an overnight position auditing the transactions and goings-on of the day and preparing the hotel for the coming day. Not so fancy. I’m still there, honestly, working like a vampire and never getting quite enough sleep. That’s why crossing paths with Proofread Anywhere breathed new life into my determination to get out of this 9-to-5 rut and start doing what I LOVE to do.
Q: Yes! I love hearing how people are leaving that 9-to-5 behind! So when did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?
I couldn’t tell you exactly when I started proofreading. It probably began right around the time I learned to read! Professionally, though, I enrolled in the General Proofreading course in the second half of May. I finished the course around the middle of June, my wife had a baby at the end of June, and then I landed my first gig. So… about a month after “going live,” I would say.
What made me decide to learn to proofread professionally is the fact that I was literally mentally proofreading everything I saw anyway! Once I came across Caitlin’s course and learned that this skill can be honed and monetized, I jumped right in.
Q: I think a lot of students can relate to already proofreading everything in sight 😉 Why not get paid to do it, right? What was the most challenging part in getting started?
The most challenging part of getting started was figuring out how to build a website and make it both look professional and feel user-friendly. The raw talent I felt I already had, and an occasional trip to CMOS, both help refine that. But I had never made a website before, so that took up probably 90% of my prep time before I really started marketing myself.
Q: What was the most valuable thing you learned during the General Proofreading course?
The most valuable thing I learned (and that I am still learning) from the course is where to go and how to get started. Like I said, I feel like I already had the skill down. Proofreading is in my blood. But I would’ve NEVER even thought of turning it into a business, let alone about HOW I would do so.
Q: How long did it take you to find your first client?
It’s only been a month or so since I’ve “gone live.” After about a month of preparation, I found my first client within days of me feeling like I had adequately crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s. Because this is still extremely part time for me (full time is the goal, the dream, but y’know … newborn babies and such tend to eclipse that a bit), that client remains my only one so far. Now that we’ve adjusted as much as a family can to a newborn in the house, I’m starting to jump back into it and build myself a strong clientele.
(Check out this glowing review from Derek’s first client!)
Q: How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?
I technically still need to earn another $97 to recoup the remainder of the cost of the course. But considering that a single client paid for the first 80% or so, I have no doubt that that next one will more than cover the remaining deficit.
Q: Wow! That didn’t take long at all! What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
The frankest, most honest answer I can give to anyone on the fence asking this question is this: If you don’t already know how to proofread to some natural degree, this probably isn’t for you. I didn’t learn how to proofread from this course — I learned how to proofread in my grade school and high school English classes, and from reading. I did learn certain rules I did not know existed, yes, and I have gotten a lot of clarification on certain rules of writing that were a bit vague to me. But the most I learned from this course was that 1) there is a market for proofreaders, 2) to have confidence in myself and in the capability to refine my existing talent, and 3) how and where to get started.
Number three is the kicker. Even if there were no resources for honing your proofreading skills included in this course (there are many, by the way), the confidence and direction I received to start my very own business are invaluable compared to the cost of the course.
Short answer: Yes, it is well worth the money. Just be patient with yourself and with the tools the course teaches you how to use.
Q: I couldn’t agree more! Having that innate Eagle Eye before you start the course is key. So what does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?
As I’ve mentioned before, proofreading isn’t yet a consistent side gig for me. I’m still a budding newbie to all this. However, the prospect of building a small business to bring in even supplementary income is invigorating. Like I said, I’m working overnight. The graveyard shift. Five to six days a week. At a hotel. With no degree and a very narrow path for moving up within the company. Seeing the success I have already achieved without honestly even working excessively hard for it is eye-opening.
There is no way I would have had such a bright outlook for my family’s future had I not come across Caitlin’s General Proofreading course. It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to say it’s easy. But the results I’ve seen from putting less than half of part-time hours into this are encouraging, to say the least.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
I told this to Caitlin when she approached me about being on the PA blog. It may sound cheesy as hell, but I firmly believe that luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
My success story may seem like little more than a bout of luck. However, had I not been adequately prepared for that job beforehand, I don’t believe I’d be sharing about my success right now.
I literally just mentioned to a group of prospective authors that I am a proofreader, and one of them bit. Because of Caitlin’s course, I had the tools, the refined skills, and the confidence to put myself out there, declare myself a bona fide proofreader, and snag an opportunity that would have otherwise waltzed on by me.
Pretty fantastic, right? Derek is the perfect example of a PA grad who had the knack for proofreading in his bones but honed his skills by taking the course and is now on his way to leaving his full-time job. And could his family be any cuter?? 🙂
Want to join Derek and become a successful General Proofreading grad? Sick of the 9-to-5 grind and want to be your OWN boss? Check out my free 45-minute webinar to learn how you can get started.
Questions for Derek? Leave a comment below!
Was wondering if Derek say the typo in his first clients email.
Or my own typo in the comment above?
Proofreading is a great career with lots of flexibility. You’ve got to be knowledgeable and reliable.
I’m very interested in learning more.
Does a proofreading business of your own allow the flexibility to be good at it even in the midst of a full-time career?
Great question! We have a LOT of students and graduates that proofread alongside their full-time jobs, so it can be done! 🙂
Thank you, Danielle.
May we have the link to your website?
Hey Derek! I am also trying to drum up general proofreading business. I am currently learning to proof legal transcripts, and also trying to get a day job. I am recently separated and want my own home for myself and my three kids. Your story is inspiring! Aim for your dreams!
I take you point about the typo, althought there is no reason why he should pick up on it, unless he wants to annoy his client, of course. However, I also would argue that there are two corrections to be made: the first, the use of ‘as’ instead of ‘has; and the second, the use of a comma after Spanish rather than a hyphen.
It could be a stylistic choice, I suppose, but I would argue for consistency insofar as the parentethical was introduced by putting a comma after ‘And.
And in my post also I see a typo, although I suspect it was the computer that changed ‘your’ to ‘you’. Pesky machine!
I have been editing and proofreading for long but for a fee but now want to make a career of it.
That’s a great goal. Plenty of our graduates have been successful in making a career out of proofreading! 🙂
I had done a traing on proofreading way back then but did not use it. I am inspired by the success story of Derek and would like to start making income from it. I hope to enrol for the General Proofreading course soonest. Regards.
Sounds good! Hope you can join us for the General Proofreading course soon! 🙂
I also have a newborn at home (and two other children!) so I am very busy! I do hope to invest in this program in the near future when I can establish a good routine for my family. My hesitation is finding the time to commit to the course and the idea of marketing myself seems very daunting! I wouldn’t even know where to begin!
Good day, Derek:
It's now 2021 (about 4 years after your first client success story was published on PA). I just purchased the General Proofreading: Theory and Practice course so I will be a newbie at this. However, I was wondering are you willing to provide an update on your success so far in the world of proofreading?
Really enjoyed it, this is my first time hope there will be many more
Hi! You mentioned that building your website was the hardest part. I am also concerned about this. Can you give any advice? Thank you.
The course contains a basic tutorial about setting up your website. Envision success and you will succeed.
Wow! Super inspiring and oh my goodness, I had no idea that we can also proofread in Spanish??!! I love that! I received a Minor degree in Spanish + studied Spanish abroad in university and have used it professionally in my 9-5 over the past 10 years working with clients so I definitely have always corrected / proofread for both Spanish and English over the years for various content myself or coworkers have created or developed at work – which has always been a lot of fun 🙂
Derek's story is inspiring! I'm a nurse with 30 years of experience. Most of the hours worked were done at night. The lack of sleep is destroying my health. After reading his story I decided to 'go for it!'