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3 Reasons Proofreaders DON’T Get Hired

I’ve dedicated whole modules in my courses to covering how to get hired as a proofreader. What people often don’t stop to think about are the reasons proofreaders DON’T get hired. There are a number of mistakes proofreaders make that stop them from getting hired. Some of them they may make without even realizing it, but all of them are preventable.

Don’t be one of those proofreaders. Think about what could be putting off your potential clients and fix it!

Here are just a few of the blunders you could be making that are stopping you from landing that proofreading job.

1. Lack of confidence/proactivity

Your lack of confidence stops you from even trying to land a client.

If you’re scared of not finding clients, you might be jumping ahead before you even know what you’re doing. You may not have realized that your fear will dramatically dissipate as soon as you master your skill. Mastery cannot help but generate confidence.

Not knowing what you’re doing will make you feel like your confidence is at rock bottom. Confidence comes with practice, and what better way to practice your skills than by taking a hands-on course.

Sometimes you’ve just got to fake it till you make it. Now, I don’t mean fake your skills. No, no, heck no! I’ll talk about how important skills are to your success below.

I’m talking about faking your confidence. You will have a hard time convincing clients to work with you if you don’t show them that you know what you’re doing. Think about it: If you are looking to hire someone and they act uncertain and a bit too humble, it doesn’t matter how good their reviews are, you won’t feel sure that you’re in good hands.

Clients need to feel like their work is in good hands, so even if you don’t feel confident yet, make it look like you are.

2. Poor skills/execution

Lots of people think they’re good proofreaders because they read a lot or they were good at English in high school.

I don’t want to burst your bubble (well, actually I do!), but there’s a lot more to proofreading than that. Language changes over time. The grammar and punctuation rules you learned in high school many moons ago may not still be the current thinking.

Not only that but the “rules” you’re holding on to may have only been myths all along!

There’s also the issue of style and consistency. Are you using the right resources for the type of job you’re doing?

Before I even teach students how to get clients, I teach them everything they need to know about how to do the work for the clients.

But there are still those who may be too excited about the money-making aspects that they won’t put the time into becoming excellent at the service they’re providing to said clients. Or even worse, they skip training altogether!

In this case, it really doesn’t matter how many clients they can get, does it? If their service stinks because they didn’t bother doing any training or they didn’t complete all the practice essays or transcripts in one of my courses before they started looking for clients — they’re setting themselves up for failure. They might even get fired! :-O

I’ve said it before: you can’t hide lack of mastery forever. If you race through just to learn how to get clients because you THINK you know it all already, sure, you may be able to rack up a few clients and make some money. But long term? That’s going to hinder you more than help you. You’ve got your reputation to think of!

3. Timing (BIG ONE)

Check out these reasons proofreaders don’t get hired so you can avoid making these mistakes!

There’s one rule you should NEVER break as a freelancer…


There’s a ton of stuff floating around the internet telling you NOT to check your email more than a few times a day.

There’s a time and place for that advice.

As a newbie freelancer — and especially if you’re building your client base — you need to STAY PLUGGED IN! Unless you’re on vacation, that is. Then, tell your clients first, and set up an automatic email reply. You can unplug and enjoy some time to yourself.

If you’re trying to build a repeat client base so you can make a living working from home, taking forever to respond to emails or just never responding could cost you money. The very first thing you should do after receiving a new job is to reply and confirm receipt of the job.

If it’s an inquiry about your services, the sooner you respond, the more likely you’ll get the work. Quick response time indicates reliability and professionalism. Don’t make your clients wonder.

How can slow response time cost you money? Well, I once took just thirty minutes to respond to an email. It turned out the email went to me and another proofreader. The other proofreader responded before I did, and boom, I lost a $50 opportunity. It’s natural to want to focus on the task at hand, but it could be very beneficial to you and the client if you take a moment to reply to the email.

There’ve been many instances in my business where I’ve emailed someone and, because they took days or weeks to email me back, someone else got my business.

Now, if you’re super busy already, this might not be a big deal… stay focused and finish the job. Try not to let incoming emails become a distraction that slows your output (and your bottom line!). Let your existing clients know that you’re swamped so they don’t worry if you don’t respond with the usual lightning-fast speed they’re used to.

Freelancing can be very fast-paced, so you’ve got to be on top of your game when it comes to communicating.

That’s why I’d recommend not scouting for tons of clients if you’re still working a regular job or if you’ve got a busy home life with kids and whatnot.

I always recommend that my students start out slowly. Returning bad quality work because you’re rushed or overloaded can actually cause you to lose clients — and income — even though you took on too much in the attempt to make more money.

It’s about working smarter, not harder.

Our Take

I can guarantee you that by avoiding the aforementioned blunders — and offering excellent customer service and high-quality proofreading instead — you’ll build a thriving freelance proofreading business.

Want to know my little secret to avoid these pitfalls? Treat your clients the way you would want them to treat you if the situation were reversed. Offer the quality of service that you would expect as a paying client. Offer the care and attention to detail and mastery of skill you would expect if someone were handling your work.

Now that you know the reasons proofreaders don’t get hired, you can avoid them!

Your Turn

Want to make sure you DO get hired as a proofreader? Start by taking our FREE Intro to Proofreading workshop!

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