[Hey guys!! Caitlin here. I *just* moved out of my house to start my adventure to South America, and it’s getting a little hectic to say the least. So let’s have some fun today, why don’t we?]
A common question we get at proofreadanywhere.com is “How can I know if I’m really cut out for this kind of work?” We’ve got a FAQ post to answer that pretty directly, but I wanted to take some time and have some fun with the PA community today — and if you’re reading this right now, that’s you!
You Might Be a Proofreader If… (and 4 Signs You’re a Great One!)
1) If your family and/or friends always make you read their stuff.
If you have always been the go-to person for your friends, family and coworkers when it comes to proofreading important documents, then this may be a great choice for you! If you are naturally skilled with the English language, and you have a knack for (and truly enjoy) spotting those irritating grammar mistakes in other people’s writing, it’s a good sign you’ve probably got the necessary eagle eye to be a proofreader.
2) If all the office marketing materials have to go through you first.
Lots of proofreaders get their very first “jobs” at their existing workplace. It happens like this: someone finds out that you have a knack for proofreading/editing and “making it sound good,” and before you know it, you’re the final stop for all important documents, e-mails, advertisements, et cetera.
3) If you can spot errors a mile away on billboards, church bulletins, menus… you name it, you’ve seen mistakes in it, and it drives you crazy.
Your natural “eagle eye” goes to work when you’re driving around and seeing all of the obnoxious grammatical and spelling errors on billboards, signs, and the like. You can’t help but twitch a little whenever you see a simple mistake on the sign for a business. You think to yourself: why didn’t someone catch that before they paid to have it posted!? Have you ever been tempted to call and let the business know that their reader board display has the wrong version of their/they’re/there? Maybe you saw a sidewalk menu listing the specials on “Monday’s” and your first thought is “On Monday’s what? ”
4) If you are motivated and not afraid to work hard to learn the ropes and do what it takes to make it happen.
This is the most important one! If you are no stranger to hard work, and you know that no new skills come without some practice (this includes learning about marketing, new skills specific to niche industries, etc.), and you’re willing to work hard, then you can feel confident that, given some time, you’ll be successful in the freelance proofreading world. Always remember that no skills/careers/crazy-awesome life changes come without actual work. You can’t wish it into being. You can’t start calling yourself a proofreader and be upset when the work doesn’t fall into your lap. You must learn, and you must work. Don’t worry, though – we’re here to help pave the way.
Now, we’ll get a little serious, because you know me — I like to give you a nugget or two to chew on 🙂
Did you notice one thing we didn’t mention?
You don’t have to have a college degree!
If you have one, great! If not, don’t sweat it.
College degrees, while useful, don’t teach you a darn thing about marketing yourself (unless the degree is IN marketing, of course, but even then, every niche is different!). You can be an amazing proofreader, but if you lack the necessary skills to tell people about it in a way that makes them want to give you a shot at their work, that degree really doesn’t matter. Not to mention, in some of the more lucrative niches of proofreading, like proofreading for court reporters, perfect grammar doesn’t matter!
Y’see, court reporters produce transcripts of verbatim spoken word. If you were to proofread a transcript (assuming you didn’t know what you were doing) and sent it back littered with red traditional proofreading marks, rearranged sentence suggestions, etc., that court reporter would never use you again.
Before you send me hate mail, let me be clear: that doesn’t mean you’re a terrible proofreader, it just means you haven’t learned to proofread transcripts specifically. It is very obvious to court reporters when someone does not know exactly what a transcript is and how to properly proofread one.
It’s a craft you can learn, though!
The point is, degrees — even English degrees — aren’t always everything they’re cracked up to be. You learn lots of theory, but not all the practice is relevant – and marketing? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother degree program, amigo!
Those of you who are transcript proofreaders, leave a comment below if you feel me on this! It really is a whole ‘nother animal, isn’t it?!
If you’re still considering pursuing a proofreading career, leave a comment completing the sentence “You might be a proofreader if …” Let’s have some laughs!
Tell us when you first KNEW you were a proofreader! (I’ll start :-)).