Ten ideas to help you find work as a proofreader

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Whether you’re just starting out and wondering how to secure that first paying job, or you’re more established and looking to fill a hole in your diary or further develop your business, here are ten ideas to help you find proofreading work.

1. Mine your existing contacts. Let them know what you’re doing and what sort of work you’re looking for. Ask them to share your details with anyone who might be interested in your services.

2. Write a speculative letter or email. Get in touch with potential clients and let them know what you can offer them. It goes without saying that you should check that your correspondence is going to the correct person in the organisation.

3. Go to a local SfEP group meeting. The SfEP has 38 local groups and you can find your nearest meeting on the SfEP website. Talk with your local colleagues about what projects you’re working on and what sort of projects might be of interest in the future. Although this may not yield immediate gains, a colleague may remember that you have a particular expertise and refer potential clients on to you if they are unable to take on a project.

4. Network at other local business groups. Go to local business events and find out who might be looking for a proofreader. Prepare a simple sentence that describes what you do and why you could be useful. Don’t forget to take your business cards.

5. Add your details to the SfEP Associates Available list. Associates of the SfEP can add a listing to the list of Associates Available for work, which is updated every fortnight. Any member of the SfEP can access the list and contact associates if they have surplus work and want to subcontract it out.

6. Add an entry to the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services. If you’re an ordinary or advanced member of the SfEP you can add your details to the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services. This is a searchable database available to anyone looking for a professional editor, proofreader or editorial project manager.

7. Keep an eye out for jobs on the SfEPAnnounce mailer. Vacancies are often posted on the SfEPAnnounce email. The vacancies can also be found on the SfEPAnnounce forum page.

8. Check out the SfEP Marketplace online forum. SfEP members can also post and respond to job offers and other requests for help on specific projects via the SfEP Marketplace forum.

9. Sign up to directories. Some proofreaders have found work after signing up to websites such as findaproofreader.com.

10. Check out freelance job boards. There is a wealth of freelance job boards, such as peopleperhour.com, where you can either list your services or search for anyone looking for a proofreader. Some people find it useful to plug a gap in their schedule or to build up experience or a client base. But it’s probably not the best bet for a sustainable work flow and rates can vary hugely.

For more information about finding work as a freelance proofreader, visit our website and look at our FAQs.

We also sell some useful guides in our online shop, including:

Starting Out: Setting up a small business, by Valerie Rice

Marketing Yourself: Strategies to promote your editorial business, by Sara Hulse

If you have any suggestions for other ways to find work, feel free to add a comment below.

Joanna Bowery

Joanna Bowery

Joanna Bowery is the SfEP social media manager. As well as looking after the SfEP’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and the SfEP blog, she offers freelance marketing, PR, writing and proofreading services operating as Cosmic Frog. Jo is an associate of the SfEP and a Chartered Marketer. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.


This article was proofread by SfEP associate Anna Black.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.


1 thought on “Ten ideas to help you find work as a proofreader

  1. John Firth

    This is an excellent blog, with reminders in it that I know I can profit from. I just wanted to put a slightly different point of view about Associates Available and the Directory.

    What the SfEP intends
    Everybody joins as an associate, and in due course progresses to membership and (in some cases) advanced membership. Because associates are trying to get started in the profession, Associates Available is a way of displaying their credentials to other subscribers who have work that they wish to subcontract.

    But life’s not like that…

    What actually happens
    Some associates do not become members, for various reasons. Some well-established professionals advertise in Associates Available. It isn’t what we set the list up for, and we aren’t happy that this might lead to their picking up work that otherwise might have gone to someone that’s struggling to get a start in the business; but we don’t think policing the list is a good use of subscribers’ money.

    It’s up to you. If you decide to advertise in Associates Available, I hope it proves helpful. But remember what it’s intended for: to say to the world ‘I’m here, I’m ready to work for you and I have expertise’.

    If you were a member, you’d be able to advertise in the Directory. This says to the world ‘I’m here, I’m ready to work for you and experts agree that I have expertise’.

    If you were a member; but this might be a sore point and perhaps our upgrade criteria were not broad or flexible enough when you last considered upgrading. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that we’ve made significant changes to the upgrade process recently, that more are in the pipeline and that I’d really rather that experienced editors became members instead of using a facility (Associates Available) that wasn’t designed for someone with freelance experience and contacts of their own.

    This is partly selfish: if you upgrade and advertise in the Directory some of your glory will reflect on me (as another advertiser). But then, some of my glory might reflect on you… and look at some of the really glorious names that advertise there. Don’t you want to be seen as one of their peers?


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