What is the best way to start a proofreading business?

You’ve always been interested in starting a career of proofreading because proofreading is a business? Have you studied English, Journalism, or something similar? You can show your mastery of punctuation, grammar and spelling by starting a proofreading service. It’s also a great way to earn money by reading!

We’ve created a guide for starting your own home-based business of proofreading.

Are you not interested in starting your own proofreading service?

How to Start a Proofreading Service

  1. How to create a business plan for proofreading
  2. Choose a business name for proofreading
  3. Select a Business Structure
  4. Start your own proofreading service
  5. Create Internal Policies
  6. Register for taxation and get an EIN
  7. How to open a bank Account
  8. Get the required licenses and permit

What is a proofreading business?

Proofreading businesses check books, articles in newspapers and magazines, business documents, ads, and advertisements for errors of spelling, grammar and typography. Proofreaders are essentially a ‘quality-check’ service that does not make any substantial changes to content.

Proofreaders and editors are sometimes confused, but their roles are quite different. Editors are free to change sentences and paragraphs in order to clarify ambiguities or ensure that the document is logical. A proofreader’s job begins after a project is reviewed by an editorial team, just before the text or document has been published.

How to start a proofreading business

Make a business plan for your proofreading service

You’ll want to know what you need before you start, and how you can monetize it in an effective way. Below, we’ve addressed the most important questions regarding clients, costs and profit.

What is the audience that you are targeting?

A proofreading service can target a wide range of clients. Students seeking assistance with their cover letters can be potential client, as well as publishing houses looking to outsource manuscripts for novels, academic text, and other types of content. Even though many businesses prefer to hire large established companies, it is common for small, independent proofreaders to be hired.

According to Flexjobs.com these five business types are most likely to hire freelance proofreaders.

  1. Newspapers/magazine/book publishers
  2. Expert scientific and technical services
  3. Job services
  4. Companies that produce movies and videos
  5. Public Relations and Advertising Services

You should focus on a local market before attempting to attract national clients. It takes time to build a client base, especially in writing where speed and accuracy can be more important than the quality of the prose.

What is the best way to get new clients?

There are currently over 1,5 BILLION websites online! Combine that with magazines, newspapers, ads, and other writings, you have a wealth of opportunity for your company! Getting your foot in the door is not easy. You can follow these steps to get your first proofreading position:

  • Establish an online profile: It’s crucial to establish an online identity, whether through LinkedIn or Meetup. Clients will not hire you unless they are confident that you can work. Create an online presence for your company, post examples of your work regularly, and network with other companies and proofreaders you might want to collaborate with. Join professional groups for editors and proofreaders on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, such as ACES, the Society for Editors or Northwest Editors Guild.
  • Contact local businesses. There are many retailers, restaurants, special shops and specialty stores in your area that have websites, newsletters or ads which need to be proofread. Ask local publications or publishers if there are any freelance positions available.
  • Look at job boards. Sites like 5rrupwork and proofreadingeditingservice.com can help you find prospective clients. You can set up a profile for free where you list your contact details, resume and what projects you are willing to accept. Customers can leave reviews as well!

What is the income of a business that proofreads?

A proofreading company will accept projects as they come. You can decide how much you’ll be paid based on the client. This could include hourly rates, pay per page or even per word.

What is the cost of starting a business?

To start a proofreading business, you will typically need at least $2000. However, depending on the equipment and software that you have, you may be able to spend less.

You’ll have to invest at least $1000 to upgrade an existing laptop. You may also want to consider editing software such as PerfectIt Grammarly and Google Docs ($99 to $144).

It is not necessary for you to become a certified professional proofreader to run a successful business. However, it can help. Some companies only hire certified firms. You can choose to take online courses or attend in-person classes depending on your schedule. You can also do some research on the internet to see what your local college offers. Contact the U.S. Proofreader Certification Association – they offer a test (225 minutes). You can also take the test for certification.

What is the average annual revenue of proofreading companies?

According to Salary.com the average proofreading company earns $52,202 per year in the United States. Nearly all states have an average salary of more than $50,000. Alaska, California and District of Columbia have the highest average salaries, each exceeding $58,000. South Dakota, Mississippi and West Virginia have the lowest medians, between $44,000 and $47,000.

What should I charge for my services?

Even though many proofreaders start by charging hourly rates, these fees really are only justified for small projects which aren’t too complex. Estimating how long it will take to complete longer tasks such as novels, legal documents, or medical transcripts can be difficult–especially when you’re just starting out. It’s becoming more and more common to give quotes that are based on total pages or words. This is because clients can easily understand the pricing. Before you decide on a schedule of fees, consider these factors:

  • The total number of words/pages. How many pages/words can you read in an hour. This will determine the price per page or word, as well as how long it takes you to complete a project. Ask for samples to help establish an accurate time estimate and cost.
  • Your background Prices and rates will depend on the genre. For example, medical transcriptions and legal documents will be more expensive than other types of publishing as they require a greater level of expertise in law or medicine.
  • Calculate your business expenses. You should consider the daily or monthly costs for office supplies and software. Also, you need to factor in time spent developing skills, learning new software or acquiring them, as well as financial cushioning just in case a project fails.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association most proofreaders charge $30-$35 per hour for reading 9-13 pages in an hour. Each page contains around 250 words. You might then charge around $35 an hour or $12 for 1000 words. It’s more difficult to determine your price per page because word counts vary widely depending on the material. If you assume 250 words per sheet, then $3 per page is roughly equal to $12 for 1000 words. Rates may be higher for large or complex projects or dense work.

Choose a name for your proofreading business

You have a brilliant name in mind? You’ll want to make sure your chosen name is not already in use before you begin marketing your company. In most states, businesses are prohibited from using names already taken. A copycat business name can put your company at risk, even if the law allows it.

Check if the business name you want is available for your state using our Business Name Search.

Trademarks and domain names

Are you planning to trademark the name of your company? On a site like Trademarkia, you can check if a trademark already exists. You can also check if the name of your domain is still available on sites like Network Solutions or GoDaddy. You can purchase the domain even if you do not plan to create a site right away.

Select a business structure

What is an LLC and should you start one? A sole proprietorship? The choice of business structure can affect your company in many ways, including liability and taxes.

Sole Proprietorships & General Partnerships

You have either a general partnership or a sole proprietorship if you do not file paperwork for a legal change. These are “default business structures”. In a sole proprietorship, there is only one owner. A partnership includes multiple owners.

There are a couple of benefits to these structures. These structures are easy to set up and inexpensive. As your business grows, you will quickly realize the risks and limitations of this type of business structure. Legally, in both cases, your company is you. You are the legal name of your company. To operate under a different name, you will need to use a -DBA. Your business debts are YOUR debts. Anyone who sues you personally is suing your company.

LLCs & Corporations

Corporations and limited liability companies are state-created business entities. It is a separate legal entity from the owner, which means that the owner cannot be held personally responsible for debts or obligations. The business can also make multiple tax elections as a separate entity. If they satisfy the criteria, LLCs or corporations may choose to tax themselves as S-corps.

The default structure of LLCs and corporations is not as cheap and simple as it seems. The formalities of LLCs and corporations include state reports. There are also more fees, including fees for annual reports and formation fees. However, the benefits of an LLC or corporation–especially liability protection and tax flexibility–are significant.

How to legally form your proofreading business

You can choose to be a sole owner or form a general partnership. There is no need to fill out any paperwork in order to create your legal entity. Just start marketing your service or product. You will lose any liability protection or flexibility in tax.

Forming an LLC or corporation is done by filing the necessary paperwork at a state office, usually with the Secretary of State. Articles of Organization are required to begin an LLC. Articles of incorporation are required to begin a corporation. You can download or file the forms from most state websites.

You will need to provide certain information in your articles, whether you are forming an Inc. or a corporation. This includes:

  • Name
  • Business Address
  • Registered Agent Office
  • Business purpose
  • Names and addresses of members, managers or directors/officers
  • Number and types of shares authorized (for stock corporations).

The state filing fee and the signature of a person authorized to sign for the company are also required. The fees vary from state to state, but they are usually between $100 and 200. Northwest will complete all the paperwork and file it on your behalf, plus any state fees.

Create internal policies and procedures

You should put all of your internal company policies and procedures into a document. This is especially important if you are starting a business together with other people. A partnership agreement is required for a business. Operating agreements are part of LLCs. Bylaws are part of a corporation’s bylaws.

The documents may look different, but their purpose is the same. These documents ensure that there is a path for major issues, such as changes to ownership or closing of the business. For LLCs or corporations, an operating agreement and bylaws are also required to open a banking account.

Get an EIN to Register and Pay Taxes

The IRS will require that almost all corporations and LLCs request an employer identification number. You must obtain an EIN if you are required to file taxes for your corporation, have employees or pay certain franchise taxes. A business bank account is often required to have an EIN. Fill out IRS’s online request form to get an EIN for most businesses.

You’ll also have to pay state and local taxes. Your EIN will cover federal tax, but you may be required to file for both. Most likely, you will need to open an account at the Department of Revenue in your state. You may also need to obtain a tax ID from that state or apply for a license to collect sales taxes.

Opening a Bank Account

Maintaining separate finances for your business and personal life is important. Separate finances are essential to protect LLCs and Corporations from liability. For LLCs or corporations to open a bank account, they typically have to provide a copy their articles of incorporation, operating agreements, bylaws and EIN.

Get the required licenses and permits

Most businesses require a license in order to run. You can usually find information about licensing, as well as zoning or any other permits on the website of your city or county.

You may also have to comply with any restrictions that the homeowner’s associations impose on home-based business. In some areas, home-based business owners may be required to get a Certificate Of Occupancy. This document certifies that the owner of the property has granted permission for the business to operate.

What to do next in your proofreading business

There are some additional steps that you can take to grow your business after it is running:

  • Create a website for your business using a domain name. Hire a professional, or create your own website using WordPress or Wix. You might also consider investing in online advertising through programs like Google Ads.
    • Hire employees: Hiring employees requires quite a few steps. You will need to gather W-4s and I-9s, notify the state of the new hires, setup withholding and pay unemployment insurance. Employer.gov should be your first stop, then the state tax office or labor department.
    • Get insurance for your business: Although LLCs and corporations will protect you against personal liability, it is important that you do not let the business go under in case of an injury, accident or disaster. It’s important to at least consider general liability insurance. Some homeowners’ policies include insurance for home-based business.

What is the best way to determine if I should start a proofreading business?

How is it to be a part of a proofreading company?

Proofreaders spend a great deal of time reading. They also need to be in close contact with their clients, to discuss prices, set deadlines, arrange meetings, or do check-ins and to balance several projects. The hours of work can vary and be long. It’s crucial to manage your time well. Projects can sometimes be cancelled or deadlines changed. In the early stages, your focus will be on finding work, networking and marketing.

How can you succeed as a proofreader?

In addition to a degree or strong background in English or journalism or a related area, proofreaders must also be able, with grace, and without forcing their ideas on an author, publisher or business owner. It is important to remain focused, organized, and motivated throughout the editing process, especially when tasks become lengthy and complex. You may be excited about the prospect of being paid to read but you will not always get to choose texts that you enjoy. You’ll never be bored with a variety of clients!

Are you ready to form an LLC or corporation?

Northwest Registered Agent can help you with your ideas for small businesses. We’ll ask you a few questions to learn more about your company, then prepare your paperwork and send it on to the state. Our services include a free registered agent for your business, business guides and forms, as well as a new business registration service.

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