Outsource Your Proofreading to Save Money
by Emma Hewlett from emmahewlettproofreading.co.uk
We write and read so much content these days: blogs, newsletters, social media posts, reports, website content, the list goes on. Our content is the shop window for our businesses; it is through this content that people grow to know, like and trust us, and become our customers.
Let your content stand out because of its messages, not because of its typos.
If you write as part of your day-to-day business you’ll know that proofreading your work can be a bit of a drag. It doesn’t have to be like this. I’ll tell you what a proofreader is, how to find one and why you need one in your life. You’ll hopefully realise that outsourcing an onerous and tricky task will save you time and money, and your colleagues and family will thank you too!
What is a proofreader?
Proofreading is a level of editing. It’s usually the final check before writing is published or shared. A proofreader will check for errors and inconsistencies in grammar, spelling and punctuation. They will also check that your layout and formatting are consistent.
The next level up from proofreading is copy editing (or line editing). In addition to the things a proofreader will check, a copy editor will make sure your sentence structures are grammatically correct and that they make sense and read clearly. They check for wordiness and that the tone of your writing is right for your audience – whilst you may be an expert in what you do, using technical jargon may make it difficult for customers to engage with your content and therefore you.
To complicate things, proofreaders and editors often vary in what they offer. For instance, I call myself a proofreader, but I carry out all the copy editor checks I mentioned above. To avoid confusion, always be clear about what it is you need help with and what your freelance proofreader actually does.
What do proofreaders check for that you don’t already know?
Are you using UK or US English conventions? Most people know spelling differences exist between the two dialects (ize/ise, or/our, judgment/judgement), but do you know that dialogue, titles and Latin terms are punctuated differently, and tenses can be used differently (e.g. US use the past participle ‘gotten’)? Proofreaders are skilled at spotting these details, so you don’t have to learn all this.
Are your verb tenses consistent? Do your subjects and verbs agree (e.g. ‘neither Katy nor the women were running’ and ‘neither the women nor Katy was running’)? Are your commas used correctly? Have you missed any punctuation? Are your bullet points punctuated and formatted consistently? Have you got words like ‘practice’ and ‘practise’ mixed up?
These are just a few examples of things a proofreader will check for. We love this kind of detail!
Where can I find a proofreader?
A quick online search should help you here but the answer to this question can also depend on where a proofreader’s ideal client hangs out. LinkedIn is where my clients are based, but I do also have a smaller presence on Instagram and Facebook. There are proofreading groups on Facebook where you can reach out to freelancers for a project, though these groups aren’t always regulated. To protect yourself, always have a conversation with a freelancer first, check reviews and testimonials and be clear about their terms and conditions and your expectations.
The Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders is a reliable, professional organisation where you can find a registered proofreader who has completed training and work experience in order to progress through the membership levels. It’s a trustworthy site full of very experienced professionals.
What documents will a proofreader work with?
This often depends on the proofreader and their niche, but basically anything that has been written can, and should, be proofread. Think about where you have seen cringey typos: menus, shop signage, catalogues, merchandise, online news, books, websites, social media posts, newsletters. Anywhere!
How does it make you feel when you see those typos? What conclusions do you draw about that business? This goes back to my earlier point about your content being the shop window for your business; proofreading protects your business’s credibility.
Why do I need to outsource my proofreading?
You friend/spouse/colleague/manager does your proofreading, right? Or you do it yourself. Maybe this is working for you and you don’t want to change your system, but humour me for a minute.
Have you ever finished writing, checked it several times, sent it and then spotted an error? Our brains don’t pick up the errors in our own writing because we read the version that is in our heads. One way of trying to counter this effect is making the text unfamiliar in some way: changing the font, using a read aloud function or reading backwards. A combination of these may help you spot errors, but this still requires a good understanding of English and it doesn’t check for tone and clarity. This is where a second pair of eyes is needed.
So you ask a colleague or employee to read your report through. They’re highly skilled at their job and know the subject area – great! They understand what you’ve written and can’t see any obvious errors. You’re good to go. However, they’re not objective and haven’t spotted the complicated industry-specific terms used or the inconsistencies in tone and voice in the report.
Writing for the right audience is key to securing customers and building trust. This is where an objective pair of skilled eyes comes in.
Hiring a freelance proofreader will save you money!
Managers, your employee is great at what they do – that’s why you hired them. How much time do they spend proofreading their own or other people’s work? How much are you paying them in wages, training, pension, sick pay, annual leave, maternity/paternity pay to do this rather than the work they were recruited for? Do they enjoy proofreading or do they resent it?
Freelance proofreaders love what they do. They know what they’re doing, they’re very good at it and will spend time making sure your writing is clear and accurate, rather than a last minute speedy read through.
Freelance proofreaders don’t come with all these overheads. They either charge an hourly rate or a rate per thousand words that will not cost you the earth. (Lots of proofreaders don’t publish their rates because each project is so unique, but please don’t let this deter you from getting in touch with them.)
You will save money by outsourcing to a proofreader because your employee will get more of the work done that they’re paid and qualified to do.
To those of you who get loved ones to proofread your work, some of the same points apply: do these people know the nuances of English grammar? What are you taking them away from when you ask them to read over your latest content? What happens if they make a mistake?
So now you know what a proofreader does, where to find one and why you need to hire one. People can be resistant to proofreading. I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s because so many people dislike doing it, or perhaps a lack of understanding has led to its diminished value. Regardless, having your work proofread is essential at a time when we’re producing so much content. Customers expect to see a business take pride in being accurate and consistent in their content because that’s what they expect from your service. I love being a part of that journey!