Yes, You Need a Proofreader

I don’t have a formal writing background.

I was a Finance major who ended up in a sales job right out of college.

When I realized that my employer couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide me with the marketing and sales materials I needed, I started writing my own stuff.

My writing was OK. And I got better over time. But when I launched my freelance business and started writing for clients, I quickly realized how difficult it is to proofread your own work.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way: by having my writing clients point out the errors to me (yikes!).

Seems like no matter how many times you go through a draft, there are still little issues here and there that are easy to miss.

In fact, the closer you are to your draft, the more challenging it becomes to catch typos and grammatical and punctuation errors.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, after one particularly embarrassing miss, I contacted a colleague of mine to cry on her shoulder. She understood my dilemma exactly. In fact, she had recently experienced some of the same challenges.

Her suggestion: hire a proofreader!

My first thought was, “I can’t afford to hire a proofreader. I’m not yet charging professional-level rates for my work!”

But when I took a closer look at the proofreader she suggested, I realized that

  • Yes, I could definitely afford this, and
  • It wasn’t an option; I needed help.

I needed help because I recognized that in order to grow my freelance writing business and my rates, I had to start delivering a higher-quality, error-free product.

And I couldn’t guarantee the quality of my work if I didn’t have a quality assurance team behind me.

I started using ProofreadNOW.com that same week. And I’ve been a happy client of theirs since 2006.

At $11 per 500-word page, this service is a no-brainer!

They can turn your document around in as little as 30 minutes, although most of the time I opt for the more cost-effective 24-hour turnaround.

Plus, they have two proofreaders go through your document, which helps ensure that all errors are caught.

These days I use ProofreadNOW.com for almost every client project I work on. My clients consistently comment on the quality of my drafts. And I’ve become a better writer as I’ve learned the mistakes I make repeatedly.

There are many other talented proofreaders out there. I’m not suggesting ProofreadNOW.com is the only option.

My point is that if you’re serious about commanding top fees for your work, don’t try to proofread your own work — even if you’re an excellent and accomplished writer.

Edit as best you can. Then, invest in a good proofreading service.

You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

  • Never heard of this service, thanks for sharing, Ed! I use Grammarly as a DIY version of proofreading, and it definitely catches some embarrassing errors most of the time. Having a live proofreader would be even better, though!

    • edgandia

      Hi Sarah. I’ve never tried Grammarly but I’ve good things about it.

      My thinking is that for the cost, it’s worth running the draft through a human proofreader. Much more thorough.

      • Absolutely! But getting a free account for blog sponsorship is right up there on the list for me :).

  • Mike

    I’m all for outsourcing this type of work, Ed, but most of my clients have me sign Non-Disclosure Agreements before I type a single character. I see that ProofreadNow.com has an NDA (http://www.proofreadnow.com/nondisclosure-agreement). Before using their service, would you get your clients’ permission to use ProofreadNow’s services? I imagine that would mean forward ProofreadNow’s NDA by my lawyer or my client’s lawyer.

    • edgandia

      Yes, in the case of an NDA you can’t just send your doc to someone else. When I have an NDA with a new client, I’ll sign it. But I’ll also explain that I use a proofreader, and that this is an important part of my QC process. So I ask my contact for direction / advice as to how to proceed.

      Every client in this situation has been a little different, but most have been ok with that just by my asking. Some has asked that I change the name of the client and/or products/services in the doc (a simple find-and-replace in Word) before submitting to the proofreader. Since it hasn’t been an issue once I get their verbal blessing, I haven’t gone as far as to send them ProofreadNOW’s NDA for review.

      So I would recommend doing what you feel comfortable with. I was fine with a verbal OK. But I realize that others may want something in writing.

      • Mike

        Thanks for your reply, Ed.
        What about transcription of meetings with Subject Matter Experts? In that instance, the product name can’t be redacted.
        How have you handled those situations?
        I appreciate your wisdom!

        • edgandia

          I always ask the client ahead of time if I can record the conversation and have it transcribed by my transcriptionist. I think I’ve been turned down only once before.

          • Mike

            Simple enough. Thanks for your answer, Ed. I hope it helps your other readers.

  • DonnaMosher

    You are right – every writer needs an editor. I have been saved many times by Grammarly, too.

  • Erikkko

    I love Intelligentediting.com’s product, PerfectIt — it’s thorough, versatile, systematic, customizable for any situation, allows you to make correction decisions for your document individually or globally as you see fit, integrates fully with Word, comes with masses of style sheets, has an excellent user resource in the shape of a forum, and its maker provides excellent after-sales support. (I find it particularly useful for identifying hard-to-spot issues like inconsistency in hyphen usage.) You can also skip individual consistency/error tests if you’ve already run them previously, or if they’re simply not needed.

    Above all, it’s a tremendous time-saver when checking a long document.

    Try it free for a month — after that it costs USD 99.

  • Heather West

    For smaller jobs, I use an online service called Prompt Proofing. For larger writing projects, I’ve subcontracted the services of an editor/proofreader. I also use proofreading services when I’m responding to RFPs. It’s difficult for us to catch the errors in our own work because we’re too close to it. When I managed marketing and communication departments, we would sometimes circulate documents to multiple staff members for proofing. Different people caught different errors. And sometimes, despite broad circulation, an error would slip by all of us.Proofreading support is a vital component of QC for my business. I am going to check out Intelligentediting.com. I haven’t heard of that one.