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Tips for starting work after your proofreading course

Many of our students have set up successful businesses after finishing their proofreading course.

We are always pleased to give advice and resources to help our online proofreading course students get started, and this continues, even after they have finished their course.

There is plenty of proofreading work out there, especially with the internet creating endless possibilities.

But how do you get started - how do you go about using your editorial skills?

To begin with, you need an amazing website. It does not need to be very big, but should be very high quality, to showcase your skills.

There are several free self-build web packages available, such as Blogger and WordPress.

With these packages, there is a shift towards drag-and-drop site building. Weebly and Wix offer hundreds of adaptable, modern templates, and their sites provide an instant shop window for potential customers without you needing coding expertise.

Drag-and-drop packages such as "Go Daddy" / Wix AI are financially attractive and tend to appeal to the creative end of younger, more IT-confident clients. However, they don't always wash with small, established rural outfits. But Wix has some really great templates and are very distinct

Whichever package you choose, you can find that self-build packages have a certain "look" to them, a bit like clipart. So make sure you produce something attractive, otherwise prospective clients will assume you’re unprofessional.

You might eventually need WordPress if you want to build a more sophisticated site. Its Pro Package offers hundreds of plugins which can make a website do just about anything. 

Proofreading course graduates need to diversify

If you learn to use WordPress well, you can get freelance work, as an additional source of income. It’s worth learning it - there are loads of good tutorials on YouTube. Learning the software takes time, so it's a matter of figuring out priorities. 

Remember though that your website is your shop window, and if you cannot build a professional site yourself, it’s best to pay someone to build one for you.

Our partners, BST Creative, offer discounts to CMP students and have built some amazing sites for our students and graduates.

Once your website is up and running, you will need to optimise it and promote it online and on social media. Our ebook, Promoting brand you, lists some effective strategies to get you, your business and your website noticed. It’s best to draw up a timetable of social media and online activities - daily, weekly and monthly, and gradually build an authoritative social media profile.

Starting up a new business takes a lot of time.

One tip that helped me when I started CMP is: "Don’t lay the table until you know how many are coming for dinner."

In other words, don’t get bogged down in loads of preparation - only do things when you need to. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed with work. Always deal with the urgent jobs first - don’t waste time on things that can be done later.

Your online proofreading course is the just start!

It’s also important to remember that freelance work is very fluid these days, so don’t be too quick to pigeonhole yourself in to a proofreading niche. Accept everything and anything. There are hundreds of people who have a mixture of skills, and switch seamlessly from one to the other. I do ... some days I'm a journalist, other days I'm a tutor, and I'm also a legal consultant.

For instance, one student was thinking of becoming a proofreader for the Christian market. But we said there wasn’t enough demand in the UK and Europe to provide a living wage. America is different. Christianity is big business over there, and there is a huge potential client base, along with plenty of money.

We encouraged our student to see that very few Christian commercial ventures succeed in this country, because there are not enough potential clients. And most churches don't have the budget to employ a freelance proofreader. Those that take quality seriously probably have a member who does their proofreading work for nothing.

We advise all our students to start with a niche, and be prepared to write anything and everything for anybody who asks ... niche-only freelance proofreaders rarely make much money unless they're really good, very experienced and have a big network of contacts.

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