If someone had told me at the outset that, a whole decade later, I’d be running a successful business, I’d have raised an eyebrow, to say the least.
Firstly, this was 2008. Things were not looking good for business. I can’t remember if anyone was using the term ‘The Great Recession’ at that point, but ‘financial crisis’ and ‘subprime mortgage crisis’ were in full circulation. Lehman Brothers had yet to bite the dust, but the writing was on the wall.
The second reason I’d have raised an eyebrow was that it wasn’t really my intention to start a business. Not really.
I was responding to an unfairness, to what I saw as a form of exploitation. Now I could be wrong, and this is just my opinion, but proofreading courses in 2008 were needlessly expensive. I mean, they’re needlessly expensive now, but we’re talking about 2008: Kung Fu Panda and the Sex and the City movie are still doing great box office and John Grisham's The Appeal is dominating the New York Times bestseller list.
Hundreds of dollars for a proofreading course was just wrong. Or at the very least, it was unnecessary.
The qualifications these proofreading courses offered were irrelevant. No one hiring proofreaders was asking for them. I knew that because I’d been hiring proofreaders for years and proofreading qualifications were not a part of any recruitment criteria. I looked at experience, and I had all applicants sit a test. A really tricky test. And that was it. No proofreading qualifications. No. Proofreading. Qualifications.
The assessment process these proofreading courses insisted upon was unnecessary. Why did someone have to ‘mark’ work that was either right or wrong. These were not essays on the themes of justice and corruption in King Lear. These were public domain extracts with deliberate mistakes inserted into them. If they’d provided their students/customers with an answer sheet, they could have omitted the whole costly correspondence aspect of their business model, a cost passed onto you-know-who.
Worst of all, these proofreading courses were expecting you to pay for grammar instruction. There were whole pages on dangling modifiers, split infinitives and when and where to use a semicolon. In 2018, all of that stuff is available free online. There are some fantastic grammar websites, and they won’t cost you a penny. Granted, in 2008, this wasn’t quite the case. The instruction was there but you had to put it together piecemeal. However, for about the cost of a cup of coffee, you could get hold of a second hand grammar book. Even a brand new grammar book would weigh-in at a fraction of the cost of these proofreading courses were expecting you to pay.
Ten years later, and very little has changed. There are still a bunch of proofreading courses out there that are happy to charge you for the unnecessary. And The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course is still here, offering you a great-value alternative.
Ten years. Wow.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has bought my proofreading training material over the years and for all those people, like Emma Steel, who have become advocates for The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course.
If you’ve yet to give The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course a try, click here, to find out more. If you have any concerns or questions at all, please feel free to drop me an email here.
Over the last couple of years I've received a great many positive comments about my proofreading eBook. Liberally sprinkled among these remarks have, of course, been a few perfectly reasonable criticisms.
The third edition of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course addresses all (I hope) of these concerns.
I now have an entire chapter devoted to calculating how much you should charge your customers, including an easy-to-use formula.
The chapter on proofreading symbols has been substantially expanded, and now includes examples of the proofreading symbols 'in action'.
The chapter on setting up your proofreading business has been updated to include the latest freelance marketplaces and to factor-in Google's latest algorithm changes to give your website a fighting chance in the search-engine results.
I've emailed a copy of the third edition to every customer who has bought my proofreading course in the last 12 months or so. Due to spam laws, I can't actually email anyone who bought the book before that time as they would legally be considered a 'lapsed account'.
However, if you bought the eBook at any time and can provide proof of purchase (a PayPal reference number or even the email address of the PayPal account you used to purchase the eBook), I will gladly send you a link to download the course free of charge.
I'm really pleased with how the third edition of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course has turned out. I hope you will like it, too.
I recently received an email to this effect, accusing me of having an outright distrust of official proofreading courses and thinking that they were, to all intents and purposes, a scam.
This is a cheap proofreading course. No doubt. I mean, it’s just £19.99, a fraction of the cost of any other proofreading course. But the word ‘cheap’ is so, well, nasty. It reeks of corners cut and compromise without principal. And The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course is, despite the price tag, a quality product: clear, concise and, above all, useful. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a quality product because of the price tag, because of the (pardon my French) the cut-the-crap approach.
So, what else to call it? An affordable proofreading course? An inexpensive proofreading course? An economical proofreading course? A low-cost, reasonably priced, easy-on-the-pocket proofreading course? They’re all accurate but there’s still that whiff of concession.
But what about this: a value-engineered proofreading course?
I don’t know about you but I like it.
Value engineering is a systematic method to improve the "value" of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost. Value can therefore be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost, provided the reduction in cost doesn’t impair the function.
I feel reasonably confident that I’ve achieved this with The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course.
You don’t have to take my word for it; read a testimonial here. Or just give the eBook a try. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. If, after reading the book, you don’t feel it’s put you on the path to pursuing genuine, professional proofreading assignments, just drop me an email and I’ll issue you with a refund in full, no questions, no quibbles.
What have you got to lose?
If there’s one recurring message throughout this blog, it’s this: never, never, never pay for proofreading exercises. Never. If a proofreading course boasts proofreading exercises as part of its offer, then the chances are you are paying for them when you pay for the course. Which is crazy, because the internet is heaving with free proofreading exercises; you just need to know where to look.
If there is another recurring message running through this little blog of mine, then it is the importance of testimonials in creating a sturdy reputation for yourself as a freelance proof reader.
And, more often than not, the two go hand in hand. Wherever there are free proofreading exercises, there are plentiful opportunities for harvesting testimonials.
I’ve already mentioned writing forums, Yahoo! Answers and Constant Content. Well, here’s another great source of free proofreading exercises/testimonials:
That’s the URL for Duotrope. Duotrope is a resource to help writers find publishers who are currently seeking submissions. I know what you’re thinking: Well, that’s great if you’re an aspiring writer, but I’m an aspiring proof reader. What’s in it for me?
On the face of it, Duotrope is a resource for writers, but dig a little deeper and you find a massive database of publishers. Lots of these publishers fall under the category of ‘small press’ and are unlikely to be able to afford the services of professional proof readers. So, when you get in touch offering free proofreading services in exchange for testimonials (providing you do a good job, of course), I’d be surprised if they didn’t jump at the opportunity to work with you.
Just think how impressive it will look on your resume or website to have testimonials from companies with names like Woodland Press, Hourglass Books and Permuted Press?
Well, what are you waiting for?
Let’s not beat about the bush. The answer is ‘no’.
There is absolutely no such thing as an ‘officially recognised’ proofreading qualification. There is no magic certificate from any course provider that occupies the top spot on some ‘must-have’ list when organisations are looking to take on proof readers. Anyone telling you that their qualification is ‘universally recognised’, is being more than a little disingenuous.
That isn’t to say, however, that certificates aren’t without value. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the possession of one of these little pieces of paper came into play as some kind of deal-breaker when considering equally gifted applicants. So, I’m disinclined to dismiss them entirely.
In my 20 years of experience as a proof reader, however, I never once encountered anyone boasting such a qualification. Nor, as an Operations Manager responsible for hiring proof readers, did possession of a proofreading accreditation form part of any recruitment criteria I was aware of.
Most organisations looking to employ the talents of a proof reader are going to be far more interested in your experience. Thankfully, The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course tells you precisely how to go about seizing opportunities to gain experience. It also tells you how to turn that experience into a formidable reputation by collecting as many testimonials as possible. What’s more, you can go about amassing all this experience and all these testimonials at zero cost to yourself. You simply need to invest a little time. Compare that to the cost of acquiring a qualification. I’ve seen courses advertised for as much as £200. Makes my little £7.99 eBook seem positively cute.
In addition to looking at your experience (and demonstrating little or no interest in supposed qualifications), very many organisations will expect you to undertake some form of proofreading test, something that’s likely to tell them whether or not you’re their kind of proof reader. Remember, not all proof readers are born equal, and not all proofreading projects are the same, either. I’ve proofread novels and I’ve proofread legal contracts and they are, to say the very least, worlds apart.
So, would I pay good money for a proofreading qualification? No, I wouldn’t.
Should you? Well, as I said, they’re not entirely without value. But, I’m afraid I’m going to have to shirk my responsibilities and leave that one up to you.
However you decide to proceed, I wish you the very best of luck.
“I am one of those many fools who paid a huge amount of money for a useless course. This book... has opened so many doors for me. I now look on Mike as my mentor as I embark on a career. Thank you Mike.”
Emma Steel, Proofreader and International Structural Editor.
“ I thoroughly enjoyed the course and am so glad that I decided to take it... the whole experience was invaluable. My proofreading service is now well established and your course played no small part in getting it off the ground.”
Hache L. Jones, Proofreader.
“I'd just like to thank you first of all for writing such a great, straight forward eBook, and then going above and beyond what I would even expect as a customer by providing us, completely free of charge, updated versions months later!”
Rachel Gee, Trainee Proofreader.
“What can I say? Worth every penny and then some! God Bless! This a fabulous course.”
Teresa Richardson, Proofreader.
“As someone who has effectively been proofreading for thirty years, I found Mike’s No-Nonsense Proofreading Course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of this discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the ideal starting point, and much more besides.”
Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
My name's Mike Sellars and I'm an experienced proofreader and the author of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. Click here to find out more about me.
The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course
A Fraction of the Cost of Other Proofreading Courses
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“As someone who has been proofreading for 30 years, I found Mike’s course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of the discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.” Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
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