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.