Think freelance proofreading is for you? Here’s what you need to know!
You have chosen a career as a freelance proofreader and have entered the realm of the self-employed. Congratulations! Being your own boss and working by yourself is exciting and liberating; there are no bosses and no office politics. However, the reality is that there is no boss, no one to hold you accountable, and no one to manage the particulars an employer typically handles. It’s all up to you.
Staying on task with your proofreading jobs when you’re self-employed can be challenging. As a freelance proofreader, you must develop good work habits and choose to work efficiently and effectively. You must work regular hours, meet all deadlines, stay up to date with your financials, and keep organized client files.
Let’s take a look at these, perhaps new, responsibilities and see how best to cope with them.
Managing your time
The challenge most freelance proofreaders often find the most daunting is time management, which needs to be taken seriously if you are to be successful and productive. You must manage yourself and your energy so you can accomplish your tasks and maintain a balance between your work and personal time.
Sometimes the hardest part about being self-employed is simply getting things done. Working as a freelance proofreader can be fun, profitable, and easy if you consider the following tips:
- Get down to basics: follow a schedule; make a to-do list; set priorities; use a stop watch to allocate a certain amount of time per task; and use little pockets of time wisely.
- Take care of one thing you dread each morning. Do it first and get it out of the way, otherwise it will distract you for the rest of the day.
- Whether you are a night-owl or an early-bird freelance proofreader, take advantage of your own peak hours, however non-traditional they may be, to complete your tasks.
- Take a break for five minutes (or 24 hours) to avoid burnout and bad habits. Do something to alter your business routine: go shopping, have lunch with a friend, take a drive to the lake, or go for a run. Incorporating a little R & R into your schedule rescues you from the monotony of your work and boosts your creativity. You will return to your work refreshed and full of new ideas.
- Mistakes will happen. Don’t obsess over them. Apologize to your client, take responsibility for what happened, and then rectify the problem. The sooner you fix it, the sooner you can move on.
- Brush up on your skills so that you are working as efficiently as possible. There are online forums to talk to other freelance proofreaders, or you can enroll in an online proofreading course to be sure your skills are up to snuff. Learning a few tricks and making sure you are proofreading to the best of your abilities will save you time and hassle in the long run.
- Eliminate the distractions of e-mail and social media for a few hours each day. Your productivity will increase, and you will work efficiently through your to-do list.
- Keep an accurate account of the actual time you spend working on each project using a stopwatch and a spreadsheet. Include a short summary of the work accomplished. This will help you estimate the time you might need for similar freelance proofreading work in the future, and it is useful when determining your rates.
- Several online tools, such as Google Calendar and myMemorizer, can help freelance proofreaders avoid distractions, and others, such as Manic Time, can help you get a basic handle on time management.
As a freelance proofreader, staying focused requires mindfulness, which is essential to your success. The best parts of self-employment are also the things that can lead to stress and failure. Be aware of what you are doing each day, be honest about what you can do better, and forgive yourself when you make mistakes or aren’t as productive as you hoped.
As a freelance proofreader, you must take care of your own benefits, such as health care, handle estate and retirement planning, and pay any applicable taxes. Self-employed individuals often deal with financial issues that are more complex than those of salaried employees. Legal and accounting considerations are also important, and it is imperative that you keep accurate and detailed financial records of your business. If these responsibilities prove to be overwhelming, it might be wise to enlist the advice and support of professionals.
One of the nicer aspects of regular full-time employment is that your employer is required to withhold money from your paycheck and send it to the government to cover your taxes. As a freelance proofreader, however, that responsibility will fall on you. There’s no doubt that paying taxes can be daunting for the self-employed. You might need to consult an accountant or tax advisor if you have special concerns.
As a freelance proofreader, you should set aside a portion of your revenue from which to pay your taxes. The amount will depend on the amount of money you bring in, plus the deductions and tax credits you’re allowed to claim to offset your tax bill. This varies widely from case to case; there’s no standard guideline that fits the entire spectrum of home-based businesses.
If you’re self-employed, it’s a good idea to establish a bank account from which you pay taxes on all your income. That way, when taxes are due, you are prepared to pay them. A good way to handle your taxes is to pay them quarterly. This might seem cumbersome, but it is actually a safer practice than trying to pay just once a year because it forces you to keep money in reserve and be accountable at regular intervals.
Some final thoughts
There is a definite allure to being a freelance proofreader. After all, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss, work when they want to from almost anywhere, and have complete control over their income potential? However, remember that when you are self-employed, everything is your responsibility. Armed with knowledge and foresight, we are sure you will successfully navigate the jungle of red tape and enjoy your career as a freelance proofreader!
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