Have you ever wondered what a regular day in a work-at-home proofreader and editor’s life is like? Well, now is your chance to find out! I recently interviewed Heather Mitchell, who runs her editorial business from home while also homeschooling. She shares how she started, her favorite way to find clients, and gives us a peek at her average day. Enjoy the interview!
Hi Heather! Can you give us a little background info on yourself?
Like most people in the editorial field, I’ve always loved books. I still fondly remember the first book I read, A Fly Went By, sitting on my mother’s lap before I started kindergarten. Even as a busy high schooler, I always had a book that I was reading.
I studied music in college and became an elementary music teacher. When my oldest child was about 8 months old, I quit my teaching job because I really wanted to be home with my baby. A couple of years later, my husband went back into the military after taking time off for college, where we met. For the next almost 20 years, my family moved every 1-3 years. I had 4 babies between 1996-2001, and then adopted my youngest in 2010 from Ethiopia.
During those years, I homeschooled my children and volunteered within the military community. In 2013 we started to put roots down in Dayton, OH. The oldest four kids graduated from high school and are in various stages of beginning adulthood. My youngest is almost 12 and continues to be homeschooled. I use a literature-rich approach with our curriculum. Because of this, I’ve discovered quite a few good children’s books through my homeschooling career.
Three years ago, I began teaching English online from home. I enjoy the time I spend with my students, helping them learn to read, speak, and listen in English. I have some regular students who I have taught weekly for almost three years.
What made you decide to work at home as a proofreader and editor?
I am ready for a change. While I love working from home, the hours teaching English online are not ideal. Prime teaching time is after school and evenings for my students. This converts to 4-9am for me.
Earlier this year I started researching other work-from-home opportunities. I knew that I wanted something that was portable so that I could travel and continue to work. I also love to read, and I actually enjoy correcting others’ writing. Copyediting and proofreading seemed like a no-brainer for me.
Can you give us a look at what your typical day is like?
Every morning starts with my signature quart Mason jar of iced coffee. With coffee in hand, I go to my office and check my social media and e-mail. I look over my schedule and plans for the day on my Google calendar as well as my working whiteboard. I then take a short break to get ready for the day.
By 9:30 am, I am back in my office working on my first project of the day. Sometimes this is editing, sometimes writing, and sometimes continuing education. Every day is a little different.
I usually break for lunch around 11:30. My daughter and I often take our dogs for a short walk. She has a Standard Poodle named Fluffy (after Hagrid’s three-headed dog), and I have a Goldendoodle named Cora (after a character in The Handmaid’s Tale). When we return, we both start our afternoon work.
Working side-by-side, she does her schoolwork while I move on to my next project. Again, this can be an editing job, managing my social media, continuing education, or working on a marketing plan for my business. This allows me to be available to her when needed, but still get my work done. All of my jobs are billed as projects so that I have the freedom to work however works best for me.
By 4pm, I am usually done for the day and I make dinner for my family (I love to cook). Depending on my workload, I may return to my office to do a little more work. Oftentimes I sit and watch a TV show. When I head to bed, I pick up a book for pleasure reading.
No day is ever the same. I have a fluid routine which keeps me from being bored and allows me to prioritize my tasks for the day.
How do you become a proofreader from home?
Phons’ Note: If you want to learn how to work as a proofreader or editor from home, sign up for my free training masterclass and grab the workbook. Click here to save your spot and watch the on-demand class.
What do you like best about running a home-based editorial business?
Hands down, working for myself. A close second is the variety of material that I can see and work on in any given day. The variety keeps the work interesting!
Can you tell us about the kinds of content you prefer to work on, and do you have a niche or niches?
I’m still figuring it all out. I know I want to work with some books. I’m currently working helping some teacher-entrepreneurs get their curriculum products ready to sell for the upcoming school year.
I’m currently looking for a great YA, romance, or mystery with strong characters who navigate challenging relationships and have a plot twist. I’m also excited to edit cookbooks.
Freelancers have to do many tasks, including marketing. What are your favourite ways to find clients or to connect with potential clients?
Referrals are my favorite ways to find clients. Relationships are really important. Social media provides a way to build relationships with people far and wide. Using two or three social media platforms regularly has already provided some networking opportunities. I think the key is to be consistent and to offer value by providing original content.
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading and copyediting?
Set yourself up for success from the beginning. Meet with a business coach so that you know the legalities for running a business. Set fair prices (fair for you, your business, and your client).
Did High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor?
Yes! I was so happy to find Art of Proofreading’s High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro when I did. The course provided insight into the business as well as information about best practices. The sample edits were varied, which helped me understand different aspects of a copy editor’s and proofreader’s job.
About Heather Mitchell
Heather spent nearly 25 years as an educator in various settings: in the classroom, in her home, and online. She is Mom to 5 children, through birth and adoption. As a military spouse, she has lived in over a dozen locales across the U.S. These experiences have given her a unique perspective that she brings to every manuscript she edits. She is an avid reader and life-long learner. After reading The Handmaid’s Tale in 1990, Margaret Atwood became her favorite author. She continues to advocate for equal rights for all by listening, reading, and amplifying voices from vulnerable populations. You can follow Heather on Twitter.