How To Gain Confidence As A New Proofreader And Copyeditor

If you’ve already completed your training, you may be struggling with how to gain confidence as a new proofreader and copyeditor. It’s totally normal to feel this way. Starting a new business requires a strong mindset. And if you’re still unsure about taking the first step and investing in your editorial training, you’re not alone in your doubts.

The truth is, you can be educated and prepared to the gills, but if you don’t have the mental can-do attitude, and the willingness to grow, then your journey to success will be a tough one.

I know this from my own experience as a freelance editor and entrepreneur, and now I’m sharing an interview I had with someone who has overcome a lot of fear and doubt, too. The same fears you might have.

Rusanne is a graduate of my proofreading and copyediting course, High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro. She’s since gone on to start her own freelance proofreading and copyediting business, and I’m so proud of her.

In this post, Rusanne shares how she overcame her insecurities and gained the confidence to approach people for work. At the end she also gives some great tips for you to try. I also have a free downloadable workbook and exercise to help you set goals and grow your mindset.

When Rusanne first contacted me, she was a graduate of fashion design who also had a love of words, and wanted to pursue a career attached to that, as well. She really wanted to try proofreading, but had a lot of doubts if she could really “make it” or not. Even throughout the course she had doubts and fears. But I’m happy to say she has overcome them and is now not only successful in her fashion career, but has also gone on to proofread and copyedit for fashion and lifestyle publications, which was her dream.

What made you decide to take the leap and start your freelance business?

Thinking back, what made me take the leap is this feeling that, “this is something I can possibly do, I think I can actually do this.” I can’t say it was confidence back then, but I knew I loved reading, I knew that I liked reading written content that is flawlessly understandable, and I knew I wanted to give it a try.

I have to admit that a part of me was also scared, but after some thinking and also asking my parents for advice, I decided to take the leap. Also, a part of me wanted to be adaptable and smarter in terms of preparing for my future. I don’t want to focus only on fashion, I want to build myself in other areas that I think I can be good at and I already love, and make it profitable.

Plus, if I have a side hustle or another freelance career, I like the idea that I can take it anywhere and do it anywhere I like.

What kind of content do you proofread and copyedit?

Currently, I’m proofreading for a motivational business-related blog, children’s books, and fashion-related content. I want to keep proofreading in these niches and also expand to health, fitness, nutrition, beauty, lifestyle, relationships, self-help books, and fiction books. They are a few of my favorite topics.


Phon’s note: If you want to learn how YOU can start working from home, I have a FREE masterclass on proofreading, copyediting, and marketing.

Click here to register now!

What was your biggest fear when it came to freelance proofreading and copyediting, and how did you overcome it?

I have to be honest and admit that I had lot of fears when I started:

  • I feared that I would not be able to understand and learn everything I needed to know to get started; like my brain may not be capable enough to absorb everything because even though I love reading, this was a whole new terrain for me.
  • I feared that I may not be able to really make something out of this after I finished the course. I always had this question of, “Will I really find clients? Will I really profit from this?”
  • I feared that since I am not a native English speaker, people will not trust me to do a good job.
  • I feared that I was not good enough to be a proofreader or copyeditor because I don’t have a background in literature, publishing or an English degree, that I would fail. Big-time.
Rusanne is a proofreader and copyeditor who specializes in fashion and lifestyle.

I know you were worried about approaching people and marketing yourself, so how did you overcome that fear?

“If I want to make something happen, I have to get a move on.” That was what I thought after I finished the last exercise and read Phon’s feedback of my work. [Phon’s note: Rusanne is referring to the final exam in the course, which I personally grade.] I felt very grateful for the encouragement I received, and reading Phon’s feedback for me made me realize that, “maybe I can do it.”

Whenever I want to do something, I look at it as a project and write the steps I want to take to achieve it. I wrote my strategy on a piece of paper and I first wrote “niche”. I wrote the topics I like reading because I want to enjoy proofreading. After that I thought of places where I can find those niches and do my research.

As I was doing my planning and research, it helped me to think of it as a goal I want to achieve instead of a roadblock I couldn’t surpass. The more I learned about proofreading [and copyediting] and things I can do with them, the more I gained the confidence that I could actually make it work.

What advice would you give to someone who would love to proofread or copyedit, but isn’t sure if they can “make it”?

“You will never know, until you try,” that’s what I will say. My current work client wrote in her article, “everyone has their first day,” as her mom said. And it’s true. If you have this feeling of wanting to try, you have to try; because unless you try it, you will never know if this is something that will be good for you in the future.

If you’re still feeling unsure, be practical and do your research. Read about proofreading and copyediting, what they’re about, what do you actually do as a proofreader and copyeditor, what are the areas you can apply them to, etc. I did my research and sought advice before actually plunging into learning, and it’s okay because it helps you to really weigh your options, know the pros and cons, and really check with yourself if this is something you really want to do.

Also, before plunging into it, you also have to be sure that you love it. At the end of the day, despite the stress and tiredness, if you love what you do, everything is worth it.

Let’s talk about mindset, since it’s one area that holds a lot of people back. What was your mindset like before you started your training, and how is it now?

Before I started, honestly, it was a mix of excitement and fear. I was excited because I was venturing into something related to what I love, which was reading, and that can potentially help me financially. But I also had fears and doubts if this was something I could really do and make another career of.

How important do you think mindset is for achieving your goals?

I think it’s one of the key things that can make or break your chances of achieving your goals.

Your mindset will either help you begin or it will stop you from doing something you actually may be really good at. The mind can play cruel tricks on you, and if you let it, it may hinder you from reaching your fullest potential. A good, strong mindset will motivate you to move forward, and your motivation will push you to take actions towards fulfilling your goals.


Rusanne shared some of her tips and advice for developing a positive, can-do mindset. These are great to apply to work and life in general. I follow the same tips below in my personal and professional life, and it’s been a game-changer. I hope that you’re able to one day go from wishing you could work with words to actually doing it.

Rusanne’s Tips For Gaining Confidence and Starting Your Proofreading and Copyediting Business

  1. Build on that positive, can-do mindset and do something that scares you. It’s not easy to start, but push yourself and take the first step.
  2. Have faith in yourself and study the craft. Unless you study, you won’t really understand it and do a good job.
  3. Be genuine in what and why you want to do it, and in reaching out to people. People appreciate honesty and you never know who you will meet and the opportunities that may open up to you.
  4. Build a mindset of “giving” not just “receiving”.
  5. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know something. Ask for help and most of all, do your research (again, that’s when you’ll know what you don’t know).
  6. Be grateful for every opportunity. Big or small.
  7. Remember that you are bigger than your doubts and fears.

Do you have any advice for overcoming fear or doubt? Share with us in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “How To Gain Confidence As A New Proofreader And Copyeditor”

  1. For me, the hardest part of getting started was finding the right proofreading course to take. There are so many out there, some much better (and worse!) than others. On the face of it, they all say they will teach you how to proofread. But how effective are they? You can’t really tell until you have signed up and parted with your hard-earned cash. This is where I found Phon’s free introductory lessons so incredibly helpful. They gave me a real sense of what to expect, how the lessons are presented and, crucially, the support you, as a student learning remotely, will receive. I signed up to the Proofreading Pro course as result. Yes, finishing the course is just the first stage in the journey to setting up business as a proofreader and copyeditor and there are huge challenges still to come. But at least I feel that, even as a newbie, I can offer my services with confidence – and that is a huge plus!

    1. So true, Veronica! Proper training is crucial, and once you have that strong foundation it’s a matter of taking action and having patience. Success is inevitable is what I like to say. 🙂

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