Do you love books? Do you dream of starting your own freelance proofreading and editing business? Well, you’re not alone — many book lovers feel the same. Mariah Krist, who is a proofreader and editor for academia, transformed her lifelong love of books into a freelance editing business.
I interviewed Mariah recently, and in this post, she discusses how her at-home freelance proofreading and editing business is a perfect fit for her.
I related to a lot of Mariah’s story and found her openness refreshing and inspiring. I hope you do, too.
Hi Mariah! Can you tell us about yourself?
My family didn’t have much money as I grew up, so we never did the Disney world trip or such. But, that didn’t matter to me because I had my books! I got to travel through my pages and did a lot of exploring that way. It’s a cliché saying, but books gave me that mental escape from the real world. I love that feeling of getting lost in a good story and there are few better feelings.
So, for me, my love of words stems from childhood. My mother even told me I was the only 4-year-old she knew who actually wanted to see “the words” after a movie (aka film credits) despite not knowing how to read yet. She recalls me reading even as a toddler!
As a teenager, I always had a stack of books in my locker (which kids teased me about for being a “nerd”) and teachers actually scolded me for doing “too much” reading in class! I would even read my mother’s textbooks after she enrolled in university to get her BA in early childhood education because I liked the material. When reading, I’d study the words on the page and take note of certain phrases or wording I liked. Soon, I was writing my own stories and poetry in dollar-store notebooks.
My love of reading paid off because when I did junior high school exams (I was around 13 at the time), I got a high score in English. Apparently, my understanding of English and writing was at “an advanced high school level.” My dad questioned if it was an error because, of course, it was the one class I got a really excellent grade in.
Words were definitely my “first love” as a kid!
What made you decide to get into proofreading and copyediting?
As a kid, I dreamed of becoming an author. But, life has a tendency of throwing you into situations you didn’t expect to be in. As an adult, I ended up in housekeeping for several years. Eventually, I decided I wanted to do something besides cleaning houses; something I actually liked. I also have extremely bad social anxiety and wanted to do an at-home business. But, I had no idea where to start or what to do business-wise.
I began searching for ideas and started Googling page after page of different businesses I could do from home. Eventually, I came across a site that suggested proofreading. It was like a cartoon light bulb flickered on in my head!
Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to do something with writing as a job. For me, writing and editing were the two things that were never truly “work” and came naturally to me. It only made sense to do something I was good at and liked doing. I finally knew what I wanted to do and decided to put my childhood-taught skills to use as an adult.
What do you like best about running an editorial business?
I love that I can do something I actually enjoy besides vacuuming carpeted stairwells, that’s for sure! Haha! I also enjoy being able to enhance someone else’s writing.
I know grammar and style isn’t something every writer can easily pull off. They have the message in their head, but they can’t find the exact words that fit said-message. It happens to all of us.
For me, correcting grammar and adding some style into a writing piece comes rather easily. (Not to brag! Okay, maybe a little.) So, I love that I can offer my writing and editing abilities to make someone else a better writer. Knowing that I am doing my best and seeing my work pay off makes me feel good about myself.
Can you tell us about your editorial business, the kinds of content you work on, and do you have a niche or niches?
My writing and editing business is kept under my name: Mariah Krist. (Fun fact: My first name is actually Olga. However, I use my middle name Mariah as I just prefer it.)
So far, I have edited almost entirely academic writing (such as college or research papers) along with a piece or two of fiction. My first real project was editing an academic book along with proofreader Kristina Segarra (check out her LinkedIn page!) as my co-editor and I loved it.
It takes significant work to make sure academic material is edited correctly, especially with references and in a specific style format! But, it’s something I enjoy doing. I also love being able to help others with their work and ease their worries of it not being up to high standard.
I am open to editing fiction stories, though, and even gained a certificate in creative writing (which I admittedly did partially for fun). If anyone wants me to edit their fiction writing, I would be most willing to give it a look-over!
What do you feel proud of having accomplished since starting your own editorial business?
That I started an editorial business! I was absolutely terrified of doing, but I did as I knew it was something I wanted to do. And it does tickle me that my “nerd” way of life as a kid, something other kids made fun of me for, has seriously paid off now as an adult! I also feel proud whenever I send back an edited piece and the owner sends me a message back saying they loved my suggestions.
For example, one of my current clients sent me a message saying how her college paper got graded with a 100% mark and was thrilled about it. I felt proud that my hard work helped her achieve a perfect grade. It reminds me of how not only am I doing something I enjoy, I am doing something that I am actually good at and enjoy.
And that is one of the best feelings in the world, if you ask me.
Want to turn your love of books into a freelance editing business?
Note from Phon: If you want to learn how to start your own proofreading and editing business at home, sign up for my free masterclass that’ll teach you my 4-step framework that includes editorial skills, marketing and publishing knowledge.
How has your editorial business impacted your life?
I love being able to say that I’m doing a business that I’m good at, enjoy and can help people in. And it feels nice being able to say “I’m a proofreader and copy editor” to others when they ask what I do and seeing that impressed look on their face and wondering what that entails. It’s a type of work I finally enjoy doing that also involves mental skill and endurance.
I am always learning new things in the projects I take on and it keeps me on my toes. Not to say housekeeping doesn’t do that (if you’ve seen some of the messes I’ve cleaned up, you’d know that), but some editing projects involve extensive research and that involves constantly learning and teaching yourself new things. It’s almost like a revolving door, but you never know what you’re going to see on the other side and have to be ready to adapt.
I am constantly learning and gaining new skills. My inner geek, if you will, is very happy about this and loving every moment of it!
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading and copyediting?
Make sure it’s a project you are going to enjoy and are ready to take on.
For example, my first big gig involved editing an academic book, as mentioned above, and I was up until 2AM getting the edits done at times. (We were on a tight schedule, which was why I got the gig from my co-editor Kristina. She was in need of sharing the workload to get it done on time and asked for my help.)
I was doing a ton of researching to make sure the edits were correct and submitted on time. It was very mentally exhausting…but I was so proud of myself when it came back with a thumbs-up and Kristina said we were getting copy editor acknowledgment! It was my first time getting my name published! The work was extremely mentally hard, but the payoff was worth it.
I got my first real editing job done, I got my name published and I also found my new niche from that project. So, be ready for mental exhaustion but genuine payoff if you give true work and effort.
How did High-Level Proofreading Pro prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor?
Before taking the course, I had a fairly simple idea of what proofreading and copyediting entailed. I didn’t know what I really was getting into. I’ll go ahead and call myself a tad naïve!
Upon taking the course, I had a far more realistic expectation of what being a proofreader and copy editor involved. I learned the real deal about proofreading and copyediting. It involves more than just correcting grammar and sentences!
I’ve had some people go, “Oh, you’re a proofreader? So, all you do is just correct grammar. Doesn’t sound hard.” Let me tell anyone, there is far more to it than that! This job isn’t for everyone and for good reason.
I learned how to properly proofread and edit certain writing pieces, what my specific job responsibilities are, realized what exact skill set I was going to need, how to handle client management and what a proofing job was going to be like. After completing the course, I had real knowledge of being a real proofreader and copy editor. I felt so much more prepared.
If I hadn’t taken the course and just nose-dived right into the proofreading and copyediting field, I would have been in for a highly rude awakening. Thank goodness I didn’t make that mistake!
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?
I’m a huge health freak, so I always make sure to eat a healthy breakfast to get my day started and have nutritious meals throughout my day. And I must have a cup or two of Yogi’s green tea. If my blood isn’t ink, it’s definitely green tea!
If I’m doing a proofreading job, I try to get up extra early so I have more hours to work with. You’ll see me at my desk, sipping on some hot herbal tea while listening to ASMR on YouTube to keep myself relaxed as I edit and research my project. I need something to listen to!
Spending hours behind a computer typing away can take a negative toll on the body. So, during my week, I try to get at least two days in of completing an hour-long workout to keep myself active and fit. I try to get my workouts done either in the morning or the afternoon. If the weather permits it, I like to take a 30+ minute walk while listening to my music in the evening to unwind and breathe in some fresh air.
I also must keep my home tidy and neat. If there’s a mess, I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else! So, you may catch me cleaning up to get a mess organized or the dishes cleaned and put away. Only then can I go back to work! (Thanks, mom, for instilling that trait in me. Haha!)
About Mariah Krist
Mariah Krist is a proofreader and copy editor for academia. She loves helping others attain the shining content they dream of having yet need help in achieving. Mariah has worked on academic books, college and research papers, as well as cover letters. She’s always open to new opportunities and always available for a chat! You can find her at: mariahkrist.com and @mariahkri.st on Instagram and “Mariah Krist – Proofreader and Copy Editor” on Facebook.