It is 2:34 p.m. and I am in my pajamas with my hair lookin' pretty. I certainly hope Hugh Jackman became an Avon lady and knocks on the door today.
I'm BUSY. Doing HOLIDAY things. What do you want from me? But I also took time out to crown a new Commenter of the Week, and you will stitch up your sides when you get the funny, funny pun I made right there.
Ma Ingalls didn't like puns. Did you know that? Have you ever seen a picture of the real Ma Ingalls? You know how the one on the TV show was all pretty and smiley? Yeah. Not so much with the real one. And what buck teeth? She could often be found eating corn on the cob through a mail slot.
Because mail slots were so common out on the Dakota prairies.
So, hey, I got an email from a faithful reader yesterday who wanted to know about becoming an at-home proofreader, and since I get this query a lot, I thought I would address it here in a post, and then from now on when people ask me, I could just say, "Please see my post from December 20, 2008" and with my luck some distant relative of Caroline Ingalls will tune in and get really offended.
But really. She came in handy during logging time, Ma Ingalls did. Girlfriend had some choppers.
So, I didn't set out to become a proofreader, first of all. I had no career ambitions whatsoever. The only thing I ever wanted, ever, from about age 12, was to get the SAM HILL out of Saginaw, Michigan, where I fit in about as well as Ma Ingalls' uppers (okay, I will get over it), and move to a big city and live in some swank old apartment with big windows and have cool friends and go to trendy clubs. The job part was always nebulous, but in my mind I got to wear pink pumps to work.
And you know I pretty much achieved that goal? Except by the time I got to Seattle in 1992, pink pumps were tres outre. But I wore a lot of angry, thick-soled black boots.
Anyway, I had thought I wanted to be a public relations person, but my first real job outside of college was so nightmarish that I got totally traumatized by PR. I got to Seattle and on one of my first days went downtown and opened a checking account, got to talking with the banker there, and immediately got a job on the 12th floor of the bank building, as a receptionist. I took the job because (a) it was there, (b) the building was really pretty, (c) the view of the water from my desk was fabulous, (d) the people I worked with were hilarious and (e) there was a bar on the first floor and we all went to it every single night after work.
Have I mentioned I have no career ambitions whatsoever, really?
And here's the thing. Turns out? I LOVED LOVED LOVED being a receptionist. Like bartending, which I also did, everyone has to walk in and focus on you. Hello! Also, your job is to talk to people all day. Plus, in Seattle, there are these bike messenger boys who deliver things to offices, and they all had long hair and really athletic bodies, and who do you think dated every single straight messenger boy in town? Was it what-career-angry-black-boots-receptionist-bar-hopper, over here?
So I am sorry to tell you that I was a receptionist in Seattle for, oh, FOUR YEARS until I started dating Marvin and he said, "What are you doing? You have a degree IN ENGLISH." So when I moved to LA he basically made me become a proofreader, which I did by applying for a job and taking their proofreading test and apparently I passed it. The end.
So that's the story. I didn't start proofing at home until I had worked full time as a proofreader for two years, and even then I still worked full time and then did extra work at night and on weekends. I think it'd be hard to get someone to trust you to proof their stuff if you haven't been a full-time proofer before.
But let's say you have, or you have incorporated proofing into your current job. How can you find at-home work? Here is some of the stuff I have done. Go on Craig's List. If you work anywhere near a big city, they sometimes advertise for freelance proofreaders and copy editors. If anyone offers to pay you 8 dollars an hour, write them and tell them they are horrid people to expect you to do all that work for that small of an amount. Never, ever work for $8 an hour. You will kick yourself. Proofing is hard, tedious, and did I mention hard?
I have had people offer me everything from 25 cents a page to $100 an hour. It depends on who is hiring you and the kind of work it is. Court reporters are often looking for proofreaders — not all of them work in courtrooms; some of them go to offices and take depositions. They have to keep what everyone says verbatim, but you look for spelling errors, things like the reporter using the wrong their/they're/there or something. In 1999 in LA, they were paying 25 cents a page for people to proof their work, but if you find a court reporter who works five days a week? That is steady employment, right there.
Try Monster and other big hiring sites, as well. You never know when they will advertise for freelance proofers. Usually what it takes is you passing a company's proofreading test. And of course temporary agencies may hire you, but you will not work at home at first, you will go to companies as a temp and perhaps later you can start working at home as those companies come to trust you.
I worked full time from home for four years and I made about half what I do now. But I didn't have to get dressed, or drive anywhere, or eat lunches out, or do any dry cleaning or haul any dog's blonde arse to day care. So it really wasn't bad, moneywise. Some people might get lonely. I had a very close relationship with LaTonya, our mail lady. We still exchange Christmas cards.
I went back to work when Marvin became a teacher, to supplement our income. I have to tell you that those four years at home were the happiest in my career, other than that receptionist job with the bar on the first floor. So if you can do it, do it. But if you are thinking you can proofread with seven kids running around, you absolutely cannot. I have to close myself up in a room and all I have are pets and one husband. You need absolute focus to proofread, no matter who you are. So keep that in mind.
I guess that's all I have to say about that.
Hey, did I mention Caroline Ingalls had a bit of an overbite?