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Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming about giving up your day job and traveling full time? Is fear of not earning any money the only thing holding you back?
It’s entirely possible to travel the world and still earn money. There’s a whole group of people who call themselves digital nomads doing this exact thing. If you haven’t heard the term before, a digital nomad is someone who works and earns income over the internet and does this wherever and whenever they want while they travel.
There are a large number of location independent jobs you can do while you travel to earn enough money to pay for your expenses. Check out this list of 15 jobs that will allow you to work while you travel.
Proofreading is often cited as a good option for people who want to work on their laptops while they travel the world. But is it really possible to proofread from the road? What resources would you need to have to make that dream a reality? Have other people been able to make it work?
Where’s the evidence?
So are there proofreaders who are actually doing this?
Yes! There are many editors and proofreaders working while they travel.
I got the idea of proofreading from anywhere from Proofread Anywhere (ha ha, clearly it was a sign!).
Caitlin Pyle, the founder of Proofread Anywhere, is an advocate of the laptop lifestyle. Or the iPad lifestyle to be specific. She built up her business while living and traveling around South America. Her courses teach you how to proofread from your iPad for court reporters or authors.
I took the General Proofreading course, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s an online, self-paced course that you can easily fit around your other commitments. It gives you the opportunity to get lots of proofreading practice and includes a module on marketing and setting up a website. There is also a graded exam. Passing the exam gave me the confidence to set up my business. If you’re curious about the course, read my review here.
I also interviewed Caitlin Pyle to learn how she got started as a proofreader and what she thinks it takes to be a great proofreader.
Sophie Playle travels for a month or two every winter to help alleviate her seasonal affective disorder. She also spent nine months proofreading while she traveled around Europe.
Kate Haigh has written a whole series of very informative blog posts on the subject. I recommend heading over to her blog if you’re interested in proofreading while you travel.
All of these ladies are an inspiration to me! Before returning to Ireland, I would love to travel around Canada and the US for a while. It’s very comforting to know that I can earn money while I travel if I need to.
Tools you need to proofread from anywhere
I started my proofreading business when I moved from Ireland to Canada in early 2017.
One of the reasons I love having a proofreading business so much is that I know I can do it from anywhere. And I will be able to take my business with me when I move back to Ireland.
I’ve proofread from Ireland when I returned there for holidays, I’ve proofread on planes, I’ve proofread on the roof of my condo in Toronto, and I’ve even proofread while standing in line for an hour at a library book sale! It can be done from anywhere if you have the right resources!
So what will you need?
First and foremost, you’ll need a laptop.
Occasionally I proofread on paper, but the majority of the time I work on my laptop.
It’s also possible to proofread from your iPad, but I don’t like to. Personally, I like a bigger screen.
If you plan to work while you travel, I recommend investing in a lightweight laptop. My old laptop was a brick! There’s no way I’d be willing to cart that around with me while I travel. When that laptop went kaput, I purchased the HP Pavilion x360 convertible laptop. It’s so much lighter that it’s no trouble to carry around.
Obviously, this is essential. You need to be able to connect to the internet so that you can find clients, communicate with them, and so that you can fact check/research while you proofread. Make sure to check that your hotel or accommodation has free Wi-Fi. You might also consider finding a co-working space if your accommodation turns out not to be suitable.
You’ll need some software installed on your laptop to track your changes and suggestions. Some of the below are essential like Microsoft Word and Google Docs, while others are suggestions for software that will help make you more efficient. Becoming more efficient in your work will make sure you don’t have to spend all day every day holed up in your room working.
- You’ll need Microsoft Word and Google Docs so that you can use their track changes functions.
- If you intend to work with publishing houses, it’s likely that you’ll need to be familiar with standard proofreading marks and be able to mark up electronically using Adobe software (or similar).
- You’ll need to get anti-virus protection for your laptop. You don’t want to run the risk of receiving or transmitting a virus through sending files back and forth with clients. I purchased my anti-virus protection from McAfee.
- To increase your efficiency, you may want to try PerfectIt, a Microsoft Word add-in that checks for consistency. Some of the checks include consistency of spelling throughout, that spelling and punctuation are aligned to your chosen dialect (e.g., American or British English), that acronyms are spelled out at first mention, and that lists are formatted consistently. It costs $70 per year with a discount for members of some editing societies. You can also try it for free for 14 days.
- You may also find Grammarly useful. Grammarly is an online editing program that detects errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word choice. I wouldn’t recommend that you use Grammarly to do your job for you! It’ll never replace an experienced human proofreader, but it can be useful as a final check to catch any last-minute errors before sending the document back to the client. It can be a bit hit-and-miss, but if you already have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation rules, you’ll be able to weed through the dodgy suggestions and find the few errors you may have missed.
When I’m working from home, I typically use the hard copy version of these reference guides. However, it’s also possible to access them online. No need to carry those heavy books around!
- The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (CMOS): An absolute essential if you’re proofreading or editing for North American clients. Although it is very well used internationally as well. Whether you need to know how to treat numbers, when to italicize certain terms, how to use hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes, how to format dialogue, when to capitalize a term, or when to use an ellipsis and how to format it, the Chicago Manual of Style has the answer! Sign up for a 30-day free trial of CMOS or purchase the yearly subscription for $39.
- Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition: This is the dictionary I use when editing. When I’m working from home, I use the hard copy version, but when I’m out and about the free online version does the job. You can also subscribe and get access to Merriam Webster Unabridged for $4.95 a month.
These are the resources you’ll most likely need. You may find you need additional reference books, but you’ll probably be able to access them online or on a Kindle.
Related Content: 15 Essential Reference Books for Proofreaders
Don’t want to travel? Just want to proofread from the comfort of your own home? Here’s what it costs to set up and run a proofreading business from home.
So what do you think? Would you like to be a digital nomad? Or do you already proofread while you travel? If so, I’d love to hear your story! Leave me a comment below.
Interested in becoming a proofreader? Download my ultimate guide to setting up a freelance proofreading business below!
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