How My Freelance Proofreading Business Is Surviving The Pandemic

Published: July 14th, 2020
Lenny Bron
The Blog Proofreader
from New York, New York, USA
started May 2016
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Word of mouth
best tools
Zoho, Grammarly, Gusto
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
5 Tips
Discover what tools Lenny recommends to grow your business!
web hosting
social media
Discover what books Lenny recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hello again, my name is Lenny Bron, and I am The Blog Proofreader. So glad to be back on Starter Story to give you an update on my business! To remind you who I am, I’m the annoying grammar police person you’ve always been tired of hearing from every time you use an ellipsis incorrectly in a Facebook post you wrote three years ago.

I content edit/copy edit/proofread the work of several clients on a regular basis. Some of this is done as a freelancer for larger companies, some of it is done for startups looking to make sure their content marketing looks clean and presentable, and some of it is done for bloggers or other content creators who want their readers to enjoy the work they put out without stopping to try and process a sentence with a missing word in it.

I’ve been able to build my business from scratch to consistently make ~$2,000 per month with zero experience in the field, no expenses, and barely any upfront costs.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

I’m happy to report that not much has changed in a year (although that doesn’t make for an exciting answer). I have continued working with the same set of core clientele. Although people have reached out to me for opportunities, none of them have panned out. I’m always happy to try new things and work with new clients, but I’m not actively reaching out for new opportunities at this particular moment (unless it’s something I really can’t resist, which I have yet to find). I still have my day job, which means the time I can put into my editing/proofreading is limited.

Reach out to the right people and offer them solutions to their problems.

I’m still making roughly $2,000/month and am happy that none of my clients have been majorly affected by the pandemic (Luckily, they’re online and don’t deal with physical products.) At this point, the average age of my client relationships is 2-3 years. And I consider that a good thing. There is stability, and I generally know what’s coming around the corner. That doesn’t mean I can’t ramp up work if I really needed to, but I haven’t had the capacity or desire (my family is important, and I’d rather spend more time with them if I had to choose).

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Here’s a counterintuitive lesson for many readers here: You don’t always have to scale. Again, I have not added any new clients in the past year. This might be a result of my business being directly related to the amount of time I put into it, but I’m happy at my current status. Not every business is the next unicorn, some people will just have to live with a small lifestyle business on the side or as their main source of income.

I think it’s worth sitting down and considering the goals for your business before you begin, but it’s also worth reassessing those goals every once in a while (maybe every year or every quarter). Sure, I’ve had thoughts of scaling up and hiring other editors/proofreaders to do the work while I build an ever-larger client base. But those things come with different headaches that I don’t believe I’d like to deal with at this point in my life.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

My plans for the upcoming year: 1) Keep doing exactly the same things I’ve been doing. I will continue to divide my time between my day job, my side business, and my family. And I’d love to give my family even more time if possible while keeping productivity going at the same rate. 2) Keep my clients happy. Which also means to continue doing what I’ve been doing. That is: do the work asked of me to the best of my ability and communicate with my clients in the clearest and most polite way possible. They deserve the same respect I would expect from anyone else I work with. And since my clients are the lifeblood of my business, I will continue to keep the friendly relationships I have established with them.

My five-year plan: I got nothing. I cannot look that far ahead right now. Many things could happen in the next five years to change any plans I might have in regards to my business. I will continue to look out for opportunities, whether I find some on my own or they are brought to me. I’m open to possibilities and happy to take on new challenges.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

I’m always trying to read books, but end up never getting through any of them. I’m currently in the middle of the latest Michael Lewis book The Undoing Project because psychology interests me. I’m also reading a book called How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen because, well, I have a little kid who I hope will listen to me (she just turned two, so we’re still figuring things out with that one).

As far as podcasts, I’m pretty basic. I’ll see if Joe Rogan is interviewing someone I find interesting. I also enjoy listening to Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell and Against the Rules by Michael Lewis. (Can you tell I’m a Michael Lewis fan?) I would also recommend Reply All as an interesting listen. None of these podcasts are specific to helping my business, but hey, you never know when an idea will pop up. I do have thoughts of starting my own podcast one day, but that might have to wait for the next update.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

I might be the wrong person to answer this question. The things I did to start and grow my business seem very specific to me. Mainly because I‘m still not sure how any of it actually succeeded. If I had to say anything, it would be: Reach out to the right people and offer them solutions to their problems. If you just said, “Duh, that sounds like every business,” you’d be right! I reached out to the right people who either needed the service I was providing or who could connect me to the people that needed my service. I did nothing special.

You approach people with respect, you show gratitude for any help you receive, and you try to pass it forward when you can. That’s the best advice I can give to grow a business because, in the end, if you can solve people’s problems, the rest will fall into place on its own.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I am not currently looking to hire someone. But if you aspire to be an editor/proofreader (or something similar), feel free to reach out. I’ll happily pass along your info if anyone is looking for those services that I cannot work with. Same goes for anyone looking for an editor/proofreader, reach out to me if you’d like to work with me, but also, I might be able to refer you to someone who can do the job if I’m unavailable.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Want to become a proofreader? Learn more ➜