• 7-minute read
  • 21st April 2023

Tips From the Experts: 3 Things We Wish We’d Known When We Started

Becoming a professional editor is a dream for many aspiring writers and language enthusiasts, but the path is paved with challenges. From acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to breaking into the industry and building a reputation, the journey can be long and arduous. 

In this post, we asked our most experienced editors what 3 things they wish they’d been told before they started their editing journey. These experts have edited over 1 million words for Proofed, so they seriously know their stuff!

Whether you’re just starting out or have been trying to make it in the editing world for a while, this post should give you valuable insights and strategies to help you succeed.

Sarah – If you don’t know – ask!

I wish I’d known…

1) If you’re not sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask! 

2) If a document feels beyond your abilities, you’re better off returning it than doing a mediocre job. 

3) Every time you have to Google something, write it down so you don’t have to look it up next time you can’t remember if APA calls it “References” or a “Bibliography.”

– Sarah C

Hannah – It gets easier over time

I wish I’d known…

1) It is worth taking your time on the documents in your trial period. They are a fantastic opportunity to learn how Proofed works. 

2) The whole team at Proofed is extremely approachable and genuinely wants to help you succeed, so there is no need to be afraid to ask questions. 

3) It will get easier over time, and you can achieve your goals. 

Hannah VdW

Dora – Establish a network of experienced peers

I wish I’d known…

 1) That proofreading entails much more than fixing typos and deleting unnecessary commas

2) That reading the text I’m working on aloud or listening to it is great practice, as it makes unnatural-sounding sentences and typos jump out

3) That a network of more experienced peers or colleagues is extremely useful when I need advice or feedback

– Dora G

Dan – Learn the English dialect differences

I wish I’d known…

1) Be patient as you may not earn a lot of money initially until you’ve gained experience.

2) You’re constantly learning new quirks of language.

3) It’s well worth learning as many common differences between English language dialects as you can early on.

– Dan T

Debbie – There's always something new to learn

I wish I’d known…

1)  No matter how experienced you are, there’s always something new to learn.

2) Your mentors don’t know everything either. Sometimes, you’ll learn new things together.

3) Take care of your physical and mental health. It’s easy to get carried away with this type of work.

Debbie N

Robert – There are lots of difference specialties

I wish I’d known…

1)  There are lots of different paths and specialties, even within Proofed.

2) Routines for breaks and boundaries around work times are essential.

3) The support network you can build up is great.

Robert H


Carol – You'll have to adapt to each project's rules

I wish I’d known…

1) Your speed and confidence will improve with time. No one expects you to be super speedy right from the start.

2) Grammar-checking programs can be helpful, although they’re sometimes wrong! But they can draw your attention to things you might have missed.

3) Every project you work on is different, so you will always have to adapt to that project’s rules.

Carol W

Anonymous – Learn to harness productivity tools

I wish I’d known…

1) How productivity tools, such as the Pomodoro Technique, can help me accomplish my work with greater focus and ease.

2) That there is a wide range of texts that I can edit (such as academic and business) and I can explore different types and focus on the kind that suits me best.

3) That if I take the time and effort to break down each sentence into its various parts, it’s much easier to identify any issues and fix them.

– Anonymous

Leslie – I should have applied to work with Proofed earlier!

I wish I’d known…

1)  Why I hadn’t applied to work with Proofed earlier.

2) A greater appreciation of commas.

3) How much better my work /balance could be.

Leslie H.

Emily – Prepare go-to resources for research

I wish I’d known…

1) Maybe just two – I wish I had prepared some go-to online resources for research

2) Trusted my own judgment more! I was always second-guessing myself.

Emily N.

Rowena – Commas, hyphens, and such as vs. like

I wish I’d known…

1) Commas

2) Hyphens

3) Such as vs. like

Rowena R.

Jordan – learn the most common ESL mistakes

I wish I’d known…

1)  The main common mistakes to look out for with ESL/EFL speakers.

2) All of the ways MS Word can make things easier (mostly re: the different options for the find function).

3) That I can actually be more productive by taking more breaks.

– Jordan B.

Adra – Always budget extra time until you get consistent

I wish I’d known…

1) You don’t know everything, so continue learning and asking questions as needed.

2) You are always going to underestimate the amount of time it takes to finish a project, especially if you don’t know your proofreading/editing speed. Always budget extra extra time until you get consistent.

3) Be patient with yourself if you are completely new to this!

Adra A

Anonymous – The Proofed Editor Support Team are friendly and approachable!

I wish I’d known…

1) The fine differences between editing and proofreading: this understanding came with practice and feedback from more experienced editors.

2) How to structure my work day to ensure that I don’t burn out and make mistakes in a document due to a lack of breaks.

3) How friendly and approachable the Editor Support team at Proofed are!

– Anonymous

Lynne – Language rules will never not change

I wish I’d known…

1) It’s important to take breaks!

2) Google is your friend.

3) Language rules will never not change.

Lynne J

Darcy – Get the most out of Word with shortcuts and macros

I wish I’d known…

1) How to get the most out of Word with shortcuts and macros.

2) My “comfortable” editing pace (so I don’t overwork myself trying to meet a tight deadline).

3) The importance of having hobbies off the computer (so I’m not staring at a screen all day).

– Darcy C.

Anonymous – Develop knowledge of special terms

I wish I’d known…

1) I became aware of the limitations of my pre-existing grammatical and idiomatic knowledge, which has improved greatly through proofreading.

2) I have developed a much greater awareness of special terms in certain kinds of scientific or legal writing.

3) I have discovered the importance of gathering experience over many years.

– Anonymous.

Louise – You can reach out for help whenever you need it

I wish I’d known…

1) It takes a while to build up your editing speed – don’t rush it!

2) You need a quiet, comfortable working environment to be more productive.

3) You can reach out for help from the support team whenever you need it.

– Louise M. 

Cathy – You will get faster!

I wish I’d known…

1) There are high seasons and low seasons, but they all even out in the end.

2) You will get faster!

3) You will learn so many things about topics you didn’t even know existed.

– Cathy P.

Lucy – Read out loud!

I wish I’d known…

1)  The importance of taking breaks.

2) Speed is not the most important when editing a document.

3) Reading out loud actually helps!

Lucy L


Reading out loud actually helps!

Jenny – The work can be very varied

I wish I’d known…

1) How flexible you can be with your work schedule.

2) How friendly the Proofed community is.

3) How varied the work can be.

– Jenny E. 

Diane – The technology is advancing rapidly

I wish I’d known…

1) Project time estimations can vary greatly

2) Proofreading requires more precision than one would expect

3) The technology we use to do our work is advancing rapidly, requiring that we adapt to it quickly.

– Diane D.

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