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Proofreading and Editing from Home

Posted on 8th April 2019

Over the years I have read lots of blog posts about the pros and cons of working from home, including this one published on 25th March 2019.

The general consensus always seems to be that some people are able to make it work while others struggle. However, in my experience, there's a massive difference between working for yourself from home and working from home for a regular employer. I thought I'd therefore write this blog post to emphasise some of these points, and hope that it's of use/interest to many, including those of you thinking about becoming a freelance proofreader or editor.

Who's the boss?

One of the biggest differences as I see it between being a freelance proofreader and copy-editor (or other similar profession), able to work from home, and an employee working from home is that as a freelancer, I am my own boss. When I spent a few months working from home for an employer based 90 minutes away, I had to be at my desk from 9am to 5pm, regardless of whether I was busy or not. I had a lunch break, but otherwise I was expected to be at the end of the phone, conference call or email all day, and there was no getting around that. I wouldn't have minded so much if the work had been more constant, but there were peaks and troughs and I would find myself twiddling thumbs at times during the standard office day, then other days having to work extra hours to get things done to schedule.

As a freelancer though, I choose when I work, how long for, and if I do have to work extra hours to get something done, I can choose to take time off at a later date. I know that flexible working has become more of the norm, and TOIL (Time Off In Lieu) is common for many people, but it's not always the case and certainly wasn't for me. I think if I had to give one main reason why I hated working from home for my employer, it was this 'bums on seats' attitude, almost like distant presenteeism!


I am sure there are libraries full of books and articles on the topic of boundaries, but certainly working from home creates a new dilemma. It is easier for me to set boundaries, to mentally switch off when I want to, when I am working for myself and in control of the output.

I do not have pets or children so my juggling act is not constant, but I can say that being the go-to designated person to receive parcels or be in when a tradesperson needs to come and do a quote can get frustrating. That said, in my freelance proofreading and editing life, I can usually plan around these elements a little easier than when I had a boss on the end of the phone while the doorbell rang.

Boundaries come in many forms, and certainly having a door that I can close on the room in which I work gives me that sense of a break, but I am also in the camp of being sure to get up, shower and dress as if I am going to leave the house (though I tend to keep my slippers on). I can't even write blog posts while wearing PJs – for me, that would be breaking the boundary between life and work and wouldn't be something I would want to get used to.

As for international boundaries, it might just have been my particular employer, but there was no option for me to work from anywhere in the world, though I have been able to take Kateproof's proofreading services on the road in the past. This flexibility is very much on the pros list of working for myself.


Put simply, as a freelance proofreader and copy-editor, I have no formal colleagues, no team of people I could be meeting up with on a daily basis. But as a work-from-home employee, I missed out on all the office banter, the fun lunches, the general camaraderie that in a good team really enhances working life. I had Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) when I was working from home, and I felt isolated knowing that my team were all together in an office while I was at home alone. Though I am just as alone as a freelance proofreader and editor, because I am not missing out on fun team stuff, the issue doesn't feel the same. I do still have days when I get lonely, but I can go out and meet friends, or go for a run, or do something of my choosing. I suppose it links into the issue above in that as I dictate my schedule, this gives me the flexibility to socialise or exercise at times that suit me.


I admit I don't know the full rules, but when I was an employee working from home, I got no tax benefits for this. As a UK-based sole trader working from home, I am able to offset certain costs associated with running my freelance editing and proofreading services. In addition to the financial benefits, this also gives me more of a sense of ownership of my home office. I think the physical space in which I work is really important, and it came as no surprise to me that when I finally sorted my office to be exactly how I wanted it, my productivity increased (which also meant I earned more money). Perhaps there are schemes or I could have asked for costs to cover home-working set-up fees, but I didn't do this and just made do with what I had, making for a less than ideal home working environment.


Maybe I didn't give my working from home as a full-time employee a long enough crack at the whip and I am being too critical of my experience, but I would go so far as to say I preferred the days when I took the 90-minute commute each way to be in the office with the team than working from home. But as a proofreader and editor, running my own business, I find I can get the balance just right, though it did take some time to adjust to this.

Based on this, I think it's important to bear in mind that if you enjoy working from home as an employee, this won't directly translate into enjoying working from home as a freelancer, or vice versa.

When I get emails from people interested in becoming a proofreader or editor, people tend to focus on why they love reading or why they really want to pursue this career, but one of the main comments I make is that being a freelancer (in many professions, not just publishing) who works from home, usually in isolation, requires certain attributes that might not be obvious. Other blog posts mention these, but self-confidence, self-motivation, focus and an ability to plan and be organised are all really important parts of running a business and should not be underestimated if someone is planning on going down this route.

Written by Kate Haigh.