ProofreadingPal enlists freelancers to edit and proofread documents, paying by the word, timeline and proofreader level

Expected pay: $5+ per hour

Husl$core: $

Commissions & fees: NA

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: Professors or Phd candidates with a 3.5 or better grade point average; or people with a graduate degree and 5 years of editing experience. Familiarity with academic, professional and literary style manuals; Microsoft, Adobe (or Foxit) software.

ProofreadingPal Review:

Few proofreading sites ask freelancers for more credentials than ProofreadingPal. ProofreadingPal expects freelancers to have a graduate degree and editing experience. It also lists a litany of style guides you should know, and expects you to have Word and Adobe software.

Two different proofreaders read every job, backstopping each other to ensure that there are no errors in the final copy. This is undoubtedly helpful to the site’s client’s.

Unfortunately, how ProofreadingPal treats its freelance staff is far less impressive. 

Freelancer pay

The site is cagey about how it pays freelancers. However, an anonymous freelancer spelled out ProofreadingPal’s complex pay formula in a Glassdoor review. This worker says that the site compensates editors for the number of words they read, speed and “level.” This freelancer delineated the variety of ways you could be paid per 100-word block.

Short version: You get paid between 50 cents and $1.50 per 100 words. Given that most proofreading sites expect you to read at least 1,000 words per hour, that works out to an hourly rates ranging from $5 to $15 per hour. Naturally, if you read faster, you earn more.

Freelancers are paid once monthly, two weeks after the end of the month. But your accumulated earnings need to exceed a set threshold or the site will hold your pay until they do.

Site’s response

A site spokesman responded to this anonymous and highly-informative review by saying: “We don’t just hand out excellent pay rates to brand new contractors. However pay rates increase 8% to 10% with every level change. And, after a year or two, you could get promoted to 2nd proofreader, which could double your pay.”

In other words, with experience (and your PhD.) you might work your way up to earning $10 to $30 an hour at ProofreadingPal. That doesn’t strike us as graduate-level pay.

ProofreadingPal’s abysmal Husl$core

However, that’s not the only reason why ProofreadingPal gets our worst Husl$core. (Although it does go without saying that you shouldn’t have to work for a year or more to earn minimum wage, particularly when you have earned a graduate degree.)

The site apparently either heavily encourages or mandates (depending whom you believe) that freelancers sign up for “guaranteed availability.” During these shifts, freelancers must be available to take any proofreading project that comes in. If the worker misses their shift, they get “fined” $40. However, they’re not guaranteed pay for these shifts. If there’s no work while you’re on call, you earn nothing.

The company says [in a Glassdoor response] that freelancers are not compelled to take guaranteed shifts. But more than one freelancer mentioned the fines. We consider this an abusive practice that may violate U.S. labor laws. That, in addition to the miserable pay, and holding wages until they reach a threshold, accounts for ProofreadingPal’s abysmal Husl$core.


PenguinFreelancers pays its editors between $31 and $36 per hour. Reedsy lets editors set their own rates, but suggests that you set them somewhere between $21 and $45 per hour. You can also set your own proofreading and/or editing rates on Fiverr. With both Reedsy and Fiverr, you also have control over the type of documents you read. All of these sites are better options.

What their users say (from Glassdoor)

“I started working with ProofreadingPal because I wanted to brush up on the inconsistencies among style guides. And for that reason alone, I found the feedback that I received during my first few months of employment to be useful. In addition, payments are made on time (as long as a proofreader has accumulated at least $80 for that month. Otherwise, the pay is rolled over to the next month. The customer service team is courteous, responsive, and as helpful as possible. But we’re working for peanuts.”“Pay is not amazing unless you work consistently at a high volume. The bonuses make a big difference. Contractors are paid by the word, so the longer it takes to complete a project, the lower the pay. This is a good system. But for projects that are in horrible shape and need significant work, of which there are many, the time spent proofreading is not worth the pay. 

“Very competitive – the job board is easily accessible, but new projects do not last long, especially the best ones. Often there is not enough work to go around during slower seasons.”

“Nothing new to see here. A content-mill setup with company trying to pay as little as possible, asking freelancers to commit to availability with no promise of consistent or even intermittent work. You’ll do better cultivating your own clients.”

Guaranteed availability

“Every month, proofreaders are mandated to sign up for “guaranteed availability” slots of 6–12 hours per month. During this time a proofreader must remain online to pick up any work that comes in. There are several problems with this:

• Proofreaders are only compensated for completing the work that comes in, not for remaining online. I have had several shifts during which zero work came in. So I was paid nothing. But I could have been fired if I signed off before the shift concluded.

• You must pick up the work during these shifts regardless of how familiar you are with the subject matter or the style guide utilized in each project that comes in. 

• Worst of all, if a proofreader cannot fulfill the minimum monthly hour requirement, the proofreader is fined $40.” 

“They require editors to schedule a certain number of “guaranteed” hours. If you don’t meet the number, they charge you $40. Most projects for new editors are very short and they pay considerably less than standard industry rates to begin with. So it may take a considerable time to earn $40. In addition, they only allow new editors to take 4-hour blocks of time. It’s impossible to meet the requirement, unless you work at 3 am. And that’s not something the average person can do because most people need to sleep. So ProofreadingPal purposely sets up new editors to fail so they can charge them the $40 “fee.” I made about $83 and they stole $40 because I couldn’t meet the time commitment.”

Positive reviews

“Flexibility, variety, and interesting documents are the norm, and that makes the job interesting. If you have an eye for detail, you’ll enjoy the work. You are free to choose your work–life balance. The pay structure is fair. You have the opportunity to hone your skills in multiple styles, which has helped expand my editing and proofreading scope.”

“They do offer good bonuses if you can manage to get good availability. Work is varied and interesting. But a few people will aggressively take the best projects. You have to be very fast to get work.”

Be realistic

“I’ve been working for ProofreadingPal for seven years. I give it 5 stars because I’m realistic. And there’s no such thing as a “perfect” job. I feel the company is as good as it gets in the Real World. The CEO is a “tough but fair” employer who actually understands that people make mistakes. I’ve done probably a half-dozen really stupid things in the years I’ve worked for ProofreadingPal, including one mistake in the middle of evacuating for a hurricane. And while I was called out, I was also forgiven and allowed to progress through the ranks as I demonstrated I was good at my job.”

“They do have a minimum amount of work you have to do to stay in the pool, but that’s just sensible. They don’t have a maximum cap, though they’ll talk to you if your work suffers.”

“Our workforce is highly competitive, and veterans like me know how to grab the better jobs quickly. Also, most of us have PhDs, masters, or other advanced degrees, which means we’re not just good at grammar, we’re good at concentrating for long stretches, working under deadlines, and so on.

More than reading carefully

We have a lot of people who just sort of drop out when they realize this isn’t just reading things carefully. New people also find it challenging to learn all the styles. We do Chicago, MLA, APA, AP, CSE, Harvard, and all sorts of institution-only stuff. Some people will jump in and take a document in a style they don’t know well enough yet, much to the irritation of the second editor. It’s essential to do one’s homework and to have the actual [style] books, not links to websites.”