Plus, why we’ll always need editing and proofreading.

The Cost of Getting It Right vs. Getting It Wrong.

When considering the cost of hiring anyone for any job, it’s also important to consider the cost of not hiring the person as well. The same goes for hiring a proofreader or an editor.

Imagine–paying for printing, mailing, etc. only to discover that a single misplaced punctuation mark completely changed the intent of your message! Or an embarrassing spelling error wasn’t caught and makes it to your entire client list! Or your ad reads, “5% off” instead of 50%! A proofreader could have saved you. But more importantly…

Will your clients be hesitant to trust you with their work, time, money–their business–in the future? Will you make enough profit from this campaign to cover the next?

Take the following scenario:

Say you’ve invested $2,500 on your first large-scale marketing campaign. It’s a big risk, but the investment is worth it. You project sales of $6000 or more. Your ad has been written, designed, and printer ready. You click the send button to your printer, who forwards you a final proof and direct mails your postcard, brochure, or other mailing to your entire client base. (To be fair, the printer’s staff performed a quick review and ran spell-check.) It’s time to sit back in your chair and wait for the phone calls to start rolling in.

[pullquote]Once it’s in print, you can’t edit those mistakes—they’re permanent.[/pullquote]

To your dismay, the first day only nets a few phone calls, but no sales—the same on the second and third days. The trend continues for several days; you do close a few sales, though not as much as you had anticipated. Out of frustration, you grab a postcard and start reading.

You find an embarrassing typo within the ad, plus an incorrect digit in the area code.

How could this happen? You trusted two office staff members to proofread the campaign material in addition to yourself. How did three sets of eyes miss both of these glaring errors?

The sad truth is, it happens all the time. We are all too close to our own work, our own business, our own industry to proofread or edit what we create and send on to our clients, staff, or investors. In fact, even proofreaders need proofreaders—it’s true.

In the end, our company president spends $2500 and earns $2250 in business, resulting in a $250 financial loss. But remember the sales projections? In addition to the $250 loss in funding, tack on $3750 in lost sales revenues for a total loss of a whopping $4000!

What would it have cost to have an outside source review the campaign material? Less than $250? Surely, a worthwhile investment.

Remember, once it’s in print you can’t edit those mistakes—they’re permanent.

So, Is Proofreading and Editing Expensive?


A good proofreader should be both confident and skilled–and diligently work to use their client’s time wisely. Some proofreaders charge by the hour and some charge by the word. Charging by the hour is pretty open ended. So, you could end up spending more money for someone who is less skilled or who works slowly. Proofreaders who charge by the word can give you a definitive quote. So, you’ll know the project cost up front.

The document you have may require more skilled editing. If you have an academic paper, you’ll need to find someone who is fluent in your specific editing and formatting styles, such as APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian. So, you may pay slightly more for someone with these skills.

[pullquote]A good proofreader should be both confident and skilled–and diligently work to use their client’s time wisely.[/pullquote]

How fast do you need your document? Depending on a proofreader’s or editor’s success (i.e., the amount of business they bring in), they may require one to two weeks to get you into their current schedule and allow enough time to read and edit your document thoroughly. That’s to be expected. But what if you don’t have that time? What if you need it like—tomorrow?!

Most reputable proofreaders have rush pricing available. So, yes you could still get it tomorrow. You’ll pay a premium for it, though, because your proofreader will have to stop what they’re already working on and put you ahead of others who have already sent their work in or paid a deposit. In addition, she or he may have to work at night of over the weekend to fulfill your request. So, although next-day or same-day is always a possibility, you may be better off planning up to two weeks of proofreading/editing time before your printing or publishing deadline. (Also build in a few days for your own final review and tweaks based on your proofreader’s suggestions.)

If you liked this, you might also like…

Proofreading & Editing: What’s the Difference?

4 Little-Known Proofreading Tricks that Work Every Time

What Everybody Ought to Know About Proofreaders

Nikki Corbett Precise Be Smarter NowNikki Corbett is owner of Precise and
Be Smarter Now, wordsmith, writer,
editor, poet, and mom. She developed
a love of writing and the English language
early in life and has been writing stories
since she could pick up a pencil. She
holds degrees in Communications/
Journalism as well as Creative
Writing and Business Administration.
@ncwritermom @ncpoetess

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