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10 cheap business ideas to start for under £5,000

If you’re looking for cheap business ideas with bags of potential, take a look at these...

10 low-cost business ideas

1. eBay business
2. Wedding planning
3. Childcare and babysitting
4. Tutoring
5. Editing and proofreading
6. Market stall
7. Sports coaching
8. Handyman business
9. Cleaning business
10. IT support and repairs

Editing and proofreading

What does editing and proofreading involve?

It means taking raw copy and turning it into something which can be published. You may be copy-editing (looking at style, accuracy and readability), proof-reading (checking for errors – usually the final stage in the editing process), or both, depending on the client's specific requirements.

As an editor, you'll be looking for obvious things like grammar and spelling, as well as clarity. In some cases, you may have to do nothing more than check the copy over; in others, you may be asked to do a complete rewrite.

How much does starting an editing and proofreading business cost?

If you've not got vast writing or editing experience you're going to need training. It's not something you can just do because you like books – there's much more to it than that. The Publishing Training Centre offers a series of well-regarded courses, typically costing between £300 and £400 a day; another good option is the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SFEP), which runs courses costing £150 a day.

You'll also need decent computer equipment. A good email system is a must, as are up-to-date copies of Word and Adobe Acrobat. Thankfully these packages are generally affordable and accessible, so you won't have to break the bank. Finally you'll need to invest in reference books, such as dictionaries and style manuals. Book publishers tend to use Butcher's Copy Editing and Hart's Rules on points of style, so it's worth getting your hands on both of these.

How much can I earn as a self-employed editor?

Earnings will vary vastly, depending on your level of experience and the people you are targeting. If you want a rough idea, the SFEP website offers recommended minimum rates –  these typically range from £20 to £25 an hour.

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

Wendy Toole, chair of the SFEP, says: “You need to be self-motivated, because you've got to get up in the morning and get on with your work. You must have good concentration, and be patient and polite – remember that you're somewhere in the middle between an author and a publisher.

“You have to have an eye for detail, good command of language, and also real sensitivity to language. If you have an existing skill – for example, if you've worked as a lawyer or architect – that can help.”

Top tips for editing and proofreading success

  • Join an organisation such as the SFEP for advice and support.
  • Plan for uptimes and downtimes, particularly when you're starting up. You need a cushion behind you, because you won't be working 35 hours a week straightaway.
  • Don't try to cut corners, don't claim to be able to do things you can't and don't try to get away without doing the training. A lot of people are trying to do this out there.

If you have great attention to detail and a range of industry contacts, read our step-by-step guide on becoming a freelance copywriter.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.