Nicole's side business has become her main income (Swiss side hustle #3)

Last updated: September 16, 2021

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Today, it’s Nicole who tells us how her Swiss side job became her main activity. She comes from the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Proofreading has long been a side job for this language enthusiast. It’s actually through this medium that the idea for this article came about, as she did the final proofreading of my book in German (I recommend her without hesitating if you need DE proofreading) — thanks again to you!

So let’s see what we can learn from her experience in order to generate additional income in Switzerland ourselves too!

MP: Hi Nicole! I would like to welcome you and thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview. Can you introduce yourself in two or three sentences in terms of demographics, location?
Nicole: Hello Marc, thank you! I am 27 years old and come from the canton of St. Gallen. I have been living in the canton of Fribourg since the beginning of my studies in languages and literature. I used to be a German teacher, and then a proofreader and project manager in a Swiss publishing house.

MP: Thanks for the intro. And then, explain to us: what does your side gig actually consist of?
Nicole: For the past eight years, I’ve been correcting texts for people around me. In the publishing house I was able to hone my skills, before founding my own proofreading company for German, Lektorat Odermatt. So the side gig became my main gig. I proofread books, translated texts, magazines, scientific works, applications, websites, etc.

Nicole in the publishing house

Nicole in the publishing house

MP: I won’t surprise you with my next question, since we’re here to talk about money (!): how much Swiss Francs do you make per month since you started? Has it evolved over the years? And will it continue to increase in the future?
Nicole: At the beginning, I didn’t ask for money. Then it was very irregular and depending on the requests, 50 francs here and 600 francs there. Taken seriously, the income was about 1000 francs per month. Now we are at several thousand per month. I hope to earn five figures soon so that I can hire staff and put more money aside.

MP: Can you describe the moment in your life when the idea came to you to become a proofreader? And how did it come to you? And why (need for more cash, need for a change of scenery from the job, other)?
Nicole: I have always enjoyed editing my loved ones’ texts. After my studies, I wanted to deepen my knowledge of the field by opting for an internship in proofreading. It was exciting to discover the production of books and to get to know the authors. I was hired after five months.

Example of correction signs used in the publishing industry

Example of correction signs used in the publishing industry

Unfortunately, as time went on, I was doing more and more marketing and sales. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was less work in my favorite field. This is how I got the idea to become a freelance proofreader. It was also your book ‘Free by 40 in Switzerland’ that motivated me to think about what I really wanted to do, what I would do if I didn’t have to earn money.

MP: But now, tell us how you actually got started, step by step from the idea to the first time!?
Nicole: After a few relatively big projects (book, master work, etc. at 1000+ CHF each), I felt that I could live from this independent activity. I bought all the necessary material: monitor, books and software. I took a small business creation course at Amon Consulting in Bulle, I created a website myself, did some advertising and received some requests.

MP: Just out of curiosity, have you set a minimum amount of money you need to earn to live? If so, how much? And have you managed to do it so far?
Nicole: Yes, inspired by your book, of course I did a lot of calculations ^^ I need 3'000 francs to live. I also had to dip into my savings, especially for investments in the business. As far as turnover is concerned, I am aiming at an average of CHF 9000/month. This amount includes all the expenses of the business, my salary, social security contributions, vacations, etc. So it is impossible to compare with an employee’s salary!

Nicole's workplace. Most of the time, she corrects with the revision mode of Word

Nicole's workplace. Most of the time, she corrects with the revision mode of Word

MP: Also, before you started, did you wait until you had X months of salary saved up in advance, or not at all? If so, how much exactly?
Nicole: No, I have a slightly different approach than most FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) seekers — although financial independence is still important to me. I had obviously saved quite a bit, but I decided to go with some financial risk. I prefer to thrive already now. If I had a full-time job that I enjoyed and kids, I probably would have decided differently.

MP: And in the future, what are your next steps with this personal project (development, stop because it takes too much time, other)?
Nicole: I would like to get more exposure, grow, hire more people, work less and enjoy life more. Financially, I want to save what I couldn’t during the creation of the company. In concrete terms, I will try to contribute at least 1000 francs per month to my third pillar — in my opinion the ideal pension plan for non-employed people.

MP: Thanks again for your participation in this series anyway! And all the best to you with your new company!

I must say that Nicole’s story impressed me when I read how naturally she dared to take the plunge. After all, as she says, it’s easier in your twenties without children or mortgages. It’s certainly a lesson I’ve experienced myself: the longer you wait to take on a big project, the more potential excuses pile up. So you better start today ;)

The other point I want to highlight is her method of calculating how to create her own independence. She simply listed her essential expenses (CHF 3'000), and that’s her goal to reach each month, while doing what she loves and is good at.
It’s a good plan if you find (like me sometimes) that the goal of having to reach X million CHF is overwhelming.

Finally, if you too are interested in participating in this series of “How to make extra money on top of my salary through a side hustle in Switzerland?”, then please contact me via the following email: contact [at]

The book 'Free by 40 in Switzerland' by Marc Pittet
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