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How to Start a Word Processing Business

business woman sitting behind her laptop inputting words from written notes on her desk
Are you thinking of starting a home-based word processing business? The good news is that word processing business can easily be expanded to cover other areas, such as desktop publishing, self-publishing, and many other services that require a computer.

The personal computer has created big opportunities for small businesses. One of the most popular and easiest businesses to start is a word processing service.

Word processors use their computer expertise to provide clients with high-quality content from resumes to book manuscripts. Others work for companies without word processing personnel of their own.

The equipment required for a word processing business depends on the types of services to be offered. In most cases word processing service can be started with just a computer, a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, and a printer in a spare room at home.

Most word processors charge between $2 and $4 per typed page depending on specifications. Those who do highly specialized or technical work are often able to charge slightly more for their services. You will need a laser printer for high-quality output. Some clients may also prefer the output to be saved on a disk.

In order to get clients, you will need to advertise your service in trade magazines, yellow pages, and through online. You can keep expanding services most needed by customers, such as desktop publishing, direct mail and list management.

laptop computer on a desk of a home office

Major Word Processing Market Categories

There are several major markets for the home-based word processing service. Your major target market will be small businesses, publishing trade, academic, medical, and legal.

Small Businesses

Many small businesses don’t have the finances or the workload to justify a full-time secretarial support, but nearly all of them need some form of clerical help.

The market is wide open for anyone with the right approach. Here are just a few examples of what this market may need:

  • General office work for small businesses.
  • Financing proposals for independent sales people.
  • Menus for restaurants and coffee shops.
  • Brochures, newsletters, and direct mail for mail-order companies and small businesses.
  • Correspondence and brochures for church groups, social groups, civic groups, and associations.
  • Special reports for independent consultants.
  • Invoicing and collection duties for small businesses or manufacturing companies.

Your service becomes even more valuable to the business clients when the document has been stored for retrieval. For example, when an existing document need revision, or there are price changes to an original menu that you prepared several months ago. Those clients will come back to you, and as a result, they will save money for re-typing the whole document.

As you become familiar with how a certain business operates, you can provide valuable clerical support. Your specialized knowledge of word processing’s capabilities and your experience with one business can assist other small businesses in your area.

Publishing Trade

This field includes publishing houses, radio, television, and film. The work can range from the small report to the fiction or nonfiction book, from a screen writer or television writer to a writer of radio ad copy.

The market is vast and the work is very easy to do. You won’t need special prior experience to tap into this market. There are, however, very few rules to follow:

  • Always use 20 pound paper.
  • Use a standard typeface. Your best bet is to ask clients what typeface they would prefer.
  • Always double space. Never prepare a manuscript single-spaced or space-and-a-half.
  • Paragraphs should be indented for five or six spaces according to author or publisher preference.
  • Never hyphenate words at the end of a line.

Always keep a consistent margin on all sides. Generally accepted margins are 1.5 inch on left, and 1 inch all other sides.

You must pay very close attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar whenever preparing a manuscript. A strong editing ability will be an asset, especially if you do lots of work for authors.


Academic work covers everything from a few page reports for a college student to a textbook written by a university professor. Your main work will be typing research reports, take-home exams, term papers, essays, lab reports, master theses, doctoral dissertations, and resumes.

You should pay special attention to details and accurate spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Your editing ability will be an asset, especially if you work with post-graduate students.

In most cases all post-graduate work must conform to the institution’s own special format rules. You should become familiar with any special requirements of that institution and obtain a copy of the manuscript preparation guidelines for your own reference.


In this field you can do such things as transcribing medical reports, transcribing pathology reports for clinical laboratories, filling out health insurance claim forms, helping medical offices with overload work, and preparing reports for doctors and dentists. Knowing the medical terminology and experience in medical field will be invaluable.

This field is harder to break into than any other field. A majority of medical and dental offices are reluctant to sub-contract work out of their office. One reason is the confidentiality of doctor/patient relationship. You have to prove yourself and your skill. You must reassure them that you are confidential, dependable, and accurate.


This is one area in which you must have prior legal experience in order to tap into this market and become successful.

If you have the experience, you can start by approaching the attorneys who just passed the bar and are opening new practices. These are attorneys that cannot afford a full-time qualified legal secretary, nor do they have the workload to justify one. You may also consider helping already established law offices with overload. Another possibility is transcribing the notes of court reporters and deposition services.

If you don’t have a background in computers or word processing, you can enroll in a course at a local college. In order to be successful in word processing business, you’ll need to be able to market your business and get clients.

By Paul Ziglar – 2019 – Update 2020
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For additional articles written by Paul Ziglar, see Paul Ziglar is the author of How to Make Money With Your Personal Computer From Home.

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