Caitlin Pyle was finishing college when she started picking up work as a proofreader for court reporters. Within a few years, found herself fully booked, proofreading transcripts for a slate of court reporters on a weekly basis.
In 2014, she started teaching others how to build a proofreading business. Originally “just a weekend project,” Pyle set up Proofread Anywhere as a training center and community for aspiring proofreaders in her court-reporting niche.
But the business quickly expanded to cover proofreading skills and business tips for all types of documents. Proofread Anywhere had become more than just a blog—it was packed with courses, workshops and e-books for independent proofreaders.
By 2022, Proofread Anywhere was generating between $250,000 and $300,000 in revenue each month, Pyle said. And it had an email subscriber list of more than 300,000 readers—an extremely valuable asset for any content business. Since its launch, Proofread Anywhere has helped more than 15,000 people start their own remote proofreading businesses.
But behind the scenes, that growth was not as smooth for Pyle.
How burnout led to business growth—and an exit strategy
Her business had grown so fast Pyle said she had a hard time keeping up with it. “I was overwhelmed and overworking and had no idea what was happening most of the time,” she said.
She first thought about selling Proofread Anywhere in 2017, but her business was still growing so quickly that she didn’t see a clear path to exit. Her burnout escalated when she got divorced in 2019, she said, and her body hit “rock bottom”—she had a thyroid imbalance, severe depression, and complications of the Epstein-Barr virus.
But her business had to survive. The terms of her divorce allowed Pyle to keep everything under her BCP Media, Inc. business umbrella, but in return, she had to give up most of her joint savings. Proofread Anywhere was her primary source of financial security during this stressful time in her life.
Pyle hired Cody Lister in 2020 to take the reins of Proofread Anywhere as CEO while she focused on her health. They’d met at an event several years before and became friends. He focused on strengthening systems and processes, while Pyle set up email campaign sequences that eventually freed her from the pressure of creating new content all the time. They were able to eventually remove Pyle’s name and face from the day-to-day of the company, building evidence that the business she built on her personal brand didn’t actually require her presence to operate it.
That realization that Proofread Anywhere was ready to fly without her came just at the right time: In 2022, Pyle figured out that it was time to move on from the business she had lovingly built in the early days of her career.
“My heart belongs in health and wellness,” she said, reflecting on time she had spent as a personal trainer before she launched Proofread Anywhere. “I didn’t know what stress was until I was an online business owner… I’d long shared with my students that a proofreading business may just be the first step into much bigger things for them, and the same is true for me.”
Finding the right buyer, then learning to let go
When she started exploring options to exit the business, Proofread Anywhere was still a lean operation: herself, her CEO, and six contractors. She credits her CEO for doing much of the heavy lifting in the sale process, including most of the due diligence work.
Working with broker FE International, she interviewed several potential buyers, and settled on Onfolio Holdings, a company that buys and grows online content businesses. Onfolio expressed a desire to preserve and expand what Pyle had built, rather than just use her name as a platform, she said.
Onfolio Holdings, which went public just before the sale closed in October 2022, paid $2.1 million in cash at closing, and will pay the rest of the $4.49 million sale price in late 2023, according to Onfolio’s SEC report and confirmed by Onfolio’s CEO Dominic Wells. (Listen to Wells describe the acquisition in detail in this Acquiring Minds podcast.)
Ten percent of the sale went to Pyle’s CEO, per an agreement they set up when he joined the company.
“We are confident that Proofread Anywhere will continue to thrive even after Caitlin has stepped back, as Caitlin’s built an independent brand that is distinct from her personal brand,” Wells told They Got Acquired. “And that’s exactly what we want to build upon. We’re excited to grow Proofread Anywhere to its full potential using Onfolio’s deep digital marketing capabilities.”
The decision to sell didn’t come easily for Pyle. “There were many times when I questioned the decision, and now I recognize that it was simple fear of the unknown,” she said. “I hadn’t known myself or been able to imagine my business life” without Proofread Anywhere and her proofreading career.
While it was hard to let go emotionally, Pyle said, she’s hard at work on her next moves. She’s working toward certifications to become a professional coach, with an emphasis on self-care and burnout recovery. Her new podcast, the Missdiagnosed Podcast, explores the growth of the mental health industry.
The skills she developed through building Proofread Anywhere are coming along for the latest part of her journey, she says. “I’ve learned so much and acquired so many new tools that offer me countless ways to grow as an entrepreneur.”