Can You Freelance as a Translator While Working Full Time?

Jan 04, 2018

Content can you freelance as a translator while working full time

The short answer to this question is “yes.” The longer answer, however, is “it depends.” It depends on how motivated you are, how organized you are, and how much time you are willing to sacrifice to build a business.

Identify Your Goals

If you are taking up freelance translation as just a side gig to earn some extra money, that is one thing. You can take work when you have extra time, and turn it down if you don’t.

On the other hand, if you are looking to build a freelance business that will eventually become your full-time work, that is quite another thing. You will have to commit a lot more time to building that business and give up lots of family and social life to do it. (and you may have to sacrifice sleep, too).

The Side Gig

A lot of people “moonlight,” and there is no reason why you cannot as well. But if that is all that you are looking for, then you can find work in a variety of places. There are plenty of online translation services that are always looking for freelance translators. You can register with these services, complete their application requirements, and pretty much take the amount of work that you choose. You don’t have to worry about how to get translation work. It is found for you, and you just work as a freelance translator online under the auspices of those translation services.

Building a Freelance Business

This is an entirely different “ballgame” from just taking side gigs. Your goal is to become a full-time freelance translator as your primary means of making a living. Can you do it while you are working full time? It’s tough, but others have been successful, and you can too. Here are some tips as you look to make this transition.

  1. Know that this endeavor will take almost every spare minute you have right now. Be willing to spend evenings and weekends promoting yourself and your business and actually completing amazing translation for the clients you get.

  2. You can certainly work online as a translator for services during this time, but be careful that you do not overload yourself with jobs and ignore your need to market yourself as a solopreneur.

  3. Your biggest challenge is how to get into translation work on your own. You will need to create a website, put yourself out there on the right social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, niche channels, etc.) and you may have to pay for advertising in niche journals. Once you have some translation under your belt, you will need to develop a portfolio of successful projects and solicit sound references that you can use to further promote yourself.

  4. You will need patience – lots of it. And you can afford to be patient, as long as you have your full-time job and the paycheck that goes with that. At first, gigs will come in slowly, until your reputation is built and you get those critical references. So, take your time and keep at it.

  5. You will need to be supremely organized, if you don’t want to drive yourself crazy. Getting some good project management tools for freelancers will simplify your work and keep you on track to meet deadlines and see exactly how you are progressing in getting work and the income that the work is generating. There are lots of options for choosing tools for freelancers, and you need to do the research, check them out, and choose the ones that will work for you.

Getting freelance gigs is not hard, if you are looking to sign up with online translations services and use the income as a supplement to your regular career income. It’s an entirely different story, though, if you are looking to grow a business that will eventually supplant that full-time job. Decide which it is that you want, and then take the steps to get yourself there.