Pave Your Way Up as a Freelance Translator

Dec 13, 2017

Content pave your way up

Like any other profession, being a full-time employee has certain benefits – a steady paycheck and health insurance that is at least partially company-paid, for example.

But there are downsides to full-time employment too. Your time is not your own – you must conform to the work schedule set for you; your set salary is just that, unless you are offered a raise or promotion. And there are policies, procedures, and even supervisors who may frustrate you.

The “Draw” of Freelancing

Control of your work life is certainly attractive. It’s nice to think that you can work in your own home office, in your sweats; it’s nice to think that you can structure your own work hours around your other obligations and activities.

But, as a translator, how will you build a business that is going to feed you and pay your bills, not to mention those “extras” that make life more enjoyable.

If you decide to strike out on our own, here are some tips for how to become a freelance translator that should help.

  1. Understand What is a Freelance Translator

Freelancing means that you have to build a business from scratch. You have to get on translation job boards; you have to conduct research and reach out to businesses that may be looking for translation services; and you have to look for the best freelance websites for translators, fulfill their qualifications to be a translator, and begin to establish a reputation as a premier translator who can produce according to their expectations.

  1. Seek Certifications

While certifications for translators are often not required, when they are, you want to have them so that you can assume any kind of work an agency, company, or individual may need. Research all of the certifications that are available, the requirements for them, and set about earning them, one by one.

  1. Register with Reputable Online Translation Agencies

Translation has become a big industry, and it continues to grow. As with any online service business, there are “good guys” and “bad guys.” A reputation can be ruined by associating with a “bad guy.” Before you register with any online translation service, do your homework. Read reviews, discuss their policies and procedures with them, research who they are translating for.  You only want to work for those that are reputable and that have excellent reputations.

  1. Get a Website and a Blog

When you are seeking individual clients, you want to be able to refer them to the evidence that you are professional and experienced. You do this by designing a great website that highlights the translation services you can offer, by maintaining a blog that shows your expertise, and by having testimonials from others who have used your services. All of this can be encapsulated on your website, and all you have to do is provide the link for potential clients.

  1. Expand Your Repertoire

If you currently specialize in your native language and one other language, you will need to plan long-term to become fluent in others. If, for example, your native language is English and you are fluent in French, you should expand into other romance languages. There are plenty of local and online courses out there. Pick another language and learn it. Make local connections with people who are natives of that language so that you can master all of the nuances that will be necessary to become a premier translator in that language.

Another expansion is in the areas of translation you can offer. If you currently translate personal and legal documents, how about moving into business translations – contracts, employee manuals, or website localization. This will require some additional training, but the more areas in which you can develop proficiency, the more valuable you become.

Explore some of the great tools for translation that are now available in software form. These will ease the repetitious nature of some of your translation work so that you can focus on the customized aspects.

  1. Marketing Yourself

This is perhaps the most difficult of all aspects of becoming a freelancer. You are marketing yourself, a personal brand, so to speak, and if you are not experienced in marketing, this will be a major challenge. Again, enroll in some online freelance marketing coursework, so that you can master all of the techniques that other freelancers use to build a client base. This cannot be over-emphasized.

These six tips should get you started in the freelance business. There are many more, obviously. But these are the basic “must-dos,” if you are really serious about freelancing. You will need to learn many other aspects of running your own business as well.

Freelancing can be a wonderful work lifestyle if you can meet the challenges. In the beginning, it will require long hours and sacrifices. Over time, however, if you stick with it, and have both patience and persistence, you will build a business that will serve you well, both financially and personally.