When you start out, you can get overwhelmed with all the steps involved in how to become a freelance translator.
Finding clients, getting your translator resume into tip-top shape, and turning your translator website into an attractive sales tool—and honing your translation skills!—are all on your never-ending to-do list.
Things were much easier when I started freelancing as a translator. All I needed to take my business to six figures was a phone number, an email address and a resume.
Despite all the hoopla about social media and the web, you actually don’t need much more than that today.
However, even if you’re new, you can be strategic to target the right translation prospects and create basic yet very effective marketing tools for your needs.
Below you’ll find an outline of my main tips along with links to longer information pages.
This will help you move from newbie translator to confident translator who gets a steady stream of freelance translation jobs.
What is a freelance translator?
Even if you’ve been to translation school, what a freelance translator does may still be a bit of a mystery to you.
A “freelance” translator is someone who doesn’t work with one employer but rather has many direct clients.
These can include companies, small businesses, non-profits, the government, or any other entity that has translation needs.
Freelance translators may also work for what are called “translation agencies,” which do the work to get clients and then hire freelancers to perform the job.
So, what does “freelance translation” mean? It means any work that is done by a translator as an independent one-time or recurring contract in return for a set fee.
You are free to translate for anyone you choose, in any topic you choose, for the rates that you choose.
How do I get started as a freelance translator?
You’ve been to translation school and are excited at the prospect of starting your own business.
You tell everyone what you do and set up your profile on LinkedIn.
But…. now what?
Read this post for ideas to get going as a freelance translator that much more quickly:
What do freelance translators charge?
Freelance translation rates vary tremendously depending on your experience, expertise, language pair, and country of residence.
Online “translation mills” will pay you as little as .02 to .04 cents a word, while I have heard of some agencies who charge their clients upwards of .35 cents a word or more.
The obvious answer is that you should charge as much as people will pay. However, if you’re still not sure, read this blog post:
Should I look for online freelance translation jobs?
I often hear people debating about whether to look for translation jobs on ProZ, UpWork, or similar online job boards, such as Craig’s List or the equivalent in your country.
Many people are adamantly against them; others feel they are the only way to make a living.
If you do use them, just realize that about 95% of the jobs won’t be right for you, so you will have to spend some time wading through the muck.
And you’ll also need to remember one very important thing if you are going to be successful at translation jobs online.
How do I create an effective freelance translator resume?
In the beginning, your freelance resume will open doors for you.
Even more than your website and your portfolio, this professional tool is how most clients will decide whether to hire you.
Time and again, I see new freelancers send out drab, lifeless affairs that don’t sell their services. Instead, they list every non-related aspect of your life.
Don’t let this happen to you!
How do I become a freelance translator?
I’m always on the look-out to find successful freelance translators to ask how they started.
Specialists, generalists, technical translators, and others tell you their journey to start the wonderful Translator’s Life as a freelancer.