It can be very overwhelming to start working as a freelance translator and become an independent interpreter. You probably have questions as the following: “What is the best way to work efficiently?”, “How am I going to find new customers?” or “How should I promote myself?” As translation professionals, we have all been there and that is why we got your back! Use our 10 best recommendations for new freelance translators to get off to a good start and set the most ideal foundation for your new journey. If you’re ready, we shall begin!
1) Plan your days ahead
It might be hard to adapt into a “typical” daily routine when you first start working as a freelance translator. Fortunately, setting your own schedule is a top advantage of self-employment. You can organize your schedule in a way that you can work 12 hours a day for 2 weeks to have a few more days off at the end.
With that being said, as a fresh freelance translator try not to lose your efficiency. You might find yourself getting up late, procrastinating some work and eventually working until morning to finish what you should have done earlier that day. Do not panic though. Start with this very simple but efficient tip: Be strict with your own schedule and stick to it. Start your days early, don’t skip breakfast, work out (healthy body, healthy mind right?), fill your cup with coffee and start hustling. But please keep in mind that you need breaks too! After hours and hours of working you might feel exhausted. Don’t let that happen to you before it is too late. After 2 hours of intense work, just give yourself 10-15 minutes of break. If that’s not enough, give yourself some more but do not let the breaks ruin your schedule. After working hours, you will have time to do whatever you want.
2) Your rates, your choice
Setting up your own rates is a major concern when you start out as an independent professional. Be realistic about how much you want to earn and work. You can also check out translator community platforms on the web and join translation and localization groups on LinkedIn. If you still don’t have an idea, just start networking! Go to networking events in your area and start conversations in forums. In a short while you will have plenty of friends from the freelance translator community. Your fellow freelancers will be happy to help and guide you. Be nice, act professional and ask politely. You will see the benefits instantly.
3) Don’t charge less/more than you deserve
As you determine your rate, do not set it below what you deserve! Okay, we are done with setting our rates. Now what? Before moving to the next step, please take a moment to check your rates once again. Be fair to yourself and clear about your goals. Giving offers with unrealistic rates to your customers might harm your career in the long run.
4) Discover your area of expertise as a freelance translator
If you want to receive more work as a translator, you might want to specialize in a key area. As an example, the most generously compensated translators often have a university degree in another subject such as design, history, or finance. Not all the translators have that degree or expertise in an area, but you can think about the one you would like to specialize in if you have a background in translation and linguistics. Do your research and start learning! Take advantage of learning platforms, blogs and even mailing lists.
5) Work, work, work!
Well, we all know what this means but we just wanted to make sure that we are on the same track. Keep in mind that from now on you are your own boss, manager, director and everything else. Train yourself to be well-disciplined and do not let any distractions clip your wings.
6) Improve yourself as a freelance translator
Having specialty in specific subjects might have a lot of benefits to your career, as explained earlier. You might consider taking new courses or gaining experience on new domains which will demonstrate that you give your 100% to your career. Whether you are a freelance interpreter or translator, experience in using CAT tools will differentiate you from the rest. Some of them are paid but some of them are free. Learn how to use it before you invest in one. For learning, you can take online courses or even check out our all-time favorite tutor, YouTube. There a lot of tutorials and free resources out there, why not make use of them?
7) Understand the importance of high-quality work
In early stages, you might want to take as many projects you as can find to get paid more and grow your customer database. You shouldn’t forget that you need to put as much time as you need into the work to do your best, as well as to please your customers. In the interpretation industry, you earn what you put in, meaning that when you do not put in your best work you are destined to lose customers. We don’t want that! Focus on increasing the quality of your work every single time you are in the booth or utilizing the CAT tool and you will receive the reward eventually.
8) Self-promotion is the key
Start with one basic rule: Put yourself out there! When you don’t have any presence online (or offline), your chances of growing your business will be low. Customer database do not grow by itself! Start by creating your dream list of customers and take action on how to reach out to them. Now, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the internet and start taking action in the comfort of your home. Get yourself a business email address, join translation networks and connect on LinkedIn.
Moreover, please note that blogging is a very fundamental way of constructing your online existence as an independent interpreter and translation professional. Thanks to technology, it is very easy to set up your own blog. Do not forget to post consistently!
Last but not least, do not be shy and send your resume to translation agencies and multi-language vendors out there. Remember, you’re investing in yourself and your career so it is definitely worth putting in the groundwork. We recommend you to check our article about how to become a translator.
9) Success won’t come overnight for freelance translators
Most people need at least one year to adjust to full-time freelancing. It might be difficult at first but don’t give up. Do not forget, determination and self-discipline is the key to success. Just apply the tips mentioned above and do not let anything come into your way. We know you got this!
If you would like to try yourself as a freelance translator, we are excited to get your translator application to join Protranslate.Net translator team!