Freelance Translators – Tips for Success

(Last Updated On: February 13, 2015)

Practical experience with an established translation firm is a necessity for any freshly trained translator. Your progress and performance will be monitored and improved by a senior translator. He or she will assist you in identifying both your strengths and weaknesses and revise your initial translations. You will hone the skills and abilities most required of professional freelance translators. Language and business skills are both critical if you are to become a successful freelancer. If it is your intention to enter this highly competitive field, this article will serve as your map. The destination is high quality service and respected professional reputation.

Initially you may find paid employment hard to come by. Translation agencies often do not have the budget to hire new staff, especially untested translators. They are well equipped to offer you something else of value – training and experience. As a volunteer trainee, you will gain useful knowledge and practice in your chosen field.

Once you have spent some time – usually a minimum of a couple years – polishing your translation skills with an established translation agency you will be better prepared to identify your own potential clients. A part-time contract in addition to your position with a firm will provide the necessary funds as well as more experience in choosing your own clients.

After your freelance translation work has become lucrative and steady, you will be able to reconsider your position within your current company. Eventually you will be able to choose to end your employment with a firm and rely solely on your freelance work for income. Time once spent in the office working for someone else will then be put into the effort of attracting your own clients. While the draw of guaranteed work through an established firm cannot be denied, freelance work offers the added benefit of a better income. Experienced freelance translators work for themselves and can earn as much or more than their salaried counterparts can.

Freelance translators – How to Find Employment

Translation Agencies: Experience is a valuable commodity that can only be earned the hard way. Most translation agencies are reluctant to hire inexperienced freelance translators. You will need to prove yourself to an agency by consistently meeting deadlines and providing high quality work on an ongoing basis. Many projects require specialization; you will need to utilize appropriate resources to meet these specific project requirements. As a freelancer, you will likely need to have at least 2-3 years of experience to be considered by translation agencies. They need professional translators who do not represent a serious risk to their income or reputation through inefficiency or ignorance.

Business Clients: Freelance translation is an increasingly difficult profession to break into. Most companies confine their search for translation services to current business partners. They prefer to outsource to Translation Services with which they have an established relationship as opposed to a freelancer. Translation agencies have the added benefit of multiple professionals with a wider base of skills in a larger variety of languages than most individuals can offer. Established agencies are an easy choice because of their availability and easily proven record of accomplishment.

However, the law of supply and demand applies as well. A client with an urgent requirement for a translator will often take a chance on an inexperienced freelancer.

This may all seem disheartening to an inexperienced translator seeking a freelance career. It will take time to carve out your niche in this highly competitive field. Know your own capabilities and improve your skills constantly. Building your clientele and reputation will take time. You can be one of the successful freelance translators as long as you are both optimistic and realistic. Requirements and qualifications for translators vary from country to country; know what skills you need to cultivate to realize your goals.