The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Freelance Translator
By Luciano Oliveira
The first few years are the most challenging and daunting of them all. Follow the instructions below to develop a successful career in translation, and avoid common mistakes seen in this career. This guide covers topics specific to “freelance translators”. Although employee translators, interpreters in general, and other professionals of the translation industry may benefit from the content here, our “target readers” are the freelance translators.
#1 Start your translation career
1.1. The Beginning is Different for Everyone
There isn’t a single path for a successful career as a freelance translator. While a translator in the US may go through formal education even before becoming a translator, people in other countries may need to be a translator first to only then be able to afford formal education.
#2 Pick the right studies
2.1. Decide on the Subject Matter(s) to Specialize In
Before investing big in translation education decide on what kind of subject matter you will be specializing in. Translators who become experts in a specific area will enjoy higher compensation than generalist translators.
#3 Get your Credentials
3.1. Learn the Meaning of ‘Certified Translator’
One of the questions you hear the most is how to become a certified translator. This said, it is still a must for professional translators to have some kind of professional certification in their credentials. Know some of the relevant associations in the translation industry.
3.2. Become a ‘Certified Translator’
Get a certification from an association or school. It may be an entity close to where you live or you can take a test with the ATA, for instance, that……
Once you have received your certificate, make sure to let your clients know you have it. Your resume is naturally the first place to show your new credential conspicuously. Other less obvious places are your email signature and a business card if you have one.
#4 Become a Professional
4.1. Change to Full-time Translator
Most translators will work as freelancers. This will give them the freedom to work on what they want for who they like, and when they want. A freelance translator career is perfect for those dreaming about travelling the world while working. A few tips on the change from a part-time job to a full-time translator life can help you in this transition. Once you are on your own, researching new subjects and terminology, and keeping your language skills are up to you.
#5 Manage & Promote your Translation Services
5.1. Use the Best Advertisement Ever
That’s by far the best tip we will ever give you: great translators will rarely need to promote their services.If you are not there yet, you can still do things to promote your translation services. An online presence with social media efforts like Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter can help you a lot.
5.2. Keep your Skills Sharp
Keeping updated with the industry is another great way of promoting your business. You may choose to go to a translation conference every other year or maybe more than once a year. For an industry that has changed so rapidly keeping up-to-date is certainly a competitive advantage.
5.3. Invoice and Receive Payments
Get your rates and schedule right. Your rates and schedule will pretty much define the type of clients you will have. Tweak your rates and schedule to make sure you land and keep the clients you want to have.
5.4. Keep your Financials and Taxes in Good Shape
Keep track of your earnings and expenses and file your taxes on time. Keeping a reserve at the bank is an often overlooked requirement for freelancer professionals.
5.5. Enjoy Life as a Translator!
Being a translator does give you the opportunity to know other countries, enjoy a flexible schedule and work with something you love: languages. Make sure you know how to balance the demanding routine of a translator with all the benefits a career in translation can give you.
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