Press "Enter" to skip to content

How To Become A Freelance Translator

Mohamed Hesham

I bet there is someone behind me that feels resentment and anger when they hear someone complaining about unemployment. Yes! It is true that very many people in the world are unemployed. However, it isn’t written in the constitution that you must be employed to make money. With the advancements in technology and the knowledge based computer operations, there are a million and one money channels online. You heard someone talking about working online as a Freelancer and never bothered to ask what that means or even how you can go about it? Or maybe you asked and they didn’t guide you appropriately to start earning like they do? Well, you are now in the right place, I am going to share all the details about how to become a Freelance Translator.

However, before we jump the real barrier, we must first of all define what is Freelance and eventually talk about its relationship with being a Translator.

Who is a Freelancer?

A Freelance worker is a person who works for a vast collection of clients at home. The term is commonly used to refer to people who are self-employed and those who manage their own time to deliver on what the client had ordered.

There are very many advantages of being a Freelancer and the main of all is the freedom that come with it. A freelancer has the freedom to manage their own time and at the same time have the freedom to work from home. You can work in your Pajamas and make a significant amount of money from it.

You already know when it’s time to quit your job and become an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t only mean starting your own shop or a restaurant but also working online as a Freelancer.

The only perk of being a Freelancer is the uncertainty that comes with it. You don’t know the time your clients will cut the contract or even the time that your venture will be in Low season.

Who is a Freelance Translator?

The simplest way to look at this question is to define each work and then connect them. We have already defined who is a Freelancer and hence we only have to look at who is a translator. In technical terms, translation is the communication of what a source-language text means in another equivalent target-language text. A translator is then a person who interprets a written document into another language-format. You need to differentiate between a translator and an interpreter.

Now that we know the meaning of the two words, You can concur with me that a Freelance translator is someone who can translate written words into different languages but doing it independently or online. Now you want to be a translator and build your career at home? I want to cover technical and personal traits that are needed to become a Freelance Translator.

Personal and Technical skills required to be a Freelance Translator

To be a Freelance Translator, there are several skills that you should first of all possess. However, many of them are just entrepreneurial skills. So if you are looking to be a Freelance Translator or if you are already a Freelance Translator and wants to sharpen your cutting edges, read on.

  1. Excellent Writing Skills in your native Language

You cannot be a Freelance Translator if you are not at least versed in two different languages. This is the first thing that you should have in your head. Most Importantly you should be very fluent is communication and writing in your native language. You need to be a very experienced writer in your native language to be successful in this career. You need to be excellent in different vocabularies and different writing styles. You can as well try and learn different languages to mitigate your job chances. However, if you are not bilingual, you are supposed to only translate in your native language.

  1. Reading and Comprehension skills in your source language

You should be fluent or almost fluent in your source language. The reason for this is so that you can understand source texts perfectly and truly know about the source texts. If you don’t possess this skill, then you should spend much of your time trying to write and read on your source language. You can as well spend some time in a country where the language is a native language. Take language courses either online or at your local school to be well versed with this language.

  1. Cultural Knowledge in both languages

A good Freelance Translator should be well versed with the cultural knowledge of the two languages that you are dealing with. Most of the translators also function as cultural consultants. They also let the clients know in case something is working against them on the target population. The reality of the matter is that if there are cultural faux, the clients goal will not be met.

  1. Attention to details

The client is looking for someone to get every document of the source text and put that down with the same impact into another language. In this venture, you must be someone who pays a lot of attention to details. Apart from meeting deadlines, your client wants to find all the details translated correctly and nothing should be missing.

  1. Knowledge of the Computer Assisted Translation Tools

Whether you are a translator working from home or employed to provide that expert skill to a translation company, you can bear with me nothing will be achieved without a full-base knowledge in ‘’Computer-assisted Translation Tools’’. You need to be familiar with work processing and other software available for the same purpose.

  1. You should be neutral and non-judgmental

The biggest mistake that you can ever make as a Freelancer Translator is to be judgmental. If you judge the content, you are likely to stagger from the main purpose of your expertise. As a Translator, you are supposed to translate exactly what the original writer wanted to convey to his target audience and not what you think the writer should have intended to convey.

  1. Good communication with clients

There is nothing good than keeping  a repeat buyer. If you give quality work to a client and at the same time be able to communicate well with them, then you are likely to keep them for a longer time. You are supposed to structure your questions and inquire well and at the same time keep a polite way of communicating with them.

There are several skills that you should possess in order to be successful in this venture. The above are just the main personal and technical skills that you are required to possess. Now that you know what is required, what if you don’t have them but you want to start on this? What if you feel that the skills you possess are not satisfactory? Worry no more. The good thing is that I am here to help you on this. Now let’s check on how to acquire several of these skills.

How to Acquire and develop the above skills

Writing skills

  • Many people don’t have writing skills but they can easily acquire them and develop them to end up deep in this career. You have to keep up with the evolution of languages. There are several things that used to be important some decades ago and now are no more important. You need to spend a significant amount of time in a country where the language is spoken to keep up with the changes.
  • Read newspapers and journals. You can as well watch TVs and news aired on the source and your language.
  • Take writing classes to develop the skills you already possess. The reality of the matter is that it is not simple to improve your writing skills and writing style if you don’t take a course. There are very many online courses and tutorials to help you develop your writing skills and writing style.
  • Collaborate with expert proofreaders to learn the skills they impose in their task and if possible input those skills in your writing and proofreading style.
  • Be a writer. Exercise writing and if possible start practicing creative writing. With time, you will sharpen your skills and end up being an expert.

Reading and Comprehension skills

  • Go to the Library more often and read documents in the source language. Try to comprehend some of the writing styles and terms to become familiar with them. Also start writing in the source language and within no time you will be a pro.
  • If possible, take courses in your source language. Try being attentive and learn every bit of the language writing styles and vocabularies.
  • Refer to language and style guides online to perfect your writing styles.
  • The other thing is to read several documents and books written in the source language.

Cultural Knowledge

  • In order to get enough knowledge in this case, the most important thing you can do is to interact with the natives. If possible, visit a country that uses the source language and stay for a while. Keep in touch with several people in the country and try communicating in that language specifically.
  • Don’t forget about taking time on the target language to note some of the most common cultural differences and common notions.
  • Take courses in Intercultural communication to better your understanding on the same.
  • Also study materials on the different cultures

Computer skills

  • There is no better way of getting versed with computer knowledge than getting down to a class. Take a course in Keyboarding and computer skills to be sure that you are an expert. There are plenty of courses online teaching the same skills.
  • You can learn from YouTube, Blogs and many other online sources.
  • If you feel that you are a good translator but don’t know how to use computers, hire someone for IT purposes. They can come in to help in case you need assistance in one of the computer tools.

Interpersonal communication and customer services

  • Not every person possesses Interpersonal communication skills and customer services. If you are one of them, take a class from local translation organization to learn how to keep intact with your clients.
  • Try not to fall into a fight with your clients. In case there is a problem, ensure you solve it in the calmest way.

Steps required seeking the career of Freelance Translating

  1. The first step is to research on the best freelance websites

There are several freelance websites that you can join to create a translation profile and get clients. They bring clients directly to the freelancers. Although the competition is Fierce in these sites, they form the best channels for you to link with your clients. However, there is a rate on every service offered through the site. The good thing is that clients trust these sites and hence you cannot avoid them in case you want to get in touch with clients. Let these sites work for you and don’t go for the lowest rates in the name of looking for clients.

  1. Create an account with them

After you have determined a website to channel your expertise and experience, create an account with them and specify your qualification and the service you provide. Creating an account with these websites will introduce you to a pool of clients and other professionals. Consider joining, ATA, SFT, NAJIT, ITA, Translator’s Café, IOL and several other reputable sites in the world.

  1. Create an impressive Gig

As if creating an account with these companies is not enough, you need to create an impressive gig to display your services and pricing. Don’t be lured to start at a lower price simply because you are new. Set a reasonable price for your services.

  1. Translation Agencies (TA)

TAs is another great way of making money as a Freelance Translator. However, you have to convince them to send you work. TA has a reputation of attracting very many clients because they invest in Sales and marketing and Project management. However, if you get to TAs, you need to provide high quality works or else you will be suspended.

Beating the competition

There is no secreting behind beating the competition in Freelance Translation. The first thing is to provide quality work. However, if you are finding a problem of thriving in the huge competition, then try the following:

  • Provide high quality work

If you have all the skills and you can be able to provide quality work, then clients will be there every time. In every online job, you can bear with me that repeat buyers are the main source of income. A buyer can never come back if the quality of work provided is not high quality.

  • Get direct clients

The good thing with Freelance translation is that you can work for both direct and indirect clients. Working for direct clients is one of the ways of diversifying and future-proofing your job. It is also a good way of escaping the pangs of competition. Target small businesses because they are likely to require seller volumes of Translation work which you can be able to provide.

  • Grow your client base

You can create a website and focus on SEO and social media. Decide who you are providing the services to and then target them directly with your advertisements. Be specific with your services.

There is an awesome learning program (Wealthy Affiliate) which can teach you how to create a website and drive traffic to it. Once you have traffic on your website, you can monetize it by offering your services. Check out a thorough review for Wealthy Affiliate from here.

  • Market yourself

There’s no good way of passing to the front line than marketing yourself. Without marketing very few clients will know what services you are providing. You have to target your target clients through advertisements and promotions. Some websites gives their service sellers an opportunity to promote themselves through social media and other channels.

How to be successful in Freelance Translation

If you want to be a successful Freelance Translator, there are several things that you are supposed to take into consideration.

  • The first thing is to learn from mistakes

I know this sounds Trivial but you need to accept your mistakes and make improvements from that thing that you failed. It is not easy to accept the mistakes but in this case you should. If there is something that you did and offended a client, next time you should avoid it.

  • Learn from feedbacks

Feedbacks are as important as compliments. If someone told you that you are good, then you must be good, and if someone told you that there is a mistake in something, ensure you improve to avoid the same. Always ask for feedbacks to better your services.

  • Master new skills

You can never get all the skills to keep giving quality services to your clients. What this means is that you should keep on learning new skills to improve your services. The good thing is that it is never too late to start learning a new skill in the market.

Final Thoughts

Being a successful Freelance Translator needs a lot of patience, dedication and hard work. You need to get all your energy focused on delivering quality services to your clients to keep them coming. Also participate in Seminars and Events that specifically address things concerning Translation and writing skills.

In addition to the popular freelancing platforms, creating your own website will help you significantly to grow your business and maximize your profits.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *