Freelancing 101

How to Become a Freelance Translator: 5 Beneficial Tips

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 30/03/225 min read
How to Become a Freelance Translator: 5 Beneficial Tips
Translation is a lucrative and well-paying career, but how to become a freelance translator? Here are five steps to follow.

Table of Contents

  • 5 Useful Tips on How to Start Freelance Translation
  • Key Takeaways
  • Conclusion 
  • FAQs

Freelancing is quite the trending career choice nowadays, and there is no dearth of lucrative freelance work opportunities in every field imaginable. Freelance translation jobs are an emerging niche in the freelance market. If you know two languages and there is a demand for translation services pertaining to them, you can opt for one of the most interesting jobs in the world, i.e., translating content from one language to the other. Sounds easy, right? But that’s not entirely true. If you are fluent in two languages and you’re wondering how to become a freelance translator, here is a quick guide. 

5 Useful Tips on How to Start Freelance Translation

Freelance translation jobs are widely available on several platforms, but if you want a freelance translator career, you will need some handy tips and information. Once you get the right kickstart in the translation industry, you can accept projects at your ease and convenience. Here are five simple steps to guide you on your freelance translation journey. 

1. Nurture the required skills

A translation job is a task of accuracy. The first step to the translation ladder is having absolute knowledge of the source as well as the target languages you will be translating it in. You need to have a good grasp of grammatical concepts, localization, and the cultural nuances of both languages. 

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It is a good idea to have a degree in the target language or take up specialized training in translation studies. You cannot scale the road of a freelance translator career without knowing the languages you’ll be dealing with thoroughly. Some sort of formal education or specialization looks good on the resume, too, and is also generally preferred by clients. 

It is always a good idea to find a certification program for yourself, so that your skill in the language is bolstered. A number of translators also take up additional courses in writing, so that it can enhance their work. Ideally, translating into your native language is a great way to begin your career.

2. Work with an agency before becoming an independent translator

One important lesson to keep in mind when learning how to become a freelance interpreter is to determine how much experience you have. If you have no prior experience of doing professional translation, it is ideal to start off by working for a translation agency—as a linguist for some time—before going solo. With translation agencies, you do not have to worry about project management, payment negotiation, marketing, billing, etc., as these functions are usually taken care of by dedicated teams. 

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Working for a translation agency also gives you a fair idea of the rates prevalent in the market. You can focus on building and improving your skills as a translator, while the agency takes care of the business aspect of the job. Although you will find that working with agencies may pay less than a freelance translator career, it is still a good way to begin. Without a portfolio and prior work experience, it may prove to be extremely difficult to land a freelance contract. 

3. Create a workflow for yourself

It is pretty amazing once you start getting projects as a freelancer, but your career can quickly spiral out of control, if not handled well. Establishing a workflow is crucial to any freelance translation job. You are solely responsible for keeping your business in order as a freelancer. There is no one to manage your daily activities, settle accounts, market your business, read emails, conduct calls, review content, etc., for you. Freelancing is like running a one-person show. 

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Name and organize your files, allot a timeline for each activity, and create (realistic) deadlines that enable you to stay organized and informed at each step. Use workflow software, calendars, and to-do lists to keep track of your work schedule and progress. 

4. Find out what the tools of your trade are

Knowing the tools of your trade is essential and non-negotiable, whether you work with an agency or as an independent translator. You should be well-versed with the basics of computer science. Find out if there are relevant applications or software that enhance your work schedule or make your work easier in any way. 

A number of translators today work with computer-assisted translation (CAT). With a little time spent on onboarding, these tools can be of immense value. When you get large-volume projects or collaborative work opportunities, applications and collaborative workspace software will be essentially required. There is no harm in being a little tech-savvy, more so if it makes your work processes better and faster. 

5. Observe and learn from a mentor

If you are new to the freelance realm, it is a good idea to find a mentor for yourself. A mentor can guide you in the initial stages of establishing yourself as a freelance translator and procuring the right job opportunities. For example, the American Translators Association is a good place to find a suitable transition mentor. Closer home, the Indian Translators Association is a large community of translators that seeks to address issues plaguing the industry. Apart from having the guidance of a mentor, it is also highly recommended that you start building a network. 

Get in touch with other freelance translators, observe them, and learn from them. Find out what they are doing in a better or more enhanced manner than you. In the translation industry, fellow freelancers are not just your competitors, but they can also pass on suitable projects to you, in case they offer their services in a language different from yours. Having a circle of freelancers also acts as a form of encouragement and solidarity. 

Key Takeaways

  • The first step on the translation ladder is having absolute knowledge of the source as well as the target languages you will be translating in.
  •  Some sort of formal education or specialization looks good on the resume, and is also generally preferred by clients when hiring a freelance translator.
  • If you have no prior experience in professional translation, it is ideal to consider working for a translation agency before going solo.
  • Working for a translation agency also gives you a fair idea of the translation rates prevalent in the market.
  • You are solely responsible for keeping your business in order as a freelancer. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a workflow.
  • Use workflow software, calendars, and to-do lists to keep track of your work schedule and progress. 
  • A number of translators today work with CAT. 
  • A mentor can guide you in the initial stages of establishing yourself as a freelance translator and procuring the right job opportunities for yourself. 

Conclusion

Finding suitable opportunities in a freelance translation career might be difficult in the beginning, but once you set yourself on the right path, you can enjoy a well-paid and fulfilling career. By following the above-mentioned step, you can easily and effectively crack the puzzle of how to become a freelance translator. 

It is indeed a rewarding experience to be a freelancer, after all. Keep yourself updated with the trends in your industry and build a sound network of fellow freelancers. Stay in touch with your clients, as they might come back with more projects if they like your work. 

FAQs

1. What languages pay the most in the translation service industry?

Mandarin is currently the highest-paid language in the translation industry. Other languages that pay well are German, Arabic, French, Dutch, Spanish, and Italian.

2. What qualifications do you need to become a translator?

In order to become a professional translator, you will need the following. 

– Near-native understanding of at least one foreign language
– Sound knowledge of the culture associated with that language
– Strong writing skills, including web content writing
– An academic degree or certified course in the source language
– Prior experience with translation

3. What is the average salary of a freelance translator?

Freelance translators earn upwards of $60,000 per year, as per the average rate of translation, which is $18 per hour. But the exact amount depends on the nature of the work, the size of the project, and the turnaround time.

4. What languages are easy to learn and translate?

Some languages that are easy to learn and translate are Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Italian, French, and Romanian. Their syntax, word order, and grammar structure are considered fairly easy.

5. What platforms can you find good freelance translation opportunities on?

Some platforms to check out when looking for freelance work opportunities as translators are Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Translators Cafe, Fiverr, etc.

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