Actions To Take To Start Freelancing As A Translator

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Many people can read, write, and speak more than 1 language. But few even consider that this skill can enable them to make a living from being a translator.

Now that world is truly a global marketplace, translators and translating services have a growing demand as more and more small to big sized businesses start to look at new opportunities abroad. And as you might expect, English is just 1 language out of hundreds in use everyday by people all over the world.

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If you have never thought about making a career out of translating, you should give it a little consideration is your are on the verge of quitting your day job or just looking for a side income to supplement your salary.

There is no need for any qualifications as you are not applying for a job in an MNC. Just like there is no need for a carpenting degree to start being a carpenter. However, if you do have good language related qualifications, it will only aid your credibility.

Because translations are easy for those who know the languages. But they cause so much misery for those who are not cross-language proficient… that they are often willing to pay an expert to translate for them.

And who knows, this could actually become your shortcut to retirement if you build a good reputation around your services.

What actions do you have to take?

The first obvious step to start off your new journey is to… produce a resume.

The purpose of writing or updating your resume is not to show potential clients how proficient you are in the languages. It is to show prospects that you are indeed a real person offering a real service instead of another one of those scammers online.

You also want your resume in at least 2 versions. One in English, and another in the target language your are good in. To ensure that your writing skills in a foreign language is acceptable, don’t be shy in hiring someone to vet through your documents before publishing it online or offline.

Other than that, remember that few people enjoy the task of reading resumes. So get to the point as much as possible without going overboard with bits and pieces.

Create a list of services

You want to be as specific as possible about the services you provide. As service seekers are already out of their comfort zone and hiring someone for a skill set they do not have, you will be able to ease their concerns by specifically mentioning what exactly you do. This will help customers decide quickly whether you are a translator or interpreter who fits the bill of what they need.

Be frank. List down the subjects you tackle. And do not list services that you are not really good at. Since you are just starting off, it is not the time to take on requests that you are not 100% confident with.


Don’t get too self-conscious.

You have to include a picture of yourself so that people can see that you are a real person.

There’s not need for a glamor shot or a business suit. Even a simple picture taken by your smart phone or laptop is good enough.

Again. The gist is just to show that you are a real person.

Create a website

You can choose not to create your own website. But I highly recommend that you do. Because if you intend to build a long term business with a recurring clientele, having your own web presence can play a big role in a client’s perception of you.

Other than that, it also enhances your professional profile, enabling your to charge a higher rate from inquiries.

The best option to go with is to create your own website. But if you can’t, you can simply create a site from free platforms like Blogger, WordPress, Linkedin, etc.

Just note that building your sites on these third party platforms, the content you put up on them are under their control. If you have your own site, you will retain total control over what happens on your site.

Warning: Don’t oversell yourself

Start making a presence in freelancing marketplaces

There are many places that allows you to advertise your services online. The problem is that you won’t be able to predict where would be the place which you will get best response.

Sometimes, the webmaster of a specific site might like your profile and feature it. Or sometimes, your profile might freakishly get a good placing when users search for translating services.

So I suggest that you create profiles in every freelance market place and see where gets you the best results. Remember to protect yourself and consider using escrow services.

Once your build a strong profile, you will be flooded with orders.

Here are some specialized web market places focused on translating.


Tip: Don’t be choosy. Just sign up for all of them and start writing your profile. Then set up the job alerts so that jobs that fit your profile will be sent to your email as notifications. You won’t know which account will fly until you try them all.

Price your services

As soon as you sign up for accounts on the sites stated above, you will realize that your ratings will dictate how successful you get online.

But how are you going to get ratings when you are just starting out?

This is when I suggest that it is best to start off under-pricing your services. Low prices will attract more customers, which will kick start your collection of reviews and ratings. Try not to go below 10 cents per word unless you are really desperate.

Once you get to around 5 ratings, it is time to increase your prices. But you won’t be able to charge premium pricing until you have tens to hundreds of jobs in your task history.

This is the way online marketplaces work. Accept it.

Pricing strategies

  • Charge by per source word
  • Charge by per block of words (e.g. 100, 200, etc)
  • Charge by per project
  • Charge by per hour

Don’t forget to add a minimum order price!

More tips to get a leg up over the competition

The most important factor for your business to survive over the long term is to keep your customers coming back for more.

People using translation services usually don’t hire a translator for a one-off project. They are often in positions where they continually require translators and interpreters for job purposes. Your clients could very well be using such services for a long time and decided to give you a try as the usual person they hire is letting them down.

This is your chance to impress them and build a long term relationship to earn recurring income.

The only way your business will truly grow is to have a plan in retaining your customers.

If you get 10 new customers each month, you will end up with 120 clients by the end of the year.

But if you are able to retain 5 out of 10 each month, you will end up with 180 clients. That is 50% more jobs than if there are no repeat customers. Do you see the power of providing a satisfactory experience to your customers?

If you continually meet and exceed the expectations of customers, you could potentially get more business than you can handle by the second year. This is when you will have to hire staff to help you. And you become a business owner instead of a freelancer and leave the translation projects to your employees.

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