Your guide to becoming a freelance translator
More and more freelance translators offer their services. Although the profession sounds good and the translation industry is steadily booming, it can be hard to find well-paying work if you weren’t able to earn a degree in translation, translation experience, excellent language skills, and training and experience in a technical field of translation.
If you are interested in freelance translation, the easiest way to do it is to get samples and references. You can do this by being a volunteer or intern in agencies that need translation services such as the American Red Cross, Translators Without Borders, refugee assistance programs, and public health clinics who are in need of volunteer translators and interpreters or by working for low-paying translation agencies that are willing to train beginners.
Aside from getting experience and references, you also need to be a writer. The profession of translation also needs excellent writing skills because the translation should be correct not only verbatim or "word for word" but should also be grammatically correct. And last but not the least, you will need subject-specific knowledge in your own native tongue in order to translate subject-specific documents requested by your potential client.
Aside from having these three considerations, here are some tips that can help you in order to be a successful freelance translator:
1. Make sure that you are realistic. Just like in any field, you need to consider if you plan to work fulltime or freelance. If you are considering working as a freelance translator, you need to be realistic in the possible outcome. Since you are new in the field, you can't expect that you will have a sizeable list of clients on a regular basis.
2. Continue building up. If you are already in the industry, never stop marketing. Having a regular list of clients doesn’t guarantee that you can keep all of them for a long time. Make sure that you continue contacting prospective clients in order to keep the works flowing.
3. Never ignore the local market especially if you are able to present yourself better in person than on paper. In order to build reputation, you need to show a portfolio of your work personally. By doing this, you can ensure that you will have an idea what your potential clients want.
4. Try to join some associations. By doing this, you can add credential to your portfolio. Freelance translators can join associations such as the American Translators Association or its local chapters to help you establish professionalism as a translator. This can also open up a new door to meet other translators and learn from them.
5. Learn from experience by asking for advice. Try to talk to other translators so you will have an idea about the field you are about to enter.
6. Adjust your resume toward translation. The key in order to get clients is by marketing yourself as bilingual if you are. If you also have specialized professional skills, you can also include this in your resume or portfolio.
7. Try offering services that more experienced translators don't. As mentioned, the translation industry is booming and more and more translators are offering their services. In order to meet the demands of the competitive market, try to offer services that others don’t offer such as work on nights, weekends, and rush jobs.
8. Make sure that you get certification. If you are a freelance translator, make sure that you get certification so it can back up your credentials.
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