Working as a professional freelance translator is an attractive job these days.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that jobs for translators and interpreters will increase by 17% between 2016 and 2026.

The life of a freelancer has many positive aspects, you can work from anywhere, and choose who you work with.

You can set your own working hours and your payment terms.

Translators have more advantages.

They work with multiple nationalities and languages every day. They are exposed to a wide range of cultures, languages, backgrounds.

In this article, I will share a roadmap that you can use to start working as a freelance translator.

I am not coming from a world of theory, but from a practical background, so I know exactly what may work and what may not.

I have more than 10 years in the translation and localisation industry.

You will learn the requirements of a successful freelance translator, and how to improve your skills.

You will learn the various parts that comprise a professional translator, and where to find online translation jobs.

Let's jump in!

The Qualifications and Requirements to Work as a Freelance Translator

Become a freelance translator

The list below is not an inclusive one. You will learn the most common requirements of translation agencies when hiring freelance translators. Some customers may require additional requirements, such as certifications or affiliations to certain associations. 

1. A Native Speaker of the Target Language:

The target language is the language that a translator translates into. For example, when the text needs to be translated from English to Arabic, the target language is Arabic.

Professional translators translate only into their native language. This ensures higher quality.

Translation is not only about rendering words from one language to another. It involves understanding the culture and traditions of the language you translate into.

You can not have a deep understanding of a language unless you are a native speaker.

 Translate only into your native language.

2. Received an Education in Translation or Language Studies:

An educational degree in translation, linguistics or other related subject will enhance your understanding of the translation process and the syntax of languages.

An official education in translation will introduce you to the mechanics of the translation process itself. You will understand how to translate within multiple fields, such as journalism, economics, politics, tourism and others. You will also understand the various ways of translating adverbs, nouns, prepositions and other grammatical categories.

You do not need a masters degree to work as a translator, the college education is enough.

If you do not have an educational background in translation or languages, you still can join a similar department in an open/a continuing education university or college in your local area.

 Find out if your country if issues any diplomas or specialized certificates in translation, interpretation or localization.

3. Has Solid Writing Skills:

Translation is not a word-for-word process. Professional translators translate documents as if they were originally written in their target language.

You have to be a good writer in order to transfer text from one language to another.

To be a professional translator, you need to be familiar with multiple writing styles, sentence structures, synonyms and other aspects of the writing process.

The best way to learn multiple writing styles is to read more and translate more!

 You may need to translate several types of text including political, journalistic, literary, or sports. Each text type requires its own level of writing.

4.  Practice Translation Regularly:

You only become a professional translator when translation has been one of your daily activities for many years.

Translation is a skill you gain by practising again and again, gradually honing the skill and improving in time.

Receiving feedback for your translation is the best way to shorten your journey to becoming a professional translator.

Have someone review your work and provide you with comments. You will make mistakes, this is a fact you need to accept.

By getting feedback on your translations, you will understand the mistakes you have made and avoid them next time.

This is the only way to improve your translation skills.

 Practice, practice and practice translation every day.

5​. Specialised in a Certain Field:

You will start by working on various subject matters and fields, but you need to specialise in 1-2 industries as soon as possible.

This will have many advantages.

Your marketing efforts will be more focused, and you can increase your prices if you prove yourself as a translation expert in this area.

You will have to read books and articles in order to become more familiar with this specialisation, so make sure you love it in order to stand out.

Do not choose a specialist field that does not have enough work volume!

If you plan to work as a translator for the rest of your life, or for a significant number of years, a stable workflow is an essential part of being financially stable.

 So, choose something that many people want to translate, that you can read and write about daily, and that can provide a reasonable revenue.

A Professional Recommendation:

Working as a freelancer requires dedication and commitment to succeed. You will feel stressed many times due to different reasons, such as deadlines, clients, work environment…etc. Always save sometime for your personal life to get refreshed and ready to the next jobs. Work-life balance is should be a part of your goals.

Erik Hansson 

German-Swedish Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

As a freelance translator you are in charge of everything. Next to translation, you need to acquire new clients, set up your marketing strategies, invoice for your services and have a rough idea about IT technology, just to mention a couple of examples. Don't be afraid to hire experts for certain tasks if you feel you lack experience or simply don't have enough time. Join a professional translation organization as this is an excellent way to learn to know other colleagues and take part in webinars, seminars and other activities. Build up your personal network of colleagues for sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas. Make sure to attend different translators' gatherings in your region and get to know other translators. Take the leap out of your comfort zone and interact with other translators in different groups on Social Media.

A Marketing Plan for Your Freelance Translation Business: 

marketing for Freelance translators

Now, we come to the interesting part.

As an independent professional, you need to understand the basics of sales and marketing in order to succeed in your career, whether you work as a freelance translator, an interpreter, a writer, a graphic designer or a web developer.

A sufficient number of clients is the base of any successful freelance translation business.

And,

A correct marketing strategy will help you to secure a pipeline of translation clients that is large enough to help you survive.

I will explain to you the main four steps of any successful marketing plan for freelance translators.

Step 1: Write A Client Avatar

You need to define your target client exactly. 

Many clients need freelance translation services, but you should choose only one or two types to serve in order to stand out from the already crowded freelance translation market.

To succeed in any business, you should study your client's needs, and writing a client avatar makes it easier for you to study the needs of only one or two clients.

You will not have to study the needs of 10s of clients, which can be overwhelming, at least at the beginning.

 You can define your target client persona by answering the questions below:
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    Where is my client located?
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    What services do they need?
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    What is the yearly revenue of the target client?
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    How can I reach them?
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    What qualifications are they looking for in their suppliers?

Step 2: Write SMART Goals for Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should have clear goals.

But, they need to be SMART ones!

They need to be Specific (S), Measurable (M), Achievable (A) Relevant (R) and Time-bound (T)

 Here is an explanation of what this means.
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    Specific: You should write down specific goals for the plan. For example, attending business conferences it not specific enough. You should name the conferences you need to attend each year. For example the American Translators Association (ATA), Localization World or BP Translation conference.
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    Measurable: You need to know if your goals are met or not. This can be done by adding measurable targets to the goals. For example, how many clients do you plan to acquire this year? Or how many conferences and exhibitions you plan to attend?
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    Achievable: Your goals need to be under your control. They need to be something you can attain.  You should be able to achieve them as a freelancer. Is attending 15 exhibitions per year something you can achieve—even from a personal and financial point? If the goal needs a new skill set, do your best to develop these skills in order to achieve it.
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    Relevant: Your goals need to be related to your general business plan.  If your marketing plan focuses on working with translation agencies, make sure your goals are directed to translation agencies, not to clients.
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    Time-Bound: Add a deadline to your goals. For example, you can divide your goals into yearly, quarterly or monthly deadlines. Set a specific timeline for each goal in order to review its deadline and therefore see if the goal has been achieved or not.

It is consistency and implementation what make good marketing plans. #FreelanceTranslators do not need long and detailed marketing plans. You can write a 1-page plan with few actions and stick to them. #xl8 #xl9

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Step 3: Take Action and Reach Out for Potential Clients​

You can have a perfect plan, but it cannot work on its own.

Take action—and take it now!

Do not wait for clients who need translation services to come to your door. Get out and interact with them. Be in front of them as much as you can.

By taking action, you will know whether you can implement the marketing plan or not.

Perhaps you have set unachievable plans, or underestimated some goals.

 Only by taking action can you learn what works and what does not.

Step 4:  Evaluate Your Plan:

When the deadlines of your goals arrive, sit down and evaluate them.

Not every action you take will be the right one. You may need to review some areas and replicate others.

Review the results of your marketing strategies. Perhaps you have used email marketing or social media marketing or other strategies.

Also, check your expenses and time spent.

 You may need to spend more time on social media to attract more clients, or perhaps you need to increase your paid advertisement budget.

A Professional Recommendation

You need to master many skills to work as a translator. But being a native speaker of your target language and having a marketing mindset are the basic ones you need to survive as a freelance translator. Always try to improve your translation and business skills by reading more about the industry and connecting with more colleagues.

Simon Akhrameev 

English to Russian Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

Translation is a versatile, highly segmented industry, therefore, in order to succeed, a young translator, in addition to a must-have ability to translate, should be ready to master other skills except for purely linguistic ones. They include marketing and business skills and knowledge of specialized software. However, we should not forget about such an important thing as specialization. If you are trying to get any job in any area of expertise without specializing, you're like Don Quixote fighting windmills. Focusing on a certain niche will narrow down your target audience and increase the chances of being hired for interesting translation projects. There are many specialized courses for translators and I think you will be able to find at least one good course in your language pair. So, if you want to find your unique way in the translation profession, start specializing.

FREE Download

90-Day Marketing Plan for Freelance Translators 

A 4-part actionable plan I have already used in my business!

Pricing Your Freelance Translation Services

Freelance Translators Rates

Freelance translators work environments are various to a great extent. They work in different countries, with different language pairs and translate into many specializations.

Hence, there might be a wide gap from one freelance translator to another when it comes to pricing their freelance translation work.

Translation industry itself is a fragmented industry; there are no clear regulations for it in many countries.

This fragmentation has affected the pricing of the freelance translation services itself. There are no set rates all translators can abide by.

You can set whatever prices you like!

 However, to survive and succeed you need to consider some elements.

1. Considerations when setting your prices as a freelance translator

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    Expenses: you need to consider how much you do pay for your business. You will have to buy tools, office supplies, get certifications, pay taxes and pay for other expenses too. All these items should be considered when setting your translation prices.
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    The language Pair: translation prices differ according to the language pair freelance translators work with. This can be related to the level of competition, the importance of the language pair for your clients, and the standard of living of the county where the translator lives. For example, many European languages are more expensive than the Middle Eastern languages as the taxes are higher in the European countries.
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    The Specialization: the type of documents you work with may affect the translation price you ask for. Some documents are more technical than others and some require more creativity. For example, a user manual with clear sentences may be charged less than a patent that is full of technical equations and specifications. Some documents take a longer time to translate, which in return means higher prices.
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    Client Type: This is another major factor to consider when charging for your translations. Who is your client? Charging an individual for translating a driving license is different than charging a marketing agency for a promotional flyer. Also, the requirements of each client may be different in the translation process. For example, a certified translation is more expensive than a standard translation.

2. The Pricing Categories

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    Per Word Rate: This is the most common pricing category. You calculate the word count of the source document, in most of the cases, and tell the client the total price of the translation. To do this, you need to have an editable copy of the documents to be translated, i.e a MS Word, PowerPoint, etc. There are tools you can use to calculate the word count of the document, such as the Word Count feature in Microsoft Word or a tool like Anycount. You multiply the per word price by the total words count. For example, if the per word rate is $0.10 and the document to be translated has 5000 words, the total price is $500.
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    Per Page Rate: The per page price is used when there is no editable format of the documents to be translated, i.e PDFs or images. You count the pages and calculate the price based on your rate. For example, if the per page price is $25 and the documents to be translated are 10 pages, the total price is $250.
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    Per Hour Rate: Some jobs may require a per hour rate. Common jobs are the quality assurance and proofreading jobs. You should have an estimate of your productivity per hour. For example, some translators can proofread up to 1000 words per hour. So if a client asks for the charge of proofreading 12000 words and the per hour rate is $25, the price is $300 for these 12000 words.
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    Per Character Rate: This depends on the writing system of the language. It is used for mainly for languages such as Japanese and Chinese.

A Professional Recommendation

You need to have a standard price list, but review this list from time to time. Along the road, your experience will increase and the value you provide to your clients will be better. In return this will mean higher prices. Also, do not forget to check your expenses list as it may affect the prices you charge. May be you have paid for an association membership or become a certified translator.

Corinne McKay

English - French Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

One key to moving up in the market is to look for hidden gold mines; types of clients who are–perhaps suddenly and urgently–in need of a good translator. As an example, I enjoy translating content marketing materials like blog posts and e-newsletters. I’ve recently started working with two environmental foundations that feel–perhaps correctly–that in order to broaden their base of fans, supporters, and donors, they must be on social media in English. These clients generate a steady flow of work; each project may be small, with a 500-word blog post here and a 750-word e-newsletter there, but I hear from them at least twice a week. I’d call this a micro-trend, but it’s prompted me to consider actively looking for more of these types of clients.

 Marketing Tools for Freelance Translators:

1. Write an Attractive Resume/CV or Portfolio:

Prepare a resume that targets only translation clients.

If you are new to the freelance translation business and do not have a track record, you can add experiences and qualifications related to languages, such as teaching.

Make sure you include your educational background. Usually, clients prefer to work with freelance translators who have an educational background in translation or language studies.

 Do not forget to add your contact information. It is important to include your email address, phone number, and any instant messaging IDs such as Skype.

2. Print your Business Card: 

Ask a graphic designer to design a business card for you. If you are just beginning your freelance translation career, you will definitely need one. Explore the possibility of a low cost service such as Fiverr or Upwork.

Give your card to your family members, relatives, friends and anyone you know, if possible. You do not know who may have the right connection. 

If you are just starting out in freelance translation, a business card is a powerful tool to tell the world what you do.

3. Set up a Website:

In this digital world, a website is an essential element of any marketing strategy.  A translator’s website gives more space to add as much as information you like. As a beginner, you can start adding the pages like, "About me", "Translation Services", "Prices" and Contact me".

You do not have to pay a huge amount to set up a website initially. You may need only around $100 to pay for a domain and hosting. This is a yearly fee. Then, hire a designer to apply a content management system template for you. This may cost around $500-$1500, but it is a one-time payment.

I recommend a professional domain and hosting as this will give you many advantages. You will have a professional email address that you can use to communicate with clients. A free email service such as Gmail, is not acceptable anymore, it may affect your image in front of clients.

A professionally designed website with paid hosting will give you more credibility. Your clients will recognise that you are taking your business seriously.

 If you cannot afford to pay for a designer, you can start with the hosting and add a “coming soon” page as your website home page, this way, you will still have a professional email address from the hosting company and when a client visits your website, they will know you are still working on it.

4. Get Your Social Media Profiles Ready:

Social media, if used correctly, can be an effective tool for your marketing strategy.

There are currently around 2 billion people now on social channels. You do not need to be on all these channels, choose the ones that you think your target clients are using and that you feel comfortable using.

Make yourself available to post, share and comment on other posts too.

Building a powerful social media profile takes time, but there are basics for any professional profile.

Add a professional photo, a clear headline explaining who you are, and your job.

 You can start by creating profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

A Professional Recommendation:

Do not be passive when using social media for your marketing. The main goal should be opening conversation with potential clients and colleagues. By talking to people and showing your personality, you will be able to build real relationships with people that can turn into business opportunities. Do not stop posting, commenting and sharing with other people.

Nikki Graham

English –Spanish Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

Don’t present yourself as a jack of all trades. Specialisation is key to moving upmarket, charging higher rates and generally raising the profile of a profession often viewed by outsiders as something a machine can do just as well. Gaining a qualification (MA, ATA, MITI, DipTrans, etc.) and joining an association will signal to clients that you take your work seriously and care about quality. Lastly, brush up on your target-language skills. There’s always some room for improvement.

Where to Find Online Translation Jobs:

Working online as a translator is one of the top freelancing jobs in the world these days.

So, if you are planning such a career, you need to know where to find online translation jobs.

 Below are listed three main places where you can check and apply for translation jobs.

1. Online Translation Gig Websites:

With a yearly revenue of about $50 billion, the translation market has its own gig websites where professional freelance translators and potential clients can meet.

Like many other freelancing websites, the translation gig websites are based on bidding. A client posts a request asking freelance translators to submit their offers, and to explain why they should be chosen.

 Here is a list of the most common translations gig websites:

Working as a freelancer requires dedication and commitment to succeed. You will feel stressed many times due to different reasons, Always save sometime for your personal life to get refreshed and ready to the next jobs. #xl8 #translator

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A. Proz:

Proz is one of the best websites to find online translation work. It has been around for years and almost every freelance translator knows this website. It is a great place to start your freelance translation career. You can start with a free membership profile and bid in jobs when possible.

Proz provides not only work for translators, it has many other great features, such as a forum for translators to exchange ideas, plus free webinars and articles.
 If you are a paying member, you can find out what other translators say about companies registered on the website. You will learn more about the history of the company and whether they pay their translators or not.


B. Translators Cafe:

Translators Cafe is another great website. It has been around for years too, and is probably the second largest website for freelance translator work.

You will need to create a professional profile, like any other freelancing platform. Clients will post requirements and ask translators who are specialized in the area of the project to submit their bids.

 The best part of Translators café, for me, is its search function. You can look for translation companies in certain countries, and if you are a paying member you can download an Excel sheet with the companies’ information, including their contact details.

SmartCat is a growing community of translators. It has a very intuitive and modern look. As a freelance translator, you can create a very attractive professional profile in SmartCat and make offers for gigs. Clients can also contact you directly if you have a strong profile.

 SmartCat’s strength is its complete management system for freelance translators. You can use the SmartCat website to create a profile, receive work, translate files and automate your payments.

At Translators Town, freelance translators can upload their photo/logo, and add details such as the language pairs they work with, references to their past work, software tools, education details and many other details.

 Clients who have translation work can post for free, but freelance translators need to be paid members to apply for the posted job requests.

2. General Freelance Websites

Many clients do not know about the above translation-only websites. They may head over to other general freelance websites.

As a novice freelance translator, you need to have a presence on these websites too.

The same rules apply; create a professional portfolio, bid for posted job requests and win new translation clients.

 Here are some websites you can start with:

A. Upwork:

This is the largest website for freelancing work. It includes a database of freelance web developers/designers, copywriters, graphic designers, virtual assistants, translators, social media specialists and other professions.

Potential translation clients can contact you directly for jobs, or you can bid on the posted requests. Clients can add reviews for your work. So, deliver excellent work to receive a 4- or 5-star review, which will help you to gain more trust.

 The main disadvantage of the website is that it takes 20% commission of your revenue, but this decreases with the more work you do.

B. People Per hour:

This is another well-known freelancing platform. The prices and quality of clients in People Per Hour are much better than many other freelancing websites.

You can upload samples for your past work and also ask clients who are not part of People Per Hour to add testimonials.

 You do not have any worries about payments as the website also secures the payments made by clients to freelancers.

3. Do a Google Search

Searching on Google or other search engines is another great opportunity that many new freelance translators omit. You can use Google to search for clients in your country or at the international level.

Start by contacting potential clients in your area and offer them your services. Give them a call or send them a letter with your offer and business card. You can start by making a general search on Google. For example, you can search for "translation companies" only, which is a general search query.

You can limit this search query to your country, or any country that you are targeting. For example, search for "translation companies in Germany". This will generate search results with companies who are located in Germany.

You can even add a specific specialisation to the search query. For example, you can add "technical translation company" if your specialisation is technical translation.

 There are many other ways you can use Google to find online translation jobs. Try various search operators according to your needs.

A Professional Recommendation:

General Rules for Using Freelance Portals:

  • Build a Good Profile: include a professional head-shot, mention your academic and professional qualifications. 
  • Provide Excellent Service: deliver what you promise. Always go beyond what is needed. 
  • Communicate with Clients: get feedback for your services. This is the best way to improve in the future. 
  • Ask for Testimonials: having a social proof helps in building your credibility. What others say about you matters. 

Vova Zakharov

English - Russian Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

Always start with yourself. I first said this when talking about translation rates, but this goes beyond money matters. Every now and then, you will be encouraged to follow the market. Don’t. The only way a freelancing career can work for you is if you put your own interests at the forefront and keep enjoying what you do. Think about it the next time you’re about to accept a job that is too stressful, pays too low, or just does not inspire you enough.

Business Tools for Freelance Translators:

Freelance Translators Toolskit

Working a freelance translator involves working with many tools. You will wear many hats: translator, project manager, marketer and administrator.

You will need plenty of tools to help you manage each part of your job. You will need a toolset to translate documents, manage translation project records, market to potential clients—both online and offline—and for other administration work.

 Below are some of the tools I have used:

1. Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools: 

These are a group of software and web applications which are used to translate and edit documents.

The main of CAT tools objective is to streamline your translation process. They store your translations in a translation memory (TM) file. Then you can use these old translations in future projects to cut down the costs and time needed to translate similar files in the future.

CAT tools offer many other features, such as file analysis, consistency, quality assurance checks and other features.

 Examples of CAT tools:
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    SDL Trados Studio: One the first CAT tools in the industry, appearing back in the 1990s. This is desktop software. If you plan to work with translation agencies, you will definitely need a copy of this CAT tool. This is a Windows-only software.
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    MemoQ: Another desktop tool. Its main advantage is that it works with file formats that were created with other CAT tools such as  SDL Trados. The ability to work in multiple formats means that you don’t need to convert them to other formats. This is a Windows-only software.
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    SmartCat: An online CAT tool and a project management system for translators. You will be able to receive, translate, deliver and invoice projects using this CAT tool. It also supports many formats.
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    Wordfast Pro: This CAT tool is compatible with Windows and Mac. What I really like about this one is its easy-to-use interface. Translators can get used to it very quickly.

2. Writing Tools for Freelance Translators

As you will write many emails or other business-related documents,  you need some tools to check for spelling and grammar errors, in addition to writing style. Below are two tools I use frequently:

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    Grammarly: This is an online spelling and grammar checker. You install it as a web browser extension for Chrome, Safari or Firefox. You can start with the free version, which explains the writing mistakes and provides suggestions for corrections. It is very handy when writing emails or commenting on an online platform.
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    Hemingway App: Another free tool that provides corrections. It not only checks for spelling and grammar errors, but also for your writing style. You can use it to improve your overall writing skills.

3. Project Management Tools for Freelance Translators: 

As a freelance translator, you perform many tasks on daily bases. A reliable task or project management tool will make your life much easier. You can try out various tools to learn about their features.

 Two widely-used tools:
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    Todoist: This is my favourite tool. You create various lists for your tasks, and with the paid version you can set reminders and add comments. You can create a list of current projects, completed projects and projects to be invoiced. Moving tasks/projects between lists is very easy.
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    Trello:  This is a drop-and-drag task management tool. It is easy to use, and is aimed at visual users. You divide your tasks into boards and then move them freely from to board. For example, you can have a board for projects, and under the board have three lists: Running, To Be Invoiced and Invoiced. You can apply the same principle to other projects.

4. Marketing Tools for better communication: 

As a freelancer, you need to be marketing constantly in order to secure a good number of ongoing clients. Marketing your translation services as a freelancer can be done online or offline, but in both cases, you will need some tools to make it easy for you:

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    Canva: A free online tool that comes both a web and a mobile application. You can use it to do a variety of jobs, like creating business cards, designing your social profile images or laying out an ebook.
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    Buffer: This is a social media management. You can use it to post automatically to your social profiles. You can schedule the time of the posts and the number of daily posts.
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    Mailerlite: This is an email marketing web application. You can install it on your website to store the names of the clients who contact you through your website. Mailerlite can be used to send scheduled emails to clients or colleagues.

A Professional Recommendation

Change is a part of the business game. Working as the freelance translator is part of a large supply chain.  Along the road, you will win new clients and loose others. After building relationships with some people inside your client’s office, they may leave. Always be ready for the change and do your best to cope with it. You have to keep learning new things and adapting to new business conditions.

Hana Sles

English - Russian Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

The best way to set up a freelance translator business is through a website. To design and launch a website is just a small step forward to this goal. The biggest part is promoting it. There are quite a lot of strategies and techniques. My strategies are keeping my blog updated regularly, guest posting, blog commenting and, of course, social media. I also focus on link-building strategies which help my website get into the top rankings.

Books for Freelance Translators 

Books for translators

Fortunately, some professional translators have written books to help newcomers to the language services industry.

I am not talking about books that provide technical aspects of the translation process itself. I refer to books about the real life of the freelance translator, and how to succeed in their career.

I highly recommend beginners in freelance translation to read some of these books in order to understand how this industry works, how to build a good business relationship with your clients, how to market yourself as a translator, and to learn more about translation tools.

 Below are listed three books highly recommended for new freelance translators:

A. How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator 

The book is written by Corinne Mckay. She is The American Translators Association president. She is a French to English translator, specialising in international development, corporate communications/content marketing, and non-fiction books. The book explains how to build your freelance translation business from scratch, giving a roadmap for new translators, with practical tips and advice. The third edition of the book was published in February 2016.

B. The Marketing Cookbook for Translators:

A must-have for high-aiming translators Tess Whitty's 'Marketing Cookbook For Translators' is a simple and easy to follow guide that ensures any translator reading it will not get lost in the crowd. Whitty, herself a translator, shares over ten years of her experience, where she rose from being just-another-one to a renowned successful translator with a thriving business. The book, written in a friendly "cookbook" manner explores various aspects of marketing like "pantry", the basic assessment of requirements; "appetizers", where she lays stress on the ways to plan marketing; "main course", where the big guns come out: finding clients and winning over them, and retaining the existing ones with the best marketing practices. She even goes a step ahead and suggests the pricing models and effective marketing techniques commonly in use to give the reader a better picture on how marketing works. The book starts by giving an introductory perspective of marketing so that the newbies get an insight of the basic functioning. That way, they are prepared for the subsequent chapters which form the crux. Whitty turns the complex process of marketing which even the professionals find exhaustive into simple steps which are clear and action oriented. Learning from others' experience is a big step towards success. Having this book is strongly recommended whether you are a translator just starting out or an already established one.

C. Business Guide for Translators:

The book is written by Marta Stelmaszak. She is an English to Polish translator. Currently, she is a Ph.D. student at the London School of Economics. Marta used to write weekly articles for freelance translators at her Business School for Translators. The book combines theory and practice. In each chapter, Marta starts by providing a theoretical background about a business concept, then shows how this can be applied to the freelance translation business.  The book can be bought from www.ecpdwebinars.co.uk.

A Professional Recommendation:

There are many books written for translators and interpreters. Most of the books are written in English, but there are others written in Spanish, Russian and other languages. Nikki Graham, a Spanish - English translator listed 70 books for language services professionals on her blog.

Click to read the full list of 70 books in translation.

Tess Whity​​​​

English –Swedish Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

If you have a goal to work toward, it is much easier to stay focused until you reach that goal. Set minor goals for your week or your day, such as accomplishing a specific task by a certain time to keep you focused and productive. The same thing goes for planning. If you have a plan for your time you are less likely to waste time. You can plan your work a week at a time, for the next day or at the beginning of each day."

International Associations for Freelance Translators 

Associations for translators

Joining a professional association or organisation in your industry can add a lot to your career. You can meet with colleagues, keep informed with the latest translation trends, find new clients and add a professional touch to your CV.

 Below are three famous association for translators:

A. American Translators Association (ATA) 

The American Translators Association (ATA) is a well-established association for translators all over the world. It provides certification for its members which can be an added value when offering your services to potential clients.  The ATA's headquarters are in the United States, but it is open to all nationalities. The association contains divisions for various languages and holds a yearly conference, which is attended by around 1800 language professionals.

B. International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI):

The IAPTI is open to all professional translators and interpreters worldwide. The IAPTI also holds a yearly conference covering multiple topics. By joining this association, you get exposure to more potential clients and meet colleagues in the translation and localisation industry. IAPTI members enjoy discounts for many translation tools such as Wordfast and Memoq.

C. Translators Without Borders (TWB):

TWB is a non-profit organisation set up to provide translation services for humanitarian non-profits.  Examples of information translated by Translators without Borders includes reports, vital health information, and crisis response material for organisations responding to emergencies around the world, such as those in Burundi, Liberia, and Greece. The organisation translates over 10 million words per year.

A Professional Recommendation:

Start by joining a translators association within your local area. If there is no association in your area, start with the local chamber of commerce of your target language, such as the French chamber of commerce, the Spanish chamber of commerce etc. These associations can be a great pool for new clients.

Gio Lester 

English -Portuguese Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

In the 21st century, good typing skills and good command of text editing software and related applications (spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) are no longer enough for professional translators. Now, translation also involves using and understanding different technologies. Ah, and add a second monitor if you can – it will make your work a lot easier. On a weekly basis, you may need to use PDF conversion software, search specific applications, dictation software, CAT tools, MT enhanced tools, terminology extraction tools, task specific software (image manipulation and editing, newsletter editing, architecture specific, subtitling applications, etc.), and more. Yes, it all depends on your professional niche.

Community Blogs for Freelance Translators 

Blogs for freelance translators

By reading blogs written for translators, you can learn about business skills, marketing, social media marketing, sales and project management, especially for freelance translators.

A. The Savvy NewComer 

This blog is sponsored by the American Translators Association. It provides tips and resources for both translators and interpreters. The written articles on the website are deep, and full of information. The website articles talk about tools, strategies, books and business advice for beginning translators mainly.

B. The Open Mic

This is an online platform established by Dmitry Kornyukhov, an English to Russian translator. The blog is open for many translators to share their stories and experiences. You will read articles written by fellow freelance translators from all over the world with various backgrounds. You can create a profile on the blog and follow other translators, and  you can share your own stories in your own words. ​You can start by following my profile.

C. Marketing Tips for Translators

This is a podcast presented by Tess Whitty. Each Monday there is a guest who talks for 30 minutes. You will hear about business relations with clients, pricing strategies, marketing, and other topics. Until, January 2018, There are 155 episodes that are full of many marketing tips and strategies for translators.

A Professional Recommendation:

If you want freelancing to be your “forever job,” one key is to achieve a healthy–or at least sustainable–mindset about the job. And part of that is accepting the realities of the market(s) that you work in. Expecting a certain type of client to act like a completely different type of client is like any other unrealistic expectation: the object of your frustration is unlikely to change, and you’re likely to remain frustrated. You wouldn’t get a pet cat and then complain that it refused to play fetch, or walk on a leash, right? So, don’t do that to your clients. There’s a better way.

From Accepting the constraints of the market(s) you’re in, an article by Corrine Mckay

Becky Pearse 

English - Spanish Translator

A Top Advice from an Experienced Freelance Translator:

Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, just make sure you clearly state your services and it’s easy for potential clients to contact you. If you’re not familiar with SEO, try to learn the very basics at least. It will help you with your web content (and your translations if you translate online content). Be informative and make it easy for visitors to see what you can do for them. Basically, focus on how you can help them rather than your life history.

Final Words

This guide is meant for new freelance translators who want to start a successful career in translation.

To succeed in this business, you will have to work hard at different levels.

Your linguistic skills may give you a chance with some opportunities, but to succeed in the long term and make a living translating documents or books, it is necessary to acquire the essential business skills and be consistent with your sales and marketing.

Always communicate with other colleagues, meet other people and stay-up-to-date with the latest tools and news of the translation industry.

Do not forget about the work-life balance. Freelance translators work under stress in many cases. You have delivery deadlines, different people to work within the same project, various documents to check. So, give yourself sometime to have fun. Enjoy your family life, meet people out of your office and stay positive.

 If you think this guide needs some additions, do not hesitate to let me know and I will check can be done.
  • alex suhoy says:

    Thanks!

  • Alex Marsh says:

    Thanks for the article it is very informative and is very useful for newbies in translation field and professional translator as well.

    • Sherif Abuzid says:

      Thanks Alex. It was written mainly for new translators, but many experienced ones told me they really enjoyed it and learned new tips. I am super HAPPY it is helpful for both of them 🙂