This post was most recently updated on October 20th, 2023
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
My love for languages and literature led me to graduate in English. And let me tell you, honing my English skills is an ongoing adventure.
Back in 2014, diving headfirst into freelance translation was like guiding uncharted waters. No experience, no problem, right? I explored countless online translation platforms, pitching my skills just like we bloggers pitch for campaigns.
Then came that unforgettable moment – my senior trusted me with a sportsbook translation, and cha-ching, my first official payment hit my account!
2017 was a turning point. A translation agency from China reached out, and we ventured into a series of translation projects. Our collaboration still thrives to this day.
These were the milestones that brightened my journey. Good times, indeed!
Now, as a freelance translator and content creator, I dip into English-related tasks every single day. Writing in English is my secret sauce to sharpening those typing skills. Who said work couldn’t be fun?
If you’re ready to kickstart your freelance translator career, I’ve got a treasure chest of tips to share.
Pros and Cons of Being a Freelance Translator
First thing first. I started my career as a freelance translator in 2014, exactly in the 3rd year of college – so it’s been 7 years!
One thing that I love about becoming a freelance translator is it can easily be done online, from anywhere in the world, and doesn’t necessarily need much investment. That’s why I want to give you some insider information about this job, what are the pros and cons, and the steps you need to take to become a freelance translator.
In general, being a freelancer has many advantages. Here are some that were most important to me:
- You are your own boss. You’re the one who decides your work hours and everything in between.
- You don’t have to go to an office because you can do your jobs easily online.
- Different from a blogger’s investment, being a translator doesn’t require too much upfront investment – except education or certification.
- There is a high demand for translators of all kinds of languages, which not going to slow down any time soon.
Being a freelance translator has its downsides as well. Here are some of what I’ve been through:
- Obviously, the fewer jobs, the less income you make.
- Some clients may have super tight deadlines, high standards, and spontaneous workloads.
- Dealing with clients who you never going to see in person can result in a higher risk of uncertain paychecks.
- The competition is massive, which makes it harder to land a job and can result in lower rates.
Steps To Become a Freelance Translator
Now that you know the pros and cons to become a freelance translator, it’s time for you to have a look at how you can become a freelance translator. The interesting thing is, it is not that complicated. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy!
Pick Your Niche
It’s the same way when blogger chooses their specific niche. It’s absolutely fine to be a general translator – but you probably won’t get rich. If you specialize in a certain field like healthcare or legal, your chances to find jobs that pay a decent income will increase a lot.
So, master the terminology and learn a lot in your area. For both blogger and translator, when you are an expert in your niche, your task will be easier and you will get better-paid opportunities.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
You need to be fluent or near-native in a second language to be able to become a freelance translator. That’s awesome if you are bilingual. If not, learn a new language now and improve your language skills to the best level possible.
You’re not going to get clients all of a sudden, are you? The next thing you have to do is to promote yourself. Get yourself out there, on social media, and let your family or colleagues know that you’re offering translation service.
You could also start a blog to show your portfolio. I used to translate a book or just several chapters and then publish them on my blog to show my capability.
As a beginner, don’t expect to get the best-paid jobs straight away. You need to get as many experiences as you can. Start with smaller jobs, join small international events or even internships. I was once a staff for an event Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union in 2016 and that was a great experience to showcase my English skills during the event.
At the beginning of 2019, I saw an advertisement from a translation agency that needed a book translator. I was given a test and I got in after waiting for the result for two weeks!
Join a translation agency would be a great help to your translation career as well. A translation agency such as DayTranslations which specializes in over 1,000 languages, has been working with businesses from every niche/field. Not only offer translation services, but they are also trusted by valuable companies for their certified translation, transcription, interpreting, and more professional translation services.
A good review from your past company or client is worth more than you can imagine!
To be a professional translator, having a certificate will help you find jobs. Some clients or agencies will surely want to see if you are qualified enough to do the job. The tests are not easy, so, prepare yourself for the test, plan your budget, and get yourself trained. Good luck!
Improve Your Language Skills
Even though I graduated from English literature, I keep learning English every day. There is always room for more. So stay updated about your nice, renew your certifications, or do more tests. Never stop learning and improving your skills.
Those are some steps that I tried to become a freelance translator. It will take time but the effort you spent to become a translator will definitely be worth it for your career in the future.
Do you work as a translator? Are there any tips or stories you want to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.