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How To Succeed As A Freelance Translator In 9 Simple Steps

Being a translator can be a tough job. To some, it might appear to be as easy as just changing one language into another. Despite this impression, there’s a lot more to the role than meets the eye, making this job extremely challenging. This is not to say there aren’t a few perks, such as the option to work from home spending the whole day in your pyjamas and not having the need to face the outside world should you choose not to.

It also makes you your own boss and gives you the opportunity to be in the driving seat of your career. Granting you the freedom to manage your time and leaving you chief of your life – for the most part anyway (spouses and dependants excluded).

As a translator, you have a fundamental role in how a clients business is conveyed.  You are responsible for the delivery, tone and accuracy of the company’s message and for presenting it in the right words on their behalf. Translators enable a business to connect with the rest of society; the trick is to do it seamlessly.

The job is very important and so are you. It involves lots of drive, skill, passion and dedication; and sometimes it can be a real struggle managing all that comes with it daily. This isn’t a job that comes easy and maintaining a form of equilibrium for yourself is going to go a long way towards your success. Making sure you are organised, well-supported where possible, plus taking breaks and getting some downtime are all just as important as getting the job done. As you’ll be no good to anyone if you burn yourself out, we all work to our best potential after some R&R (rest and relaxation). This is a tip well heeded for the good of you both personally and your business.

Here’s our list of 9 skills for survival as a freelancer in the translation service industry (pyjamas optional). 

If you want to thrive in the freelance translation business use these following top tips –

1. Be ready for the variety this business brings

They say variety is the spice of life. You will be well served if you’re a person who lives by this saying. Being a translator requires just this! You will come across a constant change of topics, fields of business and areas of expertise that you will need to be focused on. This is a role that certainly suits those with a naturally curious mind and a love of learning new things.

2. Possess the ability to enjoy working alone

As a professional translator and freelancer, you will be based alone and this working environment can be quite isolating. Being disciplined and self-motivated is a great start, plus owning the additional skill of managing not to get lonely are requirements for this job. Once the office work is done the job continues and can be balanced with networking and building new contacts, this is something that should be constant. Read some tips here from a fellow freelance translator on how to deal with loneliness.

3. Be aware of the changing markets and upcoming business trends

Make sure you’re always informed of the latest changes in the marketplace. Using new technology to improve your productivity will not only benefit you but your clients too. With everything changing so regularly, make it your business to stay sharp and abreast of learning to use the new tools on offer.

4. The “Freelancer” title also means “Professional Juggler”

You need to be able to keep a number of balls in the air at the same time. Being solely responsible for all sectors of your business results in you becoming an accountant, professional researcher, project manager, customer service representative and the executive in charge of coffee distribution.

It’s chaotic and amazing all at the same time. Not everyone is cut out for this type of job role so make sure you can manage it. You’re certainly going to need to get used it.

5. Master the need for self-discipline

As everything is down to you there’s really not a lot of option on the discipline front and if it’s not something you’ve mastered yet you damn well better hurry up and nail that art, there’s no room for slacking. You’re the boss and the buck stops with you.

6. If you are naturally flexible then you are blessed

One of the main ingredients you need to master is keeping your customers happy. Providing a good service will entail getting clear on their personal requirements and adapting to these different factors each time. Success will depend on meeting these altering expectations from client to client. Along with the obvious tasks of meeting deadlines, this can mean working through to all hours of the night and losing your weekend too. You can use point #3 to help you out here, get comfortable with being flexible.

7. Money management skills

It’s important to create some stability. Realise that the large projects will rank you the most income but the small projects will be there to fill in the quiet spells and top up your profits, so they are both essential. Your monthly take home with not be fixed in this role, so it’s a skill managing to achieve life’s fixed costs and making sure you stretch a busier month to cover a quieter one. It’s as much about calendar management as it is about money management too.

Use either of these accounting software systems to help you stay on top of your finances – Wave or Freshbooks (wave is free), to give yourself more time to focus on other important areas of your business.

8. Make sure you seek out pleasurable things to do with your spare time

It’s all about balance, work hard play hard too. Set aside time to do the things you love and make sure there is more to life than just working your socks off. With this job being as demanding as it is, keeping to the tight deadlines often results in long working hours, plus too much coffee to keep us going and this can all take its toll. It’s a must to ensure that you spend time living life, investing time doing the other things that make you tick aside from work.

9. Explaining what you do

 The complexities of what you do may not be immediately clear to the outside world. And it may not be completely apparent to companies, how your offer can serve them. So get clear and concise about what you can provide, with ways that explain to new clients the difference a translation service company can make to them. Refer to this link to check out how we present our offer for French translations at BeTranslated.

Now with all our worldly advice behind you, it’s time to get motivated, get out there and get cracking!

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