Becoming a freelance translator is easy.
Yeah, it takes time.
It takes patience.
And you’re going to hit roadblocks on your path to becoming a successful translator.
But it’s still a relatively straightforward affair.
Because the formula is simple:
Paying Clients = Success.
But as a person just starting out, it can seem daunting.
I get it because I was there.
I was in college unsure of what I wanted, thinking that translation might be a good career option for me.
But like most translators who go the freelance route, I didn’t start out as a full-time translator.
Instead, I started translating part-time.
And if you’re thinking about doing freelance translation, I recommend that you start out doing it as a side gig.
1. You can have some breathing room.
A lot of the translation industry “old guard” started out as full-time freelance translators right out of college.
Their time was different.
Freelancers could find a lot of well-paying clients right out of college.
Sure, it was still a lot of work. But it was possible.
It’s still possible now, but the supply/demand ratio of translators is a lot different today than it was back in the day.
Plus, pay has actually decreased in many translation areas as the supply of translators has increased.
That makes it much more difficult to quit school or a current job and go all in with translation.
Instead, it’s best if you have a full-time job that gives you some stability. You can then pursue your translation career in the late evenings or early mornings.
If it’s something you really want, you’ll find the time to make it a success while giving yourself some breathing room until your business grows.
2. You can use your current situation to jumpstart your translation career
The best jumping off point to becoming a freelance translator is to already have a job where you have some contacts that are in need of language services.
It could be any kind of job.
It doesn’t matter what you do.
What does matter is the contacts you have that can help you find work/clients.
Does the school district you work for print handouts in Spanish for parents and/or students?
I just got a letter in the mail from my kid’s school about parent teacher conferences. The front was in English. The back in Spanish.
Someone had to translate that.
And that person got paid.
It might as well be you.
If you’re a English/Spanish translator, this is a perfect opportunity for you.
Find out who is in charge of contracting out the translation work and let them know that you’re a translator and can do the work faster/cheaper/better.
Start with your school.
Once you start translating flyers or documents for you school, move up to your school district, or to other schools in the region.
Pretty soon, you’ll have a stable of clients.
You’ll be able to point to your work with other schools as a sign of your professional abilities.
And your business will grow.
It works the same for nearly any profession.
Make contacts, get referrals.
3. You’ll know if you’ve got what it takes
Dropping your safety net to pursue something you’re unsure about is stupid.
Especially if you don’t know whether you’ll even like what you’re doing.
I know too many people that have done translation work in their day jobs, and then thought they would love translating full-time.
And they ended up going back to work at a regular job.
Maybe they liked translating but didn’t like everything else that went along with running their own business.
And that’s OK.
Not everyone is cut out for the freelance way of life.
But if you find out you’re not, it’s best to have something to fall back on.
However, if you do have what it takes, you can go full speed ahead and success will certainly await you.
Until next time.