Beginning freelance translators are in a tough situation.
Many of you have false beliefs that set you back before you even start your own business.
How do you expect to succeed if you’re believing lies other people have told you before you even have time to test to see if those lies are true?
The answer is, you don’t.
So a lot of freelancers tend to believe the doom and gloom espoused by seasoned translators.
Yet these seasoned translators have an ulterior motive.
Most of them don’t want to see new translators succeed.
They have a scarcity mindset which tells them that there is only a finite amount of success and if someone else has some, that means less for them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Success is abundant.
You just have to know where to look.
You can start by reading and heeding these 9 lies that freelance translators often tell themselves.
- 1 1. I’m Not Good Enough
- 2 2. I Need a Degree
- 3 3. I Need a Translator Certification
- 4 4. I Need to Find 50 Clients Before I’m Successful
- 5 5. Translation Agencies are Evil
- 6 6. I Need Expensive Translation Software
- 7 7. I Just Need to Know How to Translate
- 8 8. I Don’t Have to Interact With Anyone
- 9 9. I Have to Pay my Dues
1. I’m Not Good Enough
This is the biggest lie of them all.
We all have self-doubt.
And that self-doubt can bring destruction upon anyone who believes it and gives in to its destructive powers.
The truth is that we’re never as good as we hope to be, no matter what it is we’re trying to do.
Even the most seasoned translator has moments of self-doubt and hesitation.
And that’s OK.
Self-doubt is what keeps us honest and humble.
But it should never stop us from doing what we want to do.
Let the market decide if we’re good enough.
If someone is willing to pay you to translate and they like what you do for them, you’re good enough. That’s all the proof you need.
2. I Need a Degree
This is a play on the theme from number one, thinking that you’re not good enough.
The truth is that you don’t need a degree to be a freelance translator.
In fact, you don’t need a degree to do a lot of things.
A degree is a piece of paper; it is not a testament to how well you can perform a certain task. It just means you completed all the requirements for that piece of paper satisfactorily.
I know plenty of translators without degrees. Not having one has not hindered them at all.
3. I Need a Translator Certification
Again, total lies.
You don’t need to be certified by anyone to be a translator, especially in the United States.
Sure, there are other countries or organization that require certification to translate for them, but if you want to be a freelance translator running your own business, you don’t need to be certified by anyone.
It’s not true.
4. I Need to Find 50 Clients Before I’m Successful
To consider yourself a freelance translator, all you need to do is find one single client.
Focus on the one. Don’t try to get 50 clients all at once.
Don’t think about building your stable of clients before you even have one or you’ll get overwhelmed quickly and you’ll be more likely to give up.
Once you find one client, then you look for the second one.
Once you have two clients, then you look for a third.
The “one-by-one” approach is the best method I’ve found for finding clients and not feeling overwhelmed by the whole prospect of building up your freelance business.
5. Translation Agencies are Evil
Old translators hate translation agencies.
They think that translation agencies are diametrically opposed to translators and that the two are in a long-standing struggle for good and evil in the world.
That’s crazy talk.
Translation agencies want to make money. They need to make money to survive as a business.
Translators want to make money. They need to make money to survive as a business.
Both entities are just trying to do their best to make it in the world.
Most translators I know aren’t trying to screw translation agencies and most translation agencies I’ve worked with aren’t trying to screw their translators.
That would be bad business for both sides.
6. I Need Expensive Translation Software
A freelance translator buying expensive translation software is merely an excuse to postpone the inevitable: finding clients and building your business.
You don’t need translation software to be a professional translator.
Everything you need you have on your computer right now.
- a word processor
- spell check
- access to the internet
Start with that. If you need translation software to translate faster, make that decision to buy once you’ve established your business.
7. I Just Need to Know How to Translate
If you want to be a successful translator, you need to know how to do more than just translate.
You need to know how to run your own business.
Becoming a pro is more than knowing how to do a single skill.
Invest your time in learning how to market, do accounting, understand the numbers, use metrics.
Once you know how to do them yourself, you can hire someone else to do them.
But knowing them will help you know for sure whether or not your business is succeeding. If it isn’t, they will tell you what you need to.
8. I Don’t Have to Interact With Anyone
This is the lie I love the most.
I’ve met so many would-be translators that only want to become translators so that they don’t have to deal with anyone.
Meaning they don’t want to talk to anyone or have any kind of interaction with real people.
They think that a successful translator won’t have to talk on the phone, respond to emails, meet people in person, negotiate.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
You have to put yourself out there as a translator. If you don’t, you won’t succeed.
9. I Have to Pay my Dues
Give me a break.
This is another myth perpetuated by seasoned translators that don’t want to see new translators gain success.
There is no such thing as paying dues.
If you want to succeed, you do everything there is to get there.
There is no line to wait in.
You don’t have to ask permission from the people in front of you.
You just do whatever you want.
Whatever you need.
Until you get to where you want to be.
Until next time.