When I first started out in my translation career, I’ll admit I was worried.
I didn’t know if or why anyone would hire me.
I didn’t think I was good enough to translate anything.
I questioned my language skills, my translation experience and training, and my sanity.
In short, I doubted my ability to become a professional translator.
I had done translations in school and as volunteer jobs for non-paying customers, but I still felt inadequate and phony.
That all changed when I got my first client.
A lady contacted me through email and requested that I translate a high school report card into English that could be submitted to a university in the United States.
I did the job.
I got paid.
And I realized right then that there was no more reason to doubt my status as a professional translator.
Are You a Professional Translator?
Can you spot the one thing that changed my outlook?
If you guessed the money, you’re right.
Once I got paid for doing a translation, I was validated. In my mind, I was now a professional translator.
My skills hadn’t drastically improved. I hadn’t gotten inundated with a portfolio of clients.
Instead, I had a mind shift.
And that mind shift went from having a self-doubting outlook to one of confidence. If I could get one client to pay me, then I could easily replicate that and get two, then three, then at least a handful more to pay me.
And that’s what I did.
I set my translation rates. I didn’t make excuses. And I went to work finding that first paying client.
So, the question. Are you a professional translator?
Or, in other words, do you get paid for translating?
If you answered yes, then congratulations. You’re a professional.
Answered no? Then you’re not.
And you won’t become a professional translator until someone pays you.
Every time I explain this to someone, or a group of someones, I always get questions about exceptions. Here are the common ones:
- What if it’s my hobby? Am I a professional then?
- What if I’m a volunteer translator? Am a professional?
- What if I’m doing jobs for free to gain experience before I charge?
- What if I got a translation degree but haven’t started translating yet?
Here’s your answer:
Nobody asking any of the questions above is a professional translator.
Because they aren’t getting paid.
If nobody is willing to pay you money for your services, you’re not a professional.
You’re an amateur.
A part-time hack.
Whatever the hell you are, you’re not a professional.
If you want to become a professional translator, start acting like one.
- First, find a real client (A real client is one that will pay you. If a person wants you to do a translation but not pay you, he is not a client. Say no and then repeat step number 1.)
- Do a job for a client.
- Get paid from the client.
- Rinse and repeat.
Do that a few times and you’ve suddenly got yourself moving in the right direction. Remember, you don’t need 1,000 clients. You just need a few good ones to get started.
Guess what? Now your a professional because you’re getting paid.