What Does it Take to Be a Freelance Translator? - ICD Translation

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If you love languages and writing, one possible career for you is to become a translator. The job is quite popular and despite the development of various translation apps it is not going to disappear soon. While apps can help people getting around while on holiday by translating road signs or menus, when it comes to document translation or any kind of business documentation and communication, the work of an experienced translator is invaluable.

Translators have the freedom to choose their working schedule. Those, who are employed in the industry know that it is possible to work full-time, part-time, as a freelancer or at a language service provider. You need to be flexible in order to the job, but do you know what it really takes to be a freelancer? What are the most important qualities that you need to possess in order to succeed? Here are a few insights related to the job of the freelance translator.

Qualities for Becoming a Freelance Translator

Along with the essential skills for being a good translator, you need special qualities in order to work as a freelancer. Check if you are:

  • Being proactive – your attitude and approach towards the work may determine your overall career path. You need to follow an active approach in searching for and keeping clients. Making the best of your connections and social media can be the difference between a fully booked schedule and long periods of no work.
  • Being organized – the fact that you do not have strict working hours may seem attractive, but you need to be able to organize your time efficiently so that you complete every project within the given deadline. Financial organization is also important since your income will most likely fluctuate from month to month. Keeping track of what you are due to receive and what you need to pay is very important as well.
  • Knowing the market – marketing skills are essential for freelancer. If you are able to launch a good marketing campaign, you will have better results in terms of number of clients, quality of tasks, higher income, etc. Reading a book or attending a course on the topic is worth the investment.
  • Utilizing new technology – due to technological advancement you are free to work from anywhere you want. Hence, you need to keep up with the new trends and learn how to use different apps and tools that can make your job as a translator much easier.
  • Always eager to learn – as a translator you should always be eager to learn. Language is not static and changes over time. You need to keep up with the new tendencies.

If you have these qualities, we suggest that you also check the benefits and disadvantages of being a freelance translator before you take the plunge.

Pros and Cons of Freelancing

If you choose to pursue a translation career as a freelancer, you need to be prepared to pay the price. Be ready to be faced with severe competition, especially if the language combination you have is popular in the industry. There are many advantages and several drawbacks associated with the profession of a freelancer translator. Here are some of the most common ones.

  • Advantages of being a freelancer translator

Being your own boss is one of the first advantages associated with the possibility to work as a freelancer. This means that you determine your working hours – whether you are a morning dove or a night owl, the working schedule goes with your preferences. Of course, you need to take into account the deadline that you have for turning the project and comply with it by all means.

Having the ability to work from anywhere is another great plus. Well, you need a laptop and an internet connection but in general it doesn’t matter whether you stay home in your pajamas, sip coffee in your favorite café or sit outside enjoying the fresh air. Your office moves with you and you can still work even if you need to visit relatives in another state or travel abroad.

As a freelancer you also have the freedom to choose whom you work with. That goes both for clients and peers or other professionals, if need be. You may team up with someone offering professional proofreading services in an attempt to provide a better final service to your clients. You can choose to work with another freelancer who offers the same language combination as yours who can be your backup in case of emergencies or overload.

  • Drawbacks of freelancing

Along with all its positive sides, being a freelance translator can have some negative sides as well. One of the major ones is that you give up on your financial security. As you depend on different projects with short to medium duration, it may turn out that you do not have sufficient tasks on the long run and hence no secure income. In times of instable economy or financial crisis this can be quite dangerous. If you find yourself short of translation projects, you need to think about different ways to compliment your income. It may be through activities related to the translation job such as video captioning and subtitling or video transcription. You should, however, be ready to start a completely different job if need be. Being flexible is one of the main abilities you need in order to be successful in your career.

Another disadvantage of the freelance profession is that you give up on certain benefits such as sick pay and holiday pay. Not to mention some additional bonuses like an extra pay for the holidays, company parties and team buildings.

All in all, being a freelance translator has its pros and cons much as any other job. You need to decide for yourself if this is the right path for you and if yes – make it work the way you want it.

Becoming a translator does not simply mean learning a foreign language or two. It requires devotion and determination to do the job right and enjoy it. You can choose how to practice the profession and what additional activities to undertake in order to boost your income. The most important of all is to love what you are doing and to always aim for perfection.

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