How to Make Money as a Freelance Translator

How does a freelance translator make money? You translate words, right?

There’s a bit more to it than that, because you’re actually running a business. As an employee it might be more simple, but then again, you would make money just by showing up and not necessarily by translating words.

As an employee it’s entirely up to your boss if you make money or get fired, and as a freelance translator it’s entirely up to you, if you make money or not. So let’s leave the magic wand in the boss’s drawer and take a look at some basic things you have to do.

This goes way beyond translating words.

1. Let people know that you are able to translate their words (marketing)

How are they going to send you their material for translation if they don’t know you exist? Create online profiles, approach agencies and direct clients and tell people about your service.

2. Provide potential and existing clients with offers (sales)

When someone decides that you might be the right person for their translation job, you need to negotiate price and deadline. Answer the phone, reply to emails, start a chat and follow up.

3. Translate (production)

Set up a project and handle translation memories and termbases. Deliver the translation to the client and make sure they have received it.

4. Bill the client for the work and get paid (accounting)

Create and send invoices, track your numbers, do your taxes, and make sure you actually get paid by checking your accounts. Follow up if payments are late.

5. Make necessary changes to deliveries (support)

In case of misunderstandings you may have to tweak your delivery a bit. You want to make sure that your clients are happy.

6. Improve your relationships with existing clients (sales)

You can connect on social media, and maybe also talk about other things that translation work in order to build a stronger relationship and trust. If people trust you they are more likely to buy from you again.

That’s the basic recipe for making money as a freelance translator right there. Remember to add a nice thick layer of training covering the whole thing.

What improvements have you made that have boosted you income?

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