3 Translation Hacks That Can Help You Earn More Money

Do you want to make more money translating? These are some of the hacks that I have applied to my ways of working as a translator.
  1. Use a CAT tool

    CAT tools like OmegaT, memoQ and Trados will help you remember how you translated a particular term or sentence previously. If you have to constantly make a decision on how to translate basically the same thing over and over again, because you can’t remember exactly, how you translated it previously, you’ll be wasting time. You should be translating more words instead.
  2. Batch your email replies

    If you have to switch back and forth between your email in-box and your translation task, the interruption will cost you extra time, because it takes time to reboot your brain each time you have to start again.
  3. Get an Office With a Door

    Take control of the disturbances coming at you from the outside. If you have a room with a door that can be closed, you can decide if you want to be interrupted. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t, but you can be more efficient when you make the decision.


Do you know someone who might benefit from these translation hacks?

3 Funniest Translation Videos

“There is little success where there is little laughter.”
~ Andrew Carnegie


Life is just a whole lot easier when you’re having fun doing what you do. I have collected a couple of fun videos about languages for you to watch.
  1. How German sounds compared to other languages

    German efficiency, straight to the point. My middle name is actually a German one, but I still think it’s a funny video 😉
  2. Funniest Translator

    Straight forward translation into sign language 😀
  3. Viaplay – Livsfarlig som The Blacklist

    Brilliant commercial from Viaplay, with a not so funny ending, but still.
    If you don’t understand what he’s saying, or don’t understand the text – can you guess what the message is?

    Here’s my translation into English:

    “I once had a childhood friend
    who could be dangerous from time to time.

    Every time he felt threatened, he would pull his knife.

    But our teacher said he was a genius,
    because he was so clever.

    He reminds me of James Spader in The Blacklist.

    He’s also clever and dangerous at the same time.

    But my friends is dead now.

    He was killed on a stone beach in Guossanjárga.”

    Nobody understands what he’s saying and nobody can guess the message 😉

Do you like to share videos and add your own comments? Do you know that now you can actually keep YOUR work as YOUR property, and earn money with it?

How to Find More Translation Jobs

ProZ.com has turned out to be a good website for me to go to, whenever I want to get more clients. The site has its own job board, where clients can post their jobs, but there’s much more to ProZ.com than that. The slogan ‘workplace’ describes it well. I recently upgraded my membership to full member, which gave me access to even more of the workplace functionality. I believe this upgrade has already provided me with extra clients, who have contacted me, instead of me contacting them. I’m still looking forward to seeing all the benefits from this upgrade, but even with a basic, free account, you can still benefit from the internal job board.

Whenever I am looking for new translation jobs I usually start by logging into my ProZ.com account, and on the front page there’s a list of relevant jobs, which have been filtered out from the complete list of jobs, which is very big. The automatic filtering is based on the fields of expertise that I have set up in my personal profile, in addition to language pair, or pairs, and what tools I have reported, that I’m using.

Some people say, that the jobs that can be found here are low paying jobs, but that has not been the case for me. Actually, those of my clients, that pay me my highest rates, are clients that I have found here, if I look at the entire market that I’m aware of, in my particular language pair.

It might not be a place you spend much time at, if you’re well established and have been translated for many years, and have many old clients who trust you, but I have an idea about how this works, when you’re just starting out.

How it Works

Let’s assume there’s a client who receives an extra job. If it wasn’t an extra job, they would just send it off to the their regular translator, and you wouldn’t notice anything – business as usual among the established. But since this is an extra job, the client has the potential to grow the business, and this is were you come into the picture: you want to grow too as a new supplier. If the regular suppliers are already booked, the extra job might very well end up on the job board, maybe even with a rush rate on top, since the client is trying to fit in an extra job, on top of its regular commitments. Which would give you a decent price, even as a new translator.

If there is a rush rate, that you don’t necessarily see, the client would have to take a chance and trust you, that you are good enough to handle this job. But hey, isn’t that what all growth entails? Courage and extra energy.

If you get the job, and complete it successfully, you would have immediate trust, and a good rate. Again, it’s based on the assumption, that this is not the normal way for clients to shop for translations, but I can’t see how it should result in low rates. It could in fact be the opposite. The downside would be the tight deadline, compared to the situation you’re in, when you have an existing relationship with a client and they can fit you into the schedule early on in the process, because they know who to call.

Quality vs. Speed

If it’s true that the jobs are in fact low rate jobs on this board, it could be explained by assuming that the clients themselves are new in the industry, and they haven’t got their business up an running in full speed yet, which would result in less money coming in to pay the translators. It’s probably one big mix of all types of clients, because one day I can meet a client who pays the rate I’m asking for, no questions asked, and the next day, a new client asks me to cut my rate in half, because that is the market they’re looking at. I would have to produce twice as much to keep the same level of income, so why not do that in the first place? Well, because of quality. It takes time to produce quality.

How to Use Google to Find New Clients

The world is a big place and there are clients out there, who would benefit from your work, if only you were connected to them. You are using Google Search all the time to find what you’re looking for, in this case clients for your freelance translation service, so why not use one of the other powerful tools from Google to help you on this quest? I’m talking about Google Alerts.

Google Alerts

It turns out that Google Alerts is very useful when you need an overview of the translation industry with respect to your specific language pair. And, it actually works well with the detailed day-to-day information too.

If you go to google.com and log in using your general Google account, and then type in a search called “google alerts”, you’ll find the Google Alerts tool. Here you can create a new alert for digging up translation work. These are the two alerts I’ve used in order to connect with the right people in the industry:

“[source language] – [target language]”
“[source language] to [target language]”

with [source language] replaced by english, and [target language] replaced by danish. I have put in the quotation marks too, to get exactly what I’m looking for.

This will send an email alert to you whenever Google finds new or updated webpages, that are related to your language pair, so you’ll be directed to job boards, agencies, job posts, blog posts etc., where you’ll find people who need your services.


I found one little twist with this method though: When someone is in the process of building an online dictionary, the great Google machine is running around on this new site and generating a lot alerts, as new words are added. This will spam your inbox, because this doesn’t mean more work for you, but there’s a way around this. By using a minus sign after your alert text, you can filter these extra alerts off:

“[source language] – [target language]” -[dictionary]
“[source language] to [target language]” -[dictionary]

In my case I had to replace [dictionary] with dinordbok, to make use of Alerts without getting spammed by the tool. (No hard feelings DinOrdbok, I love you guys 😉 See, here’s some link love for you!: dinordbok.com )

Feels Like Home

There’s an exponential curve embedded in this process, because in the beginning there are lots of new pages popping up, with new places to explore – you don’t even know what’s out there, that you don’t know about. But after a while you’ll begin to recognize the main players in the industry, although the day-to-day job offerings will change in form. Those who are big enough will actually have their own alert systems, that you can plug into, but Google Alerts is a great way to kick it all off.

How to Calculate Your Rate For Translation Jobs

One of the good things about being a freelancer is that you can set your own price. Well, you can do that too as an employee, but this is a more dynamic situation. You don’t have to wait months or years to get a promotion and ask for a raise, if you finally get it.

As a freelance translator the agreement between the translator and the client is often based on a price per word, so let’s take a look at how this rate is calculated. We can use U.S. dollars as an example.

The rate, or price, we’re looking for is USD per word, or USD / word. This is often per source words. The number of words in a source text is virtually always different from the number of words in the translated target text.

There are some numbers which are kinda fixed in this price calculation, and the rate calculation will be based on these numbers, for instance:

  • How many hours do you work?
  • How fast can you translate?
  • How much do you want to earn?

See, this is what I love about freelance work: You have a large degree of freedom 😉

The Formula

What we’re looking for is

Rate = price / word

If we add the time factor to this formula, then price is USD / month (there are bills to pay each month, right?), and word is words per month too, words / month.

Rate = price / word = (USD / month) / (words / month)


Example: (Professional)

USD / month: $5,000.
Words / month: (20 working days) x (2,000 words per day) = 40,000 words.

Rate = (USD / month) / (words / month) = $5,000 / 40,000 words =>
Rate = 0.13 USD / word

And another example: (Extra cash now and then, for example working one weekend)

USD / month: $100.
Words / month: (2 working days) x (4,000 words per day) = 8,000 words.

Rate = (USD / month) / (words / month) = $100 / 8,000 words =>
Rate = 0.01 USD / word

And there you have it – a way to calculate your rate.

Comparing Different Rates

Now, there’s a natural question that pops up, when you look at these two different rates, which are not even extremes: Why on earth would anyone pay 10 times more for the same amounts of words? Why not split a 40,000 word text into 40,000 / 8,000 = 5 pieces, and find 5 freelancers who work at rate 0.01 USD / word and get it done this way?

Well, it happens. And when it happens, quality goes down the drain. You have text – and you have context. Translator 5 does not know, what Translator 1 is doing. In popular terms: The right hand doesn’t know, what the left hand is doing. Sometimes this will work, and sometimes it will not work. If you’re translating levels in a computer game, it will probably work. If you’re translating a short story, it will probably result in a poor reading experience.

The Free Market

As a freelance translator you’re working in a free market. The market doesn’t care what size your bills are, but you will be rewarded, if you work fast, for many hours, but of course, you don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it – it’s up to you.

The value you can provide as a professional freelance translator is consistency, experience and a deep understanding of the subject, because that’s what you do. You translate. And if you’re not translating, you’re preparing to translate. Debugging your precious, awesome tools, sharpening the saw.

All that comes with a price. But you can still buy beer with that money if you want to. Just not too many, you want to get up early tomorrow – and translate 😉

First Job on New Board

Elance.com has been around since 1999, but I have just recently signed up for their service. I completed my first job on Elance a couple of days ago. It feels like I have been working forever to get started on this job board as a freelance translator, but let’s take a look at the numbers to see, what I have done to get my first job completed:

  • Joined in May 2014 (about 2½ months ~ 80 days ago)
  • My identity was verified July 2 by phone (30 days ago)
  • I have submitted 16 bids on jobs since May 19 (about 2½ months ~ 74 days)
  • The current status of the jobs are: 10 closed, 4 open, 1 awarded and 1 ongoing

Although it seems like a long time to wait to get going, the bid-to-deal ratio is pretty good I would say, i.e. 1 out of 16 bids led to a job ~ 6%. And the jobs I bid on where all jobs that I  knew I could complete before the deadline, with topics I knew I could handle.

The Elance system seems to be quite good at first impression. When I was digging up the numbers I noticed the little text in my browser address line, to the left of the address, saying “Elance-oDesk Inc. (US)”. I’m already used to working on oDesk.com, which is a nice system, so apparently a merger is already going on, although the user interfaces are still different.

The message system inside Elance enable the users to communicate back and forth, which is great for building trust, clarifying issues and asking questions regarding the specifics of the job. Sometimes it seems like time wasted because it takes time away from the actual translation work, but when the relationship is established with the client, things move more efficiently, so remember to follow up and let the client know you’re there.

When I find a good client I invite them to connect on LinkedIn too, to establish a stronger relationship. I have loads of information in there about my previous work, which works as a sales letter, presenting my skills to the client, if they want to know more about me. Just another way to market yourself that is easy to do, when you already have a LinkedIn profile.

Improving Efficiency

This is not related to Elance.com only, but it’s a general idea concerning all the job boards. I have seen quite a few clients on the market, who post something like “I have a job, [source language] to [target language], very easy. Is this something for you?” After a long communication back and forth I usually find out what they want, but in order to save time, whenever I see this, I have built up a list of things that I need to know, before I can come up with a serious offer that will work in the long run. It’s better to shoot these questions right away, in order to get moving and make a decision:

  • How many source words are there in the source text / document / website?
  • Which format is the source in? (Word, text, HTML…)
  • What type is your text? (Tourism, gambling, technical, legal…)
  • What is your deadline? (Within a month, within 3 hours…)
  • In which format do you want the document delivered in? (.txt, Word, Excel)

A source document received in Word, but expected back in Excel will take a lot longer to handle, than simple Word to Word translation.


I don’t know if it’s my imagination but we’re having the warmest summer here, and it feels like the activity on the job boards is a bit low at the moment, which I would like to attribute to summer vacations around the world, and not me being lazy and not doing enough. But then the question about Australia pops up right away; isn’t is cold Down Under at the moment? Around here, the summer vacations are about to end, so I’m looking forward to see, if the activity will increase in the coming weeks and months. But after all: The training and development of determination and patience is a requirement for success, so I’ll look at this slump and see it as an opportunity to work on these softer parts of my freelance business.