How To Become A Translator Online – Complete Guide [2021]

Being a translator gives you the opportunity to work from anywhere but it does require to have certain knowledge as it is a business after all.

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Being a translator is a profession that lately generates a lot of interest, since it’s a job that allows you to earn money from wherever you are, working from home or traveling the world.

On the other hand, online translation is expected to grow 29% by 2024, so it’s undoubtedly a field of work with a lot of demand and quite necessary, in which you will find a place for yourself and to grow professionally. 

If you are interested in learning how to become a translator online, the steps below will help you make a start working as a translator and creating your own freelance business.

1. Define Your Languages


This part is key to start working as a translator since according to the languages you decide to translate, you will have a direction with job proposals and know what type of vacancies to look for. 

Depending on the type of language you handle, you will get different amounts of job proposals, levels of competence, and even different salaries.

it’s not the same to focus on languages like English and Spanish, than English and French, for example. 

In the online translation market, English and Spanish are very popular languages, so it’s possible that you will get many job offers. 

However, you should take into account that with these two languages there is also a lot of competition and since it’s common to find freelancers who are fluent in English and Spanish, you may not find very generous payment offers. 

On the other hand, French is a language that is not as popular and therefore there are far fewer freelancers who speak it. 

Focusing on that language other than English makes you a freelancer with unique skills. 

Also, being a rare language, you can set a higher price for translations in that language.


2. Choose Your Niche


To get clients one of the best options is to specialize. By doing this, you stop being one of the bunch and you become the only one who knows how to translate some special type of contract, manual or other types of documents. 

Once you have decided on your specialty, you can try writing or even calling companies in that branch. 

It’s a good way to make yourself known and if you choose the recipients well and fully personalize your message, the probability that it will obtain a positive result is relatively high.

These are some of the types of translators that exist:

Technical Translator


They usually specialize in some type of text or technique, which makes their job much easier. 

Their specialty can be technological, scientific, financial, legal, software, audiovisual, marketing, among others. They generally translate for companies.

Judicial Translator


This is the only one who has to have a degree before being able to work (court translators take an official exam), which allows them to have higher fees (less competition). 

These types of translations are quite repetitive, so if you organize yourself well, you can translate very quickly and make a lot of money.



This is in charge of translating orally instead of in writing. This is the most “social” version of the translator and these translators accompany their clients on their visit to a factory or in their negotiations. 

Although there is also the simultaneous interpreter, who translates from small booths what others say during their meetings or conferences.

Subtitle Translator


They can work for streaming platforms like Netflix or for television channels (or any other medium that needs it) to generate the subtitles of the shows. 

If you enjoy watching television, it could certainly be your ideal job. Although of course, it’s complex like any other niche.

3. Get The Necessary Equipment And Tools


One of the advantages of being a translator is that you don’t have to make a large investment before you can start working. 

However, there are a few tools that will make your work much easier, and with which we advise you to start working from day one.

Dictionaries And Glossaries


To start with you don’t need to buy much (less if you are going to specialize in a field). Today you have almost everything for free on the Internet. 

Wikipedia is one of those resources that will help you a lot when you have to translate terms that you don’t know and if you doubt the accuracy of an online dictionary or need more extensive results, you can always turn to a traditional dictionary that you can buy in a store.

Computer-Assisted Translation Tools


There are many, but the most popular are SDL Trados, Wordfast, Transit NXT, and MemoQ

If you are starting out, try OmegaT, it’s free and works quite well. If you are going to dedicate yourself to subtitling, you can use Subtitle Workshop, a great tool that is also free. 

You can also use tools like Grammarly, which will help you correct texts.

Performing translations is something that can take you a long time, especially since you will not only translate but also correct texts and make them have sense. 

For that reason, any tool you can use that streamlines your work process is welcome.


4. Improve Your Skills


Clients will always want to work with expert professionals and if you want to increase your level of expertise and skill, you should constantly practice your working language, especially doing tasks related to your niche. 

Practicing constantly is what will make you grow as a translator and will help you become familiar with the trade, especially when you have not yet obtained your first clients.

Practicing will also help you generate material for your portfolio, which is very important especially to attract the attention of those clients who prioritize the experience. 

Another excellent idea is that you can show your texts and exercises to other freelancers in your niche so they can give you feedback and thus improve your skills.

You can also use online course platforms such as Skillshare and Udemy to take courses that improve your knowledge not only in languages but also in the software you should use. 

Many of these online platforms give you certificates when you finish your course, which is excellent to check your skills in front of clients, so don’t forget to include this in your CV.

Here are some courses you can try:

5. Create A Web Portfolio


Once you are ready to enter the working market, you should make yourself known. 

Having a portfolio website is excellent to land clients, start building your online presence, and have a place to exhibit the work or practices you do. 

On that website, you can write a short review about who you are, what you do, and what you specialize in. 

When potential clients search the web for someone with your skills, they might stumble upon your website and become interested in your services. 

On your portfolio website, you could also include a blogging section to write interesting posts related to your work. 

Providing this type of material will make people interested in the content you write and that when they access your website to read, they will also find out about your work and the services you sell. 

Writing blog posts will also make it easier for people to find your services on the web, as they will help position your portfolio in search engines.

Apart from your portfolio website, you can also use social networks to increase your online presence and networking. 

You can use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to share content related to your work and thus reach an audience that may need your services but don’t know exactly where to find them. 

You don’t have to use all those platforms, but the more you use the more chances of being found by potential clients. 

Needless to say that it’s not enough just to have a profile on a social network, but that you must attend it, interact with people and publish content that generates interest, and that you can connect with the services you sell.

6. Find Clients


To start looking for your first clients and offer your freelance services, you should know what type of client you want to attract and with whom you want to work. 

Define what your ideal type is, although if you have already defined what type of translation you want to dedicate to, this is something that you will already have quite clear. 

However, within your niche, you can also define the characteristics of that client that is compatible with your way of working. 


Now, there are several ways to find your customers. Remember that learning how to attract them is essential for your work since without clients there are no profits. 

An excellent way to start is using freelance work platforms since those websites will show you vacancies of clients who are looking for someone with your skills. 

You will also have the security of dealing with trustworthy clients and that even your earnings are protected, which is essential when you are a newbie and you don’t want to be scammed.

Another way to find clients is to tell everyone that you are a translator. 

Everyone who knows you have to be clear about what you do and be clear that you are good at what you do so that they can recommend you to others or take you into account when they need it. 

Acquaintances and relatives are a fundamental piece in your strategy that must be supported by your network of contacts and word of mouth.

7. Join The Community (Networking)


Another way to get a job (and even make money) is to collaborate with other translators. 

You can get to know them by going to translators meetings or entering social media groups, such as translators Facebook groups. 

If you get used to answering questions from other translators (especially those that have to do with your specialty), soon enough people will associate you with a topic and see you as an authority. 

There will be a few who when they are overworked or unable to do the translation some client asks them, will simply recommend you out of gratitude.

However, don’t join all groups that exist, get used to using a few but become someone known there. 

Of course, it would not be a bad idea to talk to a few translators from other specialties that you have come to know and offer them a collaboration. 

Many translators do this without money, but it’s advisable to offer 5% to 10% to those who recommend you and you do it with your colleagues without asking for money in return. 

The same can work with your clients, give them a discount if they manage to connect you with another client.

Once you have decided what your specialty is, you can enter two or three groups of these topics, and each time a question arises in the area of your specialty, you answer them. 

It can also happen that you attend a networking event for translators and there it will be a good idea to distribute your business cards. 

These cards are not mandatory, but they can help you a lot and they are not expensive. 

If you always carry a few with you, you can distribute them among people you get to know and who you think can be useful.


8. Be Disciplined


In the case of the translator, being disciplined means working with deadlines and seeing them as something sacred and irremediable. 

We recommend making a plan every time you start a new project and creating a delivery plan or basic milestones. From there, your work will start to flow much better.

Remember that being a freelance translator you will not have anyone telling you what to do every day, but it will depend on you to be responsible with your clients. 

If you are late on a delivery, this will mean that all your other jobs will be late as well and this can affect your professional image. You can use apps like Google Calendar to keep all your to-dos in order and to be productive.

A Profitable Trade That You Will Enjoy


The translator is an entrepreneur, so in addition to the knowledge necessary to practice your profession, you also have to learn to maintain discipline and sell yourself using your portfolio website, networking and improving your skills. 

On the other hand, one of the things you should worry about is getting customers. 

Start with the more simple methods such as your contacts, job platforms, social groups and then eventually once you have more experience translation agencies or your own direct clients. 

Translating is a job that you are bound to enjoy a lot since you will be working with languages that you like and it’s something you can do online from home or traveling to countries and destinations that you love. 

With effort and dedication, you will be able to consolidate yourself as a professional in your area.

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