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If you are just starting to work in the translation field, surely you must have many doubts about how to handle clients, how to make yourself known, how to increase your income, among other things.
Being a freelance translator you should not only take care of doing your job well and complying with the deliveries you have to make but also of growing your business and increasing your reputation.
In this list, you will find professional tips that will solve your questions and that will boost your freelance career so that you become a respected and experienced translator.
1. Plan A Schedule
It’s very important that you organize your workday. At first it may seem difficult to find time for your profession and by not having a boss you will not feel the pressure to stick to a schedule, which can harm your productivity.
That is why you should set an entry time and exit time and try to adhere to it strictly.
Also, include breaks within your work schedule. When you are in an office, surely you stop for a moment to have a coffee or to chat for five minutes with your colleagues.
These breaks are healthy for your creativity, concentration, and for your productivity. So give yourself a short 10-15 minute break to relax and stretch your body.
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2. Learn To Sell Yourself
This is essential to find customers, so if possible, try to take a marketing course to learn how to promote yourself and attract potential customers.
Selling is not trying to convince people to buy something they don’t need.
Selling is informing, communicating, knowing human psychology, and making sure that everyone knows what you are doing.
Make sure they are clear that you are good at it and that they can trust you for the job.
Selling is not cheating anyone, selling is helping people to choose and get what they want.
You will never have to convince anyone to buy something they don’t need, you will simply have to explain what you do and how you can help them with their needs.
3. React Fast
Be available. You never know when a particular client will call or try to contact you, but they will most likely only try to do it once and if you don’t answer them at that time, you could lose them.
When you are a beginner you cannot afford to let a client pass, since not having much experience it’s more difficult for them to contact you and as you accumulate clients you will get more opportunities to have other jobs.
If you are contacted and you don’t respond quickly, the client will probably be discouraged or prefer to contact another translator who gives them a higher priority.
4. Gain Experience
Keep in mind that agencies and clients generally ask their translators for one or two years of experience, in addition to some references.
However, it’s not mandatory to have many years working but to have a good amount of work to show.
A good option may be to do translations as a volunteer and for this, you can go to an NGO or work for a family member or friend who needs it.
Doing an internship can help you get a job, so it’s something you should take into account to increase your level of experience.
5. Set Appropriate Prices
The first thing to keep in mind is that your level of experience will influence the prices of your services.
If you are starting to work, it’s recommended that you charge less than the average so that despite your little experience, you can attract clients.
To do this, research what the market price is (you can ask other translators what the rates they handle).
When you know the price, lower them between 10% and 20%, and raise them when you have already done several jobs and have gained more experience.
6. Take Advantage Of Social Networks
Social networks are an excellent place to reach an audience that is not usually present in work platforms or groups related to your niche.
You could say that a business that does not have social networks is a business that does not exist, so if you want to boost your freelance career you must be present in those places.
Think about creating a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profile where you can share content related to your work, advice, tips, among other things.
Ask your acquaintances to share your content, expand your network and reach a wider audience.
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7. Be Constant
One of the greatest tips to work as a translator, as in other jobs, is that you cannot fall into negativity or despair if at first, you don’t get clients as quickly as you expected.
It’s something common, especially in the beginning, proposals may be slow to come in but eventually, they do, hang in there!
You must be patient and work constantly to become a successful freelancer and little by little your freelance career will grow.
Working as a freelance translator is a great long-distance career, so don’t worry, if you do your best the time will come when you will have to reject a proposal because you don’t have enough time.
8. Create A LinkedIn Profile
All online workers who want to start working as a freelancer must have a professional profile on LinkedInn.
It is the most direct and easy way to get to know yourself as a professional and to see your recommendations and your skills at work, strive to create the profile you want for yourself (hard work pays off).
Here, you can create a wide network of contacts and keep up to date with the latest trends in your sector. Besides, it is one of the best places to find a good job online.
9. Create Your Network
Acquaintances and relatives are a fundamental piece in your strategy that must be included in your network of contacts and word of mouth.
Take several post-its and use them to create a map with all the people you know, especially including people with whom you have worked previously, who in some way relate to your work niche or acquaintances in general.
When you have your map, start the work.
Pick up the phone or send them an email and start by telling them that you are now dedicated to translation, that you already work with a client (if that is the case), that you have specialized in a certain subject and that since you know that he/she works in that area, you thought that maybe they could help you get an opportunity or facilitate some contact.
10. Show Yourself As An Expert
When dealing with agencies or clients it’s essential to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about.
Never forget to give your price per word and specify what your translation service includes.
Make it clear what your specialty is, but be prepared to be flexible and do what they ask of you (especially if you are just starting out).
As soon as they call or write, if you think you can get the job done with enough quality, say yes.
If you think that you cannot do it or the proposal does not convince you, don’t feel obliged to accept and answer no. That is also respecting yourself as a professional.
11. Get A Portfolio Website
It’s important that you use all the tools that are within your reach to make yourself known and attract customers.
Portfolio websites are a great way to show your potential as a professional, especially if you learn how to land clients with yours, so don’t hesitate to create one.
There you can display samples of work you have done, explain what you specialize in, tell who you are and what your preparation is.
Of course, you must also provide your contact information so that customers who are interested in your services can call or write to you.
Having a portfolio website is part of growing your online presence, something necessary so that you are easier to find on the web and that it will improve your professional image.
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12. Take Online Courses Or Get A Certification
Do not be fooled, to become a translator online you do not need a university degree, but you do need a lot of preparation and learning.
Mastering another language is enough to start working as a translator, but you will have to learn many other things if you want to have a professional career.
For this, you can take courses on online platforms that will teach you how to turn your translation talent into an activity that generates income and with which you can grow professionally.
If you want something more than just online courses, you can try to get certified in a school that offers studies related to translation.
You also need to learn how to promote yourself, attract and manage clients, and how to boost your freelance career.
Learning about that will separate you from the bunch and will help you become a professional translator.
13. Send Cold Emails
Cold emails are a very powerful email marketing tool, especially when it comes to an emerging freelancer like you who needs new clients to grow the business.
A cold email, therefore, should try to be as personalized as possible and should seek to capture the attention of the recipient immediately.
You should always keep in mind that the objective should be to create a link and not so much to make a sale.
What you will achieve with this is to expand your customer base, but first, you must approach the person you are writing to.
Therefore, in advance you can investigate why that person would need the services of a translator, and based on their need, you can offer your services.
14. Join A Community Of Freelancers
Freelance translation is a job that you will mostly do alone, but that does not mean that you should isolate yourself.
Even if your jobs do not require a team, you can get involved with translators in internet groups or on social media.
This will help you to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry, to be attentive to new job opportunities and networking events.
Also, when establishing relationships with other translators, they may take you into account when there is a job opportunity, in case they cannot take it or simply because they want to recommend you to other clients and support you.
15. Use Online Freelance Platforms
There are several platforms where freelancers can find job offers regardless of profession or type of work.
In all of them, you can get translation projects that can be used to earn some money, to enter the industry, and get your first clients. Some that you can use are Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr.
In each online platform, overtime you can grow your reputation on it and you will naturally start attracting more customers.
Another positive aspect is that on these platforms your payments are usually protected and they guarantee you trustworthy clients, which will take away the fear of being scammed for being a rookie.
Every day you must be attentive to opportunities, present yourself to potential clients, and keep in mind that there are never too many.
However, sending proposals to many clients is not everything.
You should also make sure that you are applying to jobs within your capabilities.
Pay close attention to details when applying for a job, read the instructions carefully to make sure you meet the requirements, and that you know what the job they are offering you is about.
16. Perfect Your Resume
The most important asset in getting a job is the resume. Knowing this should make you think about how important it’s to dedicate time to perfecting your resume.
What can you include in your resume? Everything that improves your professional profile, from studies, online courses, to the languages you speak.
It’s important that your curriculum is well organized, that it’s easy to read, and that you try to use short sentences using simple language.
It’s essential that in your resume you highlight the relevant skill according to the job offer.
For example, as a translator, if you apply and want to get a job as a judicial translator, highlight the employment experiences you have had related to this.
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17. Specialize In A Specific Area
Before starting, you will surely think that the more things you can do, the better.
But the reality is that if you want to have professional success as a translator, you must specialize in a specific type of translation and preferably also in a language.
If you dedicate yourself to a single type of translation, you will be able to accumulate a lot of experience in that specific niche and your clients will perceive you as an expert in the area.
On the other hand, every time you go to take an online course you will know which ones you should choose, and thus you will invest your time in growing towards one direction, instead of dispersing yourself in different topics.
Specialization will make you indispensable when applying to any job offer that benefits you fully. Being clear about what you want to do is like having a map with a clear direction of where to go.
Make The Translation Your Full-Time Job
When you start your freelance career, you may feel fear or insecurity about whether you can make this your full-time job, but the reality is that you can.
Especially if you take into account the advice on this list. Don’t pressure yourself to get the results you see in other freelancers, try to put in the effort and work with dedication so that you obtain your own satisfactory results.
Keep in mind that to grow as a professional you must continue preparing every day, you must learn to promote yourself and treat your clients. That way you will convert translation into your professional career.