Working as a Freelance Translator

Love languages and thinking about working as a freelance translator?

Or maybe you’re already freelancing in the language industry and want to get some more inside tips.

Either way, you’re in the right place! Here, you’ll learn all about freelance translation (you can skip to the next section if you already know) and where you can be the first to discover new freelance translation projects.

What is freelance translation?

Freelance work is, in essence, working for yourself instead of for an employer.

According to Collins Dictionary, freelance means to not [be] employed by one organization, but [to be] paid for each piece of work they [a freelancer] do by the organization they do it for.

What are the benefits? From a survey done by Inbox Translation, freelance translators state flexibility and freedom to be the main benefits of their line of work.

That means the flexibility to decide when and where to work, which projects to accept, which kind of clients to work with, how much to work, etc.

In addition to working on translation projects, you’ll also be in charge of the full scope of operational and administrative tasks: marketing, outreach, client management, project management, invoicing and more.

How to Find Translation Jobs

Now, we’re going to get to the juicy stuff: where exactly should you look for freelance jobs in translation?

We’ll go through six options with you. Maybe you’re already aware of some of them and hopefully some of them will be new and you can use the knowledge to your advantage.

1. Job Boards

Some translators have a love or hate relationship with job boards.

ProsCons
often well-known, many job opportunities, wide range of topicshave to weed through low-quality jobs, need to establish your credibility each time

Freelance job boards can range from translation specific ones, like Proz and TranslatorsCafe, to more general ones, like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr.

If you’re starting out in the industry, job boards may be a great way to get your feet wet as well as allow you to practice your pitch. They can also help you find a niche if you’re still uncertain due to the wide range of topics and industries.

2. Translator’s Associations

For more serious and seasoned professionals, translation associations may be the preferred method of finding jobs. According to data from Inbox Translation, full-time freelance translators are more likely to belong to an association.

The same data shows that those who belong to a professional association charge more for projects (on average 30% more). This may be because being an association member emits a certain credibility and professionalism.

While being a member of a professional translator’s association does cost money, these groups often offer a directory where potential clients can find you.

ProsCons
directory listing, higher-quality projects,
higher rates, networking, credibility
cost

Want to find a translation association in your country? Check out the Translation Journal or this list on Wikipedia.

3. Your Network

Believe it or not, the old-fashion word-of-mouth method can be the most foolproof for finding jobs. You just need to start building that network.

A great way to build this network is by joining an association and reaching out to translators living near you.

Do you translate English into Spanish? Maybe you can find someone who translates Spanish into English.

Do you need a proofreader? Start a group in which you and other translators help each other out!

ProsCons
higher chance of getting job, you don’t need to do anything other than create a network, quality network = quality jobs, reduces competitionnetworking takes effort, competition if another translator works in the same language pair, takes time to build, job stream may not be steady
girl working from home as a translator

4. Your Website

Now you might be thinking: I’m a freelancer. Why should I have a website?

As a freelancer, you’re essentially running a business. That means, your potential customers should be able to find you online.

Yes, having a profile on Proz and in an association directory is an excellent start. However, what happens when these pages cease to exist? Or what happens if these sites are down for a day?

A website is a direct way to tell potential clients about your value. You have control over how and what you put on there.

Despite what you may be thinking, a website doesn’t need to be expensive, nor does it need to be complicated. Some translators simply use a website like an expanded resume. With options like WordPress, you can build a website for free.

ProsCons
full control, direct clients, email listings, no fees, increases chance of showing up in Google searchtime, cost (if you choose a paid version), designing a website

5. LinkedIn

If you’re working as a freelance translator right now and you don’t have a COMPLETED LinkedIn profile, then do it right away (after you finish reading this article of course).

LinkedIn is not simply for big business gurus. It’s super for finding freelance groups, job groups, translator groups, etc.

Not only that – you can follow other translators, agencies, or companies that may potentially need translation services. This way, you’ll be one of the first to know if there is an available project.

LinkedIn is highly underrated, so get on this before everyone else does!

ProsCons
networking, direct clients, higher-quality jobs, another method to increase internet presencetime scrolling, can be distracting, marketing

6. Translation Agencies

You might be thinking…but didn’t we just cover this in the job boards section?

Actually, not quite.

Another way to get jobs is to directly reach out to translation agencies you would like to work with and be “onboarded” into their system.

This is like being in a directory, but you’re at the original source of projects. That means when a project comes up that fits your profile, a project manager could reach out to you.

For example, YTranslations cooperates with a number of freelance translators from around the world. We are always looking for more to join our team!

ProsCons
steady stream of work, you don’t have to do outreach after being in the system, no marketing, invoice for multiple jobs, higher-quality jobstighter deadlines sometimes, competition if multiple linguists have same language pair

Conclusion

Are you ready to start working as a freelance translator or take your freelance translation to the next level?

We hope this article has provided insights on freelance translation and where you can find quality projects.

What do you love about being a freelance translator? Share with us in the comments!



As an American native, Joy translates profficiently marketing content from German and Chinese into English. She is one of our in-house translators.

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