How to become a freelance translator
14 March 2022
What is the main function of a translator? In general terms, it is to translate text from the source language into the target language. In practice, it is much more complicated. For example, the translator must respect the author’s intention and translate it as accurately as possible, but not word for word. Here is a closer look at what it takes for a translator to build a successful career.
Specialization in a particular field
Large and small companies, as well as international language service providers, use the services of experienced native speaker translators of the target language. They prefer to turn to freelancers with the necessary qualifications: if the translator has the required skills, the lack of a linguistic diploma is not critical.
The foreign language must be flawless. The chances of getting a job are better if you speak several languages with a lot of speakers (Spanish or Chinese, for example) or, conversely, a less common language like Basque.
Professional skills of a translator
A translator must know the terminology of a specific industry. Some clients can provide a glossary for the job, while others expect you to learn the terms yourself.
In mastering a translation, the details are important: you must convey the meaning of the original text without changing the essence. At the same time, localization must be taken into account: adapt the translation to the target audience and the local culture.
And, of course, the work must be done on time. When it is clear that the translation will have to be delayed, discuss the possibility of rescheduling with the client or pass the order on to another translator.
Working with a translation company
You may work with clients directly, but finding them requires time and preferably a financial cushion for the search period. You can get orders through numerous online translation platforms. They are built on the principle of a rating system: clients rate the translation completed and are more inclined to trust the work to translators with a high score in their profile. Alternatively, you can work with a translation agency. There are several advantages to doing business with a translation agency.
If they are happy with your work, they will give you regular work orders. So you won’t have to waste time looking for clients. Consider the local economic context: a translation agency in London will probably get more orders with Englosh language for example than one in Budapest.
Make a list of the bureaus you are interested in working with, make sure they work with your language pairs, and get in touch. It is advisable to communicate with the person who is responsible for selecting contractors. Don’t write standard letters: tweak the text according to the requirements of the bureau and the value you can offer. To increase the chances of a regular flow of orders, pay attention to professional bureaus that provide linguistic services in different languages and in different topics.
What you should pay attention to
Keep your resume up to date.
Your resume should contain all the information you need: the language pairs you work with, your rates, average daily output, the CAT tools you use, discounts for repetitions, etc.
Be in touch
You will be offered a job when the bureau has a need. If you miss a call or email, the work will be passed on to another contractor.
Do not miss any deadlines
If the proposed deadline is too strict, be sure to tell. Violating deadlines is extremely undesirable, because in the long run, this will lead to the fact that the agency will not be able to fulfill its obligations to the customer.
in-depth analysis of the content
Use CAT tools
These are used by most bureaus, and some projects should be done in specific CAT tools. To be considered for any type of project, keep an eye out for new technologies.
Don’t use machine translation
MT can speed up your work, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality: often, it is