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5 Qualities Every Successful Freelance Translator Should Have


freelance translatorBecoming a freelance translator is liberating in many ways, but before you decide to go solo, we thought we’d offer the same frank advice other freelance veterans gave to us. First, freelancing does not alleviate all of your work woes; it simply gives you a new set of challenges. Second, freelancing isn’t for everyone, particularly those who:

  • Need a lot of direction
  • Are disorganized
  • Cannot manage their time efficiently
  • Prefer being around people instead of alone
  • Stress easily
  • Cannot handle confrontations
  • Prefer focusing their attention on one personal strength or talent
  • Need praise from others to feel a sense of fulfillment
  • Start things but rarely finish them

If you’re not dissuaded by what we said above, read on. The following are traits we believe every successful freelancer should have in his or her toolbox.  

  • Self-discipline: When you’re a freelancer, there are deadlines, but there won’t be a punch card or time clock to lure you out of bed each day. Successful freelancers are self-motivated. They also create a schedule and stick to it.  
  • Dependability: Successful freelance translators are dependable. It doesn’t matter how tedious the job, or how tight the deadline is. Once you accept the job, you meet the deadline and make it all look effortless—even if you are hanging on by the hair on your chinny chin chin.

  • Confidence: Freelancers don’t receive slaps on the back or plaques for their office walls and they don’t need them. Successful freelance translators know that “praise” is being rewarded with another assignment.

  • Tenacity: Freelancers never give up finding new clients. When there’s a lull in business, they do not wait for miracles or divine interventions.
  • Assertiveness: Translators don’t always receive clear instructions from clients, but successful freelancers are never afraid to pick up the phone and call for clarification.

  • Adaptability: Freelancers are open to change and always looking for opportunities to grow professionally. This means attending conferences, connecting with other language translators, reading, reading and reading more.

  • Marketability: This advice comes from Steve Gordon Jr.’s book, 100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers:

        “You can’t expect clients to believe you can build their brand if you can’t build your
        own. You have to create an overall identity for yourself, and express it in your own
        marketing materials. To gain access to business, you have to be seen as a business.
        Being a business does not mean that you have to give up the individuality, fervor, and
        entrepreneurial, indie spirit that drove you to go out on your own in the first place. Just
        put all those things into the expression of your logo, blog, mission statement, portfolio
        and overall brand.”

  • Business savvy: Successful freelancers know which taxes apply to them, which tax breaks are available, and those they can write off. And if they don’t, they find an accountant who does!

Photo Credit: masonpelt



Download our exclusive guide: Translation and the Empathetic Imagination


Many of us translators have a degree. We have spent years at university and yet when we finish our education we are not ready to start a career as freelance translators. We simply do not have the right information. 
Posted @ Sunday, February 23, 2014 9:18 AM by Mike
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Posted @ Wednesday, March 25, 2015 10:33 PM by rubenfarrin
Need a lot of direction
Posted @ Friday, April 03, 2015 8:24 AM by eleman
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