6 Tips On How To Become A Successful Freelance Translator

6 Tips On How To Become A Successful Freelance Translator

Demand for freelance translators is on the rise. The global market for translation services has been growing steadily, and it keeps growing further. So is competition in the burgeoning army of freelance translators. In this context, it is becoming increasingly challenging for freelance translators to stand out. However, every challenge might be an opportunity to show your mettle, while giving your customers their money’s worth. As a freelance translator, you need to treat your work as a result-oriented entrepreneur who keeps learning, adjusting, and succeeding.

Read our 6 tips below on how to become a freelance translator par excellence in this expanding market. They will help you develop essential habits to lay the foundation for ultimate success.

●    Do Your Research

As a freelance translator, you need to act as a diligent entrepreneur. The value of the global language industry has exceeded $46 billion in the last few years. Start off with a proper survey of this growing field to be able to move to the next level. It is no easy task to make a successful move without doing your due diligence on demand and supply in this market.

●    Identify Your Niche

You are likely to face stiff competition, so it is crucial to carve out a niche to build your competitive advantage. Identify best practices and major pitfalls to avoid. For instance, if you want to specialize in Canadian French translation services, learn what it takes to excel in that area. You will also need to make important decisions about your target market(s), going solo versus working for an agency, areas of expertise, fees, and specific types of services.

●    Be Top-Notch

Whatever your niche, your aim is to become the crème de la crème of your trade. This means honing your skills on a daily basis, whether it be your language proficiency or advanced computer skills. Be relentless and intentional in your search for excellence, to push the envelope. Leave no room for mediocrity or even minor spelling mistakes, stylistic inconsistencies, or typos.

●    Beware of Health Risks

You are and will be spending a lot of time in front of your laptop screen. If you are in this business for the long haul, educate yourself about the immediate and long-term implications on your health. A sound understanding of the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle (e.g. obesity and dehydration) will help you take preventive measures. Take care of your body to let it take care of your needs.

●    Ensure Top-Grade Customer Service

This may seem obvious, but you need to give your customers what they need instead of what you think they need. Although crucial, it is not enough to just provide outstanding translation quality. Don’t forget that you are still an entrepreneur, and you need to make sure you understand the needs and wants of your customers. Being flexible, responsive, quick, and courteous will earn you a greater reputation and, subsequently, greater profits.

●    Ask for Feedback

Iterative learning is another important factor. Self-learning matters, but you will always need a fresh pair of eyes to assess your progress, identify gaps, and take corrective action to address your shortcomings. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your customers proactively. Find someone you trust and see if you can get that person as your mentor to guide you through your endeavours. You will be surprised about all the shortcuts you will be able to make.


The growing industry of online translation services is fraught with challenges, which you can turn into opportunities. As a business-minded, profit-oriented freelance translator, you need to build a sound understanding of how you can use them to your advantage to provide best-in-class services tailored to customer needs. Being methodical about applying the above tips will help you succeed as a freelance translator in what may seem to be a saturated market.

Carl Hill is a career adviser and holds talks on matters revolving around career. He is also a long-timer in freelance translation services. He started as a bilingual language teacher, moving on to build a successful career as a freelance translator. Currently, he is also doing reviews of online translation and content writing services.
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