11 Steps To Get Started As A Freelance Translator

By Chiara Grassilli
In Freelancing
Oct 12th, 2013

How To Get Started As A Freelance Translator

To get started as a freelance translator you don’t need magic tricks, you only need the right information.

Many of us translators have a degree or a Master’s in Translation, Linguistics or Interpreting. 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.

Between a person who loves languages and a person who makes a living out of it there is just a difference: the latter has learnt how to do it, and if other people have learnt it you can as well.


The Online School for Freelance Translators

Would you like being your own boss, work at your pace, from the comfort of your house, find fulfilment in running a successful business and earn a fair amount of money for your work?


You can find bits of information here and there. But if you want a guide that covers all what you need to know, you really want to read The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation. Everything you need to know to get started as a freelance translator and set up your translation business is in this book by Judy A. Jenner and Dagmar V. Jenner.


Get Started As A Freelance TranslatorJudy and Dagmar, two professional translators who also happen to be twins, started their own translation business some years ago. While all the other translators were still sending CVs to agencies and approaching the freelance path with an employee mindset, they decided to approach it with a more entrepreneurial attitude: that’s why they created the term “Entrepreneurial Linguist”.

There are many websites out there that teach you how to become a successful freelancer, for example http://freelanceswitch.com/, http://freelancefolder.com/ and http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/ just to name a few. But they speak about being a freelancer in general.

When I finally found this amazing book I knew I had found what I was looking for: a guide that not only gives you the right freelancer mindset, but it tells you from A to Z how to become a successful freelance translator.

Get Started As A Freelance Translator

This book will take you through the 11 Essential Secrets to get started as a freelance translator (each one is a chapter):

1 – Change your Mindset: Think of yourself as a business
2 – Get organized: Learn to love paperwork
3 – Use social Media and blog
4 – Leverage Marketing: learn what it is and how it can benefit your business
5 -Develop and grow your Busines
6 – Price Smartly
7 – Negotiate
8 – Mind your Professional Development
9 – Give back
10 – Find your Work/life balance
11 – Run your business like a business

Moreover, it comes at a very reasonable price: £17.35 on paper and only £4.99 on Kindle. Not a big investment, but a huge return. Through the teaching in the book you will learn where and how to acquire new clients, how to retain your existing ones, how to promote yourself and to pitch your services, how to leverage the tools you have and keep your expenses low to maximize your income.

In addition to this book, I created the Online School for Freelance Translators where you’ll learn how to get started as a freelance translator, how to create a professional website to attract new clients and how to market your business. Since most business is currently done online, a website is simply vital. Whether you work as a freelancer or you’re thinking of bringing your business to another level and register as a limited company, the first step is creating a website and establish an online presence.

If you are ready to approach your business as an exciting challenge, this book will give you the tool and the information you need. Find the book here: The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation

The last year I completed my Master’s in Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling at the University of Essex. I wrote my dissertation on this book, and as I was going on with the reading I became so excited about it that I wanted to suggest it in every university course about translation.

But as for now I just want to share this invaluable tool with translators who are looking for a complete and accurate guide about how to start a career as entrepreneurial linguists. Maybe you’ve just completed your studies, or maybe you have been in the industry for some years. It doesn’t matter. This book will cover it all, will give you the right information and the mindset you need to feel excited about the profession you are in or that you are going to start.

PS: if you want to read the authors’ blog, you can find it here: http://translationtimes.blogspot.co.uk/


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About "" Has 117 Posts

Since an early age I have been passionate about languages. I hold a Master's degree in Translation and Interpreting, and I have worked as a freelance translator for several years. I specialize in Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web and Social Media. I love blogging and I also run the blog www.italiasocialmedia.com

8 Responses to “11 Steps To Get Started As A Freelance Translator”

  1. Many thanks for this lovely review, Chiara! We really appreciate it. Delighted to hear that you like our book.

    • Chiara Grassilli says:

      Hi Judy! It’s my pleasure, I loved your book so much that I had to share it! Thanks again 🙂

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  4. Sjoe! says:

    It’s a bit too late to get started in translation in these days of customers’ tight budgets, ridiculously low rates (pushed down by opportunists using Google machine translation), and machine translation — all of which is globally so.

    • Hi Sjoe,
      I understand your frustration and I agree with you on the fact that machine translation is sometimes used by companies on low budget. However we shouldn’t feel threatened by Google Translate, because we shouldn’t go after clients on a tight budget. Try to go after clients who have specific needs that only few translators can meet. For example, I know engineering companies that struggle to find translators specialized in their field. As a result they have to pay for a translator and also an engineer who works with him/her to explain the technical aspects. So try and specialized in a highly technical niche. If your specialization adds value to your clients and save them time and money, then they’ll be glad to work with you.
      Don’t give up Joe!

      • Sjoe! says:

        Chiara honey.

        I have been in the trade for almost 45 years now (including half of it doing terribly insidious legal stuff, such as court submissions, depositions, affidavits, and arbitral awards). My clients — international Wall Street and City heavyweights with bottomless budgets — DO feel the pinch, because THEIR clients do (and cut THEIR budgets), and so do I. Not much this far, but I do. (That’s what concerns “specialisation”. Btw I have a degree in law — can’t ask for more as concerns specialisation.)
        No, I DON’T give up. Event haven’t ever thought of it (I would, if I could do anything else for a living).
        But what YOU suggest, given the present sit, is not even an uphill job, but climbing up a bare wall. I wouldn’t be as starry-eyed about a future in translation these days. Why not give the poor kids the true picture? Why not tell them that they are up for real nasty disappointments, as well as being their own bosses? 🙂

        Speaking of specialisation again. Sounds good. By the time when poor kids (your readers) will be up to the mark to qualify to translate for the “struggling engineering companies” you know of — and that’s going to be at least a couple of years (and you know that too) — those companies will be on tight budgets at best or down the drain at worst.

        Earning one’s living by translation is not easy these days (now that everyone with a computer and access to the Internet is a translator), but ENTERING the market is by an order of magnitude harder.

        • saks says:

          I second Sjoe! here. If I were to change jobs, I would do it instantly as those who succeed in the translation business are quite few. Today, I would advise anyone trying to become a translator to do something else. It is just not worth it if you take the amount of time (and money) you spend on CPD to have project managers (or even direct clients!) asking for discounts.