Live your dream: become a freelance translator

By Ivonne Muehlbach
In Freelancing
Jun 29th, 2016

Become a digital nomad working as a freelance translator

Post by Ivonne M.


As a freelance translator you are one of the few lucky ones who have a lot of freedom when it comes to when, where and how long to work each day. You are your own boss. You can wear your pajamas at work and have a cup of tea or hot chocolate whenever you feel like it.

A growing number of freelance translators even go a step further.

Most translators have regular clients, work for an agency or pick up work from one of the freelance portals. We download a document, translate it and upload it again. Sometimes we need to clarify some things via e-mail or Skype but that’s it. We do not have to meet clients face to face. Therefore thanks to the internet, we can work remotely from everywhere in the world.

Have you ever worked under a palm tree on the beach with the waves crashing on the shore or in a wooden house in the middle of the jungle, listening to the birds and monkeys?

As long as there is working internet from time to time and juice for your laptop, you can travel the world or live in exotic places.

I am writing this blog article inside an (extinct) volcano – no kidding! I also just have spent a month on a wonderful volcano island doing Yoga twice a day and translating a whole novel! I personally think life is too short, to spend 8 hours a day in a cubical. I actually cannot work in an office any longer. I need fresh air to be creative.

I am a so-called digital nomad – a fancy word for location independent workers and business owners. Digital nomads combine a career with the freedom to travel on their own schedule or live in paradise. Most travelling freelancers spend a few weeks or even months in one location – usually an expat or gringo hang out near interesting places like beaches, jungle, national parks, ruins… Others live permanently in expat and gringo communities around the globe.

I am no exception. I am originally from Germany. For 7 years I’ve lived on an eco-farm in the middle of the Peruvian jungle for 6 months out of the year. My English neighbour (well, he lives a 30 min walk from my farm but here in the jungle that means he basically lives around the corner) runs a healing center. We are 2 out of 5000 expats and gringos who live near or in a jungle city with a population of half a million. Thanks to the 1000 tourists who visit Iquitos each week, we have a modern infrastructure, fast internet and lots of bars and restaurants.

But for me living in paradise is not enough. 6 months out of the year I travel, house sit, couch surf and volunteer around the world.

Like many digital nomads, I am being paid first world salaries but I live in a low-cost third world country. Well actually I live in an almost first world gringo bubble which is still cheaper than any first world country but has a high standard of living. Due to the lower living expenses I can afford to work less or save more money to travel. I work 30-40 hours per week when I’m living on my farm.

On the road, I only work 15-20 hours per week. I check my messages in the morning and proofread the texts I have done the day before. After that I do some sightseeing, volcano boarding or surfing, and then work again in the early evening. I love to stay at least 2 weeks in one place. Sometimes I stay a whole month and essentially blend in with the locals. I’ll get a real feel for what each place is like, and I make friends around the globe.

Traveling and working also gives you the opportunity to improve your language skills – this gives a whole new meaning to paid vacations, don’t you think? How about spending a few weeks on a beautiful island in the only English-speaking country of Latin America – Belize?

Why not? You are a freelancer. So enjoy your freedom.


Want to get started as a freelance translator?

Check out our new online course “Introduction to Freelance Translation”




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About "" Has 4 Posts

I am a digital nomad, freelance translator and blogger. I live on an eco-farm in the middle of the Peruvian jungle 6 months out of the year. The other half of the year I travel, house sit, couch surf and volunteer around the world. Follow me to learn more about life on the road as a freelance translator.

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