How to Become a Freelance Translator / Interpreter?
Many factors contribute to the success of the freelance translators and interpreters around the world. The quality of services rendered, the price, the area where the linguist works, and the languages offered all play a huge role in the success of a freelance linguist.
The quality of the translation/interpretation services is probably the most important factor in the success of a freelance translator or interpreter. Creating a positive experience for clients, whether they are individuals, companies, or translation agencies can mean the difference between ultimate success and epic failure. Many freelance translators and interpreters rely on 'word of mouth' advertising to spread the word about the company as their business gets started. A positive experience for many clients includes having a linguist who finishes an assignment before the deadline, or shows up on time or early to interpret. A positive experience can also mean that within the project, whether written or spoken, it was obvious that the linguist had a great deal of background information and knowledge on the subject which allowed him or her to communicate complex, industry-specific ideas into the target language in a clear and simple way. Positive experiences for clients also include the level of professionalism and confidentiality on behalf of the linguist. All of these points figure into the positive experience that will hopefully be relayed to potential clients via word of mouth who are looking for a professional linguist.
A second, but equally important factor in finding success as a freelance translator or interpreter is to be familiar with the industry specific prices. All successful freelance linguists have researched the market that they are looking to penetrate and create a competitive pricing strategy accordingly.
The area in which a freelance linguist is willing to work is a large factor in the number and types of clients that a linguist will typically attract. In major U.S. cities, many freelance translators and interpreters will often find that their services are sought out by large and potentially international or multinational companies who can offer regular work, while the freelance linguists who work in the smaller towns find that their business comes sporadically from individuals needing a one-time project completed. The accessibility of the freelance translators and interpreters is a large part of what determines the level of success that they have in their career.
The final element that can make or break a freelance translator or interpreter is the number of languages offered. Often times, clients prefer to have as few freelance linguists as possible to increase consistency, so the more languages the freelance linguist can offer, the more regular business they will receive from clients. The fact that a client can rely on one person to provide language services in 3 or more languages is paramount - assuming that the professionalism, pricing and quality are all acceptable. The fewer steps a client has to go through to make sure a language project is completed, the better.
Freelance linguists work long hours and often experience a sort of roller coaster ride when it comes to successes and failures, but in the end, with a passion for languages, a desire to help people and a well planned business strategy, freelance linguists can become very successful.