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Tips for freelance translators

Before talking freelance translators, let's see where they are coming from. Medieval mercenary knights struck their lances for the prince who paid them most money in the fourteenth and sixteenth century. These soldiers were referred to as "free lance" because their weapons were not sworn to any lord's services and would therefore be ready to be dispatched for the highest bidder. The freelance translator's uniform of pajamas might be a stereotype we're all familiar with, but a few hundred years ago, freelancers dressed in a whole different attire: suits of armor. If freelancing somehow still feels like a battle to you, you need to read our tips for freelance translators.

What are the most important tips for freelance translators?

Freelance translators whose income depends solely on their virtual career have to take some serious measures to stand out in the eyes of their recruiter. Newly-graduated translators overlook some important aspects of their online profile that are making their potential employers take their candidacy for granted. Some freelance translators are linguistically gifted, but lack some basic knowledge when it comes to business. No matter how talented you are or how many languages you master, you will never generate a decent income if you do not have a group of clients spinning in your orbit. This is why one of the most important tips for freelance translators we have to give you is to create a freelance translator marketing plan.

tips for freelance translators

Having a polished CV is one of the most important tips for freelance translators

How do you create a freelance translator marketing plan?

The main goal of creating a marketing plan for your freelance translator business is to attract as many clients as possible. Your website, blog and CV have to give your potential clients trust signals and convince them that you have what it takes to fulfill the required task. You need to demonstrate your language skills as clearly as possible. Your translator CV must reflect the fields you specialize in in an orderly fashion. You have to be quick to answer your e-mails because your client might otherwise move on looking for a more motivated candidate. In order to create a suitable marketing plan for you, you need to reflect on:
  • What services you have to offer;
  • What areas you specialize in;
  • Who your targeted clients are;
  • Who your competitors are;
  • What your unique skills that differentiate you from others are;

What happens after you create a marketing plan?

After you create a solid marketing plan, one of the most important tips for freelance translators we could give you is to do your best to maintain your clientele. You have probably already put immense effort into finding your clients and the last thing you want to do is to let them slip away from your fingers. This is why one of the most important tips for freelance translators is to keep your current clients as happy as possible.

How do you keep your clients as happy as possible?

The main goal of finding clients is to have a steady workflow. There is no point in finding clients if you are not going to provide your services to the best of your ability. Neglecting your clients' needs or slacking off your duty in terms of deadlines or quality will not only have a negative impact on your income, but can also taint your reputation in the translation field. In order to keep your client satisfied with your work, you need to reflect on:
  • Listening to your clients actively and understanding their needs;
  • Following your client's instructions;
  • Being willing to correct any mistakes and modifying the translation when asked to;
  • Being highly responsive to e-mails and telephones and always maintaining a professional and friendly tone;
  • Being honest about pricing and providing discounts when applicable;
  • Respecting your client's time and never missing a deadline;
    tips for freelance translators
One of the most important tips for freelance translators is to keey your client happy

What happens after you keep your clients happy?

Some of the key tips for freelance translators is to know your limit and your boundaries. Freelance translators who have been lucky enough to attract a high number of clients because of their excellent marketing strategies as well as ability to cater to their clients' needs can sometimes feel swamped and burnt out. One of the most difficult aspects of freelance translating is to learn to say no. Some freelance translators are reluctant to reject job offers because they feel they are wasting an opportunity to increase their revenues. Accepting an overwhelming workload can be counterproductive and actually lead to a decline in the quality and therefore losing your hard-earned clients. This is why one of the most important tips for freelance translators is to set some solid boundaries.

How do you set some solid boundaries?

You should make it clear to your clients that you have a limited capacity per day, week, month, etc. You have the right to say no if you feel your time and energy do not allow you to undertake the requested task. This is one of the tips for freelance translators that are often overlooked despite their importance. In order to learn to set some solid boundaries, you should reflect on:
  • The number of words you are comfortable translating per day;
  • The income you need to feel financial security per month;
  • The holidays you need per year;


These practical tips for freelance translators should help newcomers cope at the beginning of their translation journey and know which path to take when getting established. If you want to read about common mistakes that new freelance translators make at the beginning of their career, read: