Monday, February 4, 2019

5 Major Challenges of Becoming a Freelance Translator by Kristin Savage

Starting a career can be a rocky road for people in most professions. You're entering a completely new chapter of your life and you have no idea where to start or what to expect. Suddenly, you're no longer in school and the fight for your place in the market is beginning.

The same is true for freelance translators. Even though you initially may feel that your knowledge of the languages and internet access is everything you need, there's more to it than that. The truth is, there are some major challenges ahead and you won't be able to avoid them all. However, you can overcome these challenges if you put in some serious effort and arm yourself with patience and persistence.

Here are 5 major challenges every new freelance translator needs to face at the beginning of their career.

1. Finding Clients

First things first, you need to decide where and how you’re going to find clients. You may think that all you need to do is set up a social media account and wait for the offers to come rolling in. However, that’s not how things work.

Setting up a business page on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., is a good start, but it won't take you very far. The truth is, you need to start networking.

Start by creating a profile on freelancing websites and start hunting for gigs. Be persistent and send as many proposals as possible since the first job is always the hardest to get.

Apart from freelancing platforms, get in touch with translation agencies looking for remote translators. Regardless of the job openings they have, reach out to them and let them know that you're available for projects.

The bottom line is, if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you need to be applying for jobs, sending emails, calling and asking questions tirelessly. It's the only way for you to seal that first deal.

2. Setting a Price

Another challenge that many freelance translators face is setting a price. You need to set the rate which suits both you and your client.

But how can you know what’s the right price?

Rule number one: do not underestimate yourself. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you should be charging less than everyone else.

Rule number two: do not overestimate yourself. You know you’re good, but the market still doesn’t. Don’t go crazy with your initial rate.

The best recipe for setting the perfect rate is research. Sniff around and learn about your competitors. Find out how good they are, how many clients and working experience they have.

Once you have a clear picture of what’s on the market, you’ll be able to set the perfect rate for yourself at your beginning.

Remember, once you get on your feet and seal a couple of deals, you’ll be able to slowly increase your rate.

3. Managing Deadlines

Deadlines are a translator’s worst enemy. Or are they?

Many freelance translators will tell you the worst thing about their job is the impossible deadlines they constantly need to deal with.

Their clients seem to be unreasonable when it comes to setting the deadline. This is why it often happens that a freelancer needs to work all night in order to meet the deadline.

Why does this happen?

The truth is, newer freelancers tend to accept as many projects as possible rather than refusing offers and letting their clients down. This is normal and not at all surprising. However, this strategy may start working against you.

What if you take on too many projects and fail to complete them?

What if you complete them but it turns out to be low quality?
“Instead of embarrassing yourself in front of the clients, it’s better to stay organized and modest.  Take only the projects you’re absolutely certain you can complete in time” says Dina Indelicato, a content contributor at PickWriters.
As time goes by, you’ll be able to make the right judgment call and take the exact amount of work you can complete properly.

4. Standing out from the Competition

Let’s be honest, the competition on the freelancing market is harsh. Especially if you’re only just getting started. There are people with much more experience killing the game and you’re supposed to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

But, how can you do it?

In order to make the difference between yourself and the competition, there’s a couple of things you need to cover:

  • a killer CV
  • a great cover letter with strong points and a personal note
  • confidence
  • social media as a portfolio

You have nothing to lose so make sure to invest all your efforts into creating the perfect application documentation and a winning attitude.

5. Time Zones and Cultural Differences

When you’re a translator, you’re often collaborating with or working for people from different cultural backgrounds. This means that your viewpoints might be different and you might experience some trouble communicating with them.

The time zones are always a barrier but with a bit of understanding, you can easily establish a regular communication flow with your clients.

Cultural differences are the tricky part. In order to be a good translator, you need to know how to deal with culture-specific references within the text. Don’t be hasty when making translating decisions. 

Keep in mind that the reader of the target text might not be familiar with the source text and the circumstances it was created in.

Starting out as a freelance translator implies that you need to be ready to take things into your own hands and start fighting for your spot. It’s highly important that you’re determined to succeed and you’re aware that it’s not going to be as easy as one might think.

The challenges listed above are something most freelancers have to deal with when starting out. Luckily, you’re now ready to face them and overcome them. Preparation is key, so think about the solutions for each of these challenges and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she had found herself as a freelance writer. You can find her on Facebook.