How can I increase my freelance translation income?

November 7, 2018
How can I increase my freelance translation income?

It’s that time of year when advertisers blow their budgets on convincing us that we need the latest, shiniest new products for Christmas. While those in traditional nine to five jobs have to rely on the prospect of seasonal bonuses if they want to earn some extra cash to pay for the festive season, freelancers have more flexibility in terms of scaling up their income. As such, we look at three quick tactics that can help you to increase your freelance translation income in time to pay for Christmas. 

1. Increase your rates

Let’s start with the most obvious thing that freelancers can do to earn more money: increase their rates. A rate increase requires careful timing. If your main client has just told you they’re struggling for cash, increasing your fees may well see them scrabbling to find another translator. However, with the cost of living going up every year, you are entitled (some would say obliged!) to increase your rates from time to time to keep pace with inflation. 

If you’re nervous about the impact of a sudden increase, you can always test the water and raise your prices for some of your clients, then let the dust settle before you do the same with others. This staggered approach helps to mitigate against the risk of your clients all dashing off at once to find alternative translation services

2. Work longer hours

Another obvious and fast way to increase your freelance translation income is to work longer hours. The longer you work, the more you can translate, and the more you can translate, the more you can earn. A commitment to work an extra 1.5 hours per day, five days a week, is the equivalent of turning a five-day week into a six-day week, but still with two days off! This is a quick and relatively painless way to bump your income up just before Christmas. 

3. Streamline your working life

Of course, you don’t always have to work harder in order to earn more money. Working smarter can be just as effective when it comes to increasing what you take home. Whether its cutting out social media use during the working day, using a marketing email service to cut down on individual email pitches or limiting the time you spend on the phone with too-chatty clients, there are many ways in which you can free up more time to spend on the task that brings in the cash – translation! 

Streamlining doesn’t just have to relate to work tasks, either. If you spend an hour of your working day on household chores, why not engage a cleaner to do those tasks instead? Provided you earn more in the hour that you free up than you have to pay the cleaner, you come out on top. 

Longer term ways to increase your freelance translation income

With Christmas already looming on the horizon, we’ve focused the ideas above on how to increase your freelance income rapidly. However, there are also longer-term ideas that can prove useful when it comes to achieving higher rates.

Learning a specialism is always a good idea. From medical translation to video translation, a new area of expertise is something that you can advertise to your existing clients and use to attract new clients. It is also something that you can charge more for than you can for regular translation services. 

And if learning an area of specialist translation isn’t enough of a challenge, how about learning a whole other language? Not all languages were created equal when it comes to translation cost, so why not task yourself with finding a higher-paying language than the one(s) you currently translate? (We did warn you that this was a longer-term goal!)

Final thoughts

Will you be taking action to bump up your freelance translation income in time for Christmas? If so, what’s your plan? Leave a comment to share your experience and inspire your fellow translators! 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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