Evaluate Yourself: Is being a freelance translator really for you?

November 13, 2014
Evaluate Yourself: Is being a freelance translator really for you?

Whilst there are lots of benefits to working as a freelance translator, there’s also significant amounts of less-romanticised, hard work that’s also involved.

This post will ask some of the hard questions that aspiring freelance translators will have to consider themselves, prompting you to evaluate yourself and see if this is the sort of job that you’d enjoy doing.

Do you have good attention to detail?

When working as a freelance translator, you’ll obviously need to be fluent in at least two different languages. However, in addition to this, you will also need to be the sort of person who loves hunting for details. For example, can you instantly spot the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re”? 

Your clients will expect you to have a firm knowledge of both the source and target language, and they also trust your ability to produce a high-quality translation. If you’re the sort of person who loves reading the fine print, then this is a good sign!

Can you work alone?

Do you enjoy working alone? If you’re serious about being a freelance translator, then this is worth considering. Although shared offices designed specifically for freelancers and self-employed people do exist, the majority of freelance translators will work alone. 

This might sound appealing if you’re more introverted, but for people who draw a great deal of energy from working with others, the prospect of not interacting with co-workers can be daunting. If this does sound challenging, then you should definitely make sure that you have a group of friends to regularly see in your spare time.

Can you market yourself?

Unlike a standard employee, you’re going to have to go out and look for work yourself. As part of this process, you’ll be required to market your skills and tell potential clients how great you are and why they should consider hiring you.

This sort of self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and whilst it’s possible to learn how to sell yourself effectively, some people just really don’t enjoy this.  Are you the sort of person who enjoys job interviews? If the thought of having another interview fills you with dread, then working as a freelance translator might not be for you.

Can you deal with uncertainty?

When freelance translators decide to branch off on their own instead of taking an in-house job, having a consistent stream of income is never a reason they list for wanting to leave! By becoming self-employed, you’re trading this financial dependability for other potential gains, including the possibility to make a lot more money. 

However, there is never a guarantee of constant work, and there are often times when work seems to be unavailable, especially when you’re first starting out. Perhaps it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you’d be able to adapt to this, and whether your family (if you have one) would be ok with this or able to help support you during quieter months.

Whilst these questions might be tough to ask yourself, don’t let them put you off seriously considering a career as a freelance translator. 

If you’re considering starting a freelance translation career and are currently thinking about some other questions not listed above, why not share them in the comments section below?

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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