Make More Money Translating: 6 practical ways to get there

December 4, 2014
Make More Money Translating: 6 practical ways to get there

Employees are used to having a set salary, and aside from occasional overtime or end-of-year bonuses, their earning potential is capped at a certain amount. One of the great things about working as a freelance translator is that you have the potential to earn as much money as you want. With this in mind, this post will discuss some of the methods that you can use to increase your income level. 

1. Work for longer

Whilst it’s always favorable to secure more lucrative contracts than continuing to work at lower rates of pay for longer, sometimes it’s just not possible. In this situation, it’s always nice to have the option to simply take on more work if you need the extra money.

2. Raise your rates

How much do you charge your clients for services rendered? It’s worth checking what the average wage for freelance translation work is and making sure that you’re priced around that level. Of course, if your translation niche is more specialized (see point 4 below!) then you’ll be able to command a higher rate. But even if you’re in a field that requires less expertise, then you should still regularly evaluate your rates: over time, the cost of living increases, and to reflect this you should be open to raising your rates in line with that. 

3. Work with more clients

If you’re relatively new to freelance translation and already have dependable, ongoing work from one or two different clients, then it’s time to think about broadening your clientele. By accepting jobs that are only “one-off” or short-term in duration, you’ll be able to accumulate a wealth of client testimonials that will make you stand out from the crowd. Over time, your increasing number of recommendations will lead to new clients approaching you for work directly, saving you the time of searching for them, and allowing you to allocate more hours to paid work instead. 

4. Diversify

If your translation workload is slowing down, why not try branching out into other areas related to translation? Offering proofreading and localization services for documents already in their target language is a good place to start, and providing consultancy or advice to other freelancers could be another potential avenue to pursue. By weighing up your own particular skills and experiences then you’ll no doubt find even more ways to diversify your freelance career.

5. Specialize

At first glance, this might seem counter-intuitive to the previous suggestion, but that’s not necessarily the case. By establishing yourself as the authority in a very specific area (such as international horse breeders!), then you’ll be able to charge a higher rate for your service due to the lack of competition. Think about your passions and interests and see if a potential niche for translation services emerges.  It’s possible to work in multiple niches and still come across as the authority in each one, and this is how specializing can work hand-in-hand with diversifying. For more information on the importance of specializing, click here.

6. Secure ongoing contracts

Your ultimate goal should be to retain a loyal client base that provides you with regular, ongoing work. By making a contract stipulating that you’ll provide a certain amount of work each month and be remunerated for it, then you can spend less, unpaid time trying to attract new clients and more time working on paid assignments. The famous saying “time is money” is especially apparent in the freelance world.

Have you found a good way to increase your income? Please do share your methods with us in the comments 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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