5 top financial tips for freelance translators

October 26, 2016
5 top financial tips for freelance translators

Freelance translation can be a lucrative career, with some translators earning far more than they ever did while employed fulltime. Here are five top tips to ensure that your finances as a freelance translator are in top shape.

Professional invoicing

If your professional translations are of the highest quality then make sure your invoices don’t let you down. Every document that you produce reflects on your level of professionalism, including your invoices. 

There are some great invoicing programs on the market for really reasonable prices, so read some reviews and pick a software package to suit your needs. As well as ensuring that your invoices look professional, the right invoicing software will also calculate the applicable tax and thus avoid any embarrassing accounting errors when it comes to sending out your bills. 

Save for the unexpected

Most freelancers don’t enjoy access to sick pay, so have to build up a ‘rainy day fund’ in case they are unable to work for a few days. Make this a priority when you begin freelancing and top up the fund each month. Having at least one month’s income in hand is always a good idea and the more you can save (just in case) the better. 

If you worry about how you would cope financially with a longer period of being unable to work, then products like key man insurance can be great for additional peace of mind.

Put your prices up

Don’t be afraid to put your prices up every couple of years. Many freelancers are reluctant to raise the idea of price increases with existing clients for fear of causing those clients to look elsewhere for a cheaper translator. However, it is not unreasonable to increase your prices to cover the rising cost of living. A ‘cost of living allowance’ is awarded annually by many employers, so why should you miss out just because you work freelance?

Build up to holidays incrementally

As a freelance translator, holidays can be a tricky matter when it comes to financial management. Taking a break means not earning, but time off doesn’t need to hit you in the pocket. Instead, work slightly longer days in the weeks running up to the time you plan to be on leave. Working an extra 1.5 hours per day means you can work almost an extra day every week, ensuring that any income you would have missed as a result of holiday has already be earned by the time your plane takes off. 

Charge extra for rush translation jobs

There are plenty of reasons why clients need rush translation jobs. From last minute business emails that have to be word perfect to documents that need to be printed in time to get them to waiting clients, urgent translation services are much in demand. 

It’s a good policy to always charge extra for rush translation jobs. If you have to reschedule other client work in order to fit the job in, or else work evenings and/or weekends in order to meet the client’s deadline, be sure to charge a premium that reflects your need to reorganise your work and give up your leisure time. 

Even if you’re in the middle of a fairly quiet period at work, it is a good idea to charge extra for a rush translation job, as doing so sets a precedent. The danger is that if you bend over backwards to meet a client’s deadline once for no extra money, the client may well expect you to do so again next time – and next time you could be absolutely rushed off your feet! Having a fixed cost in mind for urgent translation work is therefore always a good idea. 

Final thoughts

What are your top tips for ensure that your freelance translation career is as lucrative as possible? Let us know by leaving a comment. 

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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