There exist quite a few resources on freelance translator tips out there. Even though some existing tips are applicable across the board, every author’s content and experience are unique and so is their readership or target audience. In the paragraphs below, I am sharing those tips and best practices that have worked for me as a French-English freelance translator. My assumption is that you already possess the necessary translator training, skills and techniques including:

  • Formal education or training in translation or linguistics
  • Native proficiency level in your target language (s) (excellent grammar, writing and vocabulary skills)
  • Reading and comprehension skills in your source language (s)
  • Cultural knowledge in both source and target languages
  • Good computer and word processing knowledge
  • Proven experience as a translator: on the job, volunteering, practice tests…

The following tips and tools have greatly contributed to my success as a freelance translator:

  1. Having an office or a dedicated work-space
  2. Investing in essential hardware. Click here for a list of recommended hardware
  3. Having a business plan, budgeting and determining your ideal, break-even and median rates
  4. Having a buffer income to serve as safety net while your business picks up or during slow periods
  5. Finding a niche and specializing in at most 3 domains
  6. Investing in continuous education: formal, training, workshops, conferences…
  7. Getting certified especially if you don’t have a degree in translation
  8. Using recommended software & tools. Click here for a list of recommended software and tools for a freelance translator
  9. Making use of available resources. Click here for a list of some available resources for a freelance translator
  10. Maintaining consistent good customer service and customer satisfaction:
    • Responsiveness
    • High quality
    • Reliability
    • Confidentiality
  11. Implementing a consistent networking/marketing strategy:
    • Strong online presence
      • Social media: Website or blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
      • Joining industry and target market Facebook and LinkedIn
    • Joining local, national and international professional associations
    • Joining professional directories
      • Proz.com
      • TranslatorsCafé
    • Different profiles and marketing methods for direct and indirect clients
    • A good targeted CV
  12. Exercising good time-management and self-discipline
  13. Outsourcing the following tasks if possible:
    • Bookkeeping
    • Accounting
    • Web design
    • Housekeeping
  14. Ensuring payment is received by:
    • Identifying and avoiding scams
    • Requesting a Purchase Order prior to accepting a job
    • Vetting new clients
    • Submitting an invoice with delivery
  15. Offering different payment platforms to facilitate multi-currency payments from across the globe:
    • Check
    • Bank Transfer
    • ACH
    • TransferWise
    • Skrill
    • PayPal

Written by 

Freelance French-English translator.

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