What does a freelance translator do?

freelance translation
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Christian Jacobsen  April 29th 2024
Table of contents

There is no industry, or company, in life that does not require translated texts to communicate with other countries in order to do business. It could be that they want to send contracts to China, or simply promote themselves on Instagram to reach audiences in Germany; regardless of what it is, translation is necessary. Many companies and individuals are looking for freelance translators to work on specific projects, such as translating their website or specific files. Knowing about this possible career option can help you decide if you can opt for it instead of working full time as a translator. In this blog, we define this career and share details about the role, such as what they do, how to find a job as a freelance translator and what tips you could use in this role.

What is a freelancer translator?

A freelancer translator is one who works independently by translating written texts from one language to another. Usually freelance translators have several clients that they serve on individual projects, or for entire campaigns. Sometimes this may be translating just one document, or translating an entire book. This varies and depends on the freelancer. Freelance translators can find work through agencies or by submitting proposals to single clients. There is also the possibility of advertising on social media.

What does a freelancer translator do?

Among the many activities they can perform, here are some of the main ones:

Create proposals

One way to get clients on a freelance basis is to create value propositions that clients can see and thus decide to hire you. You may spend part of your day searching databases for opportunities to see which ones match your skills. Once you identify one, you usually write unique cover letters to share your expertise and explain why you think you're a good fit for a job. Each may be unique and require specific work samples related to the project.

Translate the job

Clearly, as the title implies, the bulk of a freelance translator's work is in translation. As mentioned above, translations can be written texts, advertising materials, or even videos and audios. Some translators are specifically dedicated to writing subtitles for movies or programs to make these media more accessible in other languages. Translation also requires reading and understanding a text thoroughly, so you may be able to understand the context when converting the work into another language.

Editing the work

The editing part of the job is just as important as the translation itself. Many freelancers also spend much of their time editing work. Often, they can use basic translation tools that can provide a rough translation first. From there, you can edit the material for clarity. As with many writing assignments, even if you translate everything first, editing helps refine the text.

How to get started as a freelance translator

Here are some steps you can take to find a job as a freelance translator:

Develop your skills

Gain experience

Explore education

Create processes

Maintain a portfolio

If you're looking for a way to start freelancing in any field, translation may be for you. Many platforms are looking for freelance translators to translate from English to Spanish, or vice versa, and that's where you can find some projects that you can jump right into as a freelancer. And, who knows, maybe you'll find a taste and a skill you didn't know you had and that's where your future lies.

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