​Tips for building a successful freelance career in translation and interpretation​

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Whether freelancing is your full-time job or a side hustle, it takes more than just time to build up a network of clients, partners, and contacts. Working as a freelance translator or interpreter can be extremely rewarding – from cherry-picking the projects you take on to working at your own pace and building stronger relationships with clients. A freelance translation job can expand your expertise and open the door to new markets and experiences, not to mention the potential income.

At the same time, freelancing can sometimes spell financial instability, irregular hours, and a fluctuating workload. Therefore, before your freelance life starts spinning out of control, review our tips and tricks to stay on track and thrive.

Become an expert in your field. Be it court interpretation or medical translation, it is imperative that you master the ins and outs of your field. Learn the specific terminology and know the minute differences between synonyms. Apart from that, what can really help you stand out from the competition is an insightful and comprehensive grasp of your focus area. Be the translator or interpreter who goes beyond the realm of the language and context and can enjoy educated conversations with the lawyers, doctors, and social workers they work for.

Stay open to new up-and-coming trends. Staying current in your field and constantly honing your skills shouldn’t get in the way of exploring adjacent areas. If you focus on legal translation and court interpretation, why not read up on business and management? While it might not be realistic to branch out to a completely foreign territory, identifying the areas that you can build on with your existing knowledge will diversify your linguistic repertoire and clientele.

Let your talent shine. From social media to a personal blog, workshops, conferences, journal papers, presentations, and educational sessions, the avenues for revealing your passions abound. Do you specialize in interpreting at agricultural conferences? Share the hardest terms you’ve encountered or tips for taming interpretation nerves.

Another great way to pass your experience on to fellow translators or interpreters is by joining a professional organization or association such as ATIA. Not only do we run conferences and workshops, but we also offer mentorship opportunities so you can contribute your expertise to others in the field.

Go an extra mile for your clients. Don’t just send off another assignment or project: build relationships with your clients, anticipate their needs, and find out how else you can make their lives easier. Although you will most likely juggle multiple projects and aggressive deadlines, don’t just wall yourself off from the world. Take the time to get to know your clients. Use translation and interpreting to learn about their business, services, competition, and clients.

Follow the market. The demand for translators and interpreters has constantly been in flux – the top fields for translation and interpreting of today might succumb to nascent new areas of tomorrow. Stay abreast of the news and updates pertinent to your field, sign up for newsletters, attend conferences and workshops to better plan your career trajectory. Keep an eye out for emerging new industries that might need your services and develop the skills to match their needs.