Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard “I should be a translator too, I’ve always been pretty good with languages!” from your friends! Although working as a translator attracts many people nowadays, translation requires both experience and skill.
So, what makes a good freelance translator? 🤔
We’ve asked our community of freelance translators the top qualities that freelance translators need to succeed, and here are their answers:
1. Good freelance translators have excellent linguistic proficiency
It’s no coincidence that translators are sometimes called “wordsmiths”. Translators must be familiar with cultural references and subtleties in their source and target languages. They are also able to spot puns, humours and figures of speech. There is no room for guessing in translation, because one single error can undermine the quality of your content and your professional image. Even if you can speak 4 languages fluently, good translators are trained, not born.
2. Professional behavior
You might be an excellent linguist, but you won’t be able to retain clients if you don’t behave professionally. Delivering a project within the deadlines and asking clients for more details if you’re having trouble with parts of the text are perfect examples of a professional behaviour. In other words: be serious and honest, and clients will keep coming back.
3. Freelance translators know how to organize their work
Being a freelancer requires a lot of autonomy and concentration. You need to be able to manage your own schedule (but don’t forget to take breaks) and deliver a project within the deadline, or else you are likely to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that builds up. If you tend to get a bit lost in organizing your tasks, you can also give it a try for a time-management application. For example, Clockify is a free software tracking how much time you’re spending on each step of a project. That way, it’s easier to allocate time for each task and deliver the project on time. 😉 Remember that you might receive jobs at any time, so it’s a good idea to be flexible about your working hours.
4. They are versatile (marketing, administration…)
As a freelancer, you’ll need to learn how to market yourself and emphasize your skills. To this end, you will have to know some marketing techniques, in order, for example, to improve your online presence. You should also consider other useful skills such as organising your paperwork and bills or understanding the Intellectual Property (IP) rights that apply to the digital sector. Online communities of translators like Acolad Community can also help you by sharing information about best practices. 😉
5. Good translators never rest on their laurels
You’ll probably receive translation offers in areas or industries that are unfamiliar to you. That’s why you need to be constantly building your knowledge and training your curiosity. Don’t hesitate to do research when you can’t immediately find the best way to translate a word, and try to keep up with the latest news.
6. They need good interpersonal skills
Last but not least, a translator needs good communication skills. Translators are also communicators. Try to have positive interactions with all your clients, colleagues and project managers. Bad relationships can tarnish your reputation, so always be friendly and polite. There’s nothing better than an extended network of freelance colleagues to help you keep up with all the latest news in the translation world. 😉