8 tips for how to start a freelance translator business

Do you want to have a better work/life balance? If yes, it’s time to leave your office job and start a freelance translator business.

Today, you don’t need to work for a traditional employer to build a successful career. If you have the necessary skills and motivation, you can achieve everything you want in your life. 

Do you want to get some tips on how to start a freelance translator business? Check out the following eight tips and learn how to land the first project.

Find your niche

First of all, you should identify your core competencies and key skills. You should answer the question: what exactly I can offer to my clients? 

Take a sheet of paper (or open a text document) and do the following:

  • List your language pairs starting from the strongest one.
  • Indicate your areas of specialization: medical, legal, technical, website translation, etc.
  • Indicate your areas of interest: fitness, culinary, fashion, art, etc. 
  • List your skills: computer skills, time management skills, active listening skills, etc.
  • Indicate translation software you use: MemoQ, SDL Trados, Across, etc.

Now, you should read aloud what you have written. After that, you should think about the projects you want to work on in the future. 

And finally, you should try to find the niche where your “competencies” and your “interests” overlap.

Join freelance platforms

The easiest way to start working as a freelancer is to create an account on freelance platforms.

There are two types of platforms that you can join: websites designed for freelancers of all kinds (e.g., Upwork), and websites designed specifically for translators (e.g., The Word Point). It’s up to you decide which one to choose. 

Just keep in mind that whatever platform you choose, you will have to pay commission. Commission rates vary from 0.5% to 20%.


Screenshot source: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062538-Freelancer-Service-Fees?flash_digest=e8fb2fc8596f69e13926140f6929083a0c91b0a6

Create your website 

If you don’t want to join freelance platforms, you can create your own portfolio website. It’s another great way to showcase your works online and find new clients.

A professional website should contain the following information:

  • Comprehensive bio. Tell about yourself, your experience, and education. Mention your professional achievements and explain why you decided to become a translator. 

Screenshot source: https://www.eamtranslations.com/

  • List of services you offer. If you can provide services other than translation, for instance, Amazon listing optimization or machine translation post-editing, you should state it on your site.

Screenshot source: https://www.eamtranslations.com/

  • Testimonials. If you can reach out to your past clients and ask them to leave feedback, don’t hesitate to do it. Positive reviews will help you to land a job.

Screenshot source: https://www.eamtranslations.com/

Start blogging

Do you want to promote your freelance translator business in the most effective way? If your answer is “yes”, you should start blogging on your website. 

If you create and publish high-quality content that adds value for your clients, you will achieve the following results:

  • Increase your Google rankings 
  • Drive organic traffic to your website
  • Grow your online presence
  • Convince prospective clients that you are a true expert in your field

Be active on social media

We live in the era of social media. And whether your clients are small legal firms, large manufacturing companies, or popular YouTube vloggers, you can reach out to them via social media.

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great platforms to advertise your freelance translation business. To get the most from social media, do the following:

  • Create business accounts on every platform that your target audience actively uses. Choose a professional photo. Don’t forget to proofread your bio.
  • Publish fresh posts regularly. You can create your own posts or simply share curated content.
  • Join groups and discussions that are popular among your prospective clients. Be active and don’t hesitate to share professional tips for free.
  • Answer to all comments and direct messages you get. Be open for communication.

Screenshot source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicalinktranslations/

Set your freelance rate

Freelance business, as well as any other kind of business, is always about the money. So before you land your first job, you should calculate your hourly, daily, and project rate.

You should know how much exactly you should charge your clients to get a stable income.

Here are a few tips on how to work out your freelance rate:

  • Visit a popular freelance platform. Look through the profiles of your competitors. Find out how much they charge their clients.
  • Set annual net income target. First, think about how much money you want to earn in a year. After that, calculate the number of working hours in a year. And then, divide net income target on a number of working hours. The result you get is your hourly rate.
  • Don’t forget about the taxes. As a freelance translator, you are responsible for paying the self-employment tax of 15.3%.

Develop new skills

As you know, competition among translators is intense. And if you want to succeed in the long run, you should have more than one talent. For this reason, you should continuously develop new skills and broaden your knowledge.

If you don’t know where to start, analyze the demand for translation services in your specific niche. Define which new skills can turn into your competitive advantage. 

Let’s say your area of specialization is website translation. If you become an expert in SEO, you will significantly increase your chances to land a highly-paid job.

Think positively

Remember that the hardest part of the freelance translator business is to start. 

Yes, you may face difficulties in finding your first clients and landing your first jobs. But you shouldn’t give up! 

You should think positively and keep trying. Once you complete a few first projects, it will be much easier to grow your business.


You have a unique opportunity to start a freelance translator business without any heavy investments. So what are you waiting for? 

Take advantage of freelance flexibility and enjoy your life to the fullest. Manage your time in the way you like and earn as much money as you want.  

Don’t miss a chance to live your dream and become a happier person. Become a freelancer today!

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