You are working as an in-house translator and you are tired of fixed hours, bosses and travelling to your job
during rush hour. You might struggle with your schedule or not being able to choose what you translate. Is it
time to become an independent translator? Answer the following questions before you take the big
1. Are you going to make enough to meet your needs?
Most clients hire freelancers on a project-to-project basis. So you have to be proactive about budgeting.
Many freelance translators have permanent jobs elsewhere. So consider, would this role be fiscally
beneficial? Before committing, understand the hours you will spend on a project and if they will accurately
reflect the hourly payment you will receive.
2. Are you willing to work alone?
If you are a person that works best in teams, freelance translation might not be for you. At times translation
can be a lonely job so it is important to reflect on the environment that you thrive in. If your ideal work space
is a company culture with direct colleague collaboration an organization with more co-workers would be a
3. Can you meet deadlines?
Freelance translators must be timely and detail-oriented. At times there will be an overload of projects so it is
important to be organized and plan ahead. If you are thinking of freelancing while keeping your current job,
beware that most companies will require you to be available during normal business hours which limits your
attention and time to other jobs you might have. You’ll need to be able to not only meet deadlines but
simultaneously insure those deadlines don’t interfere with other commitments.
4. Can you be flexible and multitask?
This is the most important question to ask yourself. The key to freelance work regardless of the field, is
adaptability. However, multi-tasking does not mean overworking as this can lead to lack of quality. It means being able to work productively and independently because you won’t typically have a supervisor checking in with you on a regular basis.
5. Do you have enough time to market yourself?
As a freelance translator, you will constantly be networking and searching for different opportunities.
Consequently, this outreach time adds up; especially when you are constantly educating yourself about new
markets, sending your CV to agencies or developing a marketing strategy. It is a good idea to to create your own
personal website and partner with other translators to better reach potential clients.
6. Do you have samples of previous translations or references?
It is important that you are able to position yourself as a desirable candidate. In the translation industry,
a portfolio is a much better indicator of your abilities than a resume. Although some documents you translate
might be confidential, you can provide samples without mentioning your client’s name and include those
parts that will not reveal confidential information. Furthermore, you can use any translation you did during
your translation studies as a sample. Of course, past experience is not necessarily a requirement but it will
give you better chances.