So, you’ve come to this website and you’re probably wondering:
How on earth do I even start working at home as a translator?
Well, I want to pose a few questions to you first.
- Can you fluently speak English AND another language?
- Do you have a computer?
- Do you have good internet access?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then you already got what it takes to start!
The real question now is a matter of finding that work (and thus finding that money).
When I started working as a freelance work-at-home translator, I was in the same place you were.
The first thing I did was actually Google-search opportunities to translate online for a living.
But there is no one-way to start freelancing. Everyone has their own story of how they started getting into this field (and making that sweet income from home).
So here are a couple suggestions to get yourself started.
PICK A NICHE
The world of freelance translating can be a little confusing at first. There’s so many people involved in it and so many things one can do in that field. The first thing you should figure out is what niche you should get into as a freelance translator. There are different things one can do from interpreting to proofreading.
There’s also the issue of picking what kind of translation work you will be doing. Will you be translating legal documents? Do you have experience in legal translation? What about interpreting for businesses? Or perhaps translating websites?
Pick a niche first. I promise you that will definitely make things a lot easier when jumping into this field. I made the mistake of not doing that and often found myself confused.
Oftentimes a microniche can be even more helpful. What’s a microniche? Think of a niche. That narrows down a general category, right? Well a microniche narrows it down even further. You can put yourself out there as someone who “brings Korean skincare videos on YouTube to a worldwide English-speaking audience”. Sounds cool, right?
Figure out what kind of clients you want to appeal to.
A lot of times, clients will be asking for someone with experience. How much experience depends on who the client is and what kind of work they’re looking to get done.
It can’t hurt to start by volunteering. Of course, you won’t be able to make a full-time income off of it, but building a portfolio will really look good to potential clients. Furthermore, you’ll get a feel of what it’s like to translate for clients, because everyone needs to get their feet wet first before diving into something no matter how confident they are in the task.
Non-profits like Translators Without Borders (https://translatorswithoutborders.org/) are looking for people to volunteer. TED Talks is also looking for translators to put subtitles in their plethora of videos. You won’t be making money off of these gigs, but it is a low-risk way of getting started.
But don’t just stop there! Good translators are often amazing writers, so practice writing passages and translating those into whatever language you’re proficient in! Brush up on vocabulary, syntax, grammar, and all the other important components to your language so that you’ll be ready when those assignments come pouring in!
The only way to get good at something is to keep doing it, so I really encourage those who are serious about work-at-home translation gigs to continue working on your craft. Even the most seasoned translators are not perfect and need practice from time-to-time, so don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t feeling experienced enough!
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Once you gained some experience (or once you’re REALLY ready to jump into it), then try to find small, paid low-risk translation gigs. Usually you can find these on job boards and forums dedicated to translators.
When I first started translating for money, I turned to Translators Cafe (https://www.translatorscafe.com/cafe/). Translators Cafe is a forum for where clients can find translators (and at-home translators can find work). There are plenty of opportunities for so many languages, so I am sure you can find gigs there that match your skills. Start off with some smaller projects and work your way up to bigger projects. I started off with a few small documents and now I am currently translating interviews between major companies in Korea.
There are plenty of translation agencies though, so feel free to explore them! Once you find one, feel free to send them an email with your resume telling them that you’re interested in working for them. If you have samples of your work, then definitely send those over too!
USE YOUR NETWORK!!!
Networking is something that’s really effective in finding new gigs/jobs. Don’t be afraid to spread the word to your colleagues and friends! Sometimes, I get gigs from mutual friends (friends of friends) looking for someone to translate a small document or a few sentences for a little cash.
If you’re plugged into communities which speak your language, then telling them about your abilities can really make a difference! Not everyone can speak both English and another language fluently, so there are most definitely opportunities to spread word about your new career to your colleagues (and perhaps get a couple of new gigs).
Well, these are pretty simple ideas that I wanted to share with you to start working at home as a freelance translator. I hope you found them helpful, because these were all things that I have used when beginning. Of course, there are more aspects to work-at-home freelance translation, and we’ll definitely explore those in future articles. However, I hope these will encourage those of you to really put yourself out there and begin your new career. As always, if you have questions, feel free to reach out to me or comment.