Working as a freelancer is more challenging than social media shows us. Reality can break all the imagination about sitting under palm trees with a laptop (and pina colada). Finding and communicating with clients, self-management, and continuous professional development requires a list of soft and hard skills. The big amount of freelancers in the translation industry pushed us to write this article that can be helpful for newbies and partly for experienced freelancers (not only translators).

1. What do you want to do? Find your niche

find your niche

It is luck, from scratch, to find a niche that would bring you not only a job and money but an inspiration for long-term work.

For freelance translators it is essential to have an understanding of where you are good and what you love. Most freelance translators have 3-4 niches they are specialized in. To make the best choice - combine three steps:

  • Pick a topic interesting to you.
  • Determine your skills.
  • Research a market (check the freelance websites and try to understand the customers' demand.)

2. Be an expert and promote your own brand

be an expert

Being a freelancer, you should have one of the most essential skills - finding your target audience and selling your services to them. To handle this challenge, you shouldn't be a professional marketer but must understand the basic principles:

  • Be visible: Build your brand inside social media. Learn how the different platforms work and what makes each one special. The trending platforms for sharing your experience are Instagram and TikTok, where you can attract the audience with entertaining and exciting linguistic content. Build a network around your various social media channels and expand it constantly. Post relevant content that (preferably) you created yourself or comment on someone else's. If you post other people's content, always provide a link or mention them.
  • Be social: Join online communities and collaborate with experts from your and related industries to share the experience. Being known as a professional means getting more "points" and respect - "word of mouth" can be helpful.
  • Be professional: Introduce yourself as an expert. Show the tasks and projects you have worked on. Provide case studies, any useful figures, and examples of materials. Describe from the start your requirements as well.

3. Find the clients

find the clients

This is the biggest concern for people who have just started as freelancers. Besides organic clients' attraction by brand development, you can directly work on this task.

  • Networking - the best and fastest way. Often your colleagues can decline some jobs because it doesn't fit the niche they are working in. In this case, they can offer someone to the client who can cover the task. Be that person for freelancers and clients around you.
  • Search inside the freelance platform. Upwork, Fiverr, TopTal, etc., are a great base of potential clients. The nuance is that you should have an excellent rating for working in this environment consistently and for a long time. To get a good rating, freelancers often take cheap tasks (which are not interesting for experienced users) for the first time or cut off the hourly rate.
  • Communicate with experienced and successful freelancers. It seems strange initially, but we recommend doing this. Freelancers are a community and are usually very friendly and helpful. Find professional and successful freelancers in your field and ask them for some tips.

4. Take care of business and law

take care of business and law

The important part is being inside the legal environment of the country you work in — especially everything related to taxes. Learn what kind of taxes you have to pay and when to pay them. Do you need to start your own company? In most countries, it is encouraged to start a company, and there are offices that you can contact for questions. Also, check for government health insurance and retirement funds.

Often there are special rates for freelancers. Extra liability insurance or insurance to cover legal issues is also highly recommended. Disability insurance also makes a lot of sense, as small injuries or minor illnesses can potentially put you out of work for longer. When you are a freelancer, you should protect yourself from different situations.

5. Time management

time management

Time management is something every freelancer has to master sooner or later. No boss tells you what to do and when or reminds you of a deadline. So here are a few tips to help you with time management:

  • Be generous: ensure you have enough time to negotiate deadlines with clients. Estimate the needed time generously and always add a buffer (we suggest adding at least 20% depending on the project and if you have other things currently in the pipeline). That way, you will have enough time to do an excellent job!
  • Be organized: Organize your time and set it in specific blocks of 2 or 3 hours so you can focus (someone prefers the Pomodoro technique). Try to break projects down into sub-tasks that can be organized better. Try to avoid multitasking to stay concentrated and focused. Organize your tasks according to priority. You can use a traditional calendar or a tool like Trello to help you organize your schedule. Don't forget to schedule breaks, snacks, exercise, and other non-work activities into your schedule. Remember to give your brain a rest.

6. Work environment

work environment

It is more important than you think.

  • Prepare a working environment. You should have a place where you will feel comfortable and can focus on tasks. It doesn't matter if it is a dedicated room or a desk in the corner of your living room. Set up everything you need and only what you need to work. Get rid of things that easily distract you, like a TV or that book you enjoy reading. Try to have a space that is dedicated only to working. This way, you "go to work" but also "leave work" when you are done, making it easier to focus on working and enjoy your free time. Our brain can perfectly associate the place in the flat with the activities we always do there - so having a separate working area will also increase productivity.
  • Prepare the physically convenient furniture. The correct chair, table, and good lighting can help you at work and to save your health (back and vision, at least).
  • Change the environment. Sometimes visiting a coffee shop or library can be helpful, especially if you prefer to work outside your home. In libraries, it is easier to focus, but a coffee shop works for some tasks that don't require much concentration. But be honest with yourself if you get the work done at the place you go or want to leave the house for a while.

7. Life-work balance

life-work balance

One of the most significant advantages of freelancing is that you can arrange your time freely. Such a work style allows you to do a lot of activities while others are stuck in an office. And we suggest using these opportunities as much as possible. Walk with your dog or alone to catch the good weather, find a sport or hobby that brings a lot of endorphins, and arrange your time based on your needs. It can also help you when you are stuck on a work-related problem. Remember: a healthy mind lives in a healthy body (from an old Latin proverb).

Often at the start of a freelance career, people work as much as possible to reach "mystical" success or earn as much money as possible. In a long-term way, such an approach can lead to burning out - 7 in 10 people have experienced feelings of burnout on their job. To avoid such issues from the start, allow yourself a rest instead of running non-stop.

How does Lingohub help freelance translators with their work?

We hope you enjoyed reading about these aspects and tips for the freelance lifestyle. Let's talk a bit about the tasks average freelance translators face and how to avoid routine during them and reduce errors.

On one hand, freelance translators should accurately convey the text's meaning; on the other, provide an accurate translation. The creative task component depends on the text style - is that technical documentation or marketing materials, blog posts, etc.? Some documents require accuracy, while others require creativity. The best practice to not spend time and focus only on document adaptation is a pre-translation. In Lingohub, we offer the prefill feature, which can fill all the segments based on one of three options:

  • Machine translation. Your text will be automatically pre-translated - all you need to do is go through it and improve.
  • Translation Memory - if you are working on a partly translated project, you can import the already translated segments to Lingohub, and the system automatically will detect similar ones and provide the correct translation.
  • Existing language. You can use it for prefilling if your project is already translated into another language.

The next thing you may face during work is translating files with different technical nuances like placeholders and tags. Sometimes, especially for the newbie, it can be hard to understand what should be precisely translated. To support linguists with their job, Linghub automatically recognizes placeholders and tags. Also, it will remind you to include them in the translated text.

Regarding recognition of text parts, Lingohub also boasts the glossary (term bases) tool. If you provide the terms with their appropriate usage once (should they be translated, which translation is correct, etc.), the system will suggest the right options within the project in the future. With a glossary, you can forget about searching for the appropriate terms in the files and be sure of your translation's consistency.

Want to get more information? Check out the translator features page for more details on how Lingohub can assist you with translation tasks. You can also give it a try with a free 14-day trial.

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