How to Start a Profitable Freelance Translation Business

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Get an edge in the industry and avoid some of the common mistakes freelancetranslators make

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  • How to Start a Profitable Freelance Translation Business

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    How to Start a Profitable Freelance Translation Business

    The translation industry is one of the fastest growing fields and has been dubbed "recession proof" by Bloomberg Businessweek.

    The United States Department of Labor reports that the Employment of interpreters and translators is expected to grow 42 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

    But the question is: if the translation industry is rapidly growing, then why arent more freelance translators getting their fair share of business?

    That is where How to Start a Profitable Freelance Translation Business comes in. I wrote this guide to shorten your learning curve so you can get an edge in the industry and avoid some of the common mistakes freelance translators make.

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    Whether youre a seasoned translator or youre just starting out, this guide is full of easy and actionable tips to help you start a profitable freelance translation business or restructure an existing one.

    I want you to work smarter and not harder. This step-by-step guide will teach you the tricks of the trade and give you the tools needed to get ahead in the industry. You'll learn the essentials of running a successful freelance translation business.

    Congratulations on taking a leap of faith and doing something your future self will thank you for.

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    Discover your Strengths

    Before you can start a profitable freelance translation business, you have to identify what you want to do and what you are qualified to do.

    Get a good idea of the type of tasks you will excel in and the ones youll have to outsource.

    First, grab a pen and notepad and take five minutes to write down your key strengths and all of the things you noticeably do well.

    Sample Strength Evaluation list:

    Negotiation Communication skills (written/verbal)

    Problem-solving Creativity

    Selling Project management

    Next, find out how your best skills will benefit your clients. How will this address their concerns, problems, and goals?

    Once youve completed this exercise, you will use the skills youve written down to market yourself and increase the value of your freelance translation business.

    You want to emphasize your strengths instead of working on your weaknesses. Build on what you know so you can get ahead of the crowd.

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    Why You Should Specialize

    I cant think of any freelance translator that has become successful without specializing.

    Specialists are sought after for their expertise. By using your industry specific knowledge youll elevate the reputation of your freelance translation business and become the go to person.

    Yet, many freelancers feel that specializing is counterintuitive and they're hesitant to specialize in fear of limiting their business.

    Be a Specialist and Not a Generalist

    Specializing increases your earning potential. Similar to doctors and lawyers, freelance translators that focus on a particular field or industry get paid more.

    When you are experienced in translating a particular subject you can command higher per word rates.

    Specializing has helped many freelance translators take their business to the next level and succeed.

    How to Specialize Your Services

    Not sure what your specialty is? First, go with what you know. Look back into your educational training.

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    What did you major in? Think of previous jobs youve held and industries youve worked in. This is a good starting point when choosing a specialty.

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    Why You Should SpecializeI cant think of any freelance translator that has become successful withoutspecializing.Specialists are sought after for their expertise. By using your industry specificknowledge youll elevate the reputation of your freelance translation business andbecome the go to person.Yet, many freelancers feel that specializing is counterintuitive and they are hesitantto specialize in fear of limiting their business.Be a specialist and not a generalistSpecializing increases your earning potential. Similar to doctors and lawyers, freelance translators that focus on a particular field or industry get paid more.When you are experienced in translating a particular subject you can commandhigher per word rates.Specializing has helped many freelance translators take their business to the nextlevel and succeed.How to specialize your servicesNot sure what your specialty is? First, go with what you know. Look back into youreducational training.What did you major in? Think previous jobs youve held and industries youveworked in. This is a good starting point when choosing a specialty.

    Passion Skills Knowlege Experience Specialization

    The Three Spheres

    Another technique you can use to develop a specialty is what I call the Three Spheres.

    Ask yourself:

    1. What you're good at?2. What youd like to do?3. And what adds value to your clients?

    You can have multiple specialties for your freelance translation business, but make sure theyre not ambiguous.

    As you choose a specialization, dont worry about "pigeonholing" your freelance translation business. Specializing makes you an expert and experts always make more money.

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    The Riches are in the Niches

    When you think of all the potential clients that could use your translation services, its incredibly tempting to want to advertise to all of them.

    The last thing you want to do when youre new in business is to limit your opportunities, but that is what you exactly must do! If you try to sell to everyone, youll sell to no one.

    Identify Your Potential Clients

    By now youve already established what industry youll be specializing in, its now time to identify your ideal client and where they look to find solutions.

    Do they turn to search engines? Ask for referrals? Read industry magazines? You want to be as specific as possible.

    Learn as much as you can about your potential clients, or youll be wasting your precious time knocking on the wrong doors and selling to prospects that dont need your services.

    Time is money and the last thing you need to do is spend countless hours only to get rejected continuously.

    Laser Target Your Niche

    In order for you to find out what your clients need, first you have to find out who they are.

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    Learn as much as possible about your prospects. Find out who your ideal client is by using the following criteria:

    Demographics: Age, gender, income Psychographics: Preferences, priorities, personality Behavior: hobbies, pastime actives, similar likes and dislikes

    So you can maximize your chances of success ask yourself if the group youve selected has

    1. The ability to pay for your services2. The willingness to pay for your services

    After youve verified that your niche has the ability and willingness to pay for your services its time to locate them.

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    Locating Your Niche

    Where do your clients go to spend their time? Where do they go to find solutions to their problems?

    Do they spend their time online or offline? Do they read on their spare time? If so what papers or magazines? Where do they hangout?

    By finding the answers to these questions, youll go after the prospects that are in need of your services.

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    Getting paid what you are worth

    As a freelancer you have the power to choose not only how much you work, but also how much you earn.

    Determining your rates shouldnt be a guessing game. Take into account your skills, knowledge, expenses, and profit when calculating your rates.

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    Getting paid what you are worthAs a freelancer you have the power to choose not only how much you work, but alsohow much you earn.Determining your rates shouldnt be a guessing game. Take into account your skills,knowledge, expenses, and profit when calculating your rates.

    Calculating your rateWhether you are charging a flat fee, hourly fee, or per word you need to consider thefollowing before quoting clients:Billable timeBefore you accept a project, find out how long it will take you to complete the assignment. After all, time is money.The hourly rate will be the basis of your per word or flat fee you charge for projects. To calculate your rate with the formula I use go to www.translatorsacademy.com. Business ExpensesKeep track of all expenses that go into a translation project for a client. If the client hasnt paid for expanses in advance, youll have to pay for it upfront and bill them at a later date.

    Calculating Your Rate

    Whether you are charging a flat fee, hourly fee, or per word you need to consider the following before quoting clients...

    Billable Time

    Before you accept a project, find out how long it will take you to complete the assignment. After all, time is money.

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    The hourly rate will be the basis of your per word or flat fee you charge for projects. To calculate your rate with the formula I use go to www.translatorsacademy.com.

    Business Expenses

    Keep track of all expenses that go into a translation project for a client. If the client hasnt paid for expenses in advance, youll have to pay for it upfront and bill them at a later date.

    For example, if you were an interpreter that has to go out of town for an assignment, this would include your parking, lodging and transportation fees.

    Overhead

    We all have bills to pay. The overhead includes everything you need to run the business.

    If you have a home based office some of your overhead will be your rent, Internet, and phone bill.

    The following are other overhead fees that are important to consider:

    Marketing Accounting Office equipment Health Insurance Software expense Sick/Vacation time

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    Profit

    Once youve calculated the overhead it is time to ask yourself the next question: How much profit do you want to earn?

    The percentage you're going to charge for the profit is up to you and isnt related to how much time a project is going to take to complete.

    After youve estimated how much youre going to charge for a particular project then you can add the profit percentage to the project fee.

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    Working Smarter Not Harder

    Are you busy for the sake of being busy? If so, then youre not the only one. According to scientific studies, human beings have a desire to be busy all the time.

    But, before you fill up every minute of your day reading emails and writing a to-do list you should instead try to accomplish more by doing less.

    Quadruple Your Productivity with the 80/20 Rule

    The 80/20 rule, also know as Paretos Principle, states 80 percent of your outcomes stem from 20 percent of your inputs.

    In regards to productivity, this essentially means that 20 percent of what you do each day yields 80 percent of your results.

    Any more work beyond the 20 percent will have a minimal effect on your overall productivity level.

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    A Lack of Time is a Lack of Priorities

    The objective is to free up your time, so you can spend it as you like. Start prioritizing and identify the critical tasks that will boost your income.

    Next, set clear deadlines to focus on the important work to be completed. This ensures that youll do less and get more done.

    Trust me, those e-mails can wait

    Get Organized

    As a freelance translator youll wear many hats. Youre going to be the accountant, project manager, marketer, and more.

    For that reason, getting organized is essential to the success of your freelance translation business.

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    However, it doesnt end there. All of your time wont be billable. A sizeable amount will be devoted to administrative work. Handling these tasks is a necessary part of the business and will most likely be done by you.

    Fortunately, there are tools to help simplify the process and boost your efficiency.

    For a list of free tools to better manage you freelance translation business go to www.translatorsacademy.com

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    Trust me, those e-mails can waitGet organizedAs a freelance translator youll wear many hats. Youre going to be the accountant,project manager, marketer, and more.For that reason, getting organized is essential to the success of your freelance translation business.However, it doesnt end there. All of your time wont be billable. A sizeable amount will be devoted to administrative work. Handling these tasks is a necessary part of the business and will most likely be done by you.Fortunately, there are tools to help simplify the process and boost your efficiency.For a list of free tools to better manage you freelance translation business go to www.translatorsacademy.com

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    Remote Office Essentials

    The Internet has simplified the way we do business. The world is at your fingertips and you can work with clients anywhere on the globe.

    For that reason, your headquarters will most likely be in the comfort of your own home. The majority of the time youll be able to run your business remotely, free to work anywhere you please.

    Setting Up Your Workspace

    Ive listed some essential items needed to run your small business, including, but not limited to:

    A good desk Desktop [preferably] Ergonomic Keyboard Ergonomic chair Cell phone/Land line Copier/printer/scanner [in one] Online fax service Relevant software

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    Remote Office Essentials

    The Internet has simplified the way we do business. The world is at your fingertips and you can work with clients anywhere on the globe.

    For that reason, your headquarters will most likely be in the comfort of your own home. The majority of the time youll be able to run your business remotely, free to work anywhere you please.

    Setting Up Your Workspace

    Ive listed some essential items needed to run your small business, including, but not limited to:

    A good desk Desktop [preferably] Ergonomic Keyboard Ergonomic chair Cell phone/Land line Copier/printer/scanner [in one] Online fax service Relevant software

    The New Mindset of Attracting Clients

    When youre pitching to direct clients, all of your attention should be on them. You dont want to appear self-serving by only talking about yourself.

    Your prospects only car...