Freelance Translation: Part-Time or Full-Time?

June 17th, 2016

Many translators starting out in the industry have similar goals for their budding freelance translation businesses.

Freelance Translation: Part-Time or Full-Time? | One Hour Translation

Many translators starting out in the industry have similar goals for their budding freelance translation businesses: they currently work in a full-time job but they want to start freelancing part-time, gradually increasing the freelance work as the volume of translation work grows. And then there are the other beginning freelance translators with a different goal: these are the ones who want to work as freelance translators on a part-time basis, permanently. We know of one translator who is a full-time teacher and freelances only in the summer months, and quite a few part-time translators who only freelance at night-time - in addition to being a stay-at-home parent.

One Wonders How Profitable a Part-Time Freelance Translation Business Might Be

The realistic answer to this question is that, if you’re choosing to work an unusual schedule, you need to ensure that you’re marketing your services to the right type of client - these will be clients who will appreciate this type of schedule. The second point is that you need to personally believe that your part-time schedule is a great selling point, and not a negative for you. Be confident that there’s a market out there for what you’re offering and that, with the right marketing, you’ll be able to build a very successful part-time freelance translation business.

Keep Reminding Your Clients of the Hours/Days/Weeks/Months You’re Available

And this should be a great selling point because we know that there are both agencies and direct clients who struggle to find good translators during the summer months, and this is because most translators are taking their annual vacation. The month of August is particularly difficult for translation clients, so summer-only translators stand to pick up a lot of translation work during this period.

Your best strategy here might be to continue reminding clients right throughout the year that you are a summer-only translator, even if you’re only available for work between June and August. With the turnover of staff at translation agencies and other businesses, people need to be reminded on a continuous basis that your services are available, including the months of your availability.

Adopt a Good Marketing Strategy

Marketing for translators who work unusual hours or for certain periods of the year only should be quite easy. A simple marketing strategy could evolve around using time zones to their advantage - with something like: ‘Give me your documents on Friday and they’ll be sitting in your Inbox on Monday’ or ‘The end of your day is just the beginning of mine’, and so on.

Good translators with plenty of experience who work irregular hours, or irregular periods of the year, could do very well if they were to market themselves as replacement translators for translators who work with direct clients. No translator with a loyal and permanent direct client wants to lose their regular client, so an off-hours translator could be the ideal solution when a translator requires work done at the last minute. Obviously, this would require a degree of trust between regular the translator and the replacement translator, but it would be worth taking the risk instead of losing the direct client altogether to another translator.

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