Wanting to become a professional translator is all well and good, but you need a little more than a willing spirit to bring translation work into your Inbox. It can be rather daunting trying to work out how you’re going to get your first few translation clients, particularly when you know that most agencies may not necessarily welcome inexperienced translators. And with translation agencies forming the majority of most beginners’ client bases, it can be a worrying predicament. So, how do you get started if clients won’t take a chance on you? In order to make your translation business viable, somehow you have to find agencies or direct clients who are prepared to give you the experience you need. Have a look at our suggestions below, and hopefully, you may find some helpful advice –
Offer to Complete Translations on a Volunteer Basis
We’ve talked about this in the past, but for beginner translators who don’t have contacts in the ‘right’ places, this is a great way to get started: it’s also a great way to gain some much-needed experience and improve your translation skills. Organizations like Translators Without Borders (on an international level) are always looking for volunteer translators in a variety of language combinations.
And then there are places on a local level, such as Schools, Hospitals, Public Health Clinics, Refugee Assistance Centres, Public Health Agencies, and so on. Any or all of these organizations are often looking for volunteer translators. The point we must emphasize here, however, is that your volunteer assignments must be treated in the same professional manner as a paid assignment would be treated.
You need as much experience as you can get and, once you start looking, you’ll realize that there are many people out there who require the assistance of a translator for projects that are just too small for an agency to be bothered with: these projects might include a Driver’s License, Birth Certificate, School Transcript, and so on. It really doesn’t matter what you’re translating as long as you’re getting experience. In fact, these small projects can actually be quite profitable because you’re only dealing with a small amount of text – plus the translation work will generally be quite straightforward. Once you’ve set up your website for your freelance translation business, be very clear that you welcome this type of translation work. Also, consider promoting your translation services through Cultural Associations, Local Consulates, Immigration Attorneys, Bilingual Schools, and so on.
Enlist the Help of an Experienced Translator
There are experienced translators out there who will be quite willing to help you get started. If you can find one who works in your language combination you could offer your services as a backup translator to assist with any overflow work or small projects. Of course, your translation skills would need to be quite strong for this type of arrangement, but it would give you the experience you require.
Start with Specialized Translations
There are people out there who have high-level skills in specialized subject areas, such as law or medicine, who may be able to bypass the normal ‘beginner’ translation paths and market themselves to direct clients. Let’s say you’ve decided to leave your law career after many years’ experience and you have excellent language skills and heaps of experience in a specific area of law: in this case, it could well be a better option for you to work directly with law firms or market yourself as a ‘bilingual legal consultant’.