Starting Your Own Freelance Translation And Editing Business

I’ve been a translator and editor for 20 years, and 15 of those as a freelance translator. I’ve chaired a few organizations and helped on The Language Mall site. I’m always happy to help new linguists get started. For anyone who is new to the translation field, or any students hoping to get in later, here is some concrete advice you can bank on.


Bottom line is that the employer wants to make sure you can do the job. He cares more about your abilities than your degree. Don’t just learn the language, learn how to translate . Find a good “translation” program at a university, and supplement this with a specific discipline, such as medicine, finance or law.

Getting Experience

Volunteering is a good way to get experience. You can volunteer for NGO’s or for the U.N. via and it will look good on your CV. You can also apply for internships, and I would strongly advise this. My internship at a major international investment bank taught me years of useful “trade tricks” in just six months. Paid jobs will start to trickle in. Over time, my name got circulated and I started getting emails for paying work. Eventually, I started putting my CV on job sites.

Job Sites

These are great, if they are free. I’ve never had any luck on the “Pay site” or annual fee sites. You’re probably already smart enough to avoid the sites which take a percentage from your pay, but even an annual fee is unnecessary. I’ve had great success with free job listings, and I get work almost every day.


Three words for you: don’t bother. Most Americans join the ATA (American Translators Association). The ATA charges you a large fee every year, and in return you get almost nothing They will list you in their directory and say you’re “A OK” by them, but it’s meaningless. Everyone is the industry knows you just have to pay to get in, so it’s as phony as “buying” degrees online. No reputable company cares if you are a member of the ATA or any association. They want your skills. They care if you can do the job, and not if you’re rich enough to waste a few hundred dollars a year to be on a mailing listing.

Getting Paid

To start, you need a good invoicing system. Mine is just a spreadsheet, but you can find many free software apps online. Send clear invoices to your clients at the end of each month. Keep track of these, as even the biggest corporation sometimes forget to pay you. Follow up any unpaid invoices with polite emails.

Since most translators work for foreign companies, collecting payment can be expensive. I get wire transfers from Europe, and they cost $10 to $25 each to be received. Only US banks charge receiver fees (as bank regulators haven’t caught on yet), so expect to give up some of your paycheck. Try to avoid Paypal, as their foreign transaction fees are exorbitantly high. I recently got paid 700 euros ($980) via Paypal and the fee was $53! Add to that an unscrupulous exchange rate: they gave me 1.32 when the actual rate was 1.42 (they shave 10 points off), and you see I lost $123, or 12% of my pay! There is no easy solution, but bank wire transfers are best.


You need to make your own benefits package. Take out your own insurance individually. Set aside some vacation time, and save for sick days. A medical expenses savings account is tax-deductible. Supplement your retirement with an IRA. Once you have your own benefits arranged, you can work with a clear mind.


To enjoy a freelance life, you need to make time to work. You can even travel and work on the road, but you’ll still need to set aside enough time for the work. Budget your money and time together, and you’ll be successful. The best selection of the device will be based on the hearing hero reviews. The time for hiring the freelancer will be eliminated from the job of the person. It will save the time of the person.

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