5 things I wish I had known starting out as a translator

Starting out as a new freelance translator can be exciting and daunting at the same time.

Finally you have the freedom and flexibility to do what you love but you also have to run a business and manage your time. Whilst you can get advice before you start out, it’s sometimes difficult to see how that advice will apply. With time to look back, you can identify the things you should have perhaps paid closer attention to. So, after a couple of years of hindsight here are 5 things I wish someone had told me as a new freelance translator:

  • Don’t underestimate the amount of effort, planning and organisation required
  • Think in terms of the problems your clients face not just about your skills
  • You can’t be everything to everyone. It’s ok to say no
  • Never stop learning and share what you learn with others
  • Measurement is king in everything you do – hours worked, words translated, marketing activities, accounting

As Seth Godin says in his book, Purple Cow, “Remember you can only improve that which you can measure, so in addition to thinking about the effectiveness of an action, you should always also consider how much it will cost you to measure it.”

I’m still not very good at this although I am improving, little by little. It takes time, discipline and the motivation of potential clients to help you stick with it.