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Becoming A Freelance Translator

Learning a new culture and a new language is one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of moving abroad. Although we often take for granted the fact that we communicate in Greek or have a good understanding of the way of life in Greece, it could really be a huge advantage. Knowing another language, especially such a complex language like Greek, is a useful skill to have and can open up many doors for you. A popular career for anyone who can understand a second language, such as Greek, is to become a freelance translator.

Freelance translation is an excellent way to have your own business and earn a potentially healthy income. Setting up your own translation business is easier than you think and almost anyone can do it.

What Skills Do I Need To Become a Freelance Translator?
To set up your own business, you don't need as many qualifications as you would if you were to perhaps work for a company. You can set up an online translation service or gain a good client database and travel to meet clients or work locally - it all depends on the type of business that you want. The only skill you need is to speak at least two languages fluently; this is usually your native language and your second language. If you have learned your second language through living in another country or from mixed nationality parents, then you will not need to have a written qualification. As in most cases, any kind of formal qualification or certificate is always considered to be an advantage in the working world, but isn't always necessary. The fact that you can speak two different languages (or more) is normally enough to start your own freelance translating business.

As well as knowing another language, you should also have a good idea on what makes a business work. Just knowing a second language is not enough to start up your own business, unless your business partner is business minded. If you are planning to set up your own business as a freelance translator, then you must put aside enough money for the first 6 months or one year, whilst you are building the business or have a part-time job as well.

The First Year
The first year will probably be the most exciting as well as frightening too. During the first year, you will be able to get a real feel to whether you would like to continue this as a career or maybe it is just not for you. Throughout your first year, you should try to advertise your company as much as possible and register with freelance translating agencies to try and build your client list. It will be possible that you will have regular clients who use your services regularly and other clients who need you just for a one off occasion. If you haven't already decided on what areas of translation you would like to cover, then it may be best to think about it before you start. Usually translators deal with legal issues, financial cases and other documentation. There are many roles and areas of translating, some are more specialised fields and so it is important to decide whether you feel comfortable dealing with some of these matters.

Finding Clients
When you have finally gained as many clients as you want and can deal with, don't stop trying to search for new clients and advertising your business. Remember that you are relying on these clients for your earnings and if they were to stop using you tomorrow, what would you do? You can never advertise yourself too much! Register with translation agencies, advertise in local newspaper or on the internet, try calling different firms to see if they need translating services and hand out business cards too. Your client list will grow and grow as long as you know how to market your business in the right way and remember that many of your clients will also recommend you if they are happy with your work.

A Working Week
One of the best parts of being a freelance translator is that you nearly never do the same job twice! Every day is different and you will always be dealing with different people, different tasks and using different language skills. For example: One day you may be asked to translate documentation such as birth certificates or passports and the next day you could be translating letters and files for legal cases. In this line of work, no two days are the same, which is probably what makes it so exciting and thrilling. Your working hours may vary depending on projects and work that you are asked to do and sometimes it may not always depend on what you want. You should try to set out a basic outline of working hours that you wish to work and then the rest is down to the work that you get.

Being a Professional
To make a good translator means that you should be organised, reliable and should always use your initiative. Whether you may be dealing with clients, working on a project or accepting jobs, you must always be organised, honest and professional. When accepting work, you should consider whether you think it is out of your depth or a specialised subject that you are not sure of. If at any point, you think that you are unable to complete a job successfully or you are uncertain of the topic, then you must be honest with your clients. It is much better to be honest with the clients and explain that it would be better asking the help of a native speaker or someone who is a specialist in that subject rather than trying to tackle it yourself and fail. Clients will appreciate your honesty that you are not just after their money, rather than making a bad job of mis-translating something that could be potentially very important.