How to Become a Freelance Translator

If you are proficient in multiple languages, you can sign up on freelance platforms to get started

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Entrepreneur Staff
Chief Correspondent
4 min read

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With businesses going global, the need to communicate with international clients in their language is increasingly becoming important. This need has opened up translation business opportunities for people who are proficient in multiple languages. And what better way to work independently but to become a freelancer.

Related Read: 11 Best Websites to Find Freelance Jobs

Read on to know how you can put your multilingual skills to become an independent translator.

Why Become a Translator

In India, there is a high demand for translation in regional languages like Punjabi, Malyalam, Telugu, and Kannada. If one these languages is your mother tongue, you don’t even need certifications to prove your proficiency.

If we have to talk about foreign languages, data shows that Chinese, French, German and Spanish are the most sought after languages in India. An advanced degree in any of these high demand languages can increase your earning potential substantially.

For starters, freelancing is a better way to get self-employed but as you gain more experience, we suggest that you build your own website and market your work on career sites. In fact, you can go a step forward and start your own translating agency.

Where to Begin

To freelance as a translator, start by signing up with websites like Upwork, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour, where companies post translation projects. The catch is that you don’t get to decide what you want to charge for each project, rather the employer will set the fee per project.

For signing up with these portals, you need to have a bachelor’s degree or prior experience in the language. In the absence of both, you can take an online course offered by certified institution or colleges.

There is no charge for signing up on freelance portals but they charge a commission ranging from 5 per cent to 20 per cent per project.

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Costs for Setting Up

The costs of freelance translating are minimal. You just need a good quality computer with a high speed internet connection. A mid-range laptop can cost you between INR 30,000-35,000, whereas internet connection will be INR 1,000 per month.

If you wish to create your own website to market your work, it can take a one-time investment of INR 60,000-75,000 and recurring cost of around INR 9,000 per year.

Earning

Fee of translation projects is usually by the assignments and not by the hour. Translating web apps and proofreading similar content pays INR 900-1,000. Transcribing short interviews are priced around Rs 1,500 per project and both these projects take up to a day.

Translating content on a website, press releases and brochures can get you INR 1,000-1,200 per page. Even bigger projects like translating lectures and academic papers of 2,000 to 2,500 words can fetch anywhere between INR 5,000-7,000 per project. These projects can take 2-3 days.

If you specialise in a technical field, you can set your own hourly rate that can be as high as INR 2,000 or 2,500 per hour. For instance, someone with a degree in civil engineering is a preferred choice for coaching centres looking to get lectures translated or a real estate agency will hire someone with that expertise to translate their brochures.

Take note that this takes senior level expertise and you should have a portfolio of work to promote your services. Besides, to set your own rates, you will have to acquire clients independently and maybe even start your own website.

So to give you average earning, a translator with intermediate experience who takes 6-7 small and 4 big projects can earn between INR 30,000-40,000 per month.

Drawbacks

Unless you are operating your own website or agency, freelance translating means you have little control on what how much you are paid. This can sometimes be frustrating as you may get paid less than what you are worth.

So we hope that you soon take the plunge to self-employment in the coming year. Stay tuned and log on to www.entrepreneur.com for more business ideas.

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