Some practical tips for Freelance translators

Translation industry in India , as I stated earlier, is in its nascent stage. There is a lot to be learned from our Western counterparts and also from our native senior professionals who have been, for last 30 years, running this industry. In order to learn from our experiences, we have to look back, we have to dig our past working experiences so that the mistakes once (or twice) made are not repeated.

Therefore, every now and then I come up with some easy practical tips which if used effectively, can work wonders:

1. Virtual and Physical presence: In general, advertising industry in India is growing at a rate of 12% every year and is expected to reach 1427 billion INR by 2016. That, in itself, clearly states that carving a niche for your brand has many long term benefits. The same applies to our business too. Making yourself known physically and virtually is very important. It allows potential clients to locate you easily and also helps you to showcase your talent on a global platform. Thankfully, it is not that costly for us freelance translators. A lot of “find a translator” directories are there (Proz, TranslatorsCafe, Traduguide, etc…) where you can get yourself registered for a minimal fee of less than 6000 INR per year (that means only 500 INR per month) and you are set. Now not only you can get in touch with all global clients, but also with many veteran professionals out there for constant tips regarding your career, software, associations, projects etc.

As for physical presence, there are a lot of conferences held by Proz (which mainly happens outside India) which can provide you with global exposure and make you realize that you are an actual, active part of a global economy. ITA (Indian Translators Association) also organizes conferences for its members as well as non-members.

2. Pro-bono translation: Pro-bono means public good. In other words, any professional work undertaken voluntarily without a fee or at a reduced fee. I know that it is somewhat against our motto for progress, but its like the phrase, “a great leap forward always requires two steps back”. Working pro-bono opens up wonderful opportunities, especially for beginners. There are several charitable organizations, NGOs, new start-up companies that requires interns working pro-bono. The experience one gets from working in this format is worth the effort. You get the chance to showcase your language talent for an actual client. It also enriches your whole working experience and is a great tool for contact-building. But working pro-bono does not mean that you extend this courtesy to dubious agencies who are giving you actual paid work to be translated for free.

3. Sharpening the saw – Freelance translation is a business with a feast and famine effect. Therefore, continuously updating you skill-set is not only beneficial but mandatory. Translation industry, like any other, is changing at a quick pace. Thus, we all have to go with the flow in order to remain active and working.

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