5 Tips to work Smarter, not Harder

In today’s world, being a smart worker is more important than being a hard one. Sure, hard work is inevitable, but you get to a point where your experience should allow you to work smart, not just hard. Below are a few tips to help you achieve that and become a highly successful freelance translator.

1-    Choose your clients wisely: Don’t settle only for the clients that send you a lot of work for very low rates. Sure their projects can help pay your bills, but you might as well never stop marketing your services to find high-end clients who appreciate your hard word and are willing to pay the rate you deserve in exchange for a high quality translation.

2-    Do not be afraid to raise your rates: Even if you have satisfied clients, do not be afraid of raising your rates. They should be willing to pay a little extra to get the same quality they have been getting in the past. After all, your years of experience are the main factor you should be charging more for your language services.

3-    Do not be afraid to say no: This is a major issue among freelance translators. They often find themselves unable to reject a project, no matter how inconvenient it may be for them. It will come with time, but you have to be willing to say no to some projects, if not clients. Don’t learn the hard way. There are many reasons for you to reject a project; I’ll just mention a few:

A) Working for peanuts is unacceptable.

B) Taking on urgent translation tasks for the same rate as regular ones is also unacceptable.

C) Translating a large number of pages in a very short period of time is a big no-no.

D) The client asks you to lower your rates in exchange for more work. This is an old excuse companies use to get lower rates. Try to convince them that they should appreciate the effort you put into producing a high quality translation. If they still prefer lower rates over a good translation, then there should be nothing that keeps you from rejecting such clients.

4-    Focus on your area of expertise: Know what you’re good at and focus on that. Being a translator does not mean you have to be competent at each and every field/subject. It will be easier for you to translate cookbooks if this is what you have experience in, rather than taking on medical translation projects for instance. You’ll be known for what you’re good at, and that would give you a stronger marketing factor. Nevertheless, that does not mean you shouldn’t discover new horizons and explore new fields to widen your areas of expertise, but this should not come at the expense of clients. When you have some free time, make it a habit to read/translate short texts which subjects are new to you. After all, your clients are not guinea pigs.

5-    Focus on your strongest language pair: Just like Tip #4, focusing on your strongest points is always a plus. It’s very crucial to create a personal brand and to stick to it. Giving clients something to know you for works in your favor. Even when searching for new potential clients, showing what you specialize in will put you at a stronger position.

Do you have other smart working tips that you implement in your professional life? Please share them with us!



  • rubenpedrolopez

    This is just great for translators with lots of clients, but what about those who are starting or have a lot of problems in finding a single one? Would they refuse to work for a low rate or in any field they are not fully specialised? Of course not. What you mention in this article is simply great under the ideal scenario of how things should be. But I’m afraid that saying no to clients asking for lower rates when your income depends on them is not so easy…

    December 16, 2014 at 9:12 am Reply
    • admin

      It might be difficult at first, but believe me, it gets better as you get better.

      Besides, in such a case, you can always negotiate the time frame of the project. If you have to accept a low rate then you might as well not have a tight deadline.

      As for fields you are not fully specialized in, read about them and translate relevant texts whenever you have some free time. You cannot possibly make your client a guinea pig.

      Don’t just say “No”; explain why you are an asset to them and how you will help their business flourish thanks to your translation which needs time and effort to be impeccable, and therefore a good rate.

      December 16, 2014 at 9:33 am Reply

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