Being a translator provides you the opportunity for self employment from home. But making it work financially takes some serious effort.
Many of my readers who are also aspiring translators have sent emails asking how to get started or how to make their freelance business work.
They are frustrated as a result of not getting enough clients. They are tired of getting underpaid and undervalued for their services.
Well, don’t feel bad if this sounds even remotely familiar to you.
Not long ago I was in the same shoe. We all chose this career path because of our passion for languages. But apparently passion does wear off when financial pressure sets in.
Here’s the reality – if what you are doing is not working, you need to take a different approach. It’s so easy to get caught up in the process and become attached to what you do as supposed to listening to your market and making solid financial decisions.
Yes – self-employment from home can be daunting at times. It would be wonderful to have an easy-to-follow self-employment guide for all the freelance translators out there (that’s a future project for me – or maybe you!). But for now, the following tips might just help you get back on track.
1- Passion alone can’t sustain a business
It’s great that you followed your passion to become a translator. But passion alone doesn’t make your self employment from home successful. There’s so much more to a successful business than just passion.
Yes, being passionate helps you get through tough days and make your hard work seem more endurable. But if the business itself doesn’t bring you enough profits or rewards you may risk losing your passion and your shirt altogether.
So embrace the fact that along with your passion you may have to take on things besides your passion – things such as marketing and networking.
2- Financial honesty is the key
I know many freelance translators who struggle to find clients and sell their services, yet they somehow believe that if they are patient enough everything will be ok. I’m sorry to break this to you, but it may not.
While it takes time to make your self employment from home financially sustainable, profit almost never falls from the sky automatically.
That’s why you need to be honest with yourself –
If you find yourself having trouble attracting clients;
If you find yourself constantly competing for low paying jobs;
If you find yourself sitting at home waiting for phone calls to ring;
you should be able to see that things are not working … and at this point you basically have two choices. You either go find a regular job or find ways to make things work.
3- Offer what the market wants
Self employment from home doesn’t mean you have to seclude yourself from the outside world. Quite the opposite, you need to spend lots of time making connections with your target market. Get to know their concerns and their problems.
One of the biggest mistakes self employed people make is that they create services and products that they think their clients will buy. Then they are puzzled as to why nobody is buying from them.
Here is the problem – you are either offering the exact same services that thousands of your competitors are offering, or you are selling products that have little or no demand.
This is the result of failing to research your target market. For example, selling translation services in general may get you plenty of clients to get by in China, but it probably will not support a profitable business in North America unless you are niche based.
Picking a niche is not to fool your clients, but to take advantage of your strength and get noticed in a crowd. You may be targeting a smaller pool of potential clients, but you have something more specific and unique to offer them. But whatever you do, you have to adapt to your market and not the other way around.
4- Be open minded to new opportunities
Self employment from home isn’t always rosy. There are times when you simply want to throw in the towel and call it quits. But I think ultimately it is the desire for freedom (money is just a symbol) that keeps us motivated.
When you allow yourself to be flexible to market demand, you’ll find that freedom. I thought I was only going to do exclusively court interpreting, but I’m now a translator/interpreter/consultant. And through that I found my real passion while enjoying self employment from home.