Essential Translation Skills and Abilities a Freelancer Must Have
If you are looking to become a freelance translator and start a great career in translation there are some translation skills and abilities you must have or develop in order to become a professional. There are plenty of people that consider freelancing an easy job which allows one to work whenever he wants while, in fact, becoming a freelancer is not easy, and the stress of not getting enough assignments in order to make ends meet is tough to deal with.
Must have translation skills and abilities for a freelancer
No matter what the internet and successful people say, going to school and college is very important for survival. Sure, there are a few who got lucky and established empires without getting higher education. But they are the exceptions and you can’t rely on exceptions to give you the right advice. Along with education, having skills is also pretty important. When you have a useful talent, you can get by even with a little education. It is only with the power of skills that many people escaped their ordinary lives and made a name for themselves on global front.
Every job, no matter which industry it belongs to, cannot be properly handled without having the necessary talent. Without it, you won’t get anywhere in life. The translation industry requires the same thing. Your translator skills have to be perfect if you want a make a name for yourself by doing accurate translations for people.
Many people believe that being fluent in two languages is all you need in order to become a translator. This is far from the truth. In order to provide high quality translation services you need to have (and further develop) the following translation skills and abilities.
1. Excellent command of your native language
In order to become a freelance translator, you have to be an excellent writer with extensive knowledge of grammar and different writing styles. Keep in mind that your translated text will be read by native speakers with a lot of experience so if you can’t reach that level of knowledge you might cause troubles to your clients. Usually translators only translate to their native language, and we follow this rule all the time.
2. Excellent command of your second language
Translating a text is not replacing a work in a language with its correspondent on another language. That is what machine translation does, and the results are pretty bad. In order to be able to translate from a language you have to fluent in that language and be able to understand the text you are translating. If you are only “almost” fluent in your second language you will only be able to translate from your second language to your native language.
3. Extensive cultural knowledge in both languages
A freelance translator must be very familiar with the cultural differences between countries. If you are only translating words and preserve the meaning of the text you might not do a good service for your client. What if some of the text is inappropriate in the target culture? Here are some translation blunders that had disastrous outcome for some companies due to not adapting the translation to the local culture.
4. Avid learner and researcher
If you are just starting up you will have to do a lot of research in order to provide quality. Terminology, words, local concepts are only a few things you will need to be able to dig for and develop the ability to use those in your translations.
5. Great computer skills
This is one of the must have translation skills and abilities for a freelancer. You will have to know the ins and outs of your computer and how to use it in an efficient manner. Fast typing skills and the ability to understand how different tools work will give you a great advantage.
6. Specialize in one or more subject areas
Knowing a lot about a certain subject will allow you to provide a faster and better translation. Specializing in a few subject areas is a huge advantage for a freelance translator as he won’t have to spend a lot of time researching for specific terms.
7. Self motivation and organization
You have to be self motivated and perfectly organized in order to market and sell your services. Promoting yourself is not easy and motivation along with computer and internet skills play an important role in marketing your translation skills and abilities in order to get more clients.
8. Management skills
You have to have great time management skills in order to be able to deliver your translations in time. Delays are never an option when it comes to translation as each and every client wants his work delivered in due time, no matter how busy you can be at that moment with other jobs.
9. Customer service skills
A freelance translator should be customer oriented, always communicating with its customers about their needs. It is not enough to communicate until you get the job, you need to be ready to answer all your client’s questions during and after the project.
10. Accessible and affordable
A translator must be affordable and easily accessible all the time. While there are customers that allow you some time to respond, there are also clients that want your full attention asap and they do not come back if they do not find you the first time.
In regards to the rates you can charge, while no one could impose you lower prices, if you charge too much there won’t be many customers to use your services no matter how good you are. You need to research on this and charge affordable rates at all times. A great way to get repetitive assignments from the same client is to offer discounts for large volumes or to give incentives to make them come back to you whenever they need more translation services.
Deliver your translation on time and keep to your promises
Timely delivery is important
When it comes to freelancing, the most convenient part of the business is doing things according to your own schedule. But as soon as you are given a deadline, a time frame to deliver things, then there is no backing out. For a freelance translator, delivering translation on time is not only a professional obligation but also a matter of sustaining and building an impeccable reputation.
Although the following are not translation skills and abilities, it is important to mention them. Freelance translators may have the upper hand as they are not bounded by any contract with a given company, but to stay in business and to get more work, timely delivery plays a crucial role. The world today is the world of reviews, people search for reviews before buying products, services, and just about everything. And if you are a freelance translator, chances are your work will be under consideration only after your potential clients have seen your reviews. If a translation is not delivered on time, particularly when the client was having an emergency, they are most likely to leave a bad review.
Keep to your promises
Some agencies that claim to provide translations on discounted prices often don’t pay the freelance translators well. Reason, they don’t deliver on time. This is why it is even more important to ensure the provision of a timely delivery, which is a must-mention when it comes to translation skills and abilities. If you are a freelancer and you’ve already worked with a client in the past, a great way to get that client back for more is to offer a discount on their next order. Whatever promises you make in terms of discounts or quality, keep to them no matter what.
The translation industry constitutes a rather tricky business as it has no room for inaccuracy, low quality and most importantly delays in delivery. Most of the times, clients require urgent translations in situations that are inevitable and in those cases, a minor delay in translation could cost them big time. It is therefore important to acct professionally and always deliver according to expectations.
Did you know that the client is always right? Even when they are not? Well, that’s not just a saying. Working with clients from different countries may seem challenging but the real dilemma is dealing with their mindsets. It is true that you cannot satisfy everyone but you must satisfy your customer at any cost.
This is why, if a client is difficult and want changes in the document, you must never lose your calm. Be friendly with them as this goes out as an indication of your commitment to delivering the best. They’ll only work with you when they recognize that you have their best interest at heart. So if such an issue arises, the first thing you’ll have to do is stay polite, ask what kind of changes they need and how soon do they require it. If there’s a misunderstanding, you must point out it in a very friendly manner.
If you have prepared your resume then you would know how important skills are. Most jobs include a few talents in their requirements that don’t have anything to do with education. So, if you don’t know how to operate Microsoft Office, you must say goodbye to your chance of joining a company for an office job. This is why many people do diplomas and courses while they are studying so when they graduate from college, they would have a chance to fill their CV nicely. A few fields in the world will only get mastered if you are born with the talent for it. But in some, if you are interested in the subject, you can become good at it.
Translation falls in the latter category. The skills translator should have can be developed and polished via practice. Reading different languages can also help with the improvement of your abilities as a translator and help you become an expert in your field.
Would you willingly go to a service provider for help if you knew beforehand that they are not good at their job? No, right? Because no one would. But there are a few fields where you can’t be sure unless you try for yourself and see if a company deserves your money. It is a fact that people of every profession must have specific skills to succeed in their field. If they are not hardworking, they won’t be able to achieve a level of expertise. Consequently, they won’t be able to make a name for themselves in their industry.
In the language industry, the skills translator has are very important in solving a linguistic issue. This is why translators have to give a test before they can be accepted by a company. If they are qualified and experienced, they will be able to provide linguistic assistance of the highest quality to their clients.
Some people are born with a talent that they get better at with each passing year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something if you are not naturally good at it. In fact, most professionals in the world learn their profession through hard work. Surgeons aren’t born with a talent to make precise surgical cuts. They learn everything in school and then practice extensively to improve their skills.
The world of languages is no different. It is an acquired talent that you can improve every day if you keep on practicing. Developing translating skills is not something that will happen overnight. But if you are patient and willing to work hard, you will get to the level of experts in record time. And once you become a professional, you should not stop practicing as it is the only way to become an expert in your field. Your skills will get better than everyone else if you don’t give up on practice and learning.
Everyone has wishes that they have postponed for the future. Some of us want to learn an instrument once their life gets less busy. Some have always wanted to study Latin to be able to understand ancient texts. Then there are skills that you must learn if you want to excel at your job, like how to work with Microsoft Office if you’re going to do an office job. But one good thing about skills is that you can learn them at any point in your life and you can also work to make them better. You can get them polished with constant practice.
Anyone working in the language industry has translation skills. But only the experienced ones have improved their linguistic abilities over the years. They are the ones who are qualified to provide quality assistance whenever someone requires help with a linguistic problem. Don’t let anyone tell you that you will survive in the world of translation without having the necessary skills.
People generally think that anyone who doesn’t pick a scientific field of study will be stuck making drawings and illustrations. But they don’t know that there are way too many options outside the world of science. The options are endless for someone who doesn’t want to pursue a medical degree. And most of these options are pretty interesting, like creative writing, film-making, and linguistics. Anyone who wants to understand the linguistic diversity of the world can study the differences and see how unique our tongues are. It is the beauty of these languages that attract many towards the field.
Translating said languages is also a very useful field of study. But no one can succeed in it without developing some translation skills. Without working to obtain and polish these skills, they won’t be able to do much for those who require help with a language problem. These skills can make a person the most respected professional in the translation industry.
There are a few things no one prepares you for when you are a child. One of them is picking a career and then living with your choice. Sure, your parents may give you advice regarding the issue, but it will be your decision in the end, and you will have to make the most of it. People think that kids are giving up on books and language studies, but that isn’t entirely true. Many individuals are studying languages and entering the linguistic field to help people connect.
These people not only get their degree in linguistics to understand their field in a better way but also practice regularly to polish their translator skills. It is only because of the effort of these professionals that you can get qualified work in the translation industry today. If it weren’t for their hard work, a lot of the world would fail to get over the language barrier, and peace would not have prevailed on earth due to conflicts between nations.
There are many misconceptions in people’s minds regarding a few fields. They believe that if Google Translate can help them understand a foreign language word, maybe it isn’t that difficult to get linguistic assistance. They don’t know that the study of languages is a separate field with its own rules. A person must obtain a degree and practice extensively if they want to be able to handle documents written in foreign vernaculars. They cannot work in the field until they are fully trained and understand all the rules of translation.
The most important aspect that people ignore is translators skills. It is these skills that help these experts perform their job accurately. If they don’t regularly work on polishing their skills, they won’t be able to deliver quality work to their clients. This is why only the most qualified professionals are hired by the linguistic services provider. An inexperienced person cannot provide good results when they are given the task to translate a document.
As a new freelance translator in the market, you need to have all the above translation skills and abilities to be able to “make it”. While there are other skills a professional translator must have, these are the basic requirements. Do you know any other skills? Share your opinion in the comments! If you’d like to work with us please get in touch by live-chat.