Business And Marketing Tips For Translators

Being bi-lingual, tri-lingual or even a polyglot is a major skill, which very few people can claim to have in its true form. With so many countries across the world now connecting with each other for business, trade or politics, translators are actually becoming more and more valuable. But it can still be difficult, as a self-employed translator, to figure out exactly how to turn that inherent value into quantifiable financial gain. The work is out there, but it takes a certain business mind for you to be able to behave in the way to capitalize on it and build your career. So then, without further ado, here are some tips for translators to get going with business and marketing!

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View Yourself As A Company

As a translator you can feel a bit like your skill, the wares that you offer, is not actually all that special. If you have spent your whole life speaking two or more languages, it is simply inherent, not something that you think about very often. However, the fact is, that you have to take yourself seriously as a business or you won’t be able to make the right moves towards generating an income. “Get a website, dress the part and treat everything like daily work, as if you are clocking in at the office”, advises translator Mike Cunningham, from Nextcoursework and Brit Student. This is key to turning what you might view as just a part of your life into a career.

Find A Niche

Even the most gifted linguist won’t know literally every single word in both languages. If you advertise your services as generalized translation, you are likely to be excluding yourself from the possibility of being picked up for work within finance, politics and other specialized and potentially lucrative fields. But, if you find a niche, in which you know every possible word and expression, you can target your self-marketing to greatly increase your chances of scooping employment in a field of your choice. You can pick an industry you like or one that you have a history with. Or, alternatively, go for the one that will make you the most money!

Analyze The Current Industry

A successful translator is a translator who has his or her finger on the pulse of the translation industry. If you’re lost for where to start, it’s really important that you take a look at how things are shaping up around you. “Translation as an industry is often trend dependent”, writes Louise Fox, tutor at 1Day2Write and Australia2Write. “If a country gets in the news a lot for some reason, then you can pretty much guarantee that work will be coming for translators who speak that country’s language.” There are also industry-based trends, where interest in a certain field and its terminology peaks. If you are smart, you can orient yourself around these ups and downs to capitalize on the changing market.

Referrals and Testimonials

In translation, a track record is really important. So, the first thing to say is that you MUST get referrals and testimonials from your past clients whenever you need them. Ideally, you will have serviced them well. Get them to be specific about what it was you did well: don’t allow vague statements like ‘Offered a good service’ or ‘Was easy to get along with’, You want to milk these pieces of feedback and get as much work as possible out of them. The problem with translation as an industry is that, whilst it is a specialist field, it is misunderstood by many people: clients often view it as being able to be done by anyone who happens to have a linguistic ability. This isn’t the case, it takes a lot more than this. So, you have to use your feedback as proof that you offer that extra quality that sets you apart from the competition.


There’s money and success to be found as a translator. The key to it all is ensuring absolute professionalism, even if you view your skill as something you developed naturally as a child. The more that you treat yourself as a professional the more that encourages potential clients to take you seriously as well.


Katrina Hatchett
Katrina Hatchett
Katrina Hatchett is a language blogger at Academic Brits. She has been involved in various business projects, where her main aim is to define project problems and propose solutions, as well as to improve overall communication effectiveness. She also writes for PhDKingdom and Origin Writings, an academic service.

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