Monday, October 19, 2015

Are you now a part or full time freelance translator? Or do you plan to be one? No matter what, we will share with you some tips on how to become a freelance translator. You may have heard a lot of being successful translator from workshops, seminars, articles and other relevant media. Opinions have no edges. They can be true and otherwise, they can be incorrect. You may sometimes hear about very nice things of being translator from your friend, but he/she never tells you on how he/she really gets there before he/she settles up. Trust us that this job needs process. If you are well-prepared and lucky enough, you will get there.

We would like to show you some misconceptions on being freelance translator. Note that this article is specially intended for Indonesian translator of any status; part time and full time translators; whether you are freelance or in-house translators.

  • If I have decided to quit my regular job and turn into a freelance translator, I will make more money no matter what
  • Being translator is without specific skills. Mastering English and Indonesian is enough
  • Everyone can be a translator and can be done anytime, anywhere
We adopt those misconceptions based on the report of some successful and failed translators. After the translator turns to be a full-time freelance translator and no satisfying job is obtained, he/she will return to his/her previous job. This is normal practice we see, especially in some Indonesian newbie translators.

The key is actually one. Are we ready for the real challenge? Is our English certificate the solution to this? We have trained so many translators. Some failed and were not interested in the translation industry. Though, some were successful and they are now very keen in the industry. We do not play around with our words. It is real that they were from English department and literally, English is not a problem to them, and translating will be another easy task. English certificate won't guarantee that he/she is a real translator.

What is wrong actually? Some were initially very excited about being translator and when he/she went through it and he/she did not find any financial change, he/she decided to return to his/her previous job. If we do not get job after we apply here and there, even promote here and there, or, we have been assigned some projects, but the order is a one-time order, there must be something wrong with us. Now, let us share with you the tips on avoiding the same mistakes.

  • Think before you decide; no matter what, the best and wisest thing to do is asking yourself on the same question. Never be a domino effect person, meaning that when someone tells you that this job is so fabulous and exaggeratedly boasts that he/she gets everything without further telling you on how to be there, ignore this person. Usually, when you are there and you are alone in the jungle, he/she will never go to you.
  • Prepare your best skills; master English and Indonesian well if you work on English and Indonesian pairs. College knowledge is never enough to make you a star. You need to test the water. You need to fish in different fish ponds and never stop at one point. This includes practicing whenever you are free to do. Forcing yourself to reach the maximum point is also good consideration. Never feel that you are too smart for many things.
  • Learn from the local. If you plan to be an international translator, never reach the highest stairs. Reach the lowest one and go upstairs one by one and you will deserve the top of the house. We will never be able to reach the top of the house without stepping on the first stairs. If your friend tells you that he/she is suddenly an international translator with high rate, that is bullshit. We need every single sweat for every drop of success we hold. Work with local translation company and learn from them. Learn about the system and so on and when you feel that your skills are really upgraded and they have been tested and witnessed by number of projects assigned to you, you can then go to the next stairs. Never ask your local agency on your performance. See how many projects are assigned to you on regular basis.
  • Prepare best payment method and processor. As you do not sell fish in the market, you need to set your payment method, including its best terms. Some translators charge the agency directly and ask them to pay directly after the job is done. Remember that you do not sell fish or produce. You sell services, translation services. It is really different. Agency will pay in 15 days, 30 days, 45 days and even 60 days, depending on their payment policy. Also, decide which payment processor best suits you;PayPal, Western Union, or bank transfer (Never use Skrills if you make less frequent transaction).
  • Be professional. When you decide to be a freelance translator, you decide to be punctual, responsive, and a go-extra-mile person.
  • Be kind. You need to equip yourself with three magic words; Hello, Please, and Thank you. Say hello and similar words to greet your client or potential client, begin your words with please. Say "Please refer to my recent CV." instead of "Refer to my latest CV.", etc. and never forget to close every single conversation with thank you. Say, "I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!" instead of "I look forward to hearing from you." Also, it is important that you always close the conversation. Never leave the client's thank you blank. Say "You are welcome." and the like. It is always free to close the conversation. You never get charged as you charge your client. ;-)
  • Prepare some relevant Cat Tools. Buy when you really need. Do not buy when you do not really need. It's a waste of money. 
  • Network. Build existing and new relationship. Ask your friend for any current issues and update on translation and never be shy of learning from him/her. Maintain good relationship with existing clients and build new network of potential clients if you think you can handle more projects.
  • Be patient while keeping improving. Leave everything to God the Almighty, after your real effort.
Questions or additional advice? Contact us at We are here to help!


  1. Networking is about sharing. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship.

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  2. Great post I would like Certified translation agency to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article.


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