I used to find translation jobs by addressing translation agencies and sending them my curriculum vitae. After a while I got to the conclusion I needed a different approach, maybe I was not inventing the wheel then, but right now I will share some insight on how a part-time freelance translator may become a full-time professional in this craft. I’ll offer some very straightforward tips for those who wish to grow professional translators or improve their knowledge about the translation market.
Nowadays, the translation market is literally jammed with all sorts of swindler, hoaxers, and all level of amateur translators, like those who are looking for a second, third or fourth job. If you fit in one of these categories, you can stop reading.
The international translation market has important rules, some explicit, other implicit. And one of those implicit we can read all the time says that the professional translator must be a native of the language he/she translates into, no matter what one might say or argue. I am one of those who disagree with this “golden rule”: how about Swiss people living in bilingual communities, such as Biel? Or Finnish people who can happen to live immersed in three languages (Swedish, Finnish and Russian)? They can become natural bilingual but certainly not immediate translators. Translation requires the capacity to select the right shade of meaning from all the nuances a word can gain in a person’s speech.
Therefore, specialization and training are vital in order to enable a realistic way of selecting from the large numbers in the global marketplace of professional translators and part-time bystanders. Specialization allows the translator to tackle the target areas and to present himself/herself in the marketplace without compromising the final product of his/her craft. The professional translator never restricts himself/herself to the local market, because this bread of crafts person is always on the lookout for more and better clients in diverse settings. The ideal market for the demanding translation professional is the global market. This is especially valid if one lives in a small town… in any case, the best way of showcasing and getting into translation scene is going online and acting from there. This means using a stable high-speed internet access, using affordable and permanent methods for reaching your clients (Live Messenger, Skype, Google Talk, etc.), checking your email constantly, and getting an online presence with a blog such as this Translation blog
Working at the international translation market requires the willingness to work overtime and beyond reasonable work schedules to provide for clients who expect to reach you from different time zones. Make sure you weigh priorities in order not to waste time, yours and the clients’. So make your schedule clear right from the beginning and let the client know when you will be available. You should have guessed by now: the professional translator must have the capacity to adapt. One needs to adapt to different mentalities and mind frames; you’ll be working with people who have diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, to say the least!
The professional translator makes the best to get direct contracts, that is, without mediators, translation colleagues, translation offices, translation agencies, which take a percentage of the final pay. The best option is to find a balance between direct and indirect clients from different parts of the world (if possible), so that recession will hit you not so hard.
Maybe trying to get into the international translation market will not solve your liquidity problems right away, but persistence and skills will bring you the joy of embracing the challenging profession of professional translator.