The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Translator

Are you ready to make a success out of the most exciting career a linguist can ask for?

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How this book will help you in your career of a freelance translator

This 175-page guide will take you through the process of becoming a successful freelance translator. Covering everything you need to know from day one, including qualifications, key skills and how to win your first customers, this Ultimate Guide also shows how you can branch out and grow your business over time. It’s ideal for translators who are just getting started, those thinking about making the leap into freelancing, or even established translators looking to pick up some tips and tricks for taking their business to the next level.


This is the podcast where we introduce and discuss our book as well as share some extra marketing tips:

The shape of the translation industry and the rise of all kinds of new technology mean there’s never been a better time to get started as a freelance translator. Agencies all over the world are desperate for your expert assistance, and cheap, fast and ubiquitous internet access mean that with the right tools, you can work for anyone, anywhere, any time.

But actually getting started with such an enormous undertaking can seem like an intimidating prospect. There’s so much to do and so much you need to know – so where do you start, and who can you rely on? In a series of clear, concise chapters, this book will take you through everything you need to know, including:

  • The benefits of going freelance as opposed to in-house as a translator
  • The key tools, supplies and services you’ll need to rely on
  • Advice on marketing yourself and impressing prospective clients
  • Concrete examples of the trickiest issues translators face, and how they can be resolved
  • An in-depth study of one of the worst translation projects in history – and what you can learn from it

Clearly written, engaging in tone and accessible to all, this essential guide produced by the experts at Translators Family will make you ready for the translation process and leave you eager to embark on your own localisation adventure. 

Reviews from our readers

I really enjoyed reading this collection of articles on our industry. This e-book will be of great interest to newcomers in translation and students will definitely find a lot of useful information for their future career. One of my favourite sections is about “boutique translation agencies” ;-). Well done!

There are many books out there for beginning translators. What makes this one unique, is the combined approach from both a freelance translator, and a translation company owner. Some examples of this unique approach can be found in the information about client relationships, establishing your unique selling points, and tips for different specializations, such as game translation, literary translation and technical translation. I particularly liked the chapter on the lighter side of translation. Here you can find tips on how to become a digital nomad, or how to beat the working-from-home-blues. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this e-book and recommend it for both new and established translators. It provides a slightly different point of view, and you will learn something new, even if you have read many other books for translators.

What’s Inside

See the full list of chapters

  • About this book
  • Introduction
    • Types of translation and localisation services 7
  • Part 1 – Getting on your feet
    • Why go freelance as a translator? 13
    • The skills and qualifications that translators need 16
    • The basics of a home office 20
    • How to make contacts and win your first jobs 23
    • Dealing with the pressures of working alone or from home 26
  • Part 2 – Client relationships
    • Translation agencies versus direct clients 30
    • Maintaining good relationships with translation clients 32
    • How to get over the fear of not getting paid 35
    • Learning to trust a translation agency 37
    • The great rates debate 41
    • Why offer rate packages to your clients? 46
    • What do boutique translation agencies have to offer freelance translators? 48
    • What to ask your client before starting a translation 50
  • Part 3 – Marketing yourself
    • Knowing your own value 57
    • Building a translation portfolio 59
    • Tweeting in a thousand tongues: Social media for translators 62
    • Finding unique selling points as a translator 65
  • Part 4 – Languages and you
    • Video game translation: From TV screens to Internet memes 68
    • Technical and marketing translation 71
    • What does it take to be a literary translator? 74
    • Top tips for readable technical translations 77
    • Untranslatable? Doch! 80
    • How can translators keep up with two different languages? 84
    • Essential reference tools for the English language 87
    • Global English: Promises and pitfalls 90
  • Part 5 – Practical matters
    • Why bother with term bases, glossaries and style guides? 99
    • Finding a place for SEO in translation 101
    • The best apps for translators and travellers abroad 106
  • Part 6 –The lighter side of translation
    • Connection, communication and culture: A history of translation 109
    • Living the dream? How freelance translators can become digital nomads 113
    • Five things translators could teach the rest of the world 116
    • Handling time off as a freelancer 119
    • How freelance translators can beat the working-from-home blues 121
  • Appendix – Useful resources for translators
    • CAT and QA tools 125
    • Online dictionaries, term search, glossaries 126
    • Translation forums 129
    • Translation blogs 129
    • Podcasts for translators 131
    • News about translation 131
    • More great books for freelance translators 131
    • Social media for translators 133
    • Webinars 134
    • Magazines 134
    • Conferences for translators and interpreters 135
    • Associations for translators, interpreters and translation companies 136
    • The Top 100 Language Service Providers: 2016 146
  • The people behind the book

The people behind the book

Authors/editors: Oleg Semerikov, Simon Hodkinson

Proofreader: Sheila Wilson

Published by: Translators Family

  • Oleg Semerikov

    Oleg had a passion for languages and entrepreneurship since he was just nine. That’s why he chose to be a translator and in 2006 successfully started his career as a freelance English-Russian translator. Soon afterwards, he founded a team of translators, which today is a rapidly developing translation agency, Translators Family, based in Poland. Oleg is fond of discovering new trends in the translation industry and applying them to his business. He keeps a blog on his company website as well as publishing his articles across a variety of magazines and web resources for translators.

  • Simon Hodkinson

    Simon is a British-based translator who works primarily from German into English. After completing a degree in German Studies at the University of Warwick and spending a year living and working in Germany, in 2011 he set up as a freelance translator, editor and copywriter specialising in marketing and information technology. His experience of life ‘in the trenches’ as a freelancer helped provide practical examples and insights into the real world of translation.

  • Sheila Wilson

    Sheila is the second native speaker of British English who worked on this book. Her considerable 20+ years’ expertise in translation (French to English) and editing, as well as EFL teaching, allowed her to polish the text of this book and leave it absolutely flawless.

Translators Family is a boutique translation agency specialising in Russian, Ukrainian and Polish, with expertise in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and other European languages. Our mission is to deliver a wide range of top-quality translation and localisation services at affordable prices.


We set great store by our quality assurance processes, which involve 2-step proofreading as standard and a 5-step extended QA process for very demanding projects.


Most importantly of all, we believe in only ever relying on professional-quality human translation. All of our linguists are carefully vetted and tested before they work with us, and we never use machine translation systems. We believe that quality and professional standards are worth defending, and we work tirelessly to champion the right kind of translation.