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How to Become a UK Freelance Translator

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Last editedNov 20223 min read

If you’re fluent in more than one language, your translation skills could be in high demand. Working as a freelance translator means you can set your own hours and work with clients all over the globe on interesting new projects. If you’re wondering how to become a freelance translator in the UK, this guide is for you. Here are our top eight freelance translator tips to help you get started.

1. Update your CV with language skills.

While freelance photographers and writers must create a portfolio, the first step in becoming a freelance translator is to look at your CV. Does it reflect your language skills and talents? Freelance translators are more than just bilingual – they have excellent writing and editing skills as well as a handle on regional nuances.

It’s helpful to upskill in these areas if your CV is lacking, and work towards a university degree in languages or literature. The UK doesn’t have a system of official certified translators, but you can add weight to your qualifications by becoming certified as a Chartered Linguist.

2. Establish your business tax situation.

As with any business, you’ll also need to obtain some start-up funds to support yourself while you get your new business off the ground. Open a new bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. You’ll also need to register with HMRC to start paying taxes, as they’re not automatically withheld from your paycheque when you’re self-employed.

3. Research market rates.

Any freelance translator payment terms will include rates, but how much do you plan to charge your clients? Some translators charge by the word, while others charge by the hour or full project. It’s helpful to find out what others are charging for their services. You should also think about your financial expectations. How much do you wish to earn, and will you be working part-time or full-time hours?

4. Build an online presence.

You need to make it easy for clients to find you, and there’s no better way to do this than with a professional website. This doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as a short biography and list of your services. In time, your website can also include client testimonials and work samples to help you build your brand. Blogging helps build authority as a translation expert and gets your name out at the same time.

5. Keep language skills fresh.

Language skills fade with time, so you’ll want to be sure that you’re keeping them in top shape with consistent practice. Join a language exchange group, read books in your second language, and chat with other translators. You want to provide the highest quality of work for your clients. Rushed or inaccurate translations can swiftly ruin your professional reputation.

6. Learn to use translation software tools

Although you can start translating with nothing more than a laptop and internet connection, today’s translation software is quite useful. Freelancers can use collaborative tools as well as computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to make life easier. These take some time to get used to but are standard in larger agencies and required by many clients.

7. Set clear freelance translator payment terms.

Becoming a freelance translator involves delivery of high-quality projects, but it’s also important to remember that this is your business. As such, you’ll need to get paid. Make your freelance translator payment terms crystal clear before beginning any new contract. You should outline expectations in terms of payment timings and accepted methods.

8. Automate your invoicing process.

Along these same lines, it’s helpful to automate your accounting and invoicing processes. That way, you can input rates and payment terms straight into your invoice templates. You’ll also receive receipt of payment for freelance translations, with all receipts and invoices reconciled in the system. Consider using cloud-based accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks to establish a clear workflow when it comes to invoicing and payments.

GoCardless integrates with over 300 partners for full payment visibility. It makes it easy to collect invoice payments automatically from your translation clients. You’ll be able to take payment on the day it’s due directly from customer bank accounts. This helps save time and money that would be spent chasing up on late payments. In fact, businesses can get paid up to twice as fast simply by adding GoCardless to their online invoices. This leaves you more time to improve language skills and focus on building those important client relationships.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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