Guide to Professional Freelance Translation and Interpretation | Part 2: Be Professional In Everything

Professional Freelance Translators And Interpreters Are Professional In Every Aspect

Be professional in EVERYTHING!

So, you've established that you are a business owner.

You run your one-man or one-woman translation and/or interpretation business.


Now it's time to also look at yourself as a professional business person.

Let's focus now on yourself and the value you bring to your clients.

The value you bring to your clients will justify your fees.

You help your clients reach new markets which in turn will make them more money.

How Translators and Interpreters Can Prove Their Value

But how do you prove the value you will bring?

By being professional in everything.

Because when your client gets the job done right (professionally, by you, hopefully) the first time, they save money (by not having it done twice).

And we all know clients' main goal is to make money (reach new markets) and save money (get the job done right the first time).

What Makes A Translator And Interpreter Professional?

First let's examine your background. Your value. Your expertise. Your credentials.

Have you obtained certificates or degrees from a university or other recognized language program(s)?

Are you an expert, beyond native speaker level, in the language pair(s) you work with?

Even after your formal education do you continue to grow professionally?

Are you an active member of a translation or interpretation association or group?

Do you have plenty of apprenticeship or work experience?

Are you constantly growing your knowledge base and skills?

Do you specialize, not generalize?  Having a specialty has a higher value.

If you feel you have to work on a few things, that's ok.

Language is ever evolving and we never stop learning.  Start improving today, it's never too late to get started.

What Makes A Translator's And Interpreter's Service Professional?

Do you always strive to convey meaning faithfully, accurately, and impartially?

Do you dress, behave, and communicate professionally?

Do you keep client information confidential?

Do you only accept jobs that give you enough time to produce quality work?

If you are a professional translator, you should limit yourself to translating the amount each day that will result in your best quality.  You should also verify and proofread all your work so that you may deliver publish-ready translations on time.

If you are a professional interpreter, you should limit yourself to interpreting only the amount each day which will result in your best quality.

Do you work within your qualifications, credentials, expertise, subject area, etc?

If you stay within your background, credentials, and areas of expertise you will tend to make less mistakes, be more productive, work will be more enjoyable, and take up less time to complete.

Do you hold your quality to the highest standards?

Is quality work and services your main focus?

Do you go the extra mile for your clients?

Do you follow a strict code of ethics?

This is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.

Just like before, if you feel you have to work on a few things, that's ok.

Language translations and interpretations are complex services and we never stop improving and learning.

What Makes a Translator's or Interpreter's Customer Service Exceptional?

Customer Service By A Professional Translator And Interpreter.

Do you always treat all your clients, colleagues, and services in a professional manner?

Are you open and honest in all your communications?

Do you regularly communicate with your clients, answer their questions, concerns, and comments as soon as possible, even when you deliver difficult news?

Do you inform and describe the complexities of your services to your clients in a professional, friendly, respectful, and tactful manner?

Are you open and flexible to changes made by your clients?

Do you troubleshoot for your clients?

After you have completed your services do you:

Thank your clients with a personalized hand-written "Thank You" note or a small gift for example?

Do you get testimonials, reviews, and feedback?

Do you learn from your mistakes and client feedback then turn them into positive actions?

Professional Translator And Interpreter Fees

Do you charge what your services are worth?

When your fees reflect value, this gives you motivation, and makes you more productive.

Does your fee reflect your experience, knowledge, credentials, skills, and expertise?

Don't worry so much about what others charge.

Show your client that your services, expertise, and knowledge are worth the fees you ask for.  (More on this in parts 6 and 7)

Ultimately, the value, quality, results, and professionalism of your services are your reputation.

Your reputation justifies your fees.

You attract what you are, not what you want.  If you want great, then be great. via

Professional Clients Seek Professional Translators And Interpreters.

Remember not everyone is your target client.

Are your potential clients interested in buying a professional service rather than commodities?

Are your potential clients interested in quality rather than fees?

Inform your potential client how you will help their business, save them time and money (especially if they find your fees a bit surprising).  More on this is parts 6 and 7.

Professional Translators And Interpreters Are Colleagues With Professionals.

The colleagues you get to know and connect with should be professional like you.  Why?

You never know when you will need to help each other out.  Maybe one day you may need to send jobs to a fellow colleague when you can't take on a job and hopefully, (if you know them well enough) one day they will do the same for you.

So make sure you never criticize online or offline a fellow colleague.  On the contrary, true professionals freely help, support, mentor, guide, advise, share ideas, knowledge, and experiences with each other.

True professionals view one another as colleagues and not as competitors.

Why Being Different From Other Translators and Interpreters is a Good Thing via

What Makes You Different From Other Professional Translators And Interpreters?

To distance yourself from coming off as a commodity, presenting yourself as a professional to potential clients is a good start.

But you still need to stand out from all the other professionals with your same language pair(s).

What you need is to specialize in several fields.  Not all.

Think of field(s), like trees.

For example, a tree can be Earth Sciences, the branches would be geology, then geophysics, seismology, petroleum exploration, etc.  The same for the Medical Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Law, all with their many branches, and so forth.

You don't have to be an expert in every topic within your fields to be able to translate them, you only need to research the subject, be bilingually knowledgeable in general, and work hard in quality and secondarily in quantity.

In fact you might never really understand the subjects you translate, all you need to know is how to translate them.

For example, knowing all the parts and functions of the human body doesn't make you, the translator, a physician, and expert, but you can name (translate) them into a high-quality work that a physician will understand.

Become an expert in your fields and services this way you become an asset to your client and not considered an expense.  More on this in parts 6 and 7.

Present Yourself As A Professional Translator And Interpreter.

You need to distance yourself from the word "free" because your time is anything but.

So if in the past you presented yourself as a "freelance translator and/or interpreter" to potential clients, you sold yourself short.   Because you are more than just a freelancer, you are a professional.

Once you are seen by your clients and yourself as a professional they will regard you with more respect and value your services. 

And finally, just as you will never stop improving and learning, your professional efforts will never end; so even while excelling always continue taking it to the next level.

As I mentioned in part 1 and here, when you continually improve yourself and your craft, it widens the gap between yourself and the bottom feeders.

Ultimately, your professionalism, value, and quality services attract your ideal clients and make it easy for them to choose you.

In the next part we will look at how to determine your target annual salary.

Here is a recap of the guide:

Part 1: Consider Yourself A Business Owner
Part 2: Be Professional In Everything
Part 3: You Determine Your Target Annual Salary
Part 4: Fees: Per-Word, Hourly or By The Job
Part 5: Calculate Your Baseline Fee
Part 6: Working with Clients Before, During, and After I
Part 7: Working with Clients Before, During, and After II

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my posts. Please if any of my blogs inspire you, give credit where credit is due.  Let's be fair, honest, and professional. Let's help each other be great and stay great!

 Feel free to connect or email me, Carmen Arismendy.  I'm a professional Spanish interpreter-translator and founder of eLingual.Net.  I started the eLingual Network because I could not find a fair, no middleman, no job bidding, ethical, and transparent meeting place for translators, interpreters, and clients online.  The website is in beta phase and by no means perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
eLingual.Net's mission is to spread happiness worldwide through happy translators, interpreters, and clients.
For the professional translator and interpreter, this means no middleman, no job bidding, the freedom of setting their own fees, having control over their services, and who they choose to work with.
For the clients, this means working directly with ethical and professional translators and interpreters committed to quality and value.
Join our happy community, let's work together!


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