7 Warning Signs that Your Freelance Translation Business is About to Fail

You’re a translator.

A freelance translator.

You’ve successfully found some clients and are translating regularly.

Now you’ve made it, right?

Not so fast.

Being a full-time freelance translator is a tough gig. You’ve got to be on the ball all the time because if you slack off, your business will fail.

Don’t believe me?

Here are 7 warning signs that your freelance translation business is about to fall apart.

You Stop Looking for Clients

Biggest problem for new freelance translators is finding clients.

The second biggest problem is not looking for new clients when you already have a number of existing clients.

Customers come and go.

You can’t always count on having a customer for life so for that reason you always have to be looking for clients.

In reality, you can never have enough clients. Sure, there might come a point when your plate is full, but if you get a new client that pays more than an existing one, you can think about dropping the current one.

There should never be any reason to stop finding new translation clients. The moment you do, your business will begin to fail.

You Treat Your Business Like a Hobby

You need to treat your translation business like a business, not a hobby.

At the same time, you should be a business owner and entrepreneur, not merely just a translator.

That means worrying about more than how to best capture the translation.

It means marketing. It means customer service. It means doing all those things that specifically are not translation.

Those things aren’t necessarily fun.

But they are completely 100% necessary. Don’t do them and your business will suffer.

You Neglect Your Language

While all those extra things are important for the success of your business, your language skills are what got you into translation in the first place.

Don’t neglect them.

If you don’t continually maintain or improve your language skills, your business will suffer because the quality of your work will suffer.

And don’t just work on your target language.

Target language is sometimes more fun to work on because we fell in love with that language and wanted to learn it as opposed to our source language which we were born with.

But both languages need to be studied and maintained for maximum benefit.

You Don’t Add New Specializations

In the same way that you need to continually improve your language skills, you also need to work on your specialization.

There are two approaches.

Both are valid.

Choose one or the other, or do both for best results.

First, you can just work on improving your knowledge of your existing specialization.

That means if you are a patent translator, you should continue understanding everything there is to know about patents (in both languages).

Read up on patents, watch videos, study out of textbooks.

The next approach is to add specializations to your existing ones.

If you are a financial translator who translates mostly business forecasts and assessments, then start to branch out in other areas of finance.

Increase your knowledge in those areas and you can set yourself up for more work in the future.

Or better yet, take both approaches.

You Don’t Offer Solutions

Freelance translators in the past were translators.

That’s all they did.


That was fine back then but times have changed.

You can no longer be just a translator.

Instead of offering translation services, you need to start offering language solutions to your customers.

Think about what else your customers need.

Do they need copywriting services?

Could you build them a website in another language?

Do they need a comprehensive language translation solution instead of just translation of a couple of documents or web pages?

Find out what your clients need and then offer that to them.

You Only Want to Translate

If you only want to be a translator, your translation business will fail.

A thriving translation business requires more than just being able to translate.

If you only want to translate, that’s fine.

You just won’t make very much money as a freelance translator.

That being said, if you aren’t interested in making money as a translator, and only want to translate, there are plenty of places to do that.

You Look for Validation

As a business owner, you have to project confidence.

You can’t be second guessing your translation abilities.

You are not the best translator out there.

There will always be someone who can translate better or more faithfully than you.

But guess what?

Clients aren’t looking for the best translator.

They are looking for someone who can solve their language problems.

If you can do that, you’ll be hired, despite the fact that you don’t have the best translation skills on the planet.

As long as you can do a quality job for your customers on the solutions to their problems, you will be in demand.

You don’t need to be validated by anyone.

You can become a translator without getting blessed by a government agency, a certification organization, or any professor or translator.

Run your business your way.

Then you’ll have success your way.

Until next time.

P.S. Want to jumpstart your translation career? Get a website.

Leave a Reply