7 Ways to Make Sure You Get Paid for Your Translation Work

Finding clients is the most important task you have as a freelance translator.

It’s even more important than the translations themselves.

If you can’t find clients, you won’t ever even have a chance to translate.

But once you do find clients and start working on translations, your second most important action is to make sure you get paid.

The reality about the modern state of translation is this:

The global marketplace means that it’s way easier to find clients and reach out to people all over the world who need your services.


That also means that it can be a lot harder to collect your payments from those clients.

If you’re in the U.S. and your client is in Italy, there’s no easy way to directly confront the client in case of a payment dispute.

It can be easy to get screwed out of your business earnings.

Sure, you can try to blacklist that client after the fact on the various translation forums, but that doesn’t help you get paid.

So, just like the Zika virus, the best way to avoid the problem in the first place is to make sure it never happens to begin with.

Here’s how.

7 Ways to Get Paid as a Translator

Write up a contract

This is a no-brainer. Yeah, it might be inconvenient. You might think you won’t need it. But people aren’t always honest. And without a contract, you won’t have proof you need to enforce your agreement.

So use a contract.

More importantly, writing a contract will ensure that you and your client both have the correct expectations for each other.

You know what you’re supposed to do; your client knows what to expect.

Now, you might not think you need one for a friend or acquaintance. However, plenty of friendships have been lost over not laying out expectations clearly enough.

Deliver the translation after payment is made

A colleague sent this to me about what he does:

I exchange the document for payment. No exceptions! I work my butt off and if someone expects a translated document at a certain time I expect payment at the time of receiving the document.

You do the work. You deliver the goods on your terms. That means you make sure payment is received before you deliver the document.

Make sure you deal with reputable clients

If the client seems sketchy, avoid him.

Don’t deal with someone because of promise of payment even if you feel like something is wrong.

Not only will you waste time working, you won’t get paid anyway, and then your effort will have been wasted.

You could have spent that time looking for a more reputable client.

Trust your gut.

It can help you know whether the person you’re dealing with is legit or not.

Watch out for translation scams

On the same note, watch out for common scams that target translators.

They are increasing all the time and are becoming more and more sophisticated.

But there are ways you can avoid them.

Bad grammar in emails, offers that are too good to be true, and overpayments are typical scam techniques to watch out for.

Break up the translation

Some clients are skeptical about paying a translator before they receive the translation.

In this case, break up your translation and deliver it in pieces.

Deliver half the translation, then ask for payment.

Then deliver the second half, and ask for the second payment.

If the translation is longer, break up the translation into more chunks.

If it’s a book, break it up by chapters, for example.

Deliver each segment and collect after you deliver each part.

Password-protect the translations

This works especially well if you deliver your translation in a PDF.

However, it could also work with other formats.

Basically what happens is that you complete your translation, and then encrypt the document with a password.

You deliver the document to the client and then once you receive payment, you can inform the client what the password is.

Use watermarks

Some translators like to use watermarks on their translations.

They’ll deliver the translation to the client with a watermark superimposed on the translation.

Once the client delivers payment, the client sends the final translation with the watermark removed.

These are just some ideas that have worked in the past and that translators use to get paid.

What methods do you use?

Until next time.

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