A lot of my friends would be surprised to know that in addition to being a translator, I’ve also had some some success transitioning from freelance translator to freelance writer.
When I say transitioning, I don’t mean that I’ve stopped being a freelance translator but instead of added freelance writing to my list of skills that I’m able to provide to potential clients.
Adding that skillset to my current list of abilities wasn’t as hard as I had initially thought it would be.
I’ll explain how I went about it, but first let me explain why I decided to add it in the first place.
Why You Should Become a Freelance Writer
Again, before you think I’m saying that you should give up being a freelance translator, understand that this is NOT what I’m saying.
Instead, I’m saying that if you want to maximize your freelance income, you should do everything possible to learn additional skills that can provide value to your clients.
Not all clients are the same. Sure, there are many clients out there that only want something translated.
That’s what they come to you for, that’s what you provide, you part ways, and then that’s it.
However, there are clients that need more than just a translation.
They need someone that can provide a wide-range of language services from translation to writing to website creation and everything in between.
Being able to provide multiple services can allow you to charge more. You’ll be able to focus on long-term clients. And you’ll have opportunities to do different things.
In addition to the above, another reason for becoming a freelance writer is to give yourself another stream of income that you can count on during those times of famine that every translator will face at some point during her career.
Finally, having an additional skill like freelance writing will make you a better all-around translator as you will become better at working and writing in your native (or target) language.
How to Transition to Freelance Writer
One of the things that makes it easy to transition from freelance translator to freelance writer is that many of the steps for achieving success as a freelance translator easily cross over to becoming a successful freelance writer.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
Talk to existing clients about their freelance writing needs.
First things first when working on becoming a freelance writer and that is to use your existing network to find clients.
People are more likely to trust someone that they’ve already worked with.
That means that if you have established good relationships with existing clients, tell them that you are able to provide professional writing services.
Here’s something to remember.
Most of the stuff you’re translating coming from your existing clients isn’t stuff that the client wrote in the first place.
In fact, your client most likely contracted the writing out to a freelance writer to put the original source documents together that you are now translating.
Let your clients know that you can help them save money and time while improving quality if they go straight to you for all their language needs, including their freelance writing.
Seek out publications in your area of specialization.
Once you’ve tapped your existing network, then it’s time to move on to the next phase of finding clients.
That includes reaching out to people working in your area of specialization.
Let’s say that you’re a medical translator and are thinking about offering freelance writing services as well.
One way you could find more clients is to contact health companies/hospitals/medical offices/publications/magazines that produce written material.
Again, most (if not all) of their written material is not written by them but rather contracted out to freelance writers.
Explain how you are uniquely positioned to provide not only freelance translation services but also freelance writing services, thus lowering their overhead while producing better quality materials (in multiple languages).
Update your social media profiles and website with your new services.
This is an easy one.
In addition to spreading knowledge of your new servcies by word of mouth, be sure to update all of your social media profiles to include the fact that you are also a freelance writer.
In addition, don’t forget to add that information to your website (if you don’t have one yet, you really should – use Bluehost).
You’ll be seen as more of an authority figure who is able to provide more services than your competition.
Understand that numbers are still the name of the game (and that rejections are inevitable).
Another important thing to remember when transitioning from freelance translator to freelance writer is that sheer numbers are extremely important.
Sure, you can get lucky and get a freelance writing assignment after querying one or two potential clients.
However, that’s not the case for most writers.
A lot of their time is spent sending out queries to a lot of potential clients.
I was lucky in that the first writing assignment I was paid for came after I had queried about three different publishers.
I had an idea on a triathlon-related article and shopped the idea around to different website and magazines.
Finally, a regional triathlon/running magazine in Texas decided they were interested and paid me $100 I think for the article.
Most potential freelance writers don’t have the kind of initial experience I had but I had done my research and was pretty confident in my idea.
Just remember that the more people and publications you query, the more likely you’ll land an actual freelance writing assignment.
Set aside dedicated time when you’ll work on becoming a freelance writer.
If you still want to be work as a freelance translator while pursuing opportunities as a freelance writer, you’ll have to be sure to set aside dedicated time to work on it.
You won’t have much success if you only work on it whenever you get some time.
I recommend setting aside at least a few hours a week to work on becoming a freelance writer. This will be even more successful if those hours are in a block that you can carve out so that you can maintain focus for a somewhat significant amount of time.
Becoming a freelance writer is not about stopping your pursuit of success as a freelance translator.
Rather, it’s another skill that you can develop in order to be more marketable and more employable, not only as a freelance translator or a freelance writer, but as a freelance language professional.
If you’re interested in moving even beyond being a freelancer to starting your own digital agency, be sure to check out this article on how to move from being a solo-freelancer to starting your own digital agency.
If you want to know about other skills you can gain that will give you an edge as a freelance language professional, be sure to read my book.