How to Work Online as a Translator: 13 Rules to Live by for Complete Success

You want to work online as a translator?

OK, that’s cool.

You want it to be easy peasy pumpkin squeezy where all you have to do is sign up on a page and you’ll get millions of translation clients jumping at the chance to work with you?

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

If you really want to work online as a translator, you’ve got to understand something.

Actually, you have to understand 16 somethings.

And these 13 somethings are the following:

13 Rules to Live by for Complete Success

1. Online work is never easy

If you ever come across an advertisement that promises an easy way to get translation work, know that it’s a scam. You will never make any money registering for that website or service.

The only thing you’ll do by signing up is be giving that company your email address so that they can send out daily emails telling you how easy it is to work as a translator online.

Certain online work can be simple.

But it’s never easy.

Remember the difference.

2. No legit business will ever seek you out

The reason it’s not easy is because no legitimate company will ever seek you out.

No company worth its salt will ever come looking for you. No company will ever come knock on your door no matter how good you think you are.

That’s because the competition is too great.

There are too many people out there just like you that could probably do the work just as well or better than you.

So why would any company waste time and resources to come looking for you, especially when they would have no reason to care that you even exist.

They don’t know you from a translator living in a third-world company.

3. You have to have skills (something to offer)

If you want to work online, you better be able to offer something.

And preferably offer something that most other people aren’t.

You’re competing against the world. You’re competition is located throughout the globe.

You can’t be mediocre.

What do you have the other people don’t?

What set of skills do you have that gives you a distinct advantage over the competition?

If you don’t have an advantage, it’s time to start working on what Scott Adams calls your Talent Stack. If you don’t know what that is, you should.

Read his book.

4. There is no online translation work

There is no such thing as online translation work.

There is no such thing as working online as a translator.

You can work online.

You can be a translator who gets most of his clients through online efforts.

But when most newbies see the words “work online as a translator” they think that means waking up at 10:00, translating some jobs that magically appear in their inbox until noon, and then watching Netflix documentaries the rest of the day.

That’s what fake translators want. They want the pay without the pain. They want the money without putting in the sweat.

That won’t happen.

5. Success takes investment

If you want a payday, you have to invest.

Headlines like this are more common than you think:

online translation work

Sorry, Damir, it doesn’t work like this.

You’re looking for the best without an investment?

Keep looking.

Any kind of success takes work. It takes time, money, skill, and focus.

Without at least three of those, you will have no success.

6. The more connections the better

The more people you know, the better.

The more feelers you can put out, the better.

The more businesses that know you and your work, the more success you’ll have.

A translator will not find clients without talking to people, to potential clients, to possible companies to work with.

I don’t know why the idea of an introverted translator ever became popular.

An introverted translator that doesn’t want to talk to anyone will not be a successful professional translator.

If you think you can be the first, go ahead and waste your time.

That means more spoils for the victors.

7. You have to seek what you want

If you want to work as a freelance translator, you have to find the companies to work for.

You have to find the clients willing to hire you.

They will not seek you out.

You have to seek them out.

You need to find them.

If you want to work with direct clients, find those clients. They will not find you.

And finding them means calling them, sending them emails, talking to them in person, building and using your network, building a website so that you look legitimate.

If that seems like it’s too much, good.

More winning for the rest of us.

8. Not everyone can do it

Because the reality is that not everyone can be a translator.

Not everyone can be a freelancer and work for themselves.

If that were the case, there would be no doctors or dentists or Walmart cashiers.

And that’s fine.

We need those people.

Don’t hate the game if you can’t play it or don’t want to try.

Better that you recognize you’re not meant for it than waste your time pretending that you are.

9. You must separate the scams from the truth

Translation scams are everywhere.

Why do you think you read headlines like the one from Damir?

If you’re not on your game, you will be taken advantage of.

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is.

If a website promises money for translation work and all you have to do is “sign up” or send in some money, it’s a scam.

The truth is that you will find the work when you look for the work.

The true opportunities feel like real opportunities, not easy get rich opportunities that a monkey could do.

10. Nobody wants you to succeed

Nobody cares about your success. No one wants you to succeed.

It’s as simple as that.

The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you’ll have success.

Most people are looking out for numero uno. Themselves.

If you bite on a magical opportunity to earn money by doing nothing, then you’re going to lose and someone else is going to win, at your expense.

11. Do the time, make your dimes

Success takes time.

Money takes time.

You can’t have either if you try to shortcut the system.

People will sell you plenty of shortcuts.

None of them lead to the promised land.

They only lead to dead ends, usually where there is another “shortcut” promising to give you both success and money.

You want dimes? You have to do the time.

12. Experience trumps education

Education is overplayed these days.

The only people claiming that education is important are those people that have a stake in the education game.

For online translators and freelancers, experience trumps education every time.

And the only way you gain experience is by doing.

Learning isn’t doing.

That’s why education is not as valuable as experience.

Learning is learning.

Learning can be good.

Udemy is a great site to use to learn about business.

But learning while doing is best. That’s when the real knowledge starts to flow.

13. Focus = Hocus Pocus

The magic happens when you focus.

Relentless focus.

Focus for at least a year.

You can’t “focus” for a week and expect magic.

You can’t say, “I’m going to focus today and win.”

That’s a recipe to lose.

Magic only happens when you focus, when you are obsessed with winning, for at least a year.

Don’t expect magic to happen overnight.

Do it for a year and then you’ll see success.

Until next time.

P.S. A website can help you become even more successful. Get one at Bluehost.

2 thoughts on “How to Work Online as a Translator: 13 Rules to Live by for Complete Success”

  1. Richard Whittingham

    Hi Clint,
    A massive thank you for all this information that you provide in such a straight-forward format. Your blog has become my main resource for researching the translation industry, and it’s good to hear someone speak sincerely and pragmatically about translation when there seem to be so many different opinions.

    I read in one of your other articles, that a benefit of online translation is being able to choose where you live. With regards to working online, can a translator just up and go to any other country assuming they have online paying clients? Apart from the time difference and international banking issues, what implications could this cause a translator and/or their clients?


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