Top 5 Translator Mindset Pitfalls You Must Avoid For Success

If you want to become a successful translator, you first have to overcome your own self-sabotage.

You can have all the translation skills, language acumen, and networking prowess, but if you don’t believe in yourself, really believe that you can succeed, then you won’t.

And in order for you to have confidence in your own ability to attract success, you have to avoid these five translator mindset pitfalls.

Selling is Bad

First of all, in order to be a successful translator, you have to understand this one crucial point:

Selling is not bad.

Selling is good.

Selling is absolutely necessary.

Without selling, you won’t be able to find any clients.

And you won’t be able to sell your services.

Instead of thinking that selling is bad, change your frame. Recognize that your are not selling anything.

Instead, you are offering solutions that other people need.

Those people are welcome to use your services, but are also free to not use them.

You are not forcing them.

You’re not holding a knife to their throats telling them that they have to use your services.

On the contrary, you’re helping them. You’re helping them to solve their problems. They want your solutions.

I’m Not Good Enough

I’m a confident person.

But I haven’t always been.

Especially when it came to language and translation.

In college, I was enrolled in a translation degree program.

I was not the smartest, nor most fluent, nor best translator.

I was average at best.

Out of the 20 or so students in the program, I was probably the 17th best.

And the only reason the three behind me were behind me was because they weren’t native English speakers.

So I had confidence issues.

But after two years in the program, those issues were largely gone.

Here’s how:

Basically, I just started doing, instead of being too scared to start.

I got a job where I was in charge of translating information for medical patients.

That got me experience and helped me realize that I could translate.

In order to feel confident, you have to do. You have to start. Even (and especially) when you feel like you’re not worthy to start.

I’m too Introverted

Translators are an interesting bunch.

On the one hand, we love languages, and language learning require a certain degree of extroversion.

To truly learn a language, you have to talk to people.

And we get that.

So we do it.

On the other hand, a lot of language geeks become freelance translators because they don’t like dealing with people in a typical office setting.

They like to work alone.

Do their own thing.

And not have to deal with others.

But that introversion can hurt a translator who needs to find clients and sell his translation solutions.

If this is you, understand that if you’re introverted, you can switch that introversion off when you need to.

My dad is a fairly introverted person.

But he had to be an extrovert for his job. So he would turn it on and off when he needed to.

He told me once that it wasn’t a choice. It was something he had to do. If he wanted to eat, he had to become extroverted to make the sale.

If you want to make the sale as a translator, you’ll find a way to do it, even if you’re an introvert.

Face your fears and move ahead.

Feeling Overwhelmed

One of the first hurdles beginning translators have to overcome is the feeling that there is too much to do.

That they don’t know where to start so instead they just feel paralyzed and don’t start anywhere.

It’s a much more common mistake than most people realize.

But we do it all the time.

We want to lose weight but we don’t know where to start so we just don’t start at all.

Maybe we want to eat better but we feel overwhelmed by all the diet choices out there so we are paralyzed to start any of them.

The trick to overcome this feeling of paralysis is to start with what you know.

Once you start and do something for a bit, then you can evaluate how well it is or is not working. Then you can move on to something else if you need to.

Let’s take the eating example.

Say you don’t know what diet to use. Just pick one.

Try it out. It will most likely be better than doing nothing.

After you’ve done it for a bit, you’ll have made at least some progress and can either keep going with that same diet or move onto another one.

Same thing goes when starting out in translation.

As a beginning translator, you feel like you need to do everything, and do it right now.

Build a website.

Find clients.

Sign up for social media accounts.

Buy translation software.

Set up your business structure.

Design your home office.

These can all be important parts to setting up your freelance translation business. But they are not the most important thing.

And if you try to do them all at once, you will feel overwhelmed, then paralyzed, and then you’ll quit (or never start).

So first focus on finding that first client.

Just one.

For that, all you need is an email address (and maybe not even that if you find local clients).

Once you find that client, then find another.

Then another.

Once you have found three clients, and you feel a bit stable, then pick something from the list to work on.

Maybe now it’s time to build your translation website.

Or perhaps you want to shop for translation software to make your workflow faster and more convenient.

Whatever you want to do doesn’t matter so much. It’s that you pick something and do it.

That is what keeps the paralysis at bay.

Staying in Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone can be your dead zone, if you let it.


Because when you stay in your comfort zone, you don’t grow.

And no growth is stagnation.

And stagnation is death.

So as a translator, you’ve always got to be pushing yourself and growing.

If you’ve never had a translator website, maybe it’s time to get one up and running. Who cares if you don’t know how at first. You can learn as you go.

Maybe you’ve only worked for translation agencies and want to try your hand at finding direct clients.

Then start by looking for direct clients.

It’ll be uncomfortable at first because it’s something you haven’t done.

But once you do it, and do it some more, pretty soon you’ll feel comfortable doing it, and it will be a great addition to your translation business.

Until next time.

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