Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by HR Editorial Team
If you’re looking to start a translation business, it can be difficult to know where to begin. And, when you’re just starting in any kind of freelancing or entrepreneurship, it’s important to get your name out there and build up a reputation. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to start a translation business—from choosing which services you’ll offer to finding clients and networking with others in your industry.
Just getting started? Here are a few first steps
If you’re just getting started, here are a few things to consider:
- Choose a niche. You can translate anything, but it may be more effective to specialize in one type of translation. For example, if you’re fluent in English and French, specializing in marketing materials or financial documents would be a great way to get started. In this case, you’d focus on translations between those two languages.
- Decide what services to offer. Do you want to provide only written translations? Will audio and video work as well? Or do all three have their place in your business model?
- Work on your website (if applicable). If there are already other translators who serve the niche that interests you most—or if there aren’t any at all—it might make sense for your first step toward building an online presence is creating a website where potential clients can learn about what services they might need from someone like yourself (and then contact them directly).
Decide what services to offer
The first step in starting your translation business is to decide what services to offer—and, more importantly, what not to offer. But, of course, you can’t be good at everything, so don’t try!
It’s better to specialize in one area than try and do everything. For example, if you’re a native speaker of Spanish, French, and English but have no experience translating German into English (or vice versa), it would be wise to stick exclusively with English-to-Spanish translations and leave the other languages alone. This way, you’ll have more time and energy left over for improving your skills in the areas where they are most needed.
In addition, while offering general translation services is always an option if you want them as part of your business model (for example: “I’ll translate anything!”), it’s better if clients know right off the bat that they’re dealing with someone who specializes in a specific type of text rather than just any old thing that comes along their way.
Choose your language and industry niche
Choosing your niche is the first step in starting a translation business. You will have to be passionate about what you are doing and have enough demand for your services that customers will want to pay you for them, which means the niche should not be too broad or competitive. Here are some things you should think about when deciding on a niche:
- Choose something that interests you. If it’s not something that interests and excites you, then it will be difficult to work hard and succeed at it.
- Make sure there is enough demand for quality translations in this area. If there isn’t much demand for translations of whatever language(s) or genre(s) interest you, then maybe that isn’t the best idea for what type of business model (more on this later).
- Don’t choose an overly competitive industry unless there’s also high demand—that way, and there is room for more than one company offering similar services at different prices (i.e., food/beverage industries).
- Make sure that there aren’t already many companies offering similar services at lower costs—if so, there may not be much room left over from which someone could generate substantial profits from those services either legally or illegally by undercutting others’ prices widely enough without risking getting caught!
Work on your translation website
A crucial part of establishing your brand is creating a website that reflects your philosophy, professionalism, and experience. In addition, a well-designed website is the first thing clients see when searching for different services, so it’s important to make sure that it’s easy for them to find what you offer.
Here are some tips for making a winning website:
- Make it easy to find—This means ensuring that search engines and potential clients can easily find your site through relevant keywords. This also means having a clear navigation bar with links leading prospective customers directly to where they need to go (e.g., “About Us” or “Services”).
- Make it easy to navigate—This refers primarily to the design of your site itself: does it look clean and inviting? Are there too many words on each page? Can users easily scroll through content without getting lost in endless blocks of text? Try using white space wisely throughout the layout of pages by avoiding overuse of graphics or images unless necessary; if an image is required, make sure that it’s engaging enough not only because they’re supposed but also because they enhance usability rather than detract from usability (i..e., do not distract).
Set up social media accounts and other profiles.
Social media is an excellent way to build your brand and establish yourself as a professional. In addition, you can use it to find new clients, promote your business, and network with other translators and marketers.
Social accounts are a must-have for any business owner, but they’re even more important if you want to succeed in this industry because they help showcase your talents and grow your network of potential clients.
Find clients and customers
- Ask friends and family.
- Ask colleagues or classmates.
- Ask your network on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
If you have an existing business (like a translation agency), ask for recommendations from other translators and marketers who have worked with you.
Ask for recommendations from other translators and marketers
You can also ask for recommendations from colleagues, clients, friends, and family. If you have any connections with agencies or other translation businesses, you should ask them if they know of translators looking for work.
You can also use social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook to get in touch with people who are working in the translation industry and ask if they know anyone who might be looking for a job.
Go through translation directories or platforms like ProZ, TranslatorsCafe, or TranslatorsBase
Search for job listings on the following platforms:
- ProZ is a platform for translators and translation services. You can list your skills and experience on this site, which hosts over 1 million registered users. It also has a directory of translation companies so you can find the right company to work with. The site is free to use, but registration is required to access some features (such as listing your services).
- TranslatorsCafé is another popular place where translators post their resumes, credentials, and other information they want potential clients to see. The site also has an extensive list of translation agencies from around the world where you can search for work opportunities and submit projects yourself if you are looking for someone else to do it for you! TranslatorsCafé is free but requires registration before accessing most parts of its website (including posting jobs).
- TranslatorsBase offers a similar service but with fewer features than those mentioned above — however, it has a search engine, making it easier than ever to find professional translations quickly & easily without having multiple websites open at once (which saves both time AND money)!
You can also try to find clients using social networking sites like LinkedIn, blogs in your niche, and translation portals like ProZ and Upwork
- Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to find clients. If you’re a translator, chances are there is no shortage of people who need your services. Start by sending out messages to all the translators on your network, inviting them for coffee or lunch if you live close by. You can also try contacting them via email or phone if you have their contact information. Once you’ve contacted someone, ask about their business needs; if they don’t know any translators personally but still need some work done in English, recommend yourself!
- Try using blogs in your niche to find clients. Bloggers often need content translated into other languages to reach more readers worldwide—and they might not know where else to turn! Check related blogs and comment on posts that seem relevant (note: it may take some time before anyone responds). The same goes for social media accounts—you never know who might be looking for translation services right under your nose!
Delivery High Quality Work on Time
If you’re new to the translation world and don’t have a large portfolio, it can be tempting to accept any work that comes your way. But remember that a small number of reliable clients are much better than being overloaded with work you don’t have time to finish properly!
Instead, focus on quality, not quantity. If a potential client wants something that doesn’t fit your niche or interests and isn’t going to be fun for you, say no! Being selective will help you build a reputation for high-quality work.
Importance of Networking for Business
Networking is equally important to having a great product when starting as a freelancer or business owner. This is true because networking gives you access to potential customers and partners who can help you grow your business.
It’s also helpful for building your brand and reputation!
Benefits of Starting a Translation Services Business
There’s great demand, both in the U.S. and globally.
There’s great demand for translation services in the United States and globally. Translation companies are growing at an impressive rate, and the industry is expected to grow by 20 percent over the next five years. Translation services are in demand in both the U.S. and internationally; it’s a growing market that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
The barrier to entry is relatively low.
It can indeed be difficult to break into the translation industry. However, many people who have succeeded have done so with a small client base and only one or two translators. Moreover, you do not need to invest in expensive equipment and can work from home.
Remote work is possible but not required.
Working from home or in a coffee shop is possible but not required. You can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection.
You can work as little or as much as you want, for as long or short a time as you wish.
You can work as little or as much as you want, for as long or short a time as you wish.
- You may have other jobs or commitments that don’t allow you to commit your time to be an employee of another company.
- You might have a family and other personal responsibilities that require attention from time to time, but you don’t want the hassle of taking off work if something comes up unexpectedly.
- Maybe you are just starting in life and are unsure about how much money you will need at this stage, so you do not want to be tied down by an employer who expects a certain amount over how long you will work with them.
With translation agencies, you’re in charge of your destiny
The beauty of starting a translation agency is that you’re in charge of your destiny. So if you work part-time, or even full-time, as a translator and want to take some time off for vacation, there’s no need to worry about getting fired because you aren’t putting in enough hours.
This can also be beneficial if you’re interested in moving into management roles at other translation agencies or companies that provide translation services. Many employees who are hired with little experience struggle to find success because they don’t know how the business operates or what their role should be within it; however, if you’ve already started your own business and mastered these concepts on your terms, then this shouldn’t be an issue for you!
You have the flexibility of schedules
If you’re a person who needs the flexibility of schedules, then you should consider starting your own translation business. You can work as much or as little as you want and make your hours. You may even be able to do it from home if that works for you.
As the owner, you set the policies
As the owner of your own business, you have total control over what you do and how you do it. You can set your hours, choose which clients to take on (and which ones to turn down), and decide what rates to charge for your services. Not only does this mean that you won’t ever feel like someone is telling you what to do, but it also means that there’s no one else to blame if something goes wrong in the office!
If any problems arise with clients or subcontractors, they’ll also be up to you. While this might seem stressful at first glance, remember: as an independent contractor working in translation services, there’s no one else but yourself who knows exactly how much time each project takes—so even if a client thinks that he/she needs something done by tomorrow morning when it can wait until the next day…you know better!
Ongoing learning is a fundamental part of the job
Being a translator requires you to constantly learn. You have to keep up with the latest industry trends, which is not always easy. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do so:
- Read blogs and articles about translation services (such as this one!)
- Attend conferences and other events where translators connect
- Network with other translators who share your interests
- Learn from clients who come to you for more than one translation project
Interesting and rewarding career path
If you’re a quick study, you’ll be able to pick up various languages. The experience will also give you an interesting insight into different cultures and societies. And since translation happens in every country and language on Earth, it’s quite likely that your travels will take you all over the world!
It can be rewarding to work from home, at a café or wherever else feels cozy. That’s one of the main reasons why people get into this field: they love being able to set their hours and work when they feel like it.
I hope this guide has given you some ideas for starting your translation business. As you can see, there are many advantages to starting a translation services business. You can work around the clock at your own pace, and there are virtually no restrictions on where or when you work. This is even more true if you go into business with another translator or group of translators who share their time, talent, and clients.