How to Start a Translation Business
Learn about cooperation and not competition for freelance translation
Episode 144: Cooperation, Not Competition – Interview with Paula Hedley
September 18, 2017
Episode 145: How to Get Unstuck – Daily Tips to Move Your Freelance Business Forward
October 2, 2017

How to Start a Translation Business

Get practical advice about becoming a successful freelance translator

This is a guest post by Hanna Sles.

After receiving diplomas, many freelance translators start their business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers and start making money.

If only it were that easy…

On the same day most of them find that making money in the translation and localization industry is much more difficult than they thought.

That happened to me too about 15 years ago. I didn’t give up, I decided to tackle all the challenges.

I hope that my tips will inspire you to make the choice to tackle any challenges you might face as a freelance translator.

1. Get Organized

One of the most important aspects of staying organized as a freelance translator is to properly manage your time. Since there are only so many hours in the day you must decide what aspects, projects, jobs, and necessities are the most important to you not only today but tomorrow, the next day, the next week, etc. You can use special planning tools such as Trello or Evernote.

2. Challenge yourself

We are all inherently fearful, lazy, and ignorant. Some might see that launching a translator’s website and blogging as depressing. Others find it inspiring. All you have to do is be a little less lazy, a little less fearful, and a little more willing to question your assumptions and biases. Then you can achieve amazing things: with each new challenge there’s growth, and this incremental growth begins to snowball like compound interest.

3. Believe in yourself

As a freelance translator you are most definitely going to experience a failure or a setback at some point. If it hasn’t happened already, it eventually will. That’s life. But when it does happen, and when your belief is strong, no failure will have the power to completely wipe you out. Belief in yourself is the name of the game. Count your wins and talk to yourself like a champion.

4. Find good people

The path to success in translation business isn’t always straight. There are often bumps, and turns and forks on the road before finally nailing the right strategy or idea. Who you are with on this road is who you become. Being successful often means learning from those who have already achieved their goals. Check who are the thought leaders in the translation and localization industry today in the post “12 Freelance translators worth subscribing to on Facebook.”

5. Develop your strategy. Know your goals.

Whatever road you choose, you need to consult a map, otherwise you’ll get lost. Stepping forward into unknown is what most freelance translators do every day. Define your road with the Kipling’s marketing map (5W): what type of text you translate (chose your niche), who is you customer, why do you translate text A for this customer, when do you offer services and where, how you tell the world about your translation services.

6. Know your customer.

One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make is trying to appeal to everyone. For this you need to ask yourself who needs your translation services, how you can help them, what benefits the target audience will get from your translation services. As soon as you determine your target audience, you have to find the best ways to reach them.

7. Become a top blogger in your industry

It is very important to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Your readers will become your brand ambassadors. They will recommend your blog, your Youtube channel, your Facebook profile. While building trust online and publishing consistent content you can gain a wide audience of people and become an influencer in the translation industry.

8. Launch Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach customers. Great freelance translator marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your translation business. It can create and promote your freelance translator brand identity. And valuable content which helps your customers solve their issues, can drive leafs and sales.

9. Keep improving your skills and services

The business world is changing, and that means we need to adapt to new requirements and challenges. Successful translators don’t just intend to react to a changing world, they strive for shaping it and be out in front. Therefore, each of us has to develop critical thinking, focus and discipline and competitive spirit if we want to adapt, thrive and distinguish ourselves in the translation industry.


Ukrainian and Russian translator, localization specialist, WordPress website developer, SEO and online marketing expert. I can develop and shape your company’s voice and style in Russian and Ukrainian to ensure that it’s clear, accessible and culturally relevant for your customers and partners thoughout thr Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking world.



  1. Hanna Sles says:

    These points are just personal guidelines. Ultimately, you can create your own standard of excellence and measure progress accordingly. Because real, lasting success comes by aligning your actions with what’s most important to you.

    If you have your own, you are welcome to share.

  2. Great blog for those who have just entered the world of translation. Correctly said money making in translation industry is not that easy, but if you have decided to continue in the same profession and you are patient enough then nothing can stop you.

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