The Corporate Freelance, aka 13 skills a freelance interpreter/translator must have

Have you ever thought, that, as a freelance professional, you have to be a multi-role human being? In the end, a translator/interpreter has to play all of the roles involved in a company:

just a translator1. Be smiling & smart – like a Reception Desk, but also being able to address visitors to the person they are looking for, i.e. finding the right solution for the customer based on their requirements. Is the customer asking for a translation, yet what they really need is an interpreter? Very well, you must be able to understand customers’ needs and fulfill them properly.

2. Be competent / technical – like a Technical Department: a freelancer must be able to supply technical information related to his/her work or service. What’s the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting? Why was this sentence translated this way?

3. Be flexible Like an intern. Interns are the ones who usually have to do the worst jobs, the ones nobody wants to do. They have to be flexible and quick when assigning priorities. Sometimes a freelancer has to do the worst jobs too, the most repetitive and boring ones (does “technical translation” ring any bell to you?), sometimes they have to change their plans due to priorities and adapt to different circumstances (customer says: „Look, I changed my mind. Please translate this text first and then move on to the one I sent you a week ago. The deadline is today.”).

4. Be quick but quality-oriented and performing – like a Quality Department; can you send an incorrect translation? of course you can’t. That’s why you have to take care of the quality of your service. Possibly collaborating with other people as well.

5. Be nice – like a Sales Department. Salespeople are usually the smart, good-looking, always smiling and optimistic guys. They know how a customer has to be treated and cuddled. You have to do the same!

6. Be aware of what is appealing – like a Marketing Department. You need to find your own marketing strategies, possibly including inbound social media marketing.

7. Be selective – like a Purchasing Department: people working in a purchasing department are always very picky and selective, as they perfectly know the goal they want to attain and they will make anything in their power to get their target (a given price, discount, terms and conditions, etc.). Why shouldn’t you be that focused and demanding with your clients, when it comes to terms and conditions?

8. Be serious and act with integrity – like a Safety Department: be always aware of work-personal life boundaries in order to avoid any “accidents”.

9. Be open to new challenges – like a R&D Department: be curious about new assignments, learn new things and refine your know-how and, last but not least, take some risk! There is no such thing as development without research.

10. Be precise with finance – like an Accounting Department: this is something I’d rather delegate to my accountant – and this is what I actually do, by the way – but still, you have to do certain things on your own (e.g. collecting invoices, paying bills and other colleague’s invoices, etc.) and you’d better make no mistakes!

11. Be a nerd – like an IT-Support Department: you have to be able to use software applications, CAT Tools, Social Media, Apps, etc. This is why you’ll end up being a bit nerdish too.

12. Be nice and attentive – like a Personal Assistant/Secretary: you cannot afford forgetting about deadlines, meetings, events, etc., can you? Technology will surely help you out, but you still are the owner and manager of your own calendar and reminders.

13. Be productive: just work, work, work! – like an Assembly Line/Production: this is the real work, without which no freelance would exist. No work, no money, it’s as easy as that. So, roll up your sleeves and get the job done! Yet, similarly to an assembly line, you can outsource a part of your work if one person is not enough: a colleague’s work is such a precious help, sometimes!

So, which Department do you prefer?

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Translator & Interpreter