Lesson 46: 10 things every freelance translator should do at least once to be noticed

Lesson 46: 10 things every freelance translator should do at least once to be noticed

Popular freelancers have more work. They are well-known, recommended, referred to when needed. This sense of professional popularity, or fame, boosts productivity, self-confidence, and in the end: income. Who wouldn’t like that?

The best news is that we all start from zero. We all come to the profession at some point and have to work hard to gain recognition. We need some courage, good branding, and a list of things we have to do. Below you can find a list of things I did and I recommend every freelance translator should do, inspired by this article on Freelance Folder. The best thing about items on this list is that they’re all interconnected: one causes the other. A colleague inspired by this post run a survey among translators and interpreters and presented her results in a great infographics. Have a look!

1) Attend an event

There’s much to be said in favour of attending events. The general rule is: go to as many events as you can without negative impact on your work. Appear here and there, network with some people, look out for opportunities.
What I did: I went to an event organised by the Interpreting Division of the Chartered Institute of Linguists on interpreting for the media. It led to 4, 6, 8 and 9.

2) Volunteer to help out at an event

Being on the other side of an event is a great experience. You’ll learn how things work, but you’ll also meet many people behind such events who are always worth knowing. As an organiser, you’re also perceived as more experienced and more knowledgeable.
What I did: Only recently, I volunteered to help at Websites for Translators’ stand during Language Show Live. It led to 8, 5.

3) Join an organisation

Becoming a member of an organisation is a very wise step. You’re joining a group of like-minded people and you can add your expertise to their experience. It doesn’t have to be a translation or language-related organisation. Perhaps you could add an extra angle to other markets?
What I did: I’ve just joined Chartered Institute of Marketing. I’m hoping to do 1, 2 and 4 with them to start with.

4) Write an article

By researching a certain field needed to write an article, you already become richer in knowledge and experience. It becomes your field of expertise. When the article gets published, you’re also acknowledged. It drives publicity. There’s a wide range of options, from online to printed.
What I did: I wrote an article for The Linguist on social media following 1. It lead me to 8, 9 and 10.

5) Write an ebook

Whether you want them to pay for it or not, writing an ebook is a great marketing opportunity. There are so many unexplored areas of translation (or working as a translator), that writing a short text can be exciting! You’ll also be able to prove that you’re an expert in your field.
What I did: I wrote an ebook on CVs for freelance translators. It led me to 4, 7 and 9.

6) Join a committee

Many organisations rely on help of their members. By joining a management committee you get involved in important aspects of the profession, you can bring change and have impact on your industry. It also makes you look more professional in the eyes of your clients.
What I did: I was invited to become a member of the management committee of the Interpreting Division of the Chartered Institute of Linguists following 1 and a co-head of the UK Chapter of IAPTI. So far, it led me to 1, 2, 8.

7) Write a guest post

If you’re not blogging yourself, writing a guest post to be published on somebody else’s blog can bring more traffic to your website and more attention to you. It’s an excellent way of showing that you know what you’re doing. In the end, someone else published something you wrote.
What I did: I wrote a guest post for Wordyrama just this week. Considerably more traffic on my own website!

8) Give a presentation

It has a range of benefits to a freelancer. First, you become recognisable. Second, they take pictures of you that you can use to market yourself. Third, you practice public speaking (boosts confidence needed to talk to clients).
What I did: Following 1, I approached one organisation and gave a presentation on social media in the languages industry. It led me to even more presentations, 4, 9 and 10.

9) Run a seminar

Running a workshop or a seminar is a great idea to earn more money. There’s nothing bad or wrong about monetising (or capitalising) on your skills and knowledge. If you have unique knowledge or experience, share it.
What I did: I run a few workshops on social media in the languages industry, both online and offline. It led to 8, 10.

10) Get interviewed

After you’ve done things from 1 to 9, I’m sure someone somewhere will notice you and want to interview you. It’s a brilliant opportunity to present your whole profile and experience, and use it later in your marketing. Well, I don’t know a client who’d turn down a translator who has been INTERVIEWED by someone.
What I did: I was interviewed last week in a new Rock the industry series. I’m still thinking what to do with it, besides bragging about it to my clients!

Now you tell me, what did you do to become more popular and capitalise on that?


  1. Jan Snauwaert , on Nov 1, 2012 at 18:22 Reply

    I don’t say that the things you point out can’t be useful to become even more succesful as a LSP, Marta. Only, I did none of the above and I get more work than I can handle. I don’t go to events anymore. For me, they are too time consuming and they don’t really add something to my business. But perhaps for other people, this can be useful.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:49 Reply

      I’m sure that some translators (or even the majority?) get plenty, enough, or too much work. But I’m always trying to help those colleagues who may feel they’re not realising their full potential. And some of them may want to do things from 1 to 10 just for fun 🙂

  2. Nelia , on Nov 1, 2012 at 19:44 Reply

    Thanks for this inspiring post, Marta. I’ve done 1, 2 and 3, sort of 6 (I co-organize local translator networking events) and 10 (twice!). I will also do 8 in December at a translation conference in Antwerpen.
    I also think that attending in-person courses is a great way to network while improving your skills and therefore, the services you offer to clients.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:50 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Nelia! I think that this list is also very important if we want to uphold the standards. If only more of us engaged in these activities…

  3. Anne-Sophie , on Nov 2, 2012 at 14:11 Reply

    Great post, thank you Marta! I did 1, 3 and 7, not much but at least it’s a start!

  4. Silvia DAmico , on Nov 2, 2012 at 18:26 Reply

    Great Post! I have a lot of catching up to do!

  5. val , on Nov 5, 2012 at 17:20 Reply

    Thanks for this great article!

    On my side, 1 and 3 are coming soon – You just make the whole of it sound so easy 🙂

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:51 Reply

      Oh, because it is, when you’re really motivated! Fingers crossed!

  6. Felix , on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:43 Reply

    What a pile of self-serving twaddle. And you’ve absolutely no evidence that popularity, or celebrity as you seem to see it, is commensurate with workload. I have no “fame” as you put it, but I work flat out day in day out, and have done so for over 20 years, without doing a single one of the things above.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:54 Reply

      Oh, Felix, thanks for your comment. I know a handful of translators who enjoyed more work after they engaged in these activities. I admire you and other translators who have plenty of work, but I’m aiming to help starting-up translators or those with less work. There’s no indication that you have to do any of these to be successful.

      On another note, don’t you think that these activities may help the entire profession? That this is the way we could build the community and uphold some standards?

  7. Karen Sexton , on Nov 8, 2012 at 08:03 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    Thanks for your post. I believe it is very brave and commendable of any translator to take the time to post something about getting ahead and succeeding in our profession. Particularly in view of how scattered we are and how much we have to learn on our own.

    I agree with Jan and Felix that you don’t have to do these things to get clients, but it certainly is a good start if you don’t know where to begin. Thanks again, nice post!

  8. Susana , on Nov 8, 2012 at 11:02 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    What a great post. Last Tuesday I gave a lecture on this topic and mentioned some of these ideas.

    Susana Valdez

  9. Iza , on Nov 11, 2012 at 22:25 Reply

    Thank you Marta for such a great article – this is such a great help for people who are at the beginning of this career:)

  10. Bibi , on Nov 16, 2012 at 08:18 Reply

    Hello Marta.

    This is more of a comment on your blog in general than this particular post (which is, by the way, how I got to “know” you, and I loved your tips!). I just wanted to say how exhilarated I am to have stumbled upon your blog (and from there on your web-page, and Facebook page…). I was getting so sick of listening to people moaning about the translation industry going down the drain. I mean, I know it’s true, but it’s also true that the need for things to be translated is out there, people need documents translated and speeches interpreted every day all over the world, and the machines are just not there yet. And there’s (obviously!) translators doing the job, doing it well, having clients, being paid and, as a result, being happy! So, for once, I am thrilled to be reading about that kind of experience! It gives me hope and impetus to go and pursue my dream. It would be stupid to give up before even trying just because Linked-in is flooded with pessimists who’d do anything to dissuade you, right?
    Anyway, to make the long story short, once again, thank you for all the effort you’re putting into this and the wonderful job you’re doing. I’m sure it must feel really good when you’re told you’ve given hope to a young new translator out there 😉 Will be reading your posts on a regular basis, has the same effect on me as yoga! 😀
    Cheers from Barcelona!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 16, 2012 at 14:09 Reply

      Dear Bibi,

      Thank you very much for your super-positive comment! I don’t like moaners and complainers. They seem to forget that the translation industry is *US* – translators! If the industry goes down the drain, it’s mostly because we allow it to and don’t counter-react. I know many happy translators, making their living, going on holidays, buying houses, wearing luxury shoes… you name it! People who complain either don’t know how to find their markets, or do that to deter others!

      I don’t do yoga, but reading your comment today in the morning was as good as a cup of my favourite coffee – the same energy and power for the whole day!


  11. Kedar Desai , on Nov 25, 2012 at 15:36 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    Excellent article…!! Although it is a fact that if you are good, you are indeed going to remain very busy. But I very much agree with all the 10 points. Although it may not be possible to attempt everything suggested, I feel that Points 1 to 7 is very much possible. In my case, it has made a very big difference!

    I along with my wife Amisha are Freelance Gujarati translators, but attending such events regularly has helped us in forming our own Translation Company where we now offer our services in ALL the Indian languages as well as Nepali.

    Such thoughtful articles will go a long way in making our Translation Industry only richer! We look forward to reading more from your end… 🙂

    With best regards,
    Kedar Desai

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 4, 2015 at 14:56 Reply

      Glad to hear your business is doing well, Kedar and I hope you get to experience points 8-10 in the near future!.

  12. Faiza , on Dec 11, 2012 at 05:12 Reply

    Thank you Marta,
    It is really such a useful article. Keep enriching us with similar advice…

  13. Judy Petersen , on Dec 16, 2012 at 15:06 Reply

    Thanks for the info. Nice article. I’ve done 8 out of 10, and I’ll add that I make every effort to attend/volunteer/and join OUTSIDE the translation sector — where all my customers operate.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 2, 2013 at 17:31 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Judy. I agree, reaching outside our sector is crucial. We’re not translating for other translators in the end 🙂

  14. Translators and interpreters , on Dec 31, 2012 at 14:26 Reply

    Thanks Marta, posting such a wonderful article. These 10 steps are very crucial if translator wants to do freelancer work. Keeps on posting such type of informative post

  15. Françoise L'HEVEDER , on Jan 3, 2013 at 14:35 Reply

    Happy New Year, Martha.

    As many colleagues I am looking forward to reading your posts in 2013.

    “Lesson 46: 10 things a freelance translator should do at least once to be noticed”, deserves a large audience, especeilly at the beginning of the year. I am adding items from this post on my “to-do-list”.

    Best regards,


    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 4, 2015 at 14:54 Reply

      Thank you so much, I’m glad my posts are helping someone 🙂

  16. Sara , on Mar 8, 2013 at 01:05 Reply

    Step 1 approaching: I’m getting ready for my first official event ever and I’m scared. Very scared. What am I going to do? Just walk around the stands, attend one or two seminars and hope that someone will talk to me? Slip my business cards into people’s pockets? Help, help, help…

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