Translators on… the Initial Investment


Translators on… brings together a collection of industry professionals, each sharing their experience and advice on certain topics of their career, offering a wider, more authoritative range of opinions than a single source. Want to know more about the series? Watch the launch video.

Amidst the excitement of planning a freelance career in translation, it’s easy to forget that you will be running your own business…and that means putting money into it. How much money depends on your starting point. If you’re already working in the translation industry or another language-related job, you may already have many of the materials you need – dictionaries, hardware and like – but if you’re coming from another career or straight out of university, there will be a lot more to consider. Besides the necessary requirements such as a computer and an internet connection, there is also an array of potential investments to choose from depending on what you believe to be most pertinent to you personally at that stage.


It’s typically better to ease into things, as Marie suggests, by purchasing the absolute essentials first and then building up as you go along – although there’s nothing to stop you from going all out if you have the dosh!

When I started out, I had solid in-house translation experience but no Master’s in translation, so I was seeking something to give authority to my status as a translator, both for myself and for my clients. Qualified membership of ITI covered this perfectly and I timed it well so that I was sitting my membership exam during my last month working in-house and had qualified by my first month as a freelancer. And I can now credit my MITI status with having brought me some of my best clients.

Top clients – those looking for true professionals and are willing to accept the rates charged accordingly – look for membership of a relevant professional association or a recognised qualification in translation; these are therefore worth considering as part of your investment package, as Veronica did.


Your investments in marketing may also vary, again depending on your situation when starting out. If, for example, you already have a few agency clients lined up, marketing may not be a top priority for you during the initial period. But many, myself included, nonetheless advocate a strong brand image from the outset as the secret to a successful start.


And let’s not forget about where you’ll be spending most of your life from then on. You might want to make sure your office is a pleasant, motivating and inspiring environment to work in.


So plan well, as not getting the initial investment right might be something you later come to lament.


The next Translators on… post will see our contributors look back on their first year in business and reflect on what went well and what they would have done differently.