This is my last post for newbie translators on how to get started with freelance translation business.
All the strategies that I have mentioned so far (see my last two posts) can be utilized by any newbie anywhere in the world. We, however, should not put into oblivion the fact that geographical and cultural variations – a factor which, despite its determining characteristic, is normally ignored – also come to play a vital role in determining what strategies could be effective for a particular area and which are not applicable. I am now just going to talk about such a factor.
At a general level, we have two types of countries with reference to the professional practice of translation. One group consists of the countries where translation have become an established profession, and where government and private sector organizations, institutes, charities, etc. are in continuous need of having documents translated from on language to another. These are the countries which are put in the category of developed countries and where there is a constant flow of immigrants, such as USA, France, Germany, Australia, and UK. On the other hand, there are those countries where translation has not developed into a mature profession yet. These countries are mostly Asian and African (although India, Japan, China, South Africa, and some more Asian and African countries, can be identified as exceptions). In the countries, falling into the first category, besides developing professional contacts at the virtual level (through the Internet), a newbie should also strive for the same in the physical world of business. If you are based in such a country, do visit local Chamber of Commerce building, become a member (if you are entitled to), and socialize with the other members. I hope that you would get work from this channel as well. This, however, is not applicable to the translators based in the countries where local organizations hardly feel the need to convert their documents from one language to another.
For those living in the first category of countries mentioned above there is another opportunity as well. In these countries, translation-related meetings, workshops, and conferences are often held, and I would recommend you to attend all such occasions. You will not only gain first-hand knowledge but will also be able to expand your professional circle.
There is some more for the residents of these developed countries, and for that I am quoting Patricia Hawkins de Medina with her permission.
Become a member of a professional association. Since you have to meet certain requirements in order to gain membership, and you are then included in the association's database, serious clients will look you up there.
CPD. Continual Professional Development. Professional associations have information on or run such courses.
Take a day job (even if part-time) and start to build up your clientele, doing your translation work later in the day. Preferably, and if you can find such a job, obtain employment in a company whose business is in some way related to the area of translation in which you itnend to specialise.
An example: if you intend to specialise in the engineering, construction, fashion, food and beverage, etc. then find a job in for example in an engineering or construction company, or in the fashion or textile trade, where you will gain hands on experience of vocabulary, the "way it is said", how text needs to skewed towards a certain readership. Also, a side benefit, is that you may well gain your first clients through the company contacts.”
I hope that these strategies, when combined together, would give your freelance professional journey a nice start.