As you might have known from my previous article, I am a Freelance Translator, I am a newbie in this sort of thing. Yet, I do not think that sharing what I have been through for these last, say, one and a half months will be a mistake since, at least for me, everything is just a matter of process. So is with being a freelance translator. For this time being, within this short period of my career, I can say that there are only four things that one needs to be a freelance translator. However, along with time, there might be a time when I have to revise them, either reducing them to just three or two or adding to them a certain number of issues. Yet, they are still worth-sharing.
What I will say here is not something technical like “read more news in English” or “Learn how to use CAT Tools” and so forth. These things you have to have are some fundamentals within yourself. And since they exist within you, you should have control over them.
The first thing you ought to have to be a freelance translator is LOVE. You have to love all basic aspects of translation. The main thing translation business deals with is language. Thus, you have to love language, ranging from its function, its rules, to its means. Furthermore, translation deals with, at least, two languages. Hence, you ought to love the pair of language you would like to work on. I am a translator for English to Indonesian pair and vice versa. My native is Indonesian, while English has been the language I’ve been fond of since I was in Elementary School. It seems that I find it goes hand in hand. For others, it might be harder. They might not so in love with English. If this is the case, there are many ways one can find to get a crush to English. Try to find the one(s) suitable for yourself.
Secondly, you have to have courage. Like Phil Collins says in his True Colors, it is hard to take courage. So what if it is hard? Will you just give up being a freelance translator? In provoking herself to not easily give up, a senior fellow translator of mine, Indra Blanquita Danudiningrat, says “if it was meant to be easy all the time, God wouldn’t have given us brains.” Unless you have brains, go give it up.
Thirdly, you have to have confidence. During the first week of my career, I got no order at all. However, such condition provided me with an opportunity to market myself. The first site came to my mind was www.proz.com. I visited it, and there had been some term questions (KudoZ) to which I had different responses from what other senior translators had given. And to my surprise, three of my responses were chosen the next week. I earned 12 KudoZ points, putting me in the 11th rank. What surprised me was the fact that one of the other responses seemed to be so sophisticated with three peer comments. Yet, my simple and humble response was chosen. For me, it was just an evidence that I had somewhat similar quality with them. Find a way to grab it. And if you find the opposite, an event proofing that you were less qualified, be confident to learn more to improve your quality.
Lastly, you have to believe. This is the most important point of all things you need to have to be a translator. You have to believe that there will be a way to reach your goal. For Muslims like myself, I believe in the verse in Holy Qur’an saying that after some difficulties, there will be some eases. For other religious followers, who worship God(s), it could be justified that He will not let your efforts astray. He will definitely compensate all the sweats you produce to maintain your existence.
Those are what it takes to be a freelance translator, in my opinion. I have given them, and the floor is yours.
Semarang, May 23rd, 2011