How to start as a freelance translator - suggestions needed
Thread poster: Shichimaru
Shichimaru
Local time: 11:06
Japanese to English
May 5, 2009

Hey everyone,

I'm a 30-year-old translator working in-house at a game company in Tokyo. I feel very lucky to have landed this job with little translation experience and am really enjoying myself.

Looking towards the future, I know I'd like to get into freelance translation but am worried because I don't have any specialized fields that will lead to more jobs. I have a B.S. in Humanities (Classics / Asian Studies) that isn't helping (though at least I'm not flipping burgers like my father predicted) and since I'm working full-time I'm not sure how I'm supposed to expand my fields of expertise.

I've thought about branching into graphic design or web design so I can get into doing web site localization, but reports in the U.S. show that both fields promise only limited growth. Hrmph.

Anyways, I'd be very interested in hearing how some of you grizzled vets branched out.
How about it? Any good "back in my day" stories?


-Nathaniel


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 05:06
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Efficient answer May 6, 2009

To save everybody time and to give you all the answers you need, do a search for this question and you will many previous posts.

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Shichimaru
Local time: 11:06
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your time! May 6, 2009

Rifkind,

Thank you for taking the time out to respond.

I feel a bit misrepresented here because I originally posted this in the Japanese language forum (since I was interested in hearing their experiences in how they increased their fields of expertise), but had my posting redirected to this thread.

The subject heading was also edited in a bit of a misleading way. My long-term intentions are to go freelance, but I'm not looking to do that any time soon. I'm more interested in seeing how translators have chosen to develop themselves while juggling a full-time job.

Still, I will take your advice and do a bit more searching. Thank you again.


- Nathaniel


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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:06
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I understand May 26, 2009

I actually have quite a good full time job now that I can't afford to leave unless my free lance starts paying for the bills. I don't have time to engage in big projects and I don't have technical knowledge that seems to make it easier for people to find translating work (medical, IT, etc.)

I don't have much free time since my job is demanding so pursuing that carreer is being a little difficult for me...


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 11:06
Japanese to English
No need to specialize in this market May 26, 2009

Hi Nathaniel,

It's a shame your post got transferred - as if the Japanese section weren't quiet enough without having its posts kidnapped to the mainland.

Japan as a whole is not a very 'specialist' place. In fact, many of its structures are designed to produce skilled generalists. Of course specialists do exist, but it's by no means necessary to be one.

If you sign up with one agency and accept short jobs, you'll soon develop a feel for the work and the way the business is conducted.

The important things are 1. to get started and 2. not worry too much about where you're currently placed. Things will take off.


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Andrea Shah
United States
Local time: 22:06
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Work from Japanese Jul 23, 2009

Nathaniel,

If you don't mind translating manga, etc., then I think there is a tremendous market for translations from Japanese to English. I have a friend who got her start doing this and she always has lots of work coming her way. She's definitely had to do some stuff she wasn't crazy about, like yaoi novels, but once she established herself, she was able to pick and choose a little more.

If I remember correctly, she found her jobs on Japan-specific message boards in the beginning, but I don't know where exactly. Maybe start poking around some of the publishing houses that do manga and see if they need anyone?


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Shichimaru
Local time: 11:06
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the suggestion! Jul 27, 2009

Hey Andrea,

Thanks for taking the time out to reply. It's a very good suggestion - one that I've been looking into, but am wary about taking. Since I work in-house, I'm contractually forbidden to do any paid translation work outside of my company. While there certainly a lot of people in my business who do work on the side - I'm more concerned about maintaining my good name. It's a small world out there and I'd hate to lost my job with the limited amount of experience that I have.

Maybe after I've been at the company a bit longer and they're less worried about whatever it is that they're worried about!

Thanks again for the advice though!

- Nathaniel


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