How to build a winning translation portfolio

A guide for freelance translators

So you’ve decided to become a freelance translator. You’ve set up a great-looking website, signed up as a member on ProZ and Translators Café, and started looking for work. But despite your excellent qualifications, shining CV and proactive approach, clients just aren’t biting. Sound familiar? If so, perhaps you need to look into developing a killer translation portfolio to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. In this article we look at all the whys and wherefores of building a brilliant portfolio and offer some handy tips for newcomers and old hands alike to win new clients and maximise their income. Sound good? Then read on!

In the huge talent pool of the internet, there’s plenty of competition for even the smallest job, and if you can’t show yourself in the best possible light clients will pass you over and find someone else. This is where a top quality portfolio comes in, allowing busy potential employers to see at a glance if you’ve got the skills they’re looking for. It’s no good offering free sample translations alone. If they’ve already spotted that your competitor Fantastic Fred has a couple of shining marketing translations in his online portfolio they won’t even bother getting in contact with you, and you will have lost a client without even knowing they exist.

So if you don’t want Fantastic Fred steal your business, and don’t want to give clients an excuse to ignore you, it’s pretty clear you’re going to need to up your game. But where to begin? For a start, a portfolio is a marketing document, and needs to be targeted at a particular audience, just like any other marketing document. Keep selections short and sweet, with no more than a few hundred words for each sample so that you don’t bore your clients to death. Obviously anything you choose to include should be well laid out and proofread multiple times to guarantee not a single error remains. Be sure to stick to professional fonts and design – no Comic Sans, neon colours or ‘amusing’ clip art thanks! Even for translators in more creative fields it’s much better to let your personality shine through in the texts themselves than in gimmicky presentation. And finally, check any links regularly – nothing looks less professional than dead URLs.

Cobbling together a selection of randomly chosen texts won’t impress anyone, so be…

You can read the full article in our ebook The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Translator.

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