There are many advantages to working as a freelance translator. But what resources are needed to even get started?

It doesn’t take much to get started as a freelance translator, but to really succeed, there are some added extras that are worth obtaining if you can. Before you begin working, you will need to own the following as an absolute minimum:

A computer, preferably a Windows PC. Laptops are okay, but PCs tend to have higher specifications for a similar cost. Similarly, Mac may be your preferred operating system, but most businesses utilise Windows based systems and so you will benefit from seamless compatibility with your clients if you use Windows as well.

An office suite. The most common office suite is Microsoft Office, and this is also the most universal. Files created in Microsoft Office are often compatible with most operating systems. Microsoft Word and Excel are essential purchases, but it would also be good to own Powerpoint. A good PDF reader is essential.

An internet connection, preferably broadband. One of the main aspects of your job will involve downloading and uploading files of various sizes. A broadband connection is preferable to dial-up because download times will be significantly quicker, and for projects with fast turnarounds, this will make your job alot easier.

A fax machine or scanner. You will regularly need to sign contracts, confidentiality and service agreements for translation agencies, and it is not always practical to return them by post. You might not need to own a fax machine or scanner if you have frequent access to one, perhaps at a relative’s house or the local library.

A mobile phone or pager. Occasionally, project managers will need to contact you at odd times. You might have finished a file and decided to go out shopping, but if there is a problem with your file or something needs to be amended, it will help if they can contact you  wherever you are.

Dictionaries and reference books. Although you can find most of the information you’ll need on the internet, it’s always handy to have these beside your computer when you start working. It’s sometimes easier to grab a nearby dictionary than trawl Google looking for a website that has the specific answer you are looking for.

A quiet office or work space. If you live alone, you may feel comfortable using your living room or bedroom as a make-shift office. If you own a laptop rather than a PC, your office will be wherever you choose. If you live with other people, you need to have access to a separate room or space where you won’t be distracted.

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