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Looking to Get Started as a Translator
Thread poster: Alan Korn

Pamela Kennedy Sztyblewski
English to French
+ ...
Translators Without Borders needs English to French translators May 2

I'm on there as one and that's pretty much all they ever send me. English into French.

That doesn't PAY, though. I have no idea where you'd get paying work, to be honest. I'm forever spending all my time and effort doing all that translating for free and getting nowhere when I apply for paid gigs, too. Even on Upwork or Freelancer. And the longer you go without paid work, the longer you will stay that way...and pay the rent and eat, I have no idea how. My latest "brilliant idea" is
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I'm on there as one and that's pretty much all they ever send me. English into French.

That doesn't PAY, though. I have no idea where you'd get paying work, to be honest. I'm forever spending all my time and effort doing all that translating for free and getting nowhere when I apply for paid gigs, too. Even on Upwork or Freelancer. And the longer you go without paid work, the longer you will stay that way...and pay the rent and eat, I have no idea how. My latest "brilliant idea" is to live at Liège Airport and try to find some kind of "loan shark" to fund my PhD research proposal for mathematical physics at the University of Liège since the last place I tried to get a research GRANT for that turned out to screw me over.

Maybe join Babelcube and translate books for "a percentage of the royalties"? Then you'd have your name on someone else's book as "translated by..." but the catch there is that those are never the popular books which SELL. So far my royalties payout from that is a mere 29¢. And I've done three of someone else's books. Problem is getting approved by the author if you don't have a bunch of popular, well-selling books with your name as translator on them, to your name already. I've put all 3 of them on my Upwork and Freelancer profile and so far NOTHING. And getting approved by an author whose books SELL thus you actually get paid more than twenty-nine cents...

I think what also hurts is that with your language being French, about one third of the world speaks that and can read and write it, so you're up against one-third of the world "qualified" to do this. If your language were something more obscure like Hindi or Urdu or even Persian or Japanese, Chinese or Korean, then there'd be less competition for every paying job and they'd quibble less about "how'd you learn our language" sort of thing. Personally on that front, I have to beat people over the heads with the fact that I AM half-French and still they quibble.

I don't know what to say to "help" here because I'm in the same boat. Trying to find a way to stay alive and keep eating while I bust my butt trying to get paid to translate or revert to my old, 20th-century jobs like database management and data analysis. Or get another Master's or a PhD so I can be considered even LESS "qualified" in fields I can translate from and into.

Alan Korn wrote:

I'm willing to work for free. I just need the experience. How can I find volunteer work in translating? Or will I need to have an extensive set of qualifications for that too?
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