The Rumor is True

If you’ve heard rumors of the six-figure freelance translator, but never met one, let me throw a spotlight on this formerly guarded secret. There is in fact a small and growing number of independent translators who earn over $100,000 thousand dollars per year, every year.

Who are they? Where are they? The truth is they are a diverse bi-lingual population of all ages in every corner of the world, quietly typing their way to a fortune.

How They Do It

Some type with the blazing speed and precision of a snare drummer in a marching band.

Others have learned to wield CAT (computer assisted translation) and voice recognition software with the skill of a samurai master.

A minority who can absorb new languages with ease, choose a high paying language –one of the so called Golden Languages, and move into a niche realm with very little competition and sky high pay checks.

Perhaps the ones I admire most are the skillful negotiators who gain the undying loyalty of their clients with exceptional precision and performance,  while slowly, but steadily raising their rate per word.

How to Get In On It

How can you join this elite band of golden ink-slingers? You can start today by incorporating these profitable disciplines into your daily business plan.

These  are: 

5 Key Disciplines Revealed

Numero Uno : FOCUS- Develop a laser beam focus in every aspect of the business.

When you work, get into the zone and don’t let anything, or anyone shake your concentration.

When bidding a contract, follow up until you get a red or green light.

If you choose to learn a golden language, discipline yourself to spend a measured amount of time per day until you get good enough to add that language to your quiver of skills.

Numero Dos: PUNCTUALITY – This is such a simple concept, but developing this habit alone will set you apart from many of your competitors.

One of the complaints I hear often revolves around the timeliness of delivery.

In a nutshell, If you deliver on time, your clients will like you more. If they like you, they will use you again. If they use you again, then you spend less time bidding jobs – which pays -0- per hour – and more time at the ATM withdrawing money.


Numero Tres: VALUE Yourself– Despite what some boneheaded adult may have told you growing up, you ARE a valuable person.

You need to FEEL THAT VALUE. If you don’t, there is no way you can convince anyone else to pay you when you show up.

I wish I could invite you t lunch and tell you all of the ways the planet is better off with you in the mix.  You just have to take my word for it, for now.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself charging less than you want to charge, or think you are worth, at least let your client know your “normal” rate.

Sometimes overbid a job on purpose. If you are not charging more each year – on top of normal cost of living increases – then you are under valuing yourself.

Numero Cuatro: Learn New SKILLS –  Like a big wave surfer, regular training is imperative to stay on top of your game.

If you constantly measure and challenge your speed and accuracy in translating you will notice a steady improvement. More speed means more coins in the piggy bank.

If you don’t currently use a CAT program, don’t get left choking on the dust of your competitors. Get going. Use every modern invention to help your stretch your abilities to deliver more words faster.

Some translators augment their output by employing voice recognition software as their non-paid executive secretary who tirelessly takes dictation for hours on end without a complaint. Of course, they still have to get their own coffee.

Finally, the last school bell may have rung years ago, but that is no excuse to stop studying. Boost your vocabulary by reading novels in your weaker languages. Study list of vocabulary words. Watch subtitled movies and look for errors in translation.

Wherever you encounter words, there is something you can learn.

Numero Cinco: GOALS –  You wouldn’t ride a bike to Zanzibar without a map, would you?

Big buck earners always know where they are going and equally as important, how close they are to getting there, at any given moment. What are your goals in translating? Is your desire to be a full time freelance translator? If not, no harm, no foul, be honest with yourself. We are talking about six-figure earners here, but even if your goal is to generate a few extra dollars per month to buy school uniforms, or go to the dentist, proper goal setting will get you there more quickly! Take a moment to set a goal. Trust me, it will feel like a mental massage. Get out a piece of paper and write down how much you would like to earn by a specific date. Then, get your calculator out and figure out how many words you need to translate in order to reach that goal. How many hours will that take you? Now, make a loose schedule of when you would work those hours into the rest of your life. Simple no?

The 100K Club Members Are Not Smarter, Faster or Better Than YOU

The heavy hitters in the world of freelance translating are no smarter than the average file clerk, nor do they posses hidden talents that the rest of us only dream of acquiring.

They simply know what they want, set out a plan to get it and then stick to the plan. Along the way they constantly train and improve their craft, the clever ones drop the deadwood and steadily increase their per word rate.

Those with real business acumen learn to clone themselves, but we’ll cover that in another article.

Meanwhile, to join the high rollers game all you have to do is to belly up to the table and declare yourself in the game…practice these 5 disciplines.

The rest comes with practice.

Five Secrets of $100K Freelance Translators

10 thoughts on “Five Secrets of $100K Freelance Translators

  • January 1, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Just to be clear I can read Swedish but can’t speak it very well. Both of my mother’s parents were born there and brought me books for Christmas. They always spoke to me in Swedish. Do you think I could make a living translating from Swedish to English?

    • January 1, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Svenn.
      I need more information. How well do you WRITE English? At what level do you READ Swedish? What subjects are you interested in or knowledgeable about?
      From what you have told me, I would say you have a very good chance of being able to translate (Swedish to English). Start off with small projects and work your way up.
      The main thing is – just go for it! To often we hold ourselves back unnecessarily. Let me know if I can help.
      Good luck!

  • January 28, 2017 at 10:57 am


    • January 30, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Hi Alexander…thanks for staying in touch. If English is your native language and Greek is your second language, you should not have trouble finding work as a freelance translator. Since is a training site – we don’t hire people – we can only point you in the right direction and train you in what to do once you have a potential project (job). Check some of the freelance sites like or to get an idea of what other freelancers are doing. Stay in touch and let me know if I can lend a hand. Good Luck!

  • January 10, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit
    once again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to guide other people.

    • January 25, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Hi Isaac. Thanks for the kind words. Just trying to help honest folks profit from their talents…Ben

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    • January 25, 2018 at 1:16 am

      Hi Walter…thanks for the heads up. I will check it out. It’s a bear getting the formatting right for all devices. Let me know if I can help you with freelance translating….Ben

  • March 14, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Hi. I have a mate that makes a good living as a freelance translator. He said I could use the Babel ap to learn a high paying language pretty quickly and start translating too. What do you think?

    • May 21, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      I think that is a great idea. There are a few higher paying languages that aren’t terribly hard to master enough to start translating.
      Good luck!


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