Empowering the Freelance Economy

Niche freelance translators gain an edge to compete with AI

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Freelance translators will see a spike in demand for their services over the next 5 years. But with artificial intelligence bursting into the translation scene, should freelance translators be concerned? We ask both a freelance bilingual copywriter and translation recruitment firm what it takes to have an edge when you’re not just competing against humans but AI.

“It’s important to emphasise that I can only speak for myself,” Claudia Kozeny-Pelling, business owner of Translate Digital Marketing, tells The Freelance Informer when we ask, how are rates determined in the highly competitive freelance translation sector?

“Rates and circumstances vary hugely depending on a translator’s location, specialism(s), expertise, and language combinations,” says Kozeny-Pelling.

“Normally, I’ll look at the source text and then give a quote,” she says, later admitting she’s doubtful general translation rates have gone up to keep up with inflation.

“The market is competitive,” she says.

What sets Kozeny-Pelling apart is her niche sector expertise and ability to “transcreate”, which is a mix between translation and copywriting. This type of translation is more labour-intensive than a more literal translation, she tells us.

I certainly feel happier having niched down. I support good businesses with my work, which is a brilliant feeling

Claudia Kozeny-Pelling, business owner of Translate Digital Marketing

“I mostly do marketing translations and SEO content writing for ethical and sustainable businesses in the UK and the EU (English <> German). Rates vary depending on the type of project,” she says.

“My niche is a great fit for me,” says Kozeny-Pelling. “I’ve just been working with an eco-friendly interior decorating company, which has been a fantastic experience. I certainly feel happier having niched down. I support good businesses with my work, which is a brilliant feeling!”

She says despite having to be a creative copywriter in two languages, she feels clients’ expectations are the same, whether they order English or German content.

“They expect a high-quality service in both languages,” she says.

Abby Luzon of US-based Translation Services firm Tomedes tells us some of the basics of being a professional freelance translator in today’s competitive market.

A translator will need to have several qualifications to be considered the right candidate for the job, says Luzon. They will need to prove they can language pair between the two languages they translate as a minimum.

“This will involve of course a nuanced understanding of the source and target languages they work with, like grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions. However, knowing the cultural side of the source and target languages can better convey the meaning and tone of the original text,” she says

Lastly, she suggests they should have experience translating text from one language to another. A good way to present this is by having a portfolio of previous projects to show.

“If they are certified translators, like for medicine or legal, that gives them an edge,” says Luzon.  

Does Tomedes work with non-US based translators?

Yes, we work with translators in all parts of the world.

How are rates determined?

Rates are determined based on a number of factors, including the language pair, urgency, complexity, niche, volume and the translator’s experience and qualifications.

Who determines the translation rates for freelancers?

Rates are generally determined by the freelancers themselves but sometimes rates may be determined by the client depending on the budget. That’s when negotiations arise.

Which type of translation can demand the highest rate?

Certified translations and specialised fields such as legal, financial, technical or scientific, marketing and advertising are normally the most expensive.

Have translation rates for freelancers gone up in 2023? Are they in line with inflation or still behind?

It is hard to generalise but rates fluctuate over time due to changes in the market, competition, and economic conditions.

Is it best for freelance translators to charge per project or per hour?

It is better to charge per project based on word count.

Are freelance translators likely to be in more demand in the next 5 years as more companies create multi-language sites?

Yes. With globalisation and digitalisation, businesses seek to expand their global reach to communicate with customers in different languages and regions.

Moreover, with the rise of machine translation, new opportunities for freelance translators are being created.

AI is causing some concerns for copywriters and translators. That’s why the company has presented the following video that explains what to expect and how to prepare for the rise in AI in translation services.

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