What else can translators do?
People who are drawn to translation, or freelancing in general, tend to have a multitude of transferable skills, and exploring opportunities in other areas can open up new avenues of interest and provide a more varied range of projects to work on, all while building experience and providing more ways of making money.
In this article, we’ll list potential growth areas within the language and localisation industry itself before moving on to some opportunities that suit the transferable skills that translators have, and we’ll finish with some self-employed business tips for freelancers.
Given the unstoppable rise of online streaming platforms, the increasing prioritisation of video content by social media algorithms, and the growing proportion of online content which is now video-based, translation-related activities involving audiovisual content are very much having a moment in the sun, including closed captioning and subtitling for video content, and podcast translation. The combination of pandemic-related restrictions and people’s growing desire to upskill have also meant that translation for e-learning platforms is increasingly important, and indeed Forbes has predicted that this market will be worth $325 billion by 2025.
For the more fintech-minded, the emergence of cryptocurrencies has created opportunities in translating blockchain technology, while the increasingly borderless nature of online payment systems and other platforms means that SaaS (software as a service) localisation is experiencing an upsurge as brands such as Zoom tailor their services to international audiences.
Moving away from traditional translation services, linguists are likely to be good at related tasks such as reviewing translations produced by other people, and proofreading or editing monolingual texts. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys listening into other people’s conversations, then audio transcription (either monolingual or from one language into another) is also something that you might enjoy.
If you have any kind of SEO knowledge then multilingual SEO is something that you might be interested in, particularly if you work with languages other than English, since there is a significant disparity between the amount of online content available in English and the proportion of the world’s population that speaks English.
Content writing (for SEO purposes or otherwise) and social media marketing are also areas that translators are likely to succeed in, given their strong writing component, while translators’ natural eye for detail means that desktop publishing is a possibility you might like to explore, particularly if you can learn to use one of the key DTP software applications.
Lastly, online tutoring, like e-learning, is increasingly commonplace, and there are a range of platforms that can be used to find work this way, so if you want to teach others while improving your understanding of your own language (or any other language that you are familiar enough with to teach), then this could be a really good opportunity.
We’ll wrap up with some thoughts on how to best use your talents and stand out in a changing marketplace.
Follow your heart, but be open to new opportunities. Experience builds on itself very quickly, and you never know where your next area of expertise might emerge from.
Never stop learning. Remember that there’s m6ore than one channel for learning and there’s a lot to be said for being self-taught. If you don’t have traditional qualifications, there are a lot of informal routes available online, such as those provided by Coursera, EdX and LinkedIn learning, not to mention YouTube tutorials, which are available for virtually everything these days.
Emphasise your self-employed business skills. If you’re used to freelancing already, it is very likely that you have had to be your own accountant, your own social media marketer, your own computer technician, and so on. Even if these skills seem secondary to your main area of expertise, they are important transferable skills in their own right.
And remember to draw on all of your experience, no matter how informal, and to mention any skills or life experiences that might make you unique, whether that’s an unusual hobby or time spent living in another country.
These are just some suggestions for translators, but in a rapidly-changing marketplace there are no doubt many more, and we’d love to hear your take on this in the comments. In an ever-changing world, it’s always good to have something to fall back on, and we hope our ideas have inspired you to think more about the many opportunities that are suited to language people. Until the next time!
Forbes, The rise of e-learning in 2020. Available at: forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/05/26/the-rise-of-e-learning-in-2020
greatcontent, 12 translation and localization trends set to dominate 2023 + challenges. Available at: greatcontent.com/translation-and-localization-trends
Optimational, Top 5 translation industry trends for 2023. Available at: optimational.com/blog/translation-industry-trends
The Maverick Group, Seven translation trends that are driving growth in the industry. Available at: maverick-group.com/translation-trends
WeGlot, SaaS localization: What you need to know. Available at: weglot.com/saas-localization