Ciao! My name is Domenico, and I’m a translator.
Here is my story. If you are like me, some parts of it may resonate with you.
How I Started
I started out as a translator in 2011 while still studying for my BA in Languages. Tired of waiting tables on weekends, I thought I’d give it a try as a side hustle. I didn’t need to make much off of it, just some extra money to take my girlfriend out for dinner, spend a few days abroad during the summer and have some extra cash if I ever needed it. Plus it was related to my studies, so it would look good on my CV.
It took me 3 months to land my first translation project – a 250-word thank you email that I delivered on December 23rd, 2011. I think I was paid 10 $ for it, but it felt like I had the world at my feet.
The First few years
For the first couple of years, I mainly found work through freelancing websites such as Elance (now Upwork), Freelancer.com and similar websites. My rate was super low, but this period taught me a lot on how to present myself to potential clients, answering to job proposals in a compelling way and generally handling the business side of the job.
By year two, I had enough demand to spend 1 to 2 hours per day translating, Monday to Friday, most weeks. That year I made 7,500 $ – which paid roughly half of my year abroad, while my parents helped me with the rest.
By the beginning of year 3, translation was an extraordinary side gig – but still far away from being a ‘real’ job. If I wanted to take it to the next level, I had to find projects elsewhere.
From side hustle to full time
My search led me to ProZ.com – basically another online platform, but this one was for translators only. I remember I paid a yearly subscription around 100 $, which my father called ‘the stupidest way to spend money ever’ – I still tease him about this years later, because… IT WORKED and it worked amazingly.
You see, the skills I had gained over the first couple of years were invaluable – I just needed a better place in which to apply them. 2 years later, as I got my MA in Translation, I was making 3,000 $ per month.
During this time I had also developed my two main niches – Forex and cryptocurrency trading, and video game localization.
Over the next 2 years, I kept gaining clients and raising rates till I reached my financial goal – 100,000 € per year.
Since then, I’ve been working on striking a better work-life balance, working fewer hours, at higher rates, on more interesting projects.
I currently have a healthy portfolio of long-term, amazing clients that have worked with me for years. I can afford to turn down most job offers I receive as I don’t need to take on more work, and to work on projects I actually like, at a rate that makes me happy.