Freelancing is a great way of achieving a better work-life balance. However, it can also prove incredibly lucrative if you have the right skillset. While technical skills and industry-specific expertise go a long way in making you desirable to clients, language proficiency is a sure-fire way of expanding your horizons and securing new opportunities. Setting aside a little time to learn English or get to grips with German will make it easy to expand your existing client base, but it also allows you to start charging more for your services.
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English isn’t as Universal as You Think
English is the most widely spoken language on the planet, with around 1.5 billion worldwide. However, not all of these speakers have a fluent command of English. moreover, in certain parts of the like Russia, Brazil, and China, English speakers of any proficiency are in the minority.
If you’re choosing the freelancing life to broaden your travel horizons, don’t immediately assume the rest of the world will be able to accommodate your lack of language skills with a basic grasp of English. To achieve any measurable degree of success, you’ll need to be able to engage with clients and customers in their native tongue. Many project managers may be able to communicate in English during the hiring stage, but it’s unlikely they’ll be prepared to maintain this throughout an arrangement.
To improve your odds of landing work internationally, look to other major languages. Take Spanish for example. Worldwide, there are 548 million Spanish speakers, with a significant proportion using it as their native tongue. Furthermore, it’s not all about the total number of speakers. The distribution of language users is also useful for identifying future freelancing prospects. For example, French is recognized in 29 countries and territories, while Portuguese is spoken in countries across four continents.
Target New Freelance Opportunities
With a foreign language at your disposal, you’re free to explore the freelancer job market. Even a basic command of a foreign language puts you in good stead. You can make initial inquiries with project managers in their native tongue, and advertise your services on local job boards and forums.
If your fluency is particularly strong, you can also target highly-paid freelance positions. Translation projects are some of the most straightforward assignments to secure. However, you’ll need to have a particularly strong grasp of both English and at least one foreign language to be an effective translator. If you’re relatively new to the translation field, start with more accessible assignments like translating memos and internal communications. If you’re searching for higher pay rates, you’ll need to develop expertise in a specialist area like technical writing, legal translations, or medical and pharmaceutical writing.
Interpreter positions tend to pay more generously than translation work. However, an effective interpreter needs to be far more confident in their foreign language abilities. As with written translation assignments, freelance interpreters will do well to target a particular field or industry.
Another way you can leverage your language skills is to explore a freelance language tutor role. Many freelancers turn to teaching English as a foreign language while traveling internationally. While remuneration is more modest than translation and interpreter work, it’s fairly accessible. Generally speaking, you’ll only need to be able to speak English fluently. However, a good command of at least one additional language will make you a more desirable candidate for hiring managers. Use Language Skills to Secure Senior Positions
If you’re already an established freelancer, mastering a second language may not seem like a priority. However, adding some foreign language proficiency to your skillset can help you secure more impressive rates of pay and access new opportunities.
Do you work in the digital marketing sector? Broaden your horizons by offering international clients SEO insights in their native language. You can also support existing clients with expansion projects as they target fresh markets in new territories.
Even those at the start of their careers can capitalize on multilingualism when entering the freelancer sphere. Remote customer service positions are readily available, with a premium placed on candidates who can speak more than one language. If you’re looking to leverage existing administrative experience, think about securing a virtual assistant role with companies operating internationally. In many cases, your day-to-day workload will involve fielding emails or conversing over the phone. Both of these tasks can be undertaken with a decent level of foreign language proficiency.
Just because you’re achieving success as a freelancer now, doesn’t mean you should delay learning a new language. Should your existing client base grow smaller or current workloads dry up, you’ll need to cast the net wide to replenish your books. Multiple languages will make landing your next catch easier, and allow you to charge a premium for your services in the future.
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