If you have a look at platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, you’ll see lots of freelancers who offer their services in English, even though it’s not their mother tongue. Why? As English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, they hope to reach a higher number of customers. And that brings us to one of the cleverest moves you can make as a freelancer – Learning foreign languages!
Now, you may be thinking “I don’t need to learn any new language because I speak English, so everyone else is going to understand me.” Well, let me tell you why that isn’t the right approach:
Reasons why speaking English is not enough
- Not everyone can speak English, which means that you most probably won’t get to those assigning freelance jobs if they don’t speak English.
- Project managers working with international projects most likely speak English, but that doesn’t mean that they’re looking for specific freelance services in English. In fact, they may not even think about searching for a freelancer in another language than their own.
- Approximately 399 million people speak Spanish in the world. Do you really want to ignore that audience? It’s wider than English native speakers! Don’t you think you’d be wasting a huge opportunity to find new customers?
- There may be other countries where you’d get higher rates, like Germany or Switzerland, so why not learn German? You’d have much less competence if you applied directly in German than in English!
- Once you can speak a foreign language, you can also create profiles in their local freelancers’ platforms and social media. Learn how in this post about how to get customers from all over the world.
Freelance jobs that require language skills
- Translation – obviously! To become a translator, you need proficiency in at least 2 languages, being your native language the one you translate to (“target language”). As a translator, you can specialize in technical, automotive, industrial, medicine, pharmacy or legal translations, among others. Videogames and websites, lifestyle and sports apps are also examples of content you could be working with. If becoming a freelance translator is something you’d like to do, check out this post on how to become a freelance translator.
- Interpreting. To simplify what interpreting is, let’s say that it’s the spoken counterpart of translating. Who needs interpreters? Governmental authorities, hospitals, conferences, company meetings, and every other event where two people meet without speaking each other’s language.
- Dubbing and subtitling. What can be more fun than dubbing or subtitling your favorite TV show?? To subtitle a film, apart from learning a foreign language, you’ll have to be able to shorten it as much as necessary to fit the screen requirements! And as for dubbing, you have to adjust the new translated version to the actors’ and actresses’ lips movement. Very challenging, I tell ya!
- Language teacher. Well, this one is easy in the sense that you only have to know your language perfectly. And that means not only speaking and writing it right but also understand why, how and which grammar rules are applied.
Freelance jobs that can profit from language skills
There are many more freelance jobs and work positions that can profit from speaking another language, even though it’s not required. However, if both customers and service providers from all over the world are reachable online, why not stepping up your game by offering a second language?
Let’s see some freelance jobs which could help you find more customers if you add foreign languages to the game:
- Helpline/customer service for companies with international companies.
- Import/export services for firms who need help in exploring other markets for their products and services.
- Multilingual SEO or multilingual keyword research for companies with an international online marketing strategy.
- Project managers who work in teams from different countries.
- Virtual assistants (VA) for companies that operate in multiple countries or with different languages within the same country. Take Canada (French and English) or Switzerland (German, French, Italian and Romansh) for instance. As a VA, you could perform basic tasks such as answer emails or phone calls in different languages. Learn more about freelancing as a virtual assistant.
And if you don’t want to add new services to your current offering:
Learning new languages is a great idea even though you’d like to keep your current services. How? Offering them to customers from other countries – either because the paid rate is higher, or because you want to expand your target market.
So what do you say? Do you still think that speaking English is enough? Don’t you wanna take advantage of globalization and expand your customer base? Why don’t you use your summer vacation to join a language academy abroad? Just try, you may like it! 😉
PS. Are you born to freelance?