— Do you have a translation portfolio?

— Can you show your previous works?

Contacting a new client, whether direct or a translation agency, you will face a situation when you have to prove your skills and abilities.

What else can showcase your knowledge and proficiency better than a killing translation portfolio?

Of course, in some cases, the client may ask to make a short test translation anyway.

But having a proper translation work samples that you are proud of is a good way to show the level of translation quality you can produce and prove your experience in a certain domain.

From this blog post, you’ll learn how to create an effective translator’s portfolio to get the most profitable projects you are dreaming about.

What if I don’t have any experience?

Well, it’s OK. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

There are tons of text around the web that you can choose for your first translation portfolio.

Just make sure you are not infringing any copyright while translating the text of your choice.

Select several texts from the knowledge domain you are going to specialize in (actually you should specialize in some field of expertise to withstand high competition on the translation market).

You may also want to do some volunteer translation for Translators Without Borders or offer your clients a couple of free translations mentioning that you will use the work results for your future portfolio.

I already have some translation works. What’s next?

That’s great! You are an established translator and I know that you worked hard to produce quality translations. Start building a translator’s portfolio right now!

Copyright and sensitive data

But before proceeding, make sure that the text you select for your portfolio contains no copyright, confidential or sensitive data.

If you are not sure about it, ask your client before using the text.

In some cases, deleting or just replacing any identifying information (company name, project titles, etc.) can be enough to get approval from the client.

Selecting samples

This might be one of the most challenging parts of building a translator’s portfolio.

Of course, the selected samples shall represent the best works you’re really proud of.

In addition, portfolio works shall have positive feedback from your clients.

But what are the other criteria to make a proper choice?

I would suggest considering the following:

  • Your specialization

Portfolio works shall represent the areas of your specialization.

For instance, I mainly specialize in website & app translations and my portfolio includes some website translation samples.

I also offer IT and Engineering translation services. Therefore, I added texts related to the IT and Engineering industry respectively.

  • Type of customer

Translations made for high-end, widely known companies will serve the good turn for your portfolio. Find out which company from the list of your customers has greater influence in their field and select relevant samples.

  • Text complexity

Does the text contain special terminology or cultural specifics? That’s great!

Include it in your portfolio as well. This will show your knowledge and ability to manage complex translation tasks.

You may identify some other characteristics for sample selection depending on your preferences and area.

But you can be sure that items meeting the three criteria above will be the best match for your portfolio.

Additional project data

What else to add to your portfolio?

Some project parameters may be of interest to your clients.

These parameters include:

  • Scope of work and time spent on project completion
  • Client name (if applicable)
  • General and specific subject fields
  • Document type
  • Target audience

Portfolio design and layout

Portfolio design and layout play an important role in the general perception of your work.

You may select the most professional sample of work done for a top client. But if your portfolio is just a plain text without visually pleasing design and proper layout it won’t make the impression you expect.

Just compare these two:

Principally, the portfolio item shall include the following:

  • Amount of words: 250-300 words
  • Header section: project parameters (as mentioned above)
  • Two-column layout: source and target text

Online and offline portfolio

Prepare both versions. First goes offline portfolio in DOC, PDF, or JPEG format.

This type of portfolio items can be printed to use at personal meetings or sent via email in addition to your professional resume and cover letter (business proposal).

Further, you can use these files in your online portfolio, which can be a part of your profile at UpWork, Proz, or similar freelance job board.

But the best way to place your portfolio online is to create your own website with a portfolio section.

As a freelance translator, you should definitely have a website to promote your services.

Even if you don’t have programming skills you still may create wonderful websites using drag-and-drop builders.

Here are some of them:




However, there are certain limitations on these platforms.

I’d rather recommend using WordPress CMS running on your own domain with separate hosting. But this topic deserves thorough consideration in my future blog posts.


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