Business coaching

How to earn extra money in addition to translating

6. decembar 2020.

Even before the crisis, some colleagues provided additional services to their clients. Most often, they opted for jobs related to translations. The crisis, in itself, was not always the reason for such a decision, but the motives were often individual: excess time / „idling“ / expanding the scope of work / additional income / creative work / anti-stress / balance… Some of these side activities are clearly defined in the Chamber of Commerce and it is possible to add them – often free of charge – as codes to the main activity. For some activities, however, a work / mediation / commission contract is concluded, and some bring „only“ a friendly return service (meaning they are not officially put on paper). The text lists those that I encountered most often in practice and that were the „most popular“ among colleagues.


Administrative services

A large number of students as well as scientific workers/academics often turn to the translator with a request to retype the manuscript because even today they write their texts/scientific papers by hand and type with two fingers on the computer (which takes a lot of time). Typing usually includes text formatting / proofreading. Actually, that is what translators normally do and rarely charge for separately.



What is mediation? The simplest form is to find several companies (most often 3) from the branch that interests the client and which are located in the country where you live / whose language you translate. It means simple data collection (company name, contact, product information, how it is quoted on the market, etc.). Those 3 companies may already be in your database because you have cooperated with them, and if not, a large amount of information can be found on the Internet, on the website of the Chamber of Commerce / Association of Businessmen. In this case, it is necessary to check whether the data of these companies have been updated and whether they are still operating (whether the phone number is in operation, whether the company is in bankruptcy, etc.) and also to inform the client that this service does not represent a guarantee quality / success. Abroad, these 3 contacts were charged around €50.

The next level in mediation would be negotiation, where you practically visit the same companies (sometimes together with the client, sometimes not), but instead of the role of translator – you negotiate on his behalf (practically, the client gives you full freedom in expressing / formulating wishes and intentions). I would recommend this step with great caution, because negotiations (and even „just“ translation) carry with them a huge responsibility for the success / failure of those same negotiations. There are also cases when failure is expected, both parties are in a hopeless situation, relations have worsened, there has been a conflict or a court process has already started, and it may happen that precisely for this reason the company decides to hire someone who is a total outsider as a negotiator and practically, on this task, he will appear „once“ – just for the sake of order. It is not always possible to assess why exactly the company hires us (and what kind of task they send us for), because the information previously provided is often unfortunately scanty. For this reason, it is always better to take small steps, to do smaller administrative tasks – until it becomes clear what you are capable of or until you gain enough experience / complete another seminar / training relevant to the activity in question.

The third level is in the form of an external associate of a company when the translator / negotiator (relatively) independently acts / negotiates / finds potential customers / promotes products / exhibits samples / represents the company abroad. In this case, a special contract is concluded (obligations, duties, jurisdiction, restrictions, payment (percentage or fixed), etc.), depending on whether the intermediary is in some way in the role of a „commercial traveler“ or has an office (means seat) whose costs are paid by the company.

Another form of mediation is advertising / giving recommendations for products / services of other companies / private individuals. In this case too, it is necessary to clearly demarcate and define exactly what you are doing (and how far these same recommendations reach), because often this act is also considered a guarantee (e.g. that cooperation with someone will succeed, that the product is of high quality, that it meets the needs of the user, etc. ). A large number of translators always have a pile of business cards, flyers, brochures on their desk… All this advertising material comes from clients who want to advertise by word of mouth, believe in this traditional way of promotion and are ready to allocate a percentage of selling. Some colleagues were paid for this „work“ or they received a service in return (free treatments, discounts in stores, trips, membership fees, etc.).

Regardless of the form of mediation, the negative side is that it often requires an all-day presence in the field and practically leads to the loss of other potential jobs. To all of that, the mentioned risk should be added.
How to find clients? For this activity, it is advisable to print business cards / flyers and additionally indicate that you are engaged in another activity. However, in the majority of cases (from my experience and from the experience of my colleagues), the clients themselves would offer us to promote them additionally (in any of the mentioned ways).



I see consulting as one big „jack of all trades“ (forgive me experts) because it also includes advisory and mediation services and organization and promotion… For example: the client on whose behalf you mediate comes to your city and it is necessary that you provide for his company’s account accommodation in a hotel, you book 2 different restaurants, you organize a promotion / tasting of products in several companies that represent the target group, and you also want to exhibit these same products at the upcoming fair. Specifically, this example includes everything: from endless phone calls / emails, translation, design and printing of advertising material (organizing / ordering the same), scheduling meetings, coordination of all participants and, in general, organization of all activities. For the realization of such a project, it is desirable to have, in addition to acquaintances, similar work experience and also the necessary help (it means realistically looking at the scope of the project and, where necessary, hiring collaborators).

The difficulty with consulting is that even today it is insufficiently defined, most people do not even know what it is and often do not expect that someone will be paid „just“ for the merger of two companies or for a „simple“ organization… Such an approach is established in the Balkans, where most of these jobs are completed as a friendly „partnership“ and unofficially (also often the case with management, public relations, communication / negotiation techniques and other relatively young branches of science / economics).



Before the University, I graduated from the College of Applied Arts – Graphic Design. In this way, I was able to provide clients with a complete service for the preparation of a catalog / prospectus / menu / advertisement (both printed and web material), combining translation and photos. In practice, this even turned out to be the best solution, because the translated text that I sent to the printer regularly „ran away“, words were missing or some „jumped out“ where they didn’t belong and the graphic designer couldn’t even fit it better because he simply did not know the language…). The programs I used were Illustrator and Photoshop. I didn’t have many such nice translation jobs in my career, but they were always extremely pleasant… Every contact with any kind of artistic work brings satisfaction, especially when it comes to the Greek language: the translation / design of even the most ordinary menu is a real small work of art – there are pictures from the beach, sunset, famous blue-and-white details, taverns in flowers, pictures of the island, all in all, a little travelogue… The problem is that there are not many of these jobs and they will rarely hire a translator for them. Plus, for design you need a diploma and a good knowledge of the appropriate computer programs; and you should also not forget the fact that new versions of the same computer programs / new trends appear on the market every year. So for people who are not constantly in that branch, „jumping in“ several times a year (and in order to realize only a few projects) can be a problem.

Private lessons

A large number of translators hold private lessons and generate quite solid side income. The advantage of this job is that clients (mostly students) come alone and it is relatively easy to advertise additionally. Of course, there is another side of the coin and it concerns the time invested: preparation of the lesson, the lesson itself and then the checking of the homework plus constant learning. In addition, it is desirable to know teaching methodology as well as cognitive psychology, adult learning psychology (in case your students are already in their mature years).


Cultural and artistic societies, international and humanitarian organizations

If, due to the nature of your work, you already have contacts in the country and abroad, membership in similar organizations (although it does not always bring direct monetary earnings), often brings counter-services, discounts, various benefits, and in the event that someone needs a translation, as a member, you are usually the first choice (and that job is paid). Members who help in the organization of various events are also paid for their work. The difficulty is that the organization itself requires a lot of time and includes practically everything – from arrival / departure, accommodation, meals, sightseeing, guests / speakers at the event, program planning (folklore, performers, service), forecasting costs, finding sponsors, etc. .


Organization of workshops / seminars

Even if you „only“ have your own office space, you can occasionally rent it out and invite lecturers (psychologists, managers, economists, etc.) as guests who will pass on their knowledge to small groups of participants at these workshops.



Evaluation of websites, internet applications, products, etc. Some foreign companies pay solidly for this work. In terms of equipment, it is necessary to have a computer, mobile phone and internet and knowledge of one of the European languages (most often English) is also required.


Based on the analysis of the area of the former SFRY, it is considered that the number of those living abroad may be even higher than the number of those who remained in the country of origin. This practically means that our people abroad often need a person ,,in the field,, in order to perform various administrative tasks which, although they are mostly of a legal nature, do not require the presence of a lawyer but only authorization (and often not even that). It is mainly about paying bills, submitting requests, obtaining documentation from various government services, etc.

Remote jobs: on the website (but also on other websites) you can find offers for jobs that you can perform in your city / your country even though the client’s seat is in another country. Some of these jobs are in the field, some are related to design, some are writing / translating or virtual assistants…



A large number of journalists are engaged in translation. Some translators are also involved in journalism, writing for newspapers/magazines or reporting from the country they are in. Of course, every beginning is difficult – so is writing articles… Some colleagues started by publishing articles (even for free) in „young“ newspapers, while later, when they had already made a name for themselves, they continued with several articles a month in already well-known newspapers – until they started to generate steady income.



Writing poetry, blogs, articles, recipes, travelogues, books, reviews, internet and other content (ghostwriting, guest writing, copy writing). One of the most famous sites is, and there are countless of them on the Internet…

Mystery shopper

A very popular occupation in some countries (especially as a student job or sideline). It is about the purchase of certain products with the evaluation of all accompanying services (how the product is displayed, where it is placed (at eye level or not – visible or not), whether the saleswoman is friendly, whether the store is nicely decorated and, as follows, attracts customers…). The disadvantage of this work is that it is done according to the project principle and there is no constant / clearly defined influx / frequency of them.


Call center

A large number of translators are engaged in this work – as a side income. Apparently, all you need is knowledge of a foreign language… However, enormous patience is also necessary (complaints from dissatisfied clients, constant ringing in the ears (earphones are mandatory in some centers), night work / different time zones…). Also, it is often the case that the company hires personnel from countries where the standard is lower (cheap labor), while the company headquarters is located in one of the developed countries.


If you translate one of the languages of the Mediterranean countries (and live in the same one), it is often the case that clients ask you to find them accommodation, book a hotel, recommend a tavern, shop, etc. Also, property owners in these countries (those who rent out their properties) can ask you to find them clients (guests) for the next season (again that word-of-mouth advertisement). The problem with this secondary activity is that it is difficult to define it, then to separate it from the friendly service of one phone call (which in practice is rarely only one) and then to charge for it. I personally did not charge it, and as compensation from satisfied clients, I had a free vacation in beautiful villas with a private beach and in hotels on the very coast (hoteliers are often sued and represent long-term clients of translation agencies because court proceedings take a long time…). And if I had the opportunity to mediate in this „activity“ again, I would never charge for it – I would choose „compensation“ at the sea again… The translation profession sometimes has its good sides…


Creative work (this could also be called „What do we do when we’re not working“)

In my colleague’s office (and to my great surprise), the moment she opened that big drawer of the metal, antique desk (those drawers used to be real boxes – cubed and huge), various strings, beads, crochet started to pop out – handmade jewelry, souvenirs, miniature paintings… She gave me a (quite logical) explanation that she often has an empty space for which she is not to blame: she waits for the client to bring two more pages so she can combine them with the text; the internet is down, she can’t send an email; the client’s fax machine is broken and it will take at least 15 minutes to get to the nearest bookstore; she waits to be called from the court so that she can start interpreting… And so every day – 10, 15, 20 minutes, in the end, we are talking about several hours a week and on a monthly basis even a couple of days of „idling“. In those time intervals, she worked on her works and occasionally exhibited, thus achieving, albeit minimal, but solid income on an annual basis. At the same time, this activity served her to reduce stress (creative work relaxes) and she also gave herself the feeling that she was doing something useful (and not, for example, aimlessly surfing the Internet…).

Real estate

Mediation in buying and selling / renting real estate / finding locations, prices, favorable offers, etc. for the account of the client abroad. In some countries, it is allowed to mediate in real estate affairs with a simple signing of the contract (it is practically a „one-time mediation“), where the mediator receives a percentage (of 2 – 4%). So this activity (in Greece) was not necessary to be registered separately.


Expense reduction

One of the ways to make money is no longer necessarily a new activity / something we have to „do“. It is also important that we don’t do something or that we stop doing what we have been doing so far.

The method that economists recommend is the analytical recording of costs; means the expenses should be written out (make a table): on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. This is the best way to gain insight, because the costs are right there, in front of us, in black and white. Long-term calculations (from my personal experience and if I had to use only one word) are enlightening; the conclusions I came to after one such analysis concern a better debt collection policy and the reduction of those small, often imperceptible daily expenses (most often unnecessary things: buying small things along the way, various subscriptions, membership fees, drinking coffee, fast food and poorly planned meals / poorly planned weather).

Why to start a second job?

          If money is the only motive, it’s not too bad to make a conscious decision to be in the business for that reason alone. Personally, I don’t have bad experiences in working with people who simply do what they need to do and are there for the sake of making money (without investing emotions, approaching calmly and even coldly). However, there is a big difference between people who work for money (with a neutral approach) and those who hate what they do and still do it… And this is usually an indication that the job is „not for them“ (to say the least). The best combination is to love what we do and at the same time make money from it

A job that gives nothing but money is the worst kind of job. Henry Ford

The best career advice: Find what you like to do the most, and find someone who will pay you for it! Katharine Whitehorn


How to do side jobs?

Professionally. Just like translations (main activity).

I don’t know a person who, when asked who they would rather entrust the work to – a hobbyist or a professional, would answer that they will still choose a hobbyist because he is engaged in this activity, by the way, 2-3 times a year, he does not have much experience, and it is not necessary that he will be cheaper than a professional. As follows, every sideline activity should be approached with the same seriousness as we approach translations; regardless of whether it will grow into a serious business or not.

A side job is NOT a hobby

Relevant with instant advice from various gurus ‚‚How to turn a hobby into a business‚‚ and how to do what we love so everything will fall into place – it won’t. I agree that a positive approach to life is also important. And that positive energy is noticeable and considered desirable. But neither „positivity“ nor a good mood (and I speak from experience) do not guarantee that the entrepreneur who has taken on the responsibility to do what the client asked him to do is really capable of doing it, has knowledge, experience, respects deadlines, is consistent, behaves responsibly… A good mood means that the entrepreneur is in a good mood today. It does not represent a guarantee that he is both competent and consistent and works responsibly in the long run.

„It’s not a problem to get a job, the point is to keep getting a job.“ – Anonymous author.

How to introduce yourself?

How to present yourself in written form and how to avoid „generalism“ / the risk that the client classifies us as a „friendly boy“ who knows everything and does all the work (while later, when the inflow from these side jobs becomes regular, it will be very difficult to set strict boundaries and not allow the client to go too far in their requests because no, no one does all the work…). As follows, it is necessary to set up and lay the foundations at the beginning; modestly (without great fanfare because some clients comment negatively on every step forward with „well-intentioned“ advice and questions about whether we are still „real“ translators); then structured, strictly defined, without great gasification; the offer on the business card / flyer must be concise; activities concisely presented and „harmonized“ (without major deviations and variety of jobs); jobs compatible with each other.


  1. Petar Petrović, consulting, translation and supporting administrative services.
  2. Branko Branković, translations, text formatting, design of advertising material

Less successful examples:

  1. Petar Petrović, football coach, manager and translator
  2. Marija Marinković, making unique jewelry, translations, real estate rental

And once again, presenting…

Psychological factors should not be ignored either: how do we present ourselves? With how much confidence? Just a little bit or have we gone to the other extreme (a common case nowadays) and are exchanging self-confidence for knowledge (just as professors are being replaced by lecturers, instructors, trainers, gurus…

In short: the question is whether we have measures and whether we are aware of what we know and can do and what we can’t or it is not our area of expertise (and we will politely inform the client and practically refuse some tasks – thus preserving our reputation and credibility).

I’ve made a lot more money by choosing things to say NO to than choosing things to say yes to. I say earned, because by saying NO, I didn’t lose money and I didn’t sacrifice quality! Danny Meyer


Every ‚‚invasion‚‚ into a new branch of a (until yesterday) translator, who today is an inexperienced beginner in that profession, is noticed. In practice, this means that those who have been there for many years will see you as competition and some even as an intruder who „steals their jobs“. And not everyone will be willing to spare their time and share their experience with you / instruct you in the secrets of that profession. Extreme reactions are also possible (reporting to the competent authorities, checking whether your additional activity is legally registered, whether you have the necessary certificates, etc.).

Finally, there is no universal answer to the question of how to step out of the role of translator while maintaining the same role… Our perception is subjective, including the one directed towards ourselves. How do we see ourselves? Are we able to maintain a balance, organize time well and achieve to provide quality services to all our clients (and these new ones)… At the same time, taking into account our physical and mental health, existence, balance between the time dedicated to all these additional activities and us alone…


„You are your most important product, which is why your positioning as an individual is unusually important!

 – Portia  Isaacson


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