People posted such great suggestions in the Comments section for Break on Through that I think they deserve their own post.
Jill Sommer made a number of really helpful points. First, I should have clarified in the post that although working as an FBI Contract Linguist was the job that allowed me to get through the “in-between” phase of freelancing, the application process is in fact very long. In my case, the application, testing and background check process took over two years, and it was only because I applied on probably my third day of freelancing that the job worked out. If you are looking for a supplemental job starting immediately, FBI Contract Linguist is not a good option.
Jill offers a great suggestion about volunteering, which was seconded by Janine Libbey. Janine comments that volunteering your translation services “will create good will and [you] can also use these organizations as references. My experience has been that these “freebies” often produce referrals to paying clients.”
Another sideline business for translators that I didn’t mention is transcription. Most translators are excellent typists and already have the computer setup required to do transcription. Whether you are a native speaker of English or of another language, transcription could be a great way to supplement your income.
Ryan Ginstrom perceptively said “I think that specializing is the best overall way to earn more money: you work faster (because you’re familiar with the subject and have to do less research) and your work is better, so you can charge higher rates,” and also emphasized the importance of choosing a specialization that is in demand.
Thanks for these helpful comments!