I am a freelance translator. This means that I work as a certified translator, and I am a business owner. I manage all aspects of my business including invoicing, marketing, and of course, translating. Not all translators are meant to become business owners. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy the ups and downs of running a business. But I am that special kind of person.
I’ve been in business since 2008, and I absolutely love it. I work from home, evenings and weekends, after my regular day job. I don’t recommend becoming a freelance translator without having a background in business management. It takes grit, determination, and self-confidence. You need to make decisions on pricing, services, purchases, etc. It is easier to make these decisions when accompanied by work and life experiences.
If you have never worked for someone else and you are a new translator, freelancing might not be your thing. If you are sure that freelancing is for you, keep reading.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being a freelance translator. There are some obvious ones, such as you are the boss, you set your schedule, your goals, your timelines, your rates, your expenses, etc. This also means that you inherit the losses, the late nights, and the stress of reaching deadlines.
Here’s my advice.
Don’t be a procrastinator! If you enjoy watching TV more than translating, you will not enjoy this profession. Organize your schedule, so you can have balance in your professional life and personal life.
Don’t spend too much money on office products that don’t make you a better translator. Focus on the essentials. You need a really good computer, a comfortable chair, an excellent computer-assisted translation software, at least two screens, a printer, filing cabinet, and the most important thing of all, high-speed Internet.
Don’t think that you will become a millionaire as a freelance translator. I’ve done the math: it’s impossible. However, you can make decent profits and there are tax deductions to operating a home-based business.
Be organized in all aspects of your work (managing requests, managing finances, translating, etc.). Ask yourself: How can I be more efficient and productive while offering an excellent service to my clients?
Be honest with yourself and your clients, especially with short deadlines. Don’t make promises if you can’t keep them. If your gut aches every time a request for a quote lands in your mailbox, you might not be cut out to be a freelance translator.
I know I was made for this type of work. I really enjoy looking up new terms, learning new things, feeling proud of a translation and feeling accomplished. If you decide to dive into this profession, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Good luck!