You may have fantasized about quitting your job and starting a translation business, a new career that, at least in your dream, allows you to meander downstairs long after your spouse has fought traffic and punched the time card. There’s no doubt about it, becoming a freelance translator is liberating in many ways, but before you decide to go solo, we’d like to debunk five freelancing myths.
5 Myths of the Freelance Translator
Freelance translators don’t have a boss
Indeed, you don’t have a boss; you’ve got dozens of them now. You’ve also got more than a few employees to keep in line: the copywriter (you), blogger (you), networker (you), IT specialist (you), marketer (you), collections agent (also you), and the list goes on. Then there are all of the clients you have to answer to. True, you no longer have to spend eight hours in a cubicle, but you’ll still spend eight hours (at the very least) in a place where you can get work done.
Working from home is liberating
Yes and no. Many freelance translators relish the fact that they don’t have to put on a tie, iron their pants and tuck their shirts in, but working from home has several landmines you’ll have to negotiate. If you have kids or pets, expect interruptions. Also keep in mind that you’ll need the will and tenacity of a saint. Our homes are full of distractions and unlike the office, no one is counting how many visits you make to the water cooler or how long you were gone on lunch break. You’ll have to keep yourself in check in order meet deadlines and keep clients happy.
Freelance translators have more free time
This is also half true. Unlike nine-to-fivers, you don’t have to spent an hour getting ready in the morning; you don’t have to fight traffic or wait for the train; you don’t have to take a mandatory lunch break when you’d rather work through your lunch and go home early. Now for the “but.”
Your schedule is not entirely your own. We suspect that many of your clients will be scattered throughout the country, maybe even the globe. Most businesses operate on a nine-to-five schedule, so you’ll need to be available. And keep in mind, if you’re working with international clients, or even clients located throughout the country, you’ll have to account for different time zones.
Freelance translators don’t have to “deal” with people
Freelancing is independent work, but misanthropes are rarely successful freelance translators. You own your own business now—which means that you must be the marketer, the relationship builder, the lead nurturer. When you aren’t translating, you’ll be talking to new clients, updating your own personal blog or website and networking with other translators through Linked In and other social-media platforms. You may not have to deal with a boss looking over your shoulder, but you’ll still have to deal with people.
Freelancing is quick money
This is one we borrowed from thebigwordblog. Contrary to what many folks think, freelance translation is not quick money. You’re going to have to work hard to find clients and build a reputation for yourself. Also keep in mind that building a steady stream of clients is going to take time, so chances are that money is going to be tight for the first year.
Think of a game plan and stick to a schedule. In addition to this, find time to brainstorm your brand, create it and begin to market it. The first few jobs you take on will most likely not be high-paying ones, but they should be credible.
Here’s one final thought: Before becoming a freelance translator, honestly ask yourself whether or not you have the necessary experience that will help distinguish you from all the other freelance translators. One way to do this is through Marygrove College’s online program in Modern Language Translation. In our program, students will not only study the linguistic and cultural aspects of language transfer, but they will take a hands-on approach to translating journalistic, commercial, legal, and scientific texts.