Life as a freelance translator may sound quite romantic. Visions of distant lands and curious people with mysterious needs for someone to explain the details of a long-lost inheritance. Such intrigue and adventure! The reality, however, is that it is a job and as such, there are perks as well as downsides. To make the most of a career as a freelance translator, be realistic with expectations and learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you.
Perks & Practices Of The Successful Freelance Professional
#1. Flexibility: Life as a freelance translator may mean that you work from home. Maintain professional standards despite the fact that your time is your own. Establishing a work schedule is proven to enhance productivity for at-home workers. Create one and post it in your workspace as a motivational visual aide.
#2. Have A Rhythm: Develop a communication routine for when calls are returned, emails responded to, assignment submitted, etc. It is a sign of professionalism that is reassuring to clients to hear something like, “You can expect an e-mail update every Tuesday on my progress with the assignment.”
#3. Get Organized: Creating to-do lists, progress reports and a chart of current projects all contribute to freelance translator’s staying organized and accountable to self. Better organization is key to completing projects on schedule or getting to an appointment on time and with all the relevant documents in hand.
Pitfalls Of The Profession
#1. Loved Ones Respecting Your Work Schedule: One of the most common complaints of at-home workers is that everyone else doesn’t really recognize that they are working. Frequent interruptions from friends and family disrupt workflow and negatively affect productivity. Be consistent and firm. Say no. Don’t accept their calls. If you have little ones at home, develop a system of taking frequent breaks. They will soon learn to wait for you with their questions and non-emergency needs. Create a work space and insist it not be intruded upon while you are working. Ignore those who attempt to intrude and eventually they will get the message. Tough love is required to establish firm boundaries so that you can focus on work.
#2. Too Much Screen Time: It is not uncommon for a freelance translator to spend hours in front of a computer screen. Sometimes all users can lose track of just how much screen time they have logged in one sitting. This can lead to eye, neck, shoulder and back strain. Discomfort will affect productivity. Develop the habit of stepping away from the screen periodically. Just like an office environment has regular break periods, at-home workers should as well. There’s a reason for labor law’s enforcing break periods. They are in the best interest of a worker’s health. So, move away from the screen.
#3. Don’t Forget That You Are Human: For single freelance translators, working at home and online can be isolating. It is easy to become absorbed in your work, especially if you have work-aholic tendencies. Don’t forget that you are human and in need of contact with other humans. In addition to spending time with loved ones and friends, on occasion take your laptop to a local Wi-Fi cafe. Even if there is no interaction, simply working among other human beings can be life affirming that you are, indeed, still human and not alone.
Network With A Professional Translator Community
Going solo often means a freelance translator finds it difficult to rub elbows with professional peers. Join a translator community. Partner with an online platform designed specifically for the needs of translators. Get connected with an agency that can help you further your current skills and develop new ones. Can you translate German but would like to add French translator to your resume? Do you struggle at times with technical issues or have questions that only other translators would understand? Are you interested in specializing in translation terminology related to medicine, law or finance? Partnering with the right platform can help you get certified. Professional forums can connect you with professional peers. For more information and to connect with the right translator community, please contact us.