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Archive for the ‘Freelancing’ Category

This class session is now full. To view upcoming dates for all of my online courses, visit my website.

My new quick-start course Breaking Into the Direct Client Market starts on July 1, and I have about three spots left. This is a three-week course with minimal homework, three sets of slide shows with audio tracks (finding direct clients, marketing to direct clients, working successfully with direct clients), three question and answer conference calls for the whole group, and an hour of individual consulting time for every student. Registration is $190, or $175 if you’re an ATA member. The class is aimed at people who have experience as translators but are new to the direct client market. If you’re an established translator and you’d like to take my longer, full-featured course Beyond the Basics of Freelancing, it starts on August 19. We just wrapped up the inaugural session of my other new course, Breaking into the Agency Market; the session was full and I got some excellent feedback from the students, so I think that this new format is a good fit for people who want a shorter, less homework-dependent class. One student commented that: “This course rocks! Many of us have had training & experience in the “how to translate/interpret” end of things, but T&I programs, as far as I know, don’t cover the business end. This course fills this gap that’s not covered much by otherwise very good T&I schools.” If you’re interested in joining the July 1 session, hop on over to my website to read the full description or to register!

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If you have the drive and discipline to launch your freelance business, you have the drive and discipline to improve your freelance business, but we all struggle to force ourselves to work on those improvements incrementally (or at least I do!). In this video I talk about three approaches you might try: the carrot, the stick or the temptation bundle. If you really want to geek out on temptation bundling, you can listen to this episode of Freakonomics Radio.

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This is a cross-post from Speaking of Translation, the podcast that I co-host with Eve Bodeux.

Hot on the heels of our Being a freelancer and being a mom episode (which logged almost 1,000 downloads in its first week!), we’ve put three freelancing dads in the hot seat. We asked them about many of the same topics as our freelancing moms: how they managed taking time off when their kids were born, how they handle work, child care/school and family responsibilities now, and what they tell their clients about their family situations. We think you’ll enjoy this episode (lots of inspiration and creative ideas for other freelancing dads!), and thanks very much to our guests:

Miguel Armentia has academic degrees both in biochemistry and translation, and became a full-time freelance translator in 2008. Miguel translates English and French into Spanish and specializes in medical and IT translation. In addition, Miguel is a member of the IT Commission of Tremédica (the International Association of Translators and Editors in Medicine and Applied Science). He is the dad of two daughters, ages 1 and 3 1/2.

Jonathan Downie is a conference interpreter working between French and English, as well as a researcher, writer and speaker. He is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives with his wife and two children who are 1 ½ and 3. He is currently finishing a PhD on expectations of interpreters at Heriot-Watt University and writing his first book, 10 Challenges for the Future of Interpreting, as well as serving on the board of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

James Perry is a French-to-English freelance translator and lives in a Scottish Highland glen with his wife and 8-year-old adopted daughter. He is an Associate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. James specializes in subtitle translations for French media companies. He translates current affairs programmes, documentaries, cooking programmes and films: these include police thrillers and romantic comedy! He loves the variety and the fact that he is always learning.

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Being a freelancer and being a dad

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Here’s a cross-post from Speaking of Translation, the podcast I co-host with Eve Bodeux:

Running a freelance business and raising a family can be a great fit, but combining those roles can result in a lot of stress, and requires planning, prioritizing, and of course flexibility and a good sense of humor! For this episode on being a freelancer and being a mom (stay tuned for our next episode on being a freelancer and being a dad!), Eve and I spoke with two moms who balance their significant family responsibilities with extremely active professional lives:

Elena Langdon is a Portuguese-English translator and interpreter and a former chair of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. She grew up in Brazil and now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children, ages 2, 4 and 7. Elena specializes in medical, legal and social science work and is an active interpreter and translator trainer.

Jennifer Nielsen is a Spanish-English translator and interpreter and the immediate past president of the Mexican Translators Association. She is originally from Colorado and now lives in Guadalajara, Mexico with her husband and her twin sons who are almost a year old. Jennifer works with Mexican businesses that are expanding into the US market, especially in the areas of law, marketing and academia.

We pulled Jennifer and Elena away from their extremely busy lives and asked them for their insights on:

  • Maternity leave: how long to take off and how to talk to your clients about it
  • Child care: what their child care situations are, and whether they try to work with their kids at home
  • Managing the uncertainty of freelancing with small kids: what happens when the kids are sick, or the babysitter is sick, or there’s a snow day?
  • Client relations: how much their clients know about their personal lives
  • The boiling point: how do they avoid being overwhelmed by stress and exhaustion, and what do they do when they are overwhelmed?

If you’re a freelancer and a mom, we think you’ll really enjoy this episode!

Click the audio player link to listen online

Right-click the link below to download the MP3.
Chrome/Firefox: Choose “Save Link As”
Internet Explorer: Choose “Save target as”
Safari: Choose “Download Linked File”
Being a freelancer and being a mom

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This is more of a food-for-thought post than a helpful hints post, and please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments! In working with the students in my online courses and talking to other translators who have been in the business longer than I have, I’ve developed a theory about the three phases that most freelancers seem to go through:

Phase 1: You’ve been plugging away at your startup phase for some months or years. Work is starting to flow in with some regularity. You still have peaks and valleys, but you are making what might be termed real money, or at least semi-real money. You’re probably still working at another job, dipping into savings, or depending on a spouse’s or partner’s income, but you feel that your freelance business is a going concern: you’re going to make it! For me, this described (approximately) years 1.5 through 3 of my freelance business.

Phase 2: Reality check. Your freelance business is a going concern, but you start to realize that if you want freelancing to be your “forever” job, you need to earn more, and possibly a lot more money than what you’re currently making. If you want a similar level of financial security to someone with a salaried job, you need to be putting money into retirement, earning enough that you can afford to take a reasonable amount of time off, earmarking money for professional development, training and tools such as computer equipment and software. The euphoria that you felt at the end of Phase 1 starts to fade, as you look at the (large) number that you need to hit in order to achieve that level of security. But, hopefully, you forge ahead, maybe adding direct clients to your roster, or assertively marketing to better-paying clients of various flavors. For me, this described (approximately) years 3-6 of my freelance business, in the sense that after year 3, I managed to break out of Phase 1, but I wasn’t fully into Phase 2 for about another 3 years after that. After 12 years of freelancing, I’d say that I’m still firmly in Phase 2 but now contemplating…

Phase 3: After putting in X number of years as a freelancer and earning a healthy income in order to achieve the level of financial security you targeted in Phase 2, you start to be more motivated by doing work that is meaningful, enjoyable, and that perhaps allows more time or flexibility for your non-work interests. I’m not at this phase yet, but I’m observing it in other translators I work with: they’re still very excited by their work, but maybe they translate more books, or maybe they assertively look for work that matters to them, whether it’s lucrative or not, or they do work that fills a need for a cause they support. Although I’m not there yet (and with my child’s college tuition coming in the next decade, won’t be for a while!), I can see this on the horizon: a time when I’ll still love this job, but when I will want to look for work that lets me ride my bike and play my lute (preferably in Italy!) while doing work that I enjoy.

My observation is that a lot of freelancers get a bit stuck between Phase 1 and Phase 2: having sort-of-enough work, earning sort-of-enough money and enjoying the job sort-of-enough. That’s a great place to be when you compare it to your startup phase, but it’s not a great place to hang out for 20 years. Breaking out of that phase is another series of posts, but it might be helpful to identify which phase you’re in!

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A short but important thought about freelancing (and maybe about life in general, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog!): whatever you do in your freelance business, do it intentionally, not because you’re a) being passive or b) letting some external force dictate your decisions and then blaming the external force instead of yourself. A few examples:

-Which of these statements applies to you: I work on whatever comes my way OR I actively seek out work that I enjoy and am good at?

-Have you ever said A client forced me to lower my rates OR A client made me translate something I knew was outside my expertise? If so, you’re adding to the already-problematic situation by putting yourself in the passive seat. Instead, think A client asked me to lower my rates, and I agreed; time to do some marketing so that I’m not in that position again OR I took on a project that I really shouldn’t have, mostly because I really needed the work. I will work on finding more clients in my specializations so that I don’t need to do that again.

I find that this kind of mindset switch really helps; like every freelancer, I get into situations where I wonder if I said yes to something that I shouldn’t have. But I feel much better saying This deadline was really, really tight, but it was for an A-list client who I wanted to help out or I took a financial hit on this project, but I’ve been wanting to translate this book for a long time, so I’m not as focused on the money. The intention is important. Thoughts?

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Over at Speaking of Translation, we’ve posted a new podcast for your listening pleasure: Tips from a project manager turned freelance translator.

Eve Bodeux and I recently caught up with freelance French<>English translator Angela Benoit. Angela earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in France (from the same school where I did study abroad…Grenoble pride!) and then worked as a translation project manager in New York for over six years. About a year and a half ago, Angela decided to cross the aisle and launch her freelance translation business; in this podcast Angela shares what she’s learned from this career switch. How can a translator move from an agency’s database to actually getting work? Are rate negotiations just about the money, or are there other factors? Who gets picked for an agency’s plum assignments? And how can project managers find the best translators out there, or help the best translators find them? Give it a listen, and let us know what you think! Thanks to Angela for sharing these valuable tips with our listeners.

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