Candid talk from an ordinary freelance translator.

Nov 18, 2015

4 Reasons Why People Give Up On Becoming a Freelance Translator

The thoughts of us being a full-time freelance translator who get to manage our own time and amount of work to do each day, being our own boss while making triple the amount of money others make working for other people is definitely very enticing. ฺBesides, what very special about this is, this dream can actually come true. Many people made it into the industry and love it.

But why do a lot of people give up on their dreams of becoming a freelance translator?

After working for others all my life, I decided to work on my own as a freelance translator at the age of 33. It all started from the fact that life as before no longer provide me with enough time and freedom now that I am married and have 2 beautiful children. The expenses increase while the paycheck never raised, the absence of time flexibility, all the while having to put up with work that I dreaded waking up every morning to go to. Fast forward to this moment, I am now on my third year of my career and doing well.

Having said that, the factors that determine success though, are what also determine whether or not ones will continue on the path of becoming totally independent in their career or rather bitterly turn away. Here are my short list of 4 reasons why people give up on becoming a freelance translator;

Expect fast results: Whether your plan is to become a freelance translator by attending course or jump right in to the market, one of the first things that needs to be done is to be known by as many translation agencies as you can be. They will not know that you are available to work with them unless they know you exist. This means you will spend most of your first year in the industry creating resume, building website for portfolios, and sending out emails to all the translation agencies you find online.  If you expect that from the moment your website is set up, you will be swarmed with work and so swimming in money right away, you will be discouraged very quickly. 

Fear the future: When you decide to quit your day job and start your journey as a freelance translator. One of the things that will popped up in your mind a lot is whether you will make ends meet. During the first few year, unstable income is what keeps you on edge most of the time and that is just the nature of the journey you embark on. I am one of those who kicked start while out of job. As a result, I desperately hoped that whatever I make throughout the month will cover all my expenses, and the fear that it will not be so is massive. The only reason why I kept going was because it was the only way forward for me at that moment and I truly believe I could actually live my dream if I go on. So expect that fear. Maybe start the journey as a translator on the side while you are still working full time, or start on putting some savings aside for rainy days. The idea is to be well prepared.

Overwork:  As a freelancer, you are on your own in managing time and resources. It is way too easy to find yourself overwork and starts to think if what you are doing right now is what you actually really wanted to do. When work starts flowing in, you are happy at first but soon realize the challenges and felt overwhelmed. Relax and start learning the art of time management. All you need to do is promise yourself free weekends for quality me time (or a wonderful time together with your children). Put your working hours up on your website and in your email signature. Split work, no matter how much, into small percentage and fit them into your work schedule according to the deadlines and keep at it. Remember to come up with the ideas each day to work smarter, not harder.  Keep in mind, that you are working for a living, not living so that you can work. 

Dwell on mistakes: On the way to success, it is not uncommon to face criticism. No matter how much you know the both of your language pairs and no matter how hard you work on each project making sure the output is spotless as much as possible, you will likely to make some mistakes along the way. Depending on the people you work for on that particular project, some might not be professional enough to just request for revision (which is quite common), but top that up with criticism they know will most hurt your confidence. If you are facing this at the moment, relax, and try the best you can to response professionally. Use terms that are strictly business without any traces of emotions involve. Revise the work the best you can and immediately move on. Learn from mistakes, but do not dwell on them. 

Keep going if your dream of becoming a freelance translator is bigger than your fear and the discouragement you feel. You know you are moving forward when you make mistakes, learn from them and get better as you go. The reality is, you will get there if you don't look back, and believe in yourself.

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Dec 17, 2014

Automatic Translation Vs Manual Translation

Translation can be defined as an act of interpretation of the meaning of a content and consequent re-production of equivalent content. The content or the text that is required to be translated is called "Source Text" and the language in which the source text is to be translated is known as "Target Text". In simple language, translation is also described as a communication written in second language having the identical meaning as written in a first language.
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Dec 4, 2014

Unpaid Test

The Code of Professional Conduct and Business Practices" of the American Translators Association stipulates: "As an employer or contractor of translators and/or interpreters, ... I will not require translators or interpreters to do unpaid work for the prospect of a paid assignment." (, 2002)

I' ve done many unpaid tests in the past for various agencies and direct clients precisely because I was fairly new and desperate to get my dream career going. Most times, they yielded poor results, which in my view, is because test translation can be abused, and since everything is internet base, the abuser can easily disappear into thin air without ever admit their wrong doing. I have quite a few of my translation pieces stolen through this medium.

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Dec 2, 2014

Translator and Moral Question

Are there any translation that shouldn't been done?

Some years back, I was offered an on-going translation project concerning religious and lifestyle. I took a quick look at the articles  and realized it had to go with supporting  men to have many wives, and many other topics that raise eye brows.

I had a little thought about whether there are clients or specific information I wouldn't want to work with. If I should go ahead
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Nov 30, 2014

Why I Love Working Early

Early morning is the most productive time for me. As a mother of two, my life at the earliest time of day I could manage is the most peaceful. I like a little over 2 hours in the morning to myself with my coffee. When everyone else is still in bed, my head works smoothly.

What I do in the morning;

Mess is stress: I don't usually start work right away. In fact, all I do is switch on my PC and let it run its course while I make a one round walk around the house and pick up used drinking glass from coffee table, kids toy from the floor and do
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New Translator and Low Rates

Recently, a translators asked me if he should lower his rates being that he is new to the industry and long to get into the workforce for both financial reason and to gain experience as a translator. The advice I gave him, without any intentions to invade in his decision making aspect was; "No, I really don't think you should.". The reasons? Let me explain.

When I first kick started as a translator, I dealt mostly with direct clients.
My method of getting myself into translation business, was to take all jobs without much of any terms to work by from my side. The result? Not at all good. I was once got hired by a client through Elance. I was pretty new
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