To be or not to be ….. a translator?
Being a translator seems a relatively safe and quiet job – you sit behind your computer and focus on providing high-quality translation, whereas any interaction with the customer is usually limited to e-mail exchange. However, translation is often both challenging and exciting, sometimes also exhausting and demanding. Let’s look at some pros and cons of being a freelance translator.
To be a translator
1. Independence, working at your own pace
For many translators or freelancers, in fact, this is one of the most important perks. You are your own boss! No more work from 9 to 5. You can work whenever you feel like it or whenever the particular project demands. You can work in your pyjama or even in your bed. You can schedule your work around your personal life needs, too.
2. Working for your own brand
As you sign your work with your name, you become recognisable among other professionals. Your best qualities, values and work style become your trademark. Clients start coming because the appreciate your for merits and know you will meet their expectations. As you refine your specialisation, your work becomes in demand, which can lead to higher than average pay.
3. Learning, expanding horizons
There are many ways in which a translator may keep learning. Those include not only formal studies and CPD courses but also the translated texts themselves. Texts dealing with aspects such as history, testimonials, guides provide an abundance of knowledge and wisdom that is enriching the translator as well. It seems that translation offers an abundance of learning opportunities without rigid career structure.
4. No monotony
Being a translator is far from being a boring job. In fact, it is rich in adrenaline-filled moments with tight deadlines, important topics or sensitive information. From time to time, there are projects that go just beyond your specialisation, which may pose a challenge in itself. Also, working with a variety of clients offers a full range of opportunities to keep your attention up.
Not to be a translator
1. Finding clients, irregularity of work
Being your own boss may be difficult and daunting at times. In addition to being a translator, you have to do a lot of marketing, planning, and bookkeeping. When the work is scarce, it is easy to panic. To avoid the famine/feast cycle, you need to actively market your services. It is best to devote at least 30 minutes per day to marketing-related activities.
2. Organising time and work
Too much freedom may be a disaster in the making. It requires some time and discipline to work out a routine that fits you and allows you to do your job efficiently. When there is a lot of work, it is easy to get lost in work, to put aside other tasks, such as marketing. Also, it may seem you are always at work, just because you don’t do a typical office job.
As you work for your own name and brand, you have to accept the consequences of your decisions. Working for direct clients requires adjusting to their needs and actively looking for them. In addition, the stress of providing an error-free work also needs to be considered. Many translators purchase professional insurance to keep them safe in case of any claims.
Many translators work on their own. Sometimes, they don’t have to even see the clients because the e-mail contact is sufficient. This working style can be a bit isolating. Many translators choose to work in a shared workplace (coworking) just to be around other people.
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Why I love working with translation agencies - Sylwia Biczyk
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