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Freelancing - How to Begin?
Thread poster: shades
shades  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:03
English to French
+ ...
Feb 13, 2005

Greetings,

I am a resident of the United States with an interest in freelance translation. I have a degree in International Business Management with a focus on French. However, my current employment is a full-time job not in my field of study. I have translated documents and other items on a freelance basis in the past. Most recently, I translated a press release in French, Spanish, and Portuguese for a Danish recording artist. That was something I did as a favor without any charge (in part, to stay in practice).

On a side note, French is the main foreign language I look throughout high school and college. I taught myself Spanish and Portuguese based on my knowledge or romance languages and my ability to pick up the essentials.

I like to write creatively, including when I translate, and therefore do not have a strong interest in technical documents. That is one of the reasons I like poetry, or things like a bio or press release. Although it has been a while, I have (just for fun) translated song lyrics back and forth from the various languages I know.

I do not have any official language accreditation, but was advised by a translating service that it may be worth considering (even though they don’t require it). They suggested the ATA. I have seen mixed reviews about doing that.

For now, I would be interested in freelance translation to earn extra income, while still doing my full time job. Does anyone have any suggestions or feedback in this
regard?

Thanks,

David


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Getting established Feb 13, 2005

Hi David,

Go to the "Getting established" forum and do a search for any keyword that might be of special interest to you. This question has been asked a multitude of times, and you should find a variety of feedback and advice in that forum.

Here's a link to it:
http://www.proz.com/forum/15

On the upper right corner of your screen there should be a "Search forums" field where you can enter your keyword(s).

Best luck to you,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator EN-ES
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com

[Edited at 2005-02-13 22:26]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 23:03
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Poetry translation Feb 14, 2005

shades wrote:

I like to write creatively, including when I translate, and therefore do not have a strong interest in technical documents. That is one of the reasons I like poetry, or things like a bio or press release. Although it has been a while, I have (just for fun) translated song lyrics back and forth from the various languages I know.



At the proz.com conference in Oxford last year, one of the points that the keynote speaker Dr. Erminia Passannanti made was that you translate poety and literature for love, and not for money....

This is confirmed by one of our friends, a (former) literary translator Andrea Busch on her Web site www.andreacbusch.de

"Das Jahresbruttoeinkommen einer literarischen Übersetzerin (Männer sind selbstverständlich mitgemeint) beträgt im Durchschnitt 11.600,00 Euro (statistische Erhebung des Übersetzungsverbandes 2003). Das sind pro Monat 966,66 Euro, von denen Steuern, Krankenkasse und Rentenversicherung, Miete und Strom, Büromaterial, Computer und Zubehör bezahlt werden müssen. Ach richtig, die meisten möchten auch noch etwas essen"

(The annual gross income of a literary translator (of course this refers to both male and female translators) is, on average, EUR 11,600 (statistical survey by the translators' association in 2003). That equates to EUR 966.66 per month, from which you still have to pay taxes, health insurance and pension insurance, your rent, electricity, office supplies, computer and equipment. Oh yes, and most of us want to be able to eat as well.)

So I wouldn't hold high hopes of making any money translating poetry!

HTH

Alison


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shades  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:03
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Without Technical Terms Feb 14, 2005

I don't expect to make money translating poetry, but only mentioned it as an aside. My main point is that I don't want to translate documents with a bunch of technical terms, with topics that don't interest me. Or at least, to keep such words to a minimum.

I did look around in the getting started topics as previously suggested, and so far, could not find anything relating to my specific needs. But I can keep looking.


David

Alison Riddell-Kachur wrote:

shades wrote:

I like to write creatively, including when I translate, and therefore do not have a strong interest in technical documents. That is one of the reasons I like poetry, or things like a bio or press release. Although it has been a while, I have (just for fun) translated song lyrics back and forth from the various languages I know.



At the proz.com conference in Oxford last year, one of the points that the keynote speaker Dr. Erminia Passannanti made was that you translate poety and literature for love, and not for money....

This is confirmed by one of our friends, a (former) literary translator Andrea Busch on her Web site www.andreacbusch.de

"Das Jahresbruttoeinkommen einer literarischen Übersetzerin (Männer sind selbstverständlich mitgemeint) beträgt im Durchschnitt 11.600,00 Euro (statistische Erhebung des Übersetzungsverbandes 2003). Das sind pro Monat 966,66 Euro, von denen Steuern, Krankenkasse und Rentenversicherung, Miete und Strom, Büromaterial, Computer und Zubehör bezahlt werden müssen. Ach richtig, die meisten möchten auch noch etwas essen"

(The annual gross income of a literary translator (of course this refers to both male and female translators) is, on average, EUR 11,600 (statistical survey by the translators' association in 2003). That equates to EUR 966.66 per month, from which you still have to pay taxes, health insurance and pension insurance, your rent, electricity, office supplies, computer and equipment. Oh yes, and most of us want to be able to eat as well.)

So I wouldn't hold high hopes of making any money translating poetry!

HTH

Alison


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:03
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
translating poetry and starve Feb 14, 2005

shades wrote:
My main point is that I don't want to translate documents with a bunch of technical terms, with topics that don't interest me. Or at least, to keep such words to a minimum.


Forget about living in a cool place then or going out regularly with friends for a nice meal somewhere. And don't even think about taking a nice vacation somewhere warm. There is absolutely no decent money to be had in non-technical translation. Heck, I'd love to spend all day translating poetry and stories, but I ain't willing to eat bread and water for lunch and dinner.

m


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shades  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:03
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Extra Income Feb 14, 2005

For the time being, I am looking to make some extra money at translating, and still keep my current job. I am not necessarily trying to make a living at it. I am talking about:

1. Press Releases
2. Bios
3. Websites
4. Invitation cards / Announcements
5. Certain forms (not too technical)

Two of the things that I translated in the past were housing/real-estate documents and a metallurgie security form. The former was cool and quite interesting, but the latter was a bit technical. Still, I got the extra materials, including lexicons in the metallurgie field. I think the translation turned out pretty decent, considering it was not something that interests me. I'm not opposed to translating technical papers; however, I would rather translate real-estate documents over metallurgie and chemical toxins.

Thanks for your feedback.

David

Marcus Malabad wrote:

shades wrote:
My main point is that I don't want to translate documents with a bunch of technical terms, with topics that don't interest me. Or at least, to keep such words to a minimum.


Forget about living in a cool place then or going out regularly with friends for a nice meal somewhere. And don't even think about taking a nice vacation somewhere warm. There is absolutely no decent money to be had in non-technical translation. Heck, I'd love to spend all day translating poetry and stories, but I ain't willing to eat bread and water for lunch and dinner.

m


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
The art of writing Feb 15, 2005

In the April, 2001 issue of Translation Journal, Eileen Brockbank writes:
As I see it, a translator's most important skill is writing—in the target language. Every translation should sound as if it never existed in a foreign language. The reader should never trip over strange locutions that would not come out of the mouth of a native speaker. Annual reports, court cases and descriptions of historic monuments all have their own cadences and rhythms, and I find all this writing "creative." Working in the annual report genre, for example, is a discipline much like sonnet or haiku writing. There are rules to be followed and limitations that may chafe. To the extent that we can describe the end product as literature, its quality is linked to the discipline observed.


Non-literary translation is often painted as a necessary evil, a second-best that we would never would do out of choice, only a way to make money until we succeed in breaking into the world of "real" translation (i.e. literary translation). NOT! You alluded to this, David, in your third post above where you admitted to having enjoyed (somewhat) translating real estate documents. For my part, I really like translating a great variety of so-called technical documents. Not only do I learn something new with every project, but the opportunity to exercise creative writing and literary skills isn't limited to novels and poetry.

[Edited at 2005-02-15 16:11]


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xxxtr.
Local time: 23:03
English to Italian
some encouragement for David Feb 15, 2005

David,

for what it's worth, your aspirations seem entirely reasonable to me and I think you're perfectly entitled to choose the topics and areas you want to work in. Actually, I think it sounds like a serious approach especially for a beginner. Translating specialised, highly technical documents requires experience and expertise, and if you're not interested in that field in the first place then obviously you wouldn't be as eager and able to acquire that expertise in a reasonably short amount of time. Choosing areas you like and have some knowledge in sounds like a very good idea to me.

Besides, as you know, "technical translation" in general is a conventional distinction from the literary kind of translation, so business documents, websites, press releases, anything you listed would still be "technical translation", in that general sense. There are several different areas of non-literary translation, and there is no reason why it cannot be profitable and enjoyable at the same time. Especially since you do have realistic expectations and have a job you can hold on to until you figure out if you want, and can, do this full time.

Mind you, take this with a pinch of salt as everyone has different experiences, different expectations and often different notions of this profession. I am not a seasoned translator myself as I only have a few years experience, but, again, for what it's worth, here's a few suggestions I found useful myself.

Ideally, you should translate only into your native language. You wrote you translated from English to other languages, that may have been fine for a particular job, but if you want to translate at a professional level it is best to stick to your own language as the target, unless you are bilingual and/or have native fluency in other languages. Exceptions apply, but usually it's a good rule.

In terms of language qualifications, before thinking about accreditation with translators associations such as ATA (which usually require some experience as well as an exam), maybe you could take an additional course that would help you hone your skills in the languages you want to work in, and that would give you another language-specific certificate or credential.

You could also try translation courses, if they're available in your area, or even with distance learning. It is a good way to both assess your skills and refine them.

If you have the time and financial resources to do that (as well as the inclination, of course), I think it would help.

Then, of course, practice a lot, whether it's for profit or not. Identify more precisely those areas you have both an interest and confidence in. With your degree, you have a good asset already. Exploit any connections you may have from your job, or any other contacts. If you do want to work with translation agencies, then it would be better to have some more specific credentials as well as experience. But everyone has to start somewhere. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your specific translation skills, not only what you studied and what work experience you've had so far.

So, to put it philosophically, know thyself, and know thine limits - but don't stop aiming higher

(Now, if I could only put that into practice myself )

There you go, hope I haven't bored you by now. Stick around, do some browsing on translation-related websites, get in touch with other translators. Every little helps.


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