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Some questions from a beginner
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 12, 2008

Hi everyone! I am new to translation/interpreting and I want to make sure that I am starting off well. So, I have some questions.

1) Do you have to pay taxes on the money you earn from pojects? If so, what are the guidelines?

2) How can I get more work? I bid on lots of projects but I rarely hear back about them. Admittedly, I have less credentials than some of you but I have to start somewhere.

Those are the only qestions I have right now.

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Pavel Blann  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:50
English to Czech
hi sara Jun 12, 2008

1) ask your state/federal tax office

2) it usually takes several years to build up your client base so be patient, go step-by-step and gain experience in the meantime...

good luck!

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some answers Jun 12, 2008

1) Do you have to pay taxes on the money you earn from projects? If so, what are the guidelines?

YES, of course. Income tax and Self-Employment Tax (Social Security). Check IRS Income Tax guidelines for self-employed persons. All the information you need to know can be found online.

2) How can I get more work?

There is no magical answer for this one, we have all had to start somewhere and it has been a different experience for everyone.

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The job search in real life Jun 12, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:
2) How can I get more work? I bid on lots of projects but I rarely hear back about them.

Don't rely exlusively on the virtual jobhunt, but leverage real life for job leads, too.

Even in this electronic age, when most of our contacts are by e-mail, we should not underestimate the value of personal contacts. Do all your friends, acquaintances and relatives know that you are looking for translation work? Don't forget former teachers and fellow students, too.

Make up a business card and carry it everywhere. I don't mean that you should rudely push your business card at everyone you meet, on every occasion, but in many casual conversations the topic of what you do comes up naturally, and then it is can be quite apropos to give the other person your business card. In the future, when they, in turn, meet someone who needs a translation in your languages, they will be able to help that person, giving them your card.

Even family members and close friends may be willing to carry some copies of your business card. One day they will be talking to someone who says "I have to figure out what this manual/letter/article in Spanish says, and I don't know where to turn." (Having never met a professional translator, the potential client hardly has a notion that such a beast exists.) Your friend or relative will be able to say "I know just the person who can help you. Here's her number/e-mail address. Why don't you get in touch with her?"

Have you phoned every translation agency in the yellow pages of your local telephone directory to introduce yourself and ask if you may send them a copy of your CV? The advantage of sending your CV to an agency that you have personally talked to is that you can ask first how they prefer to receive your information (attachment or e-mail body). You can also ask to which specific person you should direct your e-mail. In your cover letter, addressed personally to that particular person, you can mention the phone call, which gives your contact e-mail a personal touch to distinguish you from an anonymous unknown.

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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Q2 Jun 12, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:Those are the only qestions I have right now.
Oh yes but you'll have plenty of them in the near future. There are more translation jobs than there are translators who can handle it. and in a while, you'll be asking yourself, "How do I get rid of this jobflow???"
2) How can I get more work? I bid on lots of projects but I rarely hear back about them.

The trick is, it's not you who should be searching for jobs/clients, it's them who should be queueng up to get your services.
Distinguish yourself from others. Make yourself unique. Stand your gound re. rates. Deliver top-notch product.

And learn - with every new job, every new client, leatn the treacherous science of freelancing!


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:50
Member (2008)
French to English
income tax Jun 12, 2008

As Henry mentioned, there is lots of tax info online, the IRS has a website. You should probably read a few books as well, IRS forms and instructions are not easy to figure out. Every time I read an IRS publication I thank God I never had to translate anything like that. You should probably have an accountant as well, but you still need to understand your Schedule C and go through it line by line for deductions that your accountant might not think of. Self-employment tax is based on Schedule C income, with no other deductions, and of course no employer contribution. It is a bit of a shock the first time you pay the whole thing yourself. Actually I am shocked every year, and I have been self-employed for 20 years. It's the only moment all year long that I think "I made too much money" - believe me, I do not make too much money. Find a good accounting program. I like Quickbooks for the US (, you can use it online for a monthly fee, so there is no upfront cost and you don't have to worry about your computer with all your records crashing the day before taxes are due - this actually happened to a client of mine. Other people like Translator (Translation?) 3000, it is more translation specific. Also Microsoft Accounting is running a promotion with a free download version, for Paypal account holders, although I haven't tried it yet myself, so I can't compare it to Quickbooks. Keep track of all your business expenses and income from day one, you will be happier come tax time. An accounting program also helps you with invoicing and - if necessary - dunning.

[Edited at 2008-06-12 22:01]

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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:20
German to English
Attend events Jun 13, 2008

I fully agree with GoodWords about the value of word of mouth and personal contacts and not relying completely on getting jobs through websites such as

One way of making contacts is by attending some of the many events organised for translators, both through as well as events. events:



Here is a list of events:

All the best!


[Edited at 2008-06-13 07:47]

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jthink  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:50
French to English
+ ...
getting jobs as a beginner Jun 15, 2008

I have had good luck with posting on different free advert. sites, in particular "Kijiji", which has a "translation and redaction" category under "Services". You can also get practice and some possible future contacts by volunteering to translate for ONGs etc. especially any community service organisations you might know.

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Jack Qin  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:50
English to Chinese
+ ...
Thank you Jun 18, 2008

I am also a newcomer to PROZ and can get a lot of information by reading the postings from cover to cover.

My language pairs are from English to Chinese and vice versa, and I exclusively focus on electrical engineering translation. If you are in need of my help, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks a million.


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