When is one ready to start freelancing?
Thread poster: Angela Dickson

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:47
French to English
+ ...
Mar 23, 2004

This is a general plea for advice, really... I would be grateful for any comments.

Translating was always the part of my degree (BA French at Oxford) I enjoyed the most, for reasons I am sure most of those present will understand. Having completed my BA, and an MA in Linguistics, I am keen to translate more, and potentially for a living. I have signed up for a distance course heading towards the DipTrans (IoL) here in the UK.

I have two years experience working as a secretary in the UK Health Service, so my knowledge of medical terminology in English is very good.

I am new to this website and have been having a look round. After brief perusal of KudoZ, I quickly noted how far I have to go to be able to translate from French medical terminology - but I am sure there are ways of gaining experience without the risk of being sued. I am thinking of asking a French colleague if he knows anyone who needs work doing (without over-harsh deadlines) or even if he could import a French medical textbook for me!

To boil all this down to some specific questions, then: should I wait until I have the Diploma before seeking work? How much of having a 'specialism' is real knowledge, and how much is knowing where to look, and how quickly? Am I better prepared than I think?

Looking forward to interesting discussions on this site - I like what I have seen so far.

Angela


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Russian
+ ...
In general, when you are sure that next time the client(s) will call you first Mar 23, 2004

Dear Angela,

At this point please forget about the diploma. I mean, get it by all means but do not tie two things together all that close. The diploma itself will hardly open any doors into the freelance world. To make a decent living by freelance translation only you must win an established reputation, which takes anywhere between 3 to 10 years. Don't get scared, who says it is impossible?:) In any case please do not drop your other source(s) of income until you assess your ability and desire to do it full time thoughtfully, taking into account every angle, and the farther you go, the more angles you'll see.

I would suggest diversity in terms of practicing both translation and interpretation, which will provide you with more options and more ways to make money in the future.

Try to do it part time as often as you can, make sure your name is known in the translation world around you. I believe it would be worth trying to get a full/part time position with some translation department, agency or even a short or long term project. Many experienced business people from a variety of fields insist that it is wise to work for someone first, learn from their experience and get as much insight as you can, and only then go for your own business or self-employment. I agree with this theory. It worked for me. As a freelancer you will have to master management skills fit for this business and for that you need to "soak" in the right environment for a while. IMHO.

Best of the luck,
Irene


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
It worked for me too :) Mar 23, 2004

IreneN wrote:
I believe it would be worth trying to get a full/part time position with some translation department, agency or even a short or long term project. Many experienced business people from a variety of fields insist that it is wise to work for someone first, learn from their experience and get as much insight as you can, and only then go for your own business or self-employment. I agree with this theory. It worked for me. As a freelancer you will have to master management skills fit for this business and for that you need to "soak" in the right environment for a while. IMHO.
Best of the luck,
Irene


I couldn't agree more with Irene's advice, especially when it comes to learning about the myriad aspects of the trade while "soaking" in a professional translation environment.

You are also bound to meet people from all over the planet. I made some of my best friends while working in the offices of translation agencies

Best luck to you,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator, EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


[Edited at 2004-03-23 21:45]


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:47
German to English
+ ...
Don't quit your day job... Mar 23, 2004

IreneN wrote:

Dear Angela,

At this point please forget about the diploma. I mean, get it by all means but do not tie two things together all that close...

Irene


Generally speaking I agree with you Irene; on the other hand, I must point out from personal experience that the Dip. Trans. really does open a lot of doors for you as a translator.

Also not so sure that working for a translation agency (instead of just being an independent contractor) is really the way to go. I definitely did not go this route, although I know a number of people who did.

I would recommend:
- a distance learning course (e.g. City U of London) to prepare for the Diploma in
Translation. This was such a learning experience for me. Please contact me for additional details if you are interested.
- just jumping in to Kudoz questions, even if you end up being wrong. You will learn how to justify your answers and learn from others' criticism/comments.
- read, read, and read some more, in both your source and target languages. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is crucial to be well-versed in current issues and events in both languages.
- start bidding on jobs and make a presence for yourself on the internet (i.e. webpage). This makes you even more credit-worthy when you get your Diploma in Translation.

It has been a long day here in Germany, so I apologize in advance if my post is not as polished as usual.


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
I forgot... Mar 23, 2004

Michele Johnson wrote:
- just jumping in to Kudoz questions, even if you end up being wrong. You will learn how to justify your answers and learn from others' criticism/comments.
- read, read, and read some more, in both your source and target languages. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is crucial to be well-versed in current issues and events in both languages.
- start bidding on jobs and make a presence for yourself on the internet (i.e. webpage). This makes you even more credit-worthy when you get your Diploma in Translation.



...there were no Kudoz questions or Proz forums when I started in this profession. There wasn't even a generalized use of the internet!

Lucky for you

S.G.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Full time vs. part time freelancing Mar 24, 2004

I have a feeling that Susana is a full-time freelancer and Michael does it part time:) Am I right?

Angela, both options are quite legitimate, so to speak, and have their pros and cons. I bellieve it's best to start with the latter one. The time will come when you'll balance the things in favor of full time or you might decide to stay with a part-time option infinitely.

Susana, thank you for the support. Actually, just how did we do this without any form of online support????????????:)

Michael, I agree - no one should underestimate the importance of formal education, I just wanted to point out that I see it as a tool, not an "Allen wrench" for a full time freelancer.

Regards,
Irene



[Edited at 2004-03-24 08:19]


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
by any means necessary... Mar 24, 2004

IreneN wrote:
Actually, just how did we do this without any form of online support????????????:)


I once called my Spanish grandmother long distance from New York to verify terminology for old-fashioned bedding products...

That, and as many dictionaries as one could safely lift

Regards,

S.G.


[Edited at 2004-03-24 00:14]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lucky for you Mar 24, 2004

I couldn't resist some of the comments Susana made:

...there were no KudoZ questions or ProZ.com forums when I started in this profession. There wasn't even a generalized use of the internet!

When I started, there was no Internet, not even PC's! I used pencil and paper, then a typist typed it out. And I don't even recall if there was whiteout then!

That, and as many dictionaries as one could safely lift

I started out with practically none and became famous as the translator who used no dictionaries!

The upside of the whole matter was that there was no pressure on delivery either, so if I had to haunt libraries to find answers, then I had the time to do so.

And I didn't quit my day job until after almost 15 years.

Today it is much, much easier, I assure you! Just try to ease into it...


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:47
German to English
+ ...
Full/part-time Mar 24, 2004

IreneN wrote:

I have a feeling that Susana is a full-time freelancer and Michael does it part time:) Am I right?



Not sure who this "Michael" is but *I* translate full time.

I guess I'm just not a fan of being someone else's employee (i.e. being employed at an agency). Once you start the distance learning course, you will have a better idea if your translations are "up to snuff" or not. If they are, why not start by getting your feet wet, perhaps by contracting part-time with an agency? You have control over what jobs you take, you set your own hours, and you can probably fit it in with any other jobs you might have. Plus it is likely that someone else will proofread (or at least glance at) your work and will be able to give you feedback.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 07:47
English to Russian
+ ...
My apologies, Michele Mar 24, 2004

Michele Johnson wrote:

Not sure who this "Michael" is but *I* translate full time.


I'm really sorry, Michele, it was around 2 am my time last night. Please forgive me:)


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:47
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everybody Mar 24, 2004

Your comments are most helpful. I don't intend to give up the day job just yet! And I shall persevere with the diploma. This website will undoubtedly be a great source of advice and information.

regards
Angela




Henry Hinds wrote:

I couldn't resist some of the comments Susana made:

...there were no KudoZ questions or ProZ.com forums when I started in this profession. There wasn't even a generalized use of the internet!

When I started, there was no Internet, not even PC's! I used pencil and paper, then a typist typed it out. And I don't even recall if there was whiteout then!

That, and as many dictionaries as one could safely lift

I started out with practically none and became famous as the translator who used no dictionaries!

The upside of the whole matter was that there was no pressure on delivery either, so if I had to haunt libraries to find answers, then I had the time to do so.

And I didn't quit my day job until after almost 15 years.

Today it is much, much easier, I assure you! Just try to ease into it...


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James D'Agostino
Malta
Local time: 14:47
English to Maltese
+ ...
Patience is the mother of Virtue Apr 12, 2004

Angela,

Hope I'm not too late on this board. If it consoles you, I'm a newbie here too, and what is worse, the language I specialize in is a rarity!!!!

I'm a Maltese translator, and like you, being new, I've been having some difficulty getting places. Although hope is the last to die, we also have to be realistic. So like someone else said previously, it's a matter of getting known and establishing yourself, obviously not immediately.

Lucky you, your preferred language (French) is so common - as in there is so much demand for work. Just taking a look at the political world - with the EU and other international institutions - it is along with english, the internatioanl language. So just pull up your sleeves and get ready to wrestle.

In my case, Maltese assignments are few and far between. I mean, there are only 400k inhabitants, and I would add around 1 million emigrants all over the world. You can therefore imagine how hard it is to find translation work in Maltese. The use of the language is limited. Hopefully things will change after Malta's accession to the EU.

Moral of the story - things may look bleak to begin with, but a) you're not alone b) discovering websites such as this and making contact is actually quite fun c) patience is the mother of all virtues.


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