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Starting as a freelancer ... need some help
Thread poster: Pawel Gromek
Pawel Gromek  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Sep 15, 2004

Hello all,
I'd like to hear your suggestions about my issue.
I am a polish citizen studying towards B.A. in English and Economics at one of the best universities in the United States. Due to some financial problems I had encountered this year, I decided to start up as an English > Polish translator. I mean, I worked as a translator and interpreter before in Poland but I don't consider that experience to be crucial. Anyway, I got one technical translation job (no previous experience in that field!) around two months ago and gained some experience + I earned a bit. I translated around 17700 words in around 1.5 days and my employer was pretty satisfied about the outcome. However, besides that I don't have any other experience as a translator. I have applied to tens of different translation agencies, but most of them (99%) have not replied; maybe because of my age, I'm "only" 20yrs old. I have pretty good resume which unfortunately lacks experience in translations:) Maybe I should do some project for some non-profit agencies to build up my resume?
Any help appreciated. Thanks!


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 17:23
German to Romanian
+ ...
no offense, but ... Sep 15, 2004

I really can't believe you did 17.000 words in 1.5 days in a field you are not familiar with. I have been translating for 7 years and my top output was of 7000 words per day (translation, no revision) in a field I was quite familiar with.
So if you have a secret on how to do things so quickly, maybe it's you who must give us advice.
Are you sure the quality was ok?
Maybe that's a point you should start focusing on: quality.


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Ron Peek  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
German to English
+ ...
Read through the Proz.com forum 'Getting Established' Sep 15, 2004

The 'Getting Established' forum is packed with loads of useful advice. Browse through it first.

If you are serious about becoming a freelance translator, you may want to check out www.translatortips.com as well or try and get hold of G. Samuelsson's 'A Practical Guide for Translation'.

This should give you a good starting point.

Kind regards and all the best,

Ron Peek

www.peek-language-services.com


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:23
German to English
+ ...
WOW (and a tip) Sep 15, 2004

I agree with Elvira: that is quite an accomplishment. I'm quick, but...

Either way, I haven't been around here for too long, but I've found that taking an active role in answering questions in KudoZ can lead to translation assignments.

I don't bid on the jobs that appear (which also might be a good possibility for you), but after having participated for a couple of months, I was approached by several ProZ to help out with projects - the experience has been good.

My point is - stick around here for a while and I'm sure things will start to roll, if you really are as good as you think (mind you - no offense is meant).

I think charity work is a necessary part of taking part in your community, but I don't think translating for free is necessarily the way to achieve this.


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Please fill in your PROZ page for a start Sep 15, 2004

Hi Pablo,

You seem to be a genius:-) so please fill in your PROZ page with more information about yourself. With that area blank I tend to think you are just trying us out so for now this is my only advice.

Best regards,
Mónica


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Dorothee Racette  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
German to English
+ ...
Word of caution regarding taxes Sep 15, 2004

Just a word of caution regarding your tax situation. If you are studying in the U.S. and are in the country with a student visa, you cannot legally work in the U.S., and that would include freelance earnings. You would need to make sure your earnings are declared in your home country. If you have a green card or are a permanent resident, this does of course not apply.

Dorothee


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Pawel Gromek  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for replies Sep 15, 2004

Thanks for answers,
As far as that translation goes, I translated 17700 words in around 36 hours with maybe 5-6 short breaks (10-20mins each). It was hardcore, but I love challenges. I was extremely exhausted but finished the project.

Dorothee thanks for mentioning about taxes. What if I work for a translation agency which is located abroad? The translation I just mentioned about was done for a translation company in Asia. I am on F1 student visa in the United States and didn't really think about taxes, etc. How would I declare my earnings in Poland if I work here? How does it work? Thanks again,
Paul.


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Pawel Gromek  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Again Sep 15, 2004

Well, my school is located in the middle of nowhere so there are not many (if any) opportunities to work off-campus. I have on-campus job but it still does not cover my expenses. Translation business sounds really good to me and I would just ask you if US translation agencies (because translations abroad do not) require any papers for legal work?

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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
Dutch to English
+ ...
Advice Sep 15, 2004

pablo2k wrote:

As far as that translation goes, I translated 17700 words in around 36 hours with maybe 5-6 short breaks (10-20mins each). It was hardcore, but I love challenges. I was extremely exhausted but finished the project.



I can beat that! I once climbed Mount Everest on a Tuesday morning, crossed the Atlantic in the afternoon and managed to get to the Moon by Saturday evening - I was extremely exhausted on Sunday.

Quite frankly Pablo, I do not know how to put this without seeming rude.

I find what you say dubious to say the least. Either that or you are some sort of Superman.

As you are starting off, you would be well advised never to tell anyone that you once translated 17700 words in a day and a half. I wouldn't even tell them that you once worked for 36 hours straight through with only 5 or 6 twenty minute breaks.

Why, I hear you ask? Well quite simply they won't believe you.

Such stories are fine when you are sharing stories with colleagues that you have worked with for years, but if you try that with a potential client chances are they will not be interested in your services. Your credibility will be suspect. Come to think of it, this is probably the reason why you haven't had many replies to your e-mails.

If you can do 4000 words per day, tell a client you can do 3000 a day. But certainly never tell a client you can do 3000 a day when you can only manage 1500. Get my point?

Never put yourself under pressure. There are too many people out there that will do that for you.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2004-09-15 18:31]


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Pawel Gromek  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Sep 15, 2004

David,
Look, I had to do that translation to pay off some debts; I was kind of desperate and would do a lot for that much money. The agency I worked for said that either I do that translation in 1.5 day or I won't get get paid - so I did my best.
I don't feel like working that much anymore - this is too much stress and pressure.
When I apply for translation job I always say I can do 2000 - 3000 words a day. I think this is reasonable numer of words I am confident to translate a day.
Thanks for suggestions!

David Greatrix wrote:

pablo2k wrote:

As far as that translation goes, I translated 17700 words in around 36 hours with maybe 5-6 short breaks (10-20mins each). It was hardcore, but I love challenges. I was extremely exhausted but finished the project.



I can beat that! I once climbed Mount Everest on a Tuesday morning, crossed the Atlantic in the afternoon and managed to get to the Moon by Saturday evening - I was extremely exhausted on Sunday.

Quite frankly Pablo, I do not know how to put this without seeming rude.

I find what you say dubious to say the least. Either that or you are some sort of Superman.

As you are starting off, you would be well advised never to tell anyone that you once translated 17700 words in a day and a half. I wouldn't even tell them that you once worked for 36 hours straight through with only 5 or 6 twenty minute breaks.

Why, I hear you ask? Well quite simply they won't believe you.

Such stories are fine when you are sharing stories with colleagues that you have worked with for years, but if you try that with a potential client chances are they will not be interested in your services. Your credibility will be suspect.

If you can do 4000 words per day, tell a client you can do 3000 a day. But certainly never tell a client you can do 3000 a day when you can only manage 1500. Get my point?

Never put yourself under pressure. There are too many people out there that will do that for you.

Good luck!


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 13:23
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Feasible, but... Sep 15, 2004

[quote]David Greatrix wrote:

pablo2k wrote:

I can beat that! I once climbed Mount Everest on a Tuesday morning, crossed the Atlantic in the afternoon and managed to get to the Moon by Saturday evening - I was extremely exhausted on Sunday.



Although your posting made me laugh for quite a while I think the feat is feasible...

Well, 36 hours minus six 20 min. breaks totals 34 hours for a grand average of 521 words per hour. This is, altough difficult, humanly possible (around 4200 words if it were a normal 8-hours work day).

Let's say Mr. Gromek sustained the 521 w/h speed (something that even an experieced translator with good knowledge of the subject-matter would find challenging); what I find difficult to believe is that he can vouch for the quality of the material after, let's say, the first 10 hours, without even having proof-read it throughly.

As David said, I wouldn't advertise the fact because it would surely sound unprofessional to any prospective client (even those with little knowledge about the translation industry).

What if the text was about a brand-new water cooling system for a nuclear plant?. Of course that's a far-fetched example (who would assign such a project to be delivered overnight by a student!), but it illustrates why quality should be a very important factor of any technical translation.

All in all, I think you will find in the site tons of useful advice and, more important, the necessary know-how and best practices to start anew with the right foot...


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 17:23
German to Romanian
+ ...
what I find odd and nobody seems to notice Sep 15, 2004

Pawel Gromek wrote:

Anyway, I got one technical translation job (no previous experience in that field!) around two months ago and gained some experience + I earned a bit.


How is it possible to do that? Almost 18.000 words in a field (especially technical) where you have NO previous experience.
I still want to know the secret. Please, those of you who figured this out, share this information with me. That will surely boost my business. (or mabe make me lose my business) )


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Pawel Gromek  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Sep 15, 2004

OK, look, there were also some repetitions, say maybe like 10%. As far as difficulty of the text goes, it wasn\'t that hard either. I don\'t know what else to say, I did it and that\'s it. Also, as I said I am not planning on working on such big projects again. I am looking for a 2000 - 3000/day translations because of my school.

Greetings.

[quote]Rossana Triaca wrote:

David Greatrix wrote:

pablo2k wrote:

I can beat that! I once climbed Mount Everest on a Tuesday morning, crossed the Atlantic in the afternoon and managed to get to the Moon by Saturday evening - I was extremely exhausted on Sunday.



Although your posting made me laugh for quite a while I think the feat is feasible...

Well, 36 hours minus six 20 min. breaks totals 34 hours for a grand average of 521 words per hour. This is, altough difficult, humanly possible (around 4200 words if it were a normal 8-hours work day).

Let\'s say Mr. Gromek sustained the 521 w/h speed (something that even an experieced translator with good knowledge of the subject-matter would find challenging); what I find difficult to believe is that he can vouch for the quality of the material after, let\'s say, the first 10 hours, without even having proof-read it throughly.

As David said, I wouldn\'t advertise the fact because it would surely sound unprofessional to any prospective client (even those with little knowledge about the translation industry).

What if the text was about a brand-new water cooling system for a nuclear plant?. Of course that\'s a far-fetched example (who would assign such a project to be delivered overnight by a student!), but it illustrates why quality should be a very important factor of any technical translation.

All in all, I think you will find in the site tons of useful advice and, more important, the necessary know-how and best practices to start anew with the right foot...


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Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
Russian to English
+ ...
Beware the tax issue!!!! Sep 15, 2004

Dear Pawel,

Output aside, you better get some professional tax advice NOW before you get into deep water. I know the US is very strict and picky about this stuff. If you are on an F1 student visa, I am pretty sure they will have assigned you a social security number, right? And if you have one of those, the IRS knows who you are (I think), and EVEN if you are not a permanent resident, I am pretty sure you have to make a declaration to the IRS. Translation agencies within the US would have to send you a statement at the end of the fiscal year indicating how much they have paid you. I don't know how it works with foreign-earned income if you are not a greencard holder.

I know many non-US citizens who were in graduate school studying translation in the US and had trouble getting jobs even after graduation because they weren't legally allowed to work. In any case, your school should have an international student advisor who knows about the rules for international students. Ask around! If not, see if you can get 15 minutes of someone's time at H&R Block.

Best wishes,
Carley


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Nina Snoj
Slovenia
Member (2004)
Spanish to Slovenian
+ ...
Production decreases with time... Sep 18, 2004

...36h of constant work is a lot and if I ever accepted such a deadline, I would prefer to work for 14h, then sleep for 8h and work for another 14 hours once I had my rest and a good night's sleep.
I think that the result could be much better this way; it is actually a scientifically proven fact.
Good luck with your studies and translations; by the way, seeing that you study economy, I advise you to offer your services to the Polish-American Chamber of commerce and similar trade/economy related institutions.

Best,

Nina


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