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Potential for Work DE/NL to EN
Thread poster: Adam Dean

Adam Dean  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
German to English
+ ...
Nov 25, 2004

Hi,

I'm currently considering giving up my day job and taking up a career as a freelance translator and I was hoping to gauge how easy it would be to come by work with my experience.

I have a MA in Translation from a UK university and spent 3 years working in-house at the software company SAP in Germany. I was translating business software (supply chain managment, logistics, vehicle scheduling), training courses, marketing presentations and technical specs for new software. A lot of the work I did also related to software design and technical interfaces between different software packages. I see myself specialising in "techy" soft/hardware translation and general business translation.

German is definitely my stronger language, but I also have degree in Dutch and would be keen to put this language to good use as well.

I moved back to England last year and am currently working as a project manager for a translation company, so I'm still in touch with the business (even though I'm not actually translating). I tend to work on websites for big clients, so I'm used to deadling with HTML, XML, JavaScript etc. All being well, I'd be able to use contacts in the business to get on the books of a few agencies.

I was just wondering how I might fare as a freelancer with this experience. I'm well acquainted with Trados, Multiterm etc., so working with CAT tools wouldn't be a problem.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

[Edited at 2004-11-25 13:49]

[Edited at 2004-11-25 13:50]


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:11
Member (2004)
German to English
Go for it! Nov 25, 2004

I do DE>EN and there's plenty of work out there. You probably already have some contacts and you certainly have the skills. And you have Trados too then I'd say go for it. When I started I had no qualification, experience or Trados and I still got work. Your personal circumstances will affect how you go freelance but I'd say "Just do it!". Forget the hassle of getting to the office in the morning, all those annoying people you don't like working with and join us - watch out though for two things: You might find earning your cash this way addictive and secondly - watch your weight!!

[Edited at 2004-11-25 15:01]


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Ron Peek  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:11
German to English
+ ...
Why not? Nov 25, 2004

Hi,

I can only underline what Gillian said above.

Why not go freelance for a year and see how you do? If you don't do well (which would surprise me, looking at your background/experience), than I don't think you will have much problems getting a similar full-time job again in the translation industry (still plenty of work available).

You may want to read up a bit as well. I would recommend G. Samuelsson-Brown's 'A Practical guide for Translators', Alex Eames'e-book 'How to earn 25,000 GBP per year'(on www.translatortips.com), as well as reading around a bit on how to market yourself (check the Getting Established and Being Independent forums in Proz. They are packed with loads of good suggestions!) Alternatively, check out the ITI's website for some useful information: www.iti.org.uk.

If you have any more questions, you can always drop me a line by email.

Good luck!

Ron



[Edited at 2004-11-25 15:06]


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Adam Dean  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the replies Nov 25, 2004

Thanks for the replies so far. Despite being in a position where I send out 1,000s of words for translation each day, it's quite hard for me to know just how much work there would be available to a freelancer (especially since most of the work I deal with has English as the source language).

Ideally, I'd take the route of freelancing in my free time first - but I just don't have enough free time! I'm out of the house by 8am each morning, and rarely get home much before 7pm. I suppose it would have to be an all-or-nothing leap of faith into the world of freelancing!


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 10:11
French to English
+ ...
a word of warning Nov 26, 2004

Freelancing means working on your own. You seem to get out and about as things are today. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you will be able to motivate yourself to get up in the morning, if you have no fixed timetable, and whether you are not one of those people who prefers to work in the company of others.
Don't want to throw cold water on your idea but the leap of faith could be giant and it is better to be lucid about the type of person you really are before deciding.....
I know I get bored stiff with my own company!


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AllisonK  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:11
Dutch to English
+ ...
Be very careful - times have changed....... Nov 27, 2004

I have noticed a distinct change in the availability of work lately for translators working INTO English ( as I cannot speak for other combinations), and with the economy the way it is today, to quote a contemporary song "we've got to hold on to what we got".
With the outsourcing going increasingly to countries with lower costs of living, and thus driving prices down, it's getting harder and harder to make a decent living at freelance translating.
One more aspect is with more and more people losing their jobs, more and more of these are turning to freelance translating, whether they are qualified or not. This in turn creates a surplus of translators in the market, although not necessarily all equal in ability, the lowest price 'wins' the most clients and quality falls to second place in order of importance.
I would weigh your decision very carefully if I were you. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
Good luck!

[Edited at 2004-11-27 12:19]


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Bianca Adriaensen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:11
English to Dutch
+ ...
Try lobbying through direct mailings Nov 30, 2004

AllisonK wrote:


With the outsourcing going increasingly to countries with lower costs of living, and thus driving prices down, it's getting harder and harder to make a decent living at freelance translating.
One more aspect is with more and more people losing their jobs, more and more of these are turning to freelance translating, whether they are qualified or not. This in turn creates a surplus of translators in the market, although not necessarily all equal in ability, the lowest price 'wins' the most clients and quality falls to second place in order of importance.
I would weigh your decision very carefully if I were you. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
Good luck!

[Edited at 2004-11-27 12:19]


Hi AllisonK...

you're so right there....
Exactly what happened to me the weekend before a new Dutch law became effective on April 30th 2001: Poortwachter... You may have heard about the commotion it caused for people who had RSI and other physical job-related problems... I was unemployed for more than a year, with all additional negative effects on family and friends...One big difference: I had already been sort of a freelance translator for any projects my friends, family, in-laws and their families and friends could deliver.

Nowadays Dutch employees are less and less protected by all kinds of regulations and laws, which on the other hand seem to at least quadruple the politician's and the employer's incomes anually...

But despite the growing number of non-qualified translators due to all reorganisations, dismissals and cut-backs, some quality-respecting agencies as well as direct clients have found a way to separate the bad apples from the tastiest... A scary number of "my dear" freelancer colleagues had to find themselves jobs in factories again just because they couldn't make ends meet... And I'm sorry to say the true reason was not because they were the best, nor qualified translators...

My rather expensive method that really does have its very positive effect from time to time: direct mailing to manufacturers in the neighbourhood and lots of big and small ads and editorials in local papers and magazines.

My experience: when clients keep calling after your ads campagne in supermarkets, direct mailing and local papers/magazines: Do not forget about that last-minute translation, keep your rates below the "established" language institutes/translation agencies in your neighbourhood, focus more and explicitly on another target group, keep putting ads on the wanted-boards in supermarkets, even try active acquisition by paying visits to local companies, spend time trying to find the weakest points in your local translation market, give your direct neighbour a free translation of the manual he received with his abdominal trainer within a couple of hours....

But most of all: never be your own Judas. Never make a promise you cannot keep... Your translation (read: its deadline) has to survive the most hectic period in your personal life that you can think of.

My company's strength: qualified local translators who do not have a (decent) internet connection, yet do have the skills and more certificates and knowledge in specialist areas than most of us.
All it took was some car fuel for 50 km, one ad in a local newspaper, 1 day away from the PC, and a meeting place.
No ProZ, no Internet, no jobs, no money? I don't think so.
I've found my way by being creative as well as skilled.





[Edited at 2004-11-30 01:00]


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