Am I ready to start freelancing?
Thread poster: Anne McKee
Anne McKee
Local time: 12:48
French to English
Jun 16, 2005

Good morning,

As a British national, I have lived in France for 15 years. I have been teaching English for Business and have done a lot of translating for students and companies but within the context of my job as an English teacher. I feel quite confident as a translator in certain areas and everyone has been happy with my work. I am following a course for the IOL Dip Trans and have passed the first paper. I have registered for paper 2 and 3 for next January.
I would like to start doing some proper translation work but don't know how to go about it.

Should I simply quote for job or contact agencies? Should I explain my situation and see what happens? Should I give lower quotes as I am in the process of getting a qualification?
Should I rush out and buy a tool as such Trados?

I know there are a few questions there but I would really appreciate your advice and opinion.

Many thanks

Transanne


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:48
French to English
+ ...
Welcome to the freelancing world! Jun 16, 2005

Hi

Just thought I'd give you a few ideas following your posting.

First thing - don't work for low rates!!!!!! This really has a negative impact on the industry in general, and tends to bring down rates on the whole. I mean, if an agency is going to get a translation for a lower rate, why would they be prepared to pay higher rates for another translator? We find it hard enough to get good rates sometimes, so no - if you feel that you can provide a quality translation service up to the level required, then why should you lower your rates?

As for finding work, just get out there and go for it! I started off freelancing by bidding on proz.com, but got most of my clients by doing a weekly mailshot to agencies - every friday, I'd e-mail my CV and a cover letter to about 50 or so agencies, (they are pretty easy to find, and in today's world, you have thousands upon thousands to choose from the world over!). Just send out your CV and a positive cover letter that really 'bigs you up'. Granted, not all reply. in fact, very very few do - but don't let that get you down! That happens to even experienced translators, and the conversion rate for CVs sent to actual work coming in is always tiny. I worked as an assistant project manager for a while in the States, and know how many CVs we actually replied to.

Just get yourself a CV together that is really language-focused - you're bound to have done translation work over the past years, and experience of living abroad always helps. Granted, I had a headstart as I had a degree in Interpreting and Translating when I started out 4 or 5 years ago, but experience living and working in another country always counts just as much.

So yes - go get out there and get some work! It will come eventually - you just need to be patient and not give up!

Good luck!

Paul


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:48
French to English
+ ...
PS Re TRADOS Jun 16, 2005

Just another quick note - I wouldn't go out and buy TRADOS straight away. To be fair, you'll have enough on your hands with getting to grips with marketing, invoicing, paperwork, deadlines and dealing with agencies, without having to worry about learning a whole new skill!!!

If you are interested in CAT tools, then try out a free one like Wordfast - they have a fully functional trial version. Having a CAT tool will give you an advantage in the marketplace, but getting in with agencies is much more important. I've been translating for 4 years now on both a full and part-time basis, and have never used CAT tools - yet still manage to have plenty to keep me busy!


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:48
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Go for it Jun 16, 2005

Hi Transanne,

In addition to what Paul wrote, I suggest you get/stay active here on Proz. Answering KudoZ questions and reading and replying to forum postings will help you get a good feeling for a translator's daily work life. Furtermore, clients and colleagues will notice your name and contact you for jobs and cooperations if they like your style.

I agree with Paul when he writes that you should just go for it. Write up a nice CV and send it out to agencies.

If you have not worked as a freelancer yet, I would wait with larger investments, such as for Trados, unless you are really sure you like the profession and want to work as a translator for a longer time. There are free trial versions of some TM tools, which you might like to start with.

Good luck,
Stefanie


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
German to English
+ ...
Am I ready to start freelancing? Jun 16, 2005

transanne wrote:

Should I rush out and buy a tool as such Trados?


No - rush out and don't buy OmegaT. (It's free. )

www.omegat.org

Marc


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:48
German to English
+ ...
You sound ready! Jun 16, 2005

sundari wrote:

Hi Transanne,

In addition to what Paul wrote, I suggest you get/stay active here on Proz. Answering KudoZ questions and reading and replying to forum postings will help you get a good feeling for a translator's daily work life. Furtermore, clients and colleagues will notice your name and contact you for jobs and cooperations if they like your style.


Good luck,
Stefanie[/quote]

I agree with Stefanie on this one - discovering ProZ really expanded my translating horizon.

I also agree that you should probably not sell yourself too short, i.e. charge acceptable rates. Otherwise, if you start out with low rates, you may find it difficult to raise them (especially with existing clients) later.

I would also recommend assessing your own situation to see if CAT-tools are really necessary for you. Are the (types of) texts you translate repetitive? Are they so complex (or long) that you require some type of terminology management? Do you have jobs or customers which demand the use of CAT-tools? Will the returns justify the investment in one of the expensive tools?

Before getting too bogged down with the details, I'd just start translating if I were you; I wouldn't worry too much about CAT-tools just yet. But keep the above mentioned points in mind as you go along. Eventually - at least that is how it was in my case - you will probably come to the point where you'll know whether you need them or not.

Good luck!


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:48
English to Swedish
+ ...
Quality counts! Jun 16, 2005

1. Specialize. Specialists can charge more and they get more job offers! If you master a subject; you can produce a better translation. Quality counts!

2. Find a good proofreader. It is not difficult to find customers, but it’s an art to keep customers who are willing to pay premium fees. Quality counts!

3. Charge high fees! Customers worth having are prepared to pay well if the get top quality. Quality counts!

Best of luck!


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:48
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hi Transanne, Jun 16, 2005

Yes, I think that you are ready. Like Paul said, just go for it.

Specialize. Do not have too many specialties; then you spread yourself too thin. Concentrate on areas you are good in.

I have been working for a long time and do not use CAT tools - I guess that I am too technology-challenged. But I did invest in a good computer and a good working chair with suitable lightening in the room. Still, I only have Windows 98, Word 2000 and work comfortably and fine. I have budgeted to upgrade my PC later this year. What I am trying to say, put something aside to upgrade periodically apart from your own saving piggy bank.

Do I get work without CAT tools and high-tech computer? Sure thing. I cannot keep up and regularly have to say 'no.'

What usually keeps jobs coming to us? Like someone said before: High Quality, high quality, high quality. Delivery excellent work and prosper.

Do not short-sell yourself! You are a professional and you deserve to earn a good wage.

Good luck and welcome to our world!
Lucinda


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Italian to English
+ ...
Definitely download a free or trial translation tool Jun 17, 2005

I got Wordfast after discussions with various translators - who actually recommended Dejavu and heartily "dissed" Trados - simply because it's the most affordable available (I'd never heard of Omega until it was mentioned upthread) and I wasn't sure how much I'd use a translation memory, so didn't want to invest large sums.

The truth is, even if you don't use any other feature - and I don't even know what a lot of them do - translation memories are worth their weight in gold just for their segmentation of the source text. I can't stress how much easier it makes your life - it's practically impossible to accidentally skip a line, as occasionally used to happen with me.

They're also great if you do a lot of repetitive work. But as I said, even if everything you do is completely new, making the translation memory itself worthless), their text segmentation makes them priceless.

[Edited at 2005-06-17 16:59]


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Anne McKee
Local time: 12:48
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your encouraging comments Jun 17, 2005

I really appreciate you all taking the time to give your thoughts, advice and encouragement. I am definitely going to take this all on board.

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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:48
English to French
+ ...
Administrative status Jun 20, 2005

Hi,

As you live in France, don't forget about how you will set up as a translator: you can be freelance or in a form of individual enterprise or you can try to get a job in a agency. There are financial and administrative advantages and drawbacks in all formulas, so you have to think about the different aspects and choose what suits you best.
Anyway, don't hesitate to participate in Proz to have a better idea of the translation world.

Bon courage et bonne continuation !
Marie-Céline


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