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new freelancer seeking advice
Thread poster: xxxjmv1998
xxxjmv1998
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 29, 2006

Hello,

I was thinking about beginning to work as a freelancer and I would welcome any ideas or advices you might give me. Thank you all in advance for reading this

You can check at my profile at this site. I actually have a degree (BA or MA) in translating and interpreting from German and Russian into Spanish (my mother tongue), but I never tried to work as a translator. I finished university about 2 years ago.

My language pairs are German, Russian, English and French combined with Spanish. It sounds like too much but I have really had an "intense" contact with all these languages for a long time. I do make some mistakes in these languages, just like in English, but my level is fine. I can also speak a bit of Estonian and I (eventually) might be able to translate Estonian, but this actually depends on the text. (((I can read some newspaper articles but not an entire novel)))

I put up a website that will eventually be my "professional" website (it is still only in English):

http://www.hot.ee/juanma/home-en.html

Tell me what you think!

So, my questions are:

1) Do you think I'll be able to get any translation jobs (in the first month) ?

2) Will I be able to pay for my social security (about 200€ a month)?

3) What do you suggest me to do, shall I just write emails to every translation agency and every potential client I can think of? Or is there anything else I should do to get established?

4) What CAT-tool do I need? Do agencies expect me to have Trados or DejaVu? I was thinking of purchasing Trados. This would be a huge investment for me. But anyway, I am now living in my parent's house, so I should be able to afford that "luxury"... I know how to use DejaVu and I tried Trados some time ago.

5) How about tarifs? I should probably charge differently for some of mylanguage pairs, but I have no idea of how much. Are the prices on my website too high?

6) Will I be able to work part time, that is, to have enough requests and to be able to refuse to some of them? I am preparing an (extremely difficult) exam to become a diplomat, and I would also like to go for a PhD... But it might take up to ten years (no kidding) to pass my exam. So I would like to explore an alternative.

7) A question for those of you in Spain, is the paperwork as terrible as it seems? I think that paperwork is what really pulls me back.

8) From your experience, anything else you would suggest me to do? Other investments? A nice web-hosting service you could recommend me? Things I should change in my website (perhaps I should keep it shorter)?

Well, thank you all. I would really appreciate all your comments and any remark about anything that comes to you will be appreciated.

Best regards,

Juanma


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Vanessa Rivera Rivier  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 06:55
Italian to English
+ ...
Advertise! Advertise! Advertise! Sep 4, 2006

Hi! Here are some of the things that have worked for me and that I've picked up along the way.


Create an image:

- There are thousands of translators out there, you have to set yourself apart from them. What makes you different from others? What areas do you specialize in? What is your mission? Why should clients hire you and not others? What is your philosophy?


Advertise on Proz:

- Answer Kudoz questions, participate in forums, create a complete profile with specializations and résumé.


Create a nice website:

- Some "old school" translators don't believe that websites can help that much, but I like them. A personal page can serve both as your virtual office and it can be an original way of showcasing yourself and your services. I see that you have a website, I would recomend that you stick to a short address that is easy to remember instead of a long one. Check out my website (www.onelanguageworld.com). it's still a work in progress, but it might give you some ideas.


Bid on jobs:

- It's like Hollywood. You won't get most of the jobs, you might get 1 out of 10, but you're still putting yourself out there. You might not be good for one job, but a client or an agency can remember you and contact you for another. When quoting, include as much information about you as possible and specify why you're the perfect candidate for a job.

Make yourself available:

- Make it so that your clients can contact through MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, Skype! etc...
- Prepare yourself to live ONLINE (Don't get addicted, but don't spend more than 3 hours without checking your e-mail, when agencies need translators, they need someone who is readily available and ready to work right there and then!)


Network:

- Make friends with people in your language pairs. Some established translators sometimes have too much work (yes it happens!) and might throw some your way.

- Make business cards

- Send out your Résumé

CAT Tools:

- Trados seems to be the CAT Tool of choice ( I hate it but a lot of agencies are requesting it)

Create a presence on the internet:

- Submit your website to Search Engines (Yahoo!, Google etc...)

- I've been trying to use pay-per-click advertising, it's not that expensive, check out www.adbrite.com and www.adwords.com

- Advertise on free classified websites

You can work part-time:

- I teach at both the University of Puerto Rico and at a language school. It all depends on how much you want to earn. I recently completed a job of 1,790 words which took me 2 days to complete and got paid 253 USD for it. With four jobs like this one in one month I have a nice way of supplementing my income. You are your own boss so it is up to you to accept or refuse jobs.

Other advertising ideas:

- Your car (make a sticker with your website or profile address) and drive around!

- Newspapers


With regards to rates:

- Check out what other translators in your language pairs are charging. A rate of 0.08-0.09 per source word is relatively safe for most languages but then again I must say that it does depend on the specific language pair and the country for which you are translating.


These are only a few ideas, I'm sure my fellow translators will have many more.

Oh and yes, I think that you can get jobs in the first month (if you advertise and bid on jobs) and you will be able to pay for your social security and then some!




Warm greetings from Puerto Rico,

Vanessa





[Edited at 2006-09-05 00:01]


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xxxjmv1998
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks! Sep 8, 2006

Hi Vanessa,

thanks a lot for your reply and your comments! Most of your suggestions were extremely inspiring. Your website is really cool, flash and actionscript are a great choice for a professional site. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Juan Manuel


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xxxSaifa
Local time: 11:55
German to French
+ ...
Be patient! Sep 8, 2006

Hola Juan,

I had a quick look at your homepage which I found quite professional.

My advice: do not use the word "cv", but rather the word "profile". A "cv" is what you send around when you apply for a job. As a translator, you do not apply for a job, but are a businessman and offer your services, like a dentist or a lawyer. Or why do not write "about me" or something like that?

Another thing: you advertise with "high quality, low prices". I would not do that. Quality always has its price, serious outsourcers know that. Advertising with low prices (in my opinion, the mentioned prices are too low), you will attract a segment of the translation market, certainly, but probably not the one you would like to have as clients.


1) Do you think I'll be able to get any translation jobs (in the first month) ?


Do not be so impatient. It takes time. Be perseverant. Do not give up!


2) Will I be able to pay for my social security (about 200€ a month)?


In my case, at the very beginning, I was not. But as the best thing a translator can do is to specialize, it may be a good idea to work part-time somewhere else a couple of years, to be able to survive... I worked at the university, got in touch with some people who gave me translations later and learned a lot about theology and law. What do you like? Try to specialize in a field you find interesting.


4) What CAT-tool do I need? Do agencies expect me to have Trados or DejaVu? I was thinking of purchasing Trados. This would be a huge investment for me. But anyway, I am now living in my parent's house, so I should be able to afford that "luxury"... I know how to use DejaVu and I tried Trados some time ago.


At the beginning, you do not need any CAT! Just wait.
If you want to purchase something, why not trying Wordfast? The price is much more democratic (180,00 euros) and those who use it like it very much. It is "lighter" than Trados. The demo version is free and has no time limit (only a capacity limit).


7) A question for those of you in Spain, is the paperwork as terrible as it seems? I think that paperwork is what really pulls me back.


No, it is not!!! If you have questions, ask them on the Spanish forum. There are a lot of specialists there and we will all try to help you.
I moved from Germany to Spain last year and I survive the paperwork.
You only have to register at the Seguridad social and Hacienda.
You can write me privately if you have concrete questions.

Good luck! Greetings from the province of Málaga

Chademu

P.S. I am from the "old school", have (still) no homepage (lack of time). I do not bid for jobs here, as the rates are definitely too low and the deadlines often impossible.
The translation market is much more than just the Internet.

[Edited at 2006-09-08 08:46]


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xxxjmv1998
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:-) Sep 9, 2006

Hola Chademu,

thank you for reading & commenting on my website, that was so nice from you! I have changed "cv" and "low prices" and it looks much better now. I will make further changes before I translate it into other languages .

I am a beginner at a very early stage and with very little experience, so it is very encouraging to get advice from more experienced translators. So I am really grateful

I have collected the information I needed about taxes and social security. It is nice to hear that the paperwork is not so terrible in Spain I will make a small investment in things like webhosting, CAT, and officeware to show that I offer a serious service, but it would be ok with me if the market does not respond from the very beginning.

It will take some time, at least one month, before I try to go freelance. I'll send you an email to let you know how it all went. You may also contact me privately at any time.

Viele Grüße aus Sevilla,

Juan Manuel


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Monika Weiss  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:55
Member
Spanish to English
No answers!! Just more questions!! Sep 9, 2006

I was reading very intently JuanMa's questions and everyone's answers. My situation is similar, only I'm a lot more clueless I think!! I'm also trying to break into the business, or at least decide if it's right for me. I've done some jobs, Spanish to English, but have no idea how to get paid later!! (ie. prepare an invoice.) I'm not sure if I just edit their po and send it back? My first job was in July and I assumed I would just magically get the payment through Paypal one of these days, but it's just clearly not showing up. So far I've worked with only Spanish agencies and was told to calculate on VAT and IRPF on one occasion. I have Spanish residency and permission to work but haven't registered as autonoma to anything related to translating. I've been in the US since July and head back to Sevilla next week, so I imagine that I can ask at the Hacienda or Seguridad Social--I'm not sure what else to do. I feel like my questions are either so obvious or basic because I don't find them covered here. How DO people start out?? and where is the best place to learn the basics??
Thank you!!
Monika


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xxxSaifa
Local time: 11:55
German to French
+ ...
Trying to answer Sep 9, 2006

Monika Weiss wrote:

I've done some jobs, Spanish to English, but have no idea how to get paid later!! (ie. prepare an invoice.)


Hallo Monika,

How to get paid later is the most important thing! Most of the people are honest, but there are some black sheep (late or non payers), so it is very useful before to have for instance a quick look at Proz' Blue Board.


I'm not sure if I just edit their po and send it back?


No, just write an invoice, like a letter, something like this:

Your name
your address
your NIF

Client's name
his address
his NIF or CIF
Anytown, el XX de XXX de 2006


FACTURA n° XXX


Estimado Señor;

Agradeciéndole por su encargo, me permito cobrar honorario por la traducción siguiente (XX,XX € /palabra texto fuente ES):

(Usually, I put the following dates in a table):

Fecha del encargo
Nº Encargo, nombre del encargo / nombre del jefe de proyectos etc.
Volumen (number of words /lines/ pages)
traducción de EN > ES
XX palabras à XX,XX € = suma XX,XX €

(If the client is in Spain:

+ 16% IVA
- 15% retención IRPF

= XX,XX €

Le agradecería si pudiera proceder al pago por medio de transferencia bancaria a mi cuenta:

n° XXXXXXXXXXX
banco XXXXXXXXXXX

Quedando a su entera disposición, le saludo muy atentamente

XXXXXXX


I have Spanish residency and permission to work but haven't registered as autonoma to anything related to translating. I've been in the US since July and head back to Sevilla next week, so I imagine that I can ask at the Hacienda or Seguridad Social--I'm not sure what else to do.


As far as I know, you need to be registrated as "traductora autónoma" to write invoices (please, Parrot, or someone else who knows much better, do correct me if I am writing nonsense!), otherwise it is not legal (you will have to pay the IVA you become from the clients and the IRPF is what the clients pay on your account at Hacienda).
You need a NIF (or NIE if you are a foreigner), but you need to register at Hacienda + Seg. Social.
At Hacienda, I would advise you to register you also as an "operador intracomunitorio", it is easy, you just have to tick a box on the form you fill in when you register. Ask when yo go to Hacienda (they are usually friendly but everbybody tells you something else. Do insist: you need to be registrated in the database with your NIE + "ES" before it!):
This means that you are allowed to write invoices without VAT for VAT-registrated clients within the EU. In this case, the clients pay the VAT in their countries, you do not pay the VAT in Spain. You are also allowed to deduce the VAT you pay by buying material, books etc. from your "base imponible".
Some clients abroad won't give you work if you do not have this EU-VAT number (they may think you work illegally).


I feel like my questions are either so obvious or basic because I don't find them covered here. How DO people start out?? and where is the best place to learn the basics??


Just ask and ask and ask. No hay preguntas tontas. There is a lot to find in the Spanish forum. Just search with words like "autonomo", "IVA" etc. If you do not find, you post your question there.

Good luck!

Chademu

[Edited at 2006-09-09 19:17]


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xxxSaifa
Local time: 11:55
German to French
+ ...
An idea Sep 9, 2006

Hola Juan and Monika,

An idea... You do not live too far from me. What about one day together here on the beach near Málaga, having lunch in a chiringuito? I could do my best to answer your questions?
If the weather is nice, we could have a swim afterwards.

And, as Vanessa said, it is always good to make friends (the language pair does not mind. Friends is the most important thing.)

What about a Saturday in October?

Chademu


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xxxjmv1998
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
sounds great! Sep 10, 2006

Hi Chademu and Monika,

that sounds really interesting. I've never been to Malaga...

Thanks for the invoice-template, I'll keep it with my files. Your advice concerning the paperwork (modelo 036) and VAT are VERY useful. I'll take a look at the Spanish forum.

Juanma


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:55
Portuguese to English
Spanish bureacracy Sep 18, 2006

Just to add to what Chademu was saying about Spanish bureaucracy. It really is important to get on the "registro de "operadores intracomunitarios" by ticking box 217 on Modelo 036, otherwise you can't legally issue invoices to other EU countries and charge them 0% VAT (IVA). The people at the Hacienda are well-meaning but generally not clued up about this. When you've registered as an operador intracomunitario you can check your status on http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/en/vieshome.htm, but you may not appear on it until after you've filed your first VAT return. After that, your customers can access the site to check that you are working legally.

The other thing I found helpful (though some people disagree) was to get a gestor (a cross between an accountant and a fixer of bureaucracy - look in the Yellow Pages). For 60 euros a quarter, mine writes up my accounts, fills in and personally files all the forms with the Hacienda and Social Security. The amount of time I would have to spend on simply queuing at the Hacienda , let alone writing up the books, would cost me far more what I pay her. They can also save you money by identifying expenses that you can set off against your tax. They're not perfect (far from it) but very good at the standard processes.

The other thing I've learned is never, never to accept the first answer given to you by the Hacienda. If you think they're wrong, keep on pressing.

Hope this is helpful.


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xxxjmv1998
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Sep 18, 2006

Thank you, it is very helpful indeed. I will be dealing with the paperwork pretty soon

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Monika Weiss  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:55
Member
Spanish to English
!!Ya estamos en octubre!! Oct 7, 2006

Chademu,
MUCHAS GRACIAS (!!) por todo el consejo. Y perdona por no haberte respondido antes. Hasta ahora he estado muy enfocada en terminar con un cursillo y cuando he entrado en proz ha sido para mirar las novedades del pow-wow de Bilbao-que por cierto me fui el finde pasado y fue fantastico!! Me encantaria hacer un mini-pow-wow con ustedes. A ver si quedamos!
Saludos!
Monika


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