Freelance frustration
Thread poster: picko924
picko924
Local time: 16:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 2007

Hi,
I started working as a freelance interpreter 7 months ago in the language combination ESEN in London and have been lucky enough to get a foot in the door thanks to an experienced collegue who is well respected in the industry and recommended me. Things have been going pretty well but I seem to be getting work in fits and starts. March, April and May were good months for me, as were October and November but the rest of the time I seem to struggle to find work. I am particularly worried now as the summer months seem to be very quiet and this makes me very anxious. I try and do translation work in the meantime but since I haven't really established a name for myself yet, things are going quite slowly. I am also looking for part time work or maybe TEFL for the summer but I just wanted to ask fellow linguists if this is a normal situation and what coping tactics they use to deal with the instability of the profession.
Thanks


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Christina Courtright  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Patience and Persistence Jun 6, 2007

Hi,
Freelancing doesn't always suit everyone because of the insecurity. Starting out is the very hardest of all! You need a bit of a nest egg to tide you over for the lean times, and avoid splurging during the fat times.

As to the near future, I'm afraid you will have to be patient and persistent as you methodically try to open doors in your field. Make a marketing plan. Make a goal of sending out X number of resumes per week, find agencies online who are accepting resumes, do some volunteer translating and interpreting to get a track record and build up your resume. Try for some telephone interpreting - there are agencies who use people in various countries (search online). Network in person: Ask more experienced ESEN interpreters if you can sit them down for a coffee and pick their brains, even shadow them where professionally appropriate to become more immersed in the work.

It will take a diverse clientele to support your choice to go freelance. We get the freedom to work as we please, but must make the opportunities for ourselves. It will improve gradually if you are patient and persistent, so soldier on! Best of luck.


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Dawn Montague  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:02
German to English
+ ...
Slow at first Jun 6, 2007

My first year working "full-time" as a freelancer, I only made $10,000. Now I make many times that much, but it took persistance and all the things our colleague just listed. Yes, your experience is normal for the first year. A part-time teaching job might be a good idea while you get established.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:02
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Summer time Jun 6, 2007

picko924 wrote:

Hi,
I started working as a freelance interpreter 7 months ago in the language combination ESEN in London and have been lucky enough to get a foot in the door thanks to an experienced collegue who is well respected in the industry and recommended me. Things have been going pretty well but I seem to be getting work in fits and starts. March, April and May were good months for me, as were October and November but the rest of the time I seem to struggle to find work. I am particularly worried now as the summer months seem to be very quiet and this makes me very anxious. I try and do translation work in the meantime but since I haven't really established a name for myself yet, things are going quite slowly. I am also looking for part time work or maybe TEFL for the summer but I just wanted to ask fellow linguists if this is a normal situation and what coping tactics they use to deal with the instability of the profession.
Thanks


I started as a full-time freelancer one summer and it turned out to be a good time as, I think, other translators may have been away on holiday and agencies whose regulars were away gave the "newbie" a chance, so I got my foot in the door. Don't know if it would work out that way nowadays, though.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:02
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
A frank reply from a frank interpreter Jun 6, 2007

Please remember I'm replying from the perspective of an interpreter working from Spanish and French into English in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

I've been doing this part-time for 8 years...never had enough hours to make a full-time career of it..

1. London must be the place of greater opportunity re interpreting and translation so you're fortunate to be in the right place!

2. Unless you find a kind soul (and you have!) then it's more or less unheard of for an interpreter or translator to give you work sources; they seem to guard them with their lives!

3. It's hard graft to find work as an interpreter! Are you qualified? i.e. legal? If so have you registered with the Register of Public Service Interpreters (Chartered Institute of Linguists)? I would have thought that'd be a good way to make inroads into the legal/police profession in London..

4. Are you prepared to do telephone interpreting (pretty hard and not 100% guaranteed full-time work!); if so, there are companies i.e. The Big Word.

5. Go round quite a few agencies with your CV and talk to somebody in person....I wouldn't send a CV as you'll rarely get a reply.

6. If you want to work full-time as an interpreter, I don't know how you do it...I suppose you'd have to contact interpreters in London. I know there is an Interpreter egroup in the Institute of Interpreters and Translators..

7. Last but not least, no matter how much you may phone up people for work, ultimately an interpreter's work is based on demand, so you will get quiet periods, inevitably..

[I'm fortunate in that I am not the only earner in my household, but then again I mainly look after the children!].

8. Join Proz and get involved and perhaps that way you might get work as a translator by being able to quote for particular jobs that are advertised on Proz.com.

Best of luck to you!

Having said all that, it is a great job when you get the work..it is so involved, varied and interesting, and there is a whole range of people to meet too..

Liz


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lingomania
Local time: 01:02
Italian to English
Patience is the key word Jun 6, 2007

7 months isn't that much. The summer months tend to be rather "slow" in our profession. Things will pick up I'm sure. In the meantime, you could talk to your colleague for some summer work.

Best of luck.

Rob


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mariana24  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 12:02
Spanish
+ ...
You are not alone Jun 7, 2007

It is always good to know one is not alone. And I'm speaking for me, picko. I have been doing this (full time translation, ENESEN) for about the same time as you and have felt exactly the same you feel now. When I did it part time I always found it difficult to meet deadlines, but I could afford that, I had "a job". Now, I am passionately in love with doing this full time, but sometimes I just wake up not wanting to if I haven't got anything in hand to work on for money.

I believe all that's been said by our colleagues is true. Patience is the clue, and as most clues, the most difficult thing to get hold of during the dry season. But it´s normal. We are new. We can't expect it to be that easy, can we? I would go for the same suggestions others have already given, teaching part time, interpreting if you can and things of the sort.

I would only add one thing that for me has been THE difference: ProZ (and I'm not a shareholder). Market yourself here. Your dry season may be the flourishing season on the opposite side of the globe -in fact it is-. This is a great place if you work hard on getting involved, answering questions, helping others, asking for help and therefore...getting jobs.
And of course...you can always count on having a place where to cry and be understood, like right now.

Good luck and keep the spirit!

Mariana


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