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Poll: How long did it take you to establish yourself as a freelancer?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:05
SITE STAFF
Apr 30, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take you to establish yourself as a freelancer?".

This poll was originally submitted by Maria Sanchez

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:05
English to Arabic
+ ...
Really hard to say Apr 30, 2008

The question assumes there was 1) a clear starting point at which I started trying to establish myself, and 2) a point at which I could clearly say that I now have established myself.
Neither points are clear to me. I had taken time off in-house work to take care of my baby, then gradually began taking on small assignments, for friends, university students, one or two agencies, and eventually liked the idea of working from home and tried harder to find more clients.
So anyway, the answer is anything from 2 months to two years!


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
15 years Apr 30, 2008

Well, it was 15 years until I could finally quit my job and actually live off translation. That was 22 yeras ago and I never looked back.

So maybe the parameters of the poll need to be opened up, or else define what "establish yourself" really means. To me it means the moment when I became emancipated.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Meaning of the poll? Apr 30, 2008

To me the question is not too clear, and could leave out plenty of professional translators.

Does this mean, as Henry understood, "How long did it take you to quit your employee job after beginning to translate for people other than your employer?".

Apparently this poll could have left out lots of people who are in the trade:
1. People who started freelancing right after finishing some level of education
2. People who stopped working as an employee and decided to start freelancing after a while

What is the actual meaning?


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Sandra Patinha  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Hard to say Apr 30, 2008

I worked as in-house translator for five years and during that time I also accepted assignments from translation companies until I came to a point where I had to choose because after arriving home from work at 8 pm I still had a lot of freelance work to do until late in the evening. Since I was getting more and more clients I decided to leave the company and establish as freelance only. My former director gave me all the support and now my former company is one of my best clients. I took this decison in 2004 and I'm very glad I took it, as Henry says I "never looked back".

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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 11:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
>12 months Apr 30, 2008

Some 3 years, from 2003 where I started entering into the freelance world until 2006 when I could 100% live from my translations. Nowadays, I have too much work!

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:05
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
3 months Apr 30, 2008

I took three months from when I started looking for clients until I had enough work to consider myself a full-time translator. Approaching agencies and other companies was a full-time job in itself during that time.

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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:05
English to French
+ ...
Meaning of the poll? Apr 30, 2008

I agree with Tomas, I'm not sure I understood this poll...

When I finished my diploma, I gave myself six months to find a job as an in-house translator before going freelance. So I looked for a job for six months but during that time I also prepared myself to work as a freelancer i.e. the necessary administrative steps and the search for my first customers.
The papers didn't take very long once I decided to establish myself as a freelance translator and I got my first job two weeks before my official starting date.
So I'd say it took me six months to start my business.

If "establish yourself" means making enough money to live off your job, I'd say about six months after starting - I was very lucky to find about half my current customers during my first year!


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Dan Marasescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 18:05
Member (2003)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Stages Apr 30, 2008

In my case, it was 6 months before I quit my previous job. It didn't mean I had constant work already, it simply meant I had realised that my efforts were better spent in marketing myself as a freelancer.

After one and a half years, I was constantly working at full capacity and one year later I really had too much and had to rely on other freelancer to cover everything.

I'm sure this can be achieved sooner, but patience pays because right from the beginning I only accepted serious clients who paid at least decent rates. I am sure now that doing it right is much more important than doing it fast.

The best thing to do is to have a strategy, like a marketing or a business plan. Nothing too fancy, but something that helps you define where you want to get and spend your efforts well.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:05
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Less than three months Apr 30, 2008

I realised that I would never be able to combine teaching English (my previous job) and translating, as this would not have given me the availability I needed to say yes to translation assignments, and, of course, given clients the impression that I was serious about the job. So I quit teaching at the end of one academic year and threw myself wholeheartedly into translation the next. Within three months, I knew I'd made the right choice. However, as Spanish agencies took up to 90 days to pay back then (unfortunately some still do), I had to ask the bank for a loan to tide me over. I preferred to do this than supplement my income with classes.

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Anhilgen  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:05
Member
English to German
+ ...
Same here Apr 30, 2008

Sandra Patinha wrote:

I worked as in-house translator for five years and during that time I also accepted assignments from translation companies until I came to a point where I had to choose because after arriving home from work at 8 pm I still had a lot of freelance work to do until late in the evening. Since I was getting more and more clients I decided to leave the company and establish as freelance only. My former director gave me all the support and now my former company is one of my best clients. I took this decison in 2004 and I'm very glad I took it, as Henry says I "never looked back".



With the only differences that I went freelance in 2002 and that my former boss was not overly supportive, my way to freelance-ship was exactly the same. And it was one of the best decisions of my life!


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vicksy nurhayati  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 23:05
English to Indonesian
+ ...
after 10 years working May 1, 2008

After more than 10 years working (not as translator, translating was my side job) and after giving birth of my youngest son.

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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:05
English to Polish
About a year May 1, 2008

Meaning - from the moment of having my very first freelance client to a moment of having a few of regulars and being able to pay my bills.


Anni


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:05
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My situation exactly May 1, 2008

Sandra Patinha wrote:

I worked as in-house translator for five years and during that time I also accepted assignments from translation companies until I came to a point where I had to choose because after arriving home from work at 8 pm I still had a lot of freelance work to do until late in the evening. Since I was getting more and more clients I decided to leave the company and establish as freelance only. My former director gave me all the support and now my former company is one of my best clients. I took this decison in 2004 and I'm very glad I took it, as Henry says I "never looked back".


I had work waiting for me when I left PAHO/WHO (after more than 15 years) - and soon my former employer became one of my best clients.


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Lisa Roberts  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
About two years... May 1, 2008

...that is, it took me around two years to accept that supplementing my income with other jobs was never going to work - for me personally it's a case of all or nothing. I think the poll would be better phrased 'how long before you considered yourself to be a successful freelancer?' For me that would entail no more than being happy doing what I'm doing and just about keeping my head above water

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