The Dark Side of Being Self-Employed
Thread poster: Rod Anderson

Rod Anderson  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 12:19
Japanese to English
Apr 24, 2011

A good article for aspiring freelancers from a freelance writer.

http://personaldividends.com/money/miranda/the-dark-side-of-being-self-employed

[Edited at 2011-04-24 13:40 GMT]


 

Fátima Aparecida de Oliveira Abbate

Local time: 00:19
English to Portuguese
+ ...
"The other side of the coin" Apr 24, 2011

The article is really good, and I totally agree with its author. On the other hand, there is the other side of the coin: a steady job.
I work both as a freelance translator and as a professor in a big private university. Despite having a fixed salary at the university, I have a huge load of work to do at home: essay gradings, class preparation, presentations, which I don't get paid for.




Rod Anderson wrote:

A good article for aspiring freelancers from a freelance writer.

http://personaldividends.com/money/miranda/the-dark-side-of-being-self-employed

[Edited at 2011-04-24 13:40 GMT]


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz (X)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:19
English to Polish
+ ...
always makes me wonder Apr 25, 2011

Fátima Aparecida de Oliveira Abbate wrote:

I work both as a freelance translator and as a professor in a big private university. Despite having a fixed salary at the university, I have a huge load of work to do at home: essay gradings, class preparation, presentations, which I don't get paid for.


I know this goes a tad off-topic, but if you think essay gradings and such aren't paid for, why do you do them? I mean, I'm not paid for turning on my computer or e-mailing clients either.


 

Cathy Flick  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Member (2003)
Russian to English
+ ...
Always convert salary to "per hour" ... Apr 25, 2011

[quote]Fátima Aparecida de Oliveira Abbate wrote:
I work both as a freelance translator and as a professor in a big private university. Despite having a fixed salary at the university, I have a huge load of work to do at home: essay gradings, class preparation, presentations, which I don't get paid for.
[quote]

Oh, you're "paid for" all the work at home... You just haven't realized yet how little you make per hour!!!

I taught at a college for 3 years in a physics department. I didn't think in terms of $/hour myself then, although it seemed as though I was working all the time - even more than in grad school. The average hours per week for college professors in the USA is 60 to 80 hours, and that was quite accurate.

When I quit teaching to do freelance translation, I became much more aware of my time spent vs. my income. I always have kept track of how many hours I spend on all aspects of translation jobs, from initial negotiations through submitting the invoice. I also keep track of other aspects (or try...) such as marketing my services, bidding on jobs, etc. although I don't keep track of all the other things that occupy my day such as dealing with computer problems, purchasing decisions, learning new software, etc. etc. etc. (This is why I say we don't save any time overall in the computer age - we just work differently, and much of our time is spent on non-translation tasks that didn't exist back when I did my translations on a manual typewriter, even though I needed to completely retype them after doing the terminology research and revising.)

About a year after I quit teaching, I was asked to teach a general physics course because my replacement had to take a leave of absence for a term (10 weeks at the time, 3 terms per academic year). They offered me their standard fee for teaching one course. I figured out the minimum amount of time such a course would require even if I did no course development, was not on any school committees, and did not write up any new course materials or lab experiments and had an undergrad assistant to help grade some materials such as weekly problem sets and lab notebooks. So I was just counting time required to prepare for 4 fifty-minute lectures per week, preparing demonstrations for those lectures (collecting and setting up equipment such as optical benches, oscilloscopes, mechanical test equipment, etc., then practicing the demonstration and trying to make sure nobody walked off with or moved anything before class...), preparing and grading test materials, preparing problem sets each week, setting up equipment for laboratory experiments (usually at least one 3-hour lab session per week, which I also supervised), preparing for a preliminary mini-lecture for lab sessions, dealing with questions from students during office hours. I figured the absolute minimum amount of time required for all that would be 20 hours per week (obviously I was putting in far more than that when I taught the course on salary). The school's offer was based on their assumption of 10 hours per week, which is nonsense for any lab course.

Then I did the math, and realized that even working for just a cheapskate publisher as a beginning freelance translator - I was already making twice the amount per hour that the school's offer represented. I did some more math and realized that even when on full salary (for 3 courses per term usually - including at least one lab course), I was making no more per hour as a teacher than as a beginning freelance translator. I counted the typical number of hours when school was in session (60 to 80 hours was quite typical for me) plus the time when school was not in session (I figured an average of 20 hours per week during those periods, since I needed to spend preparation time for the next term, do course development and deal with lab equipment and planning, deal with professional development such as attending workshops and conferences, etc.)

So I told the school that I couldn't even think of teaching the course unless they doubled the fee. Which they did (not too many physicists in the local community who weren't already working for them.... really none!). I then sent the school a complete breakdown of all the hours required and for what purposes, and sent copies to my colleagues in the physics department - who were delighted that I did this, since they had futilely been trying to explain why laboratory courses took so much time and why it was so hard on a small department to have to run several different general physics courses (e.g., a separate intro course for non-physics majors who just didn't want to learn calculus or pre-meds who didn't want to risk lower grades because "math is hard" ....) and why including two lab courses per term for a professor was a killer schedule.

Anyway - do the math. Figure out how much money you are really making per hour as a translator, and then as a university professor. Count everything you do for both jobs. You need this information to make decisions about both aspects of your work.

Peace, Cathy Flick


 


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