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What are the advantages of being a freelancer?
Thread poster: Renata K.

Renata K.  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:41
English to Russian
+ ...
Dec 29, 2012

I work full time as a staff reviewer for a translation agency. I work from home and have fixed regular working hours. I have all advantages of being an in-house employee: I do not work at week-ends and on public holidays, have a 28-day leave, etc. Sometimes I take freelance assignments but I always rely on my main job which gives me a regular income that is not less than that of freelancers in my country. I was wondering whether there are such opportunities in your country/language pairs to regularly work only for one agency and get stable income. Are there any job openings offering good salary, possibility to work from home and all benefits of in-house employees? If you knew that you would earn your current average income, would you accept such job offer? And finally, what are the advantages of being a freelancer if in most cases it is necessary to work hard and even beyond regular working hours to make a living?

 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:41
Member
Dutch to English
+ ...
I make 3 times what an in-house translator would make Dec 29, 2012

on average in the UK.

Yes, I work long hours. Yes, I work weekends and bank holidays. But this is by choice more than necessity. I enjoy 90% of what I work on. I regularly turn down jobs because the rate is too low or because I do not like the subject. I also go away on a whim when the fancy takes me.

I have been a freelance translator for more than 20 years and I do not think I could ever work in an office again. Too set in my ways. I like working in my PJs and grabbing coffee when it suits me. I also have 2 dogs to keep me sane and I love to walk them and socialise with my local dog community. My best solutions for terminology come to me on these walks. I am a home body and working from home is simply the best.


 

Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:41
English to German
+ ...
The freedom... Dec 29, 2012

...the diversity of the jobs, no commuting (I used to spend some 15 hours a week on the tube), nice people (you can't choose your colleagues in an agency), no regular "nine to five" etc.

No regrets so far.
Gudrun


 

Usch Pilz
Local time: 14:41
English to German
+ ...
FREElancer Dec 29, 2012

@ Gudrun and:

I think the word almost says it all. We are free in many of our decisions: Where - when - what- how.
(Of course there are many times when we compromise, because we simply have to make a living. So no need to get overly romantic.)
You also get to meet some amazing people - colleagues and clients -, both online and in real life.

FREElancing is definitely not for everyone. You need a lot of discipline, you have to be prepared to go through some hard times without losing your nerve and your edge. You have to be alert: Scam-artists try taking you on; some clients will need a lot of nudging until they pay up. Sometimes you are swamped with work, sometimes not.

To me the best thing is taking my work and going away to a place I want to explore. I will do that again for three months in 2013. To me that is FREElancing in the best sense of the word.

Good luck to you.
Usch


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:41
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No regrets so far! Dec 29, 2012

I've been self employed for 27 years and one thing is certain: the harder you work, the more money you earn.

Having said that, I'm sure no boss would be as demanding as I am with myself.


 

Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:41
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Examples Dec 29, 2012

You can go to the cinema on Tuesday by the morning, to the zoo watching calmly all the animals, and make more money by delivering more projects than others if you distribute efficiently your time between hard work and leisure time.

 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 13:41
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Not quite Dec 30, 2012

Renata K. wrote:
And finally, what are the advantages of being a freelancer if in most cases it is necessary to work hard and even beyond regular working hours to make a living?

"In most cases?" If that were so virtually no one would be a freelance translator, I assure you. Human beings work hard to make a living - it's a fact of life. If, however, you have to wear yourself out just to scrape by then you're 'doing it wrong'.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Choice, freedom, flexibility, control over your own life... Dec 30, 2012

If I can deal with your last question first,
Renata K. wrote:
what are the advantages of being a freelancer if in most cases it is necessary to work hard and even beyond regular working hours to make a living?

I don't agree with the second part, but if we take the question more generally, I think you just have to go through your own list, itemising the differences:
I work from home and have fixed regular working hours. I have all advantages of being an in-house employee: I do not work at week-ends and on public holidays, have a 28-day leave, etc.

Firstly, you're in the still quite unusual (but growing) category of salaried home-workers. I'm sure very many salaried translators are envious of you. That's certainly a plus for you and something we have in common.

But what about those hours you spend at home, working? What if something suddenly crops up on the personal front? Do you just have to say "sorry, I'm working", every time? A freelancer can, subject to deadlines (which ideally should incorporate some contingency), drop everything for an hour, a morning, a day even. If you're away from your phone/desk during "statutory hours", do you feel guilty, have to make up excuses...? We don't.icon_smile.gif And if you actually prefer to work some/all weekends and public holidays, maybe because you don't have kids to look after and your spouse has to work some? Can you choose to link your working times to his/hers? Or if you have some particularly heavy expenses, can you decide to work additional hours (of your choosing) to create additional income? We can.icon_smile.gif Many freelancers choose their working hours to fit in with family life, even working nights if it suits them.

During my salaried years (15, but not in this industry), I really valued my 5 weeks of holidays - I planned my year round them, booking them months in advance so I could get the weeks of my choosing. And then I had to stick to them, of course: so if I'd arranged a skiing holiday and there wasn't any snow - tough! Holiday time wasted! In the last 15 years of freelancing, I've probably never taken more than 3 weeks of recognisable holiday each year, sometimes considerably less, though if you add up all the "bits 'n' pieces" of half and full days it's probably considerably more than 5 weeks. Again, we can choose to take no holiday or take months.icon_smile.gif And we can decide today and be off tomorrow (again, subject to workload).

Sometimes I take freelance assignments but I always rely on my main job which gives me a regular income that is not less than that of freelancers in my country.

That really surprises me and I very much doubt that would be true as an average statistic. I suspect you've got a job that many of your compatriots would envy. But are you comparing apples with pears? Are your freelancers generally working with Russian agencies and direct clients? They have the possibility of working with clients based in other countries, where the rates can be higher (I imagine). If you provide top-quality translations and were to build yourself a reputation as a freelancer, you would probably find you could demand significantly higher rates. One of the problems nowadays is that relatively unskilled people are taking up freelance translation as an alternative to unemployment - they aren't the ones you should be comparing yourself against.

I was wondering whether there are such opportunities in your country/language pairs to regularly work only for one agency and get stable income. Are there any job openings offering good salary, possibility to work from home and all benefits of in-house employees? If you knew that you would earn your current average income, would you accept such job offer?

Why would anyone want to work with just one agency? What if they fold? What if you don't like doing the work they give? What if the staff you got on well with leave? What if they suddenly decide they can't afford you? And what benefits? Knowing exactly what to do, when and how i.e. do as the boss says? No thanks! The "job for life and a pension later" security that used to apply to salaried jobs doesn't apply nowadays, and I don't regard anything else as important enough to give up my freedom.

Then again, let's consider your reference to "your country". Until this spring, my country was France. When I fell in love with Fuerteventura in January I bought a house (on the 6th day of my first-ever one-week holiday on the island - risky, but then freelancing doesn't attract those who reject all riskicon_smile.gif), moved out in May and was back in business, with all my existing clients except one (who lived a few km from me in France and couldn't deal with the concept of 'Europe'icon_wink.gif) just a couple of weeks later. You work from home, but can your home be anywhere in the world?icon_smile.gif


 

Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:41
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
Deductible expenses Dec 30, 2012

This is not a major reason for me, but I thought I'd add it to the list. Depending on regulations in your country and your status as a freelancer, you might be able to deduct a lot of expenses related to your work, e.g. computer equipment, books, car, fuel and maintenance costs, telecommunications etc. Also, if your country has VAT, you pay for those things less than a regular consumer.

 

Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:41
German to English
+ ...
Freedom! Dec 30, 2012

Make no mistake, discipline, hard work, and rigorous attention to detail are basic prerequisites for all translators. The big difference is that FREElance translators get to choose when to exercise these qualities on their own terms.

The biggest advantage a freelance translator has: Sheepskin slippers (and in summer, tiny little vests, bare feet and a nearby shower.icon_smile.gif )

Edited for typo.




[Edited at 2012-12-30 19:23 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What are the advantages of being a freelancer? Dec 30, 2012

- no boss
- no fixed hours
- motivation to always maintain the highest quality of translation
- motivation to always maintain the highest standard of professionalism


 

Ewa Olszowa  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:41
Polish to English
+ ...
Paid overtime:) Dec 30, 2012

I work extra hours - I earn extra money.
At corporation - extra hours = free work.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Knew I'd forgotten something! Dec 30, 2012

Tom in London wrote:
- motivation to always maintain the highest quality of translation
- motivation to always maintain the highest standard of professionalism


Absolutely! The motivation to "go the extra mile", to look forward to new challenges rather than seeing them as more effort for for the same reward.


 

Renata K.  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:41
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 31, 2012

Thank you Sheila! Thank you all for your feedback!

I will definitely consider the freelancing as an option if my situation changes.

Happy New Year!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:41
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The alternative to no job at all Dec 31, 2012

Apart from everything others have said, in my case the advantage is the difference between having a job and not having a job.

I have been through all the phases of not being able to get the job I was trained for, doing other jobs, being dismissed when someone more suitable turned up, dismissed because I had the wrong experience or not enough... night school after work... and not being able to find a job of any kind where I lived.

I finally landed an in-house job at a translation agency, which at that stage was the best thing that could possibly happen. But at one point they were not able to keep on so many in-house translators, and had to let several of us go.

However, the agency had sponsored my translation diploma and was my biggest client for several years, so I had finally landed on my feet. No one would employ me at my age in the present economic climate, but with all the other advantages, it is no problem and I count myself lucky.


 
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