Freelance Project Manager career – is it at all realistic?
Thread poster: Oleg Prots

Oleg Prots  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 01:49
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Oct 18, 2015

Hi Folks,

After many years of (rather successful) freelance translation business, I am looking for some change in my life. Considering all the previous experience in the industry, I believe I could make a very good translation / localization project manager.

However, the catch is that I am reluctant to relocate to other countries, and all translation companies I've contacted over the past few weeks are equally reluctant to contract a PM working remotely.icon_smile.gif

Still, I have seen a few people here in Forums and on LinkedIn call themselves "Freelance Translation Project Managers", so if there's any piece of advice you are willing to share, it will be greatly appreciated.

In general, I'd like to know whether it's at all realistic for someone based in Ukraine to get contracted as a remote/virtual PM – and of course, what might be the right place to look for such opportunities. So far, LinkedIn, FlexJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and a number of smaller specialized websites like TopLanguageJobs or LocalizationCareers have not been helpful in my search.

Thanks in advance for any input,
Oleg


 

Oksana Weiss  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:49
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Greeting from (potential) PM:) Oct 19, 2015

Hi Oleg,
Greetings from Ukraine:) I have been contracted by a UK company as a PM working remotely. I have replied to a vacancy here, at proz jobs. After a couple of e-mails and a successful interview in Skype, I have signed the contract (in fact, several - NDA, Non-Competitiveness, etc.). That was already some months ago. So far, I have received no project from them, but I still hope something will come up:) That is a usual story in our business, unfortunately, also with freelance "positions".


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My opinion Oct 19, 2015

Freelance translator’s job output is tangible (that many words translated, without mistakes or otherwise, deadline has been met or not, the language reads smoothly or not, the translator responds to calls/emails promptly or not, etc.).

Freelance PM’s job output is somewhat less tangible. You look for new service providers, you evaluate (sometimes) translators’ performance, you manage projects (whatever it means). In other words, it’s hard to tell if the PM could have done more within a given period of time. If you do not actually see the PM working, you have to trust them, which many agencies find tricky.

It’s basically the “control/supervision” issue. Bear in mind that you do not have to supervise a freelance translator. You get what you ordered from them or you don’t. In case of a PM, it’s not that clear.

Another risk associated with freelance PM position: you will be prevented from doing any kind of work for other clients, so your entire income will depend on just one agency.


 

Oleg Prots  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 01:49
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your input! Oct 19, 2015

Thank you Oksana and Merab for sharing your experience and thoughts.

In fact, I think that this whole idea of mine originated with another ProZ job in early September – it was a remote PM job from a UAE company that probably triggered my interest.

I've found my quote to that post now, and they had had over 150 applications from ProZ alone.icon_smile.gif

Regarding the trust issue and measurability of the PM's work, of course you are making a valid point Merab. There's probably a number of other reasons why companies want their PMs to be in-house employees, and they are all very understandable.

On the other hand, more and more business processes tend to be outsourced, and as we see even here on ProZ, some companies do look for remote PMs already.

I have also seen another dream job posted on another website, but the agency was in New Zealand and they required that contractor worked NZ business hours as well – which would be exactly the whole night in European timeicon_smile.gif

So, what I am now trying to establish is how widespread this trend has become, and whether there are any success stories from people working as PMs internationally.

And, Oksana, hope you do get your Skype call soon.


 

Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 18:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
other options Oct 20, 2015

As far as I can see, the only difference between working as a "freelance PM" for an established company and being an outsourcer yourself is the client-facing part, establishing a brand/reputation, etc. If you really want to expand into offering services like that of a PM, what about simply trying to find more direct clients and outsourcing some work to other translators? You could even focus on a niche, for example just your own language pairs, or something like that, at least at first. It would also require finding and vetting translators. But it might be worth it as a way to get to where you want to be with your career.

 

Oleg Prots  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 01:49
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Finding direct clients is a skill too :) Oct 20, 2015

Thanks for your feedback Patrick.

In fact, sales and marketing aren't my strong sides.
I am good at languages, getting things done, quality assurance, etc. But finding new clients has always been a tricky part of my freelancing; to be honest, most of my customers found me rather than the other way round.

[Edited at 2015-10-20 16:14 GMT]


 


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Freelance Project Manager career – is it at all realistic?

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