Do you have a PA?
Thread poster: Stanislaw Czech, MCIL

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:01
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Feb 24, 2010

I am wondering if it is reasonable solution for a freelance translator to hire a personal assistant. As I am thinking myself about getting rid of a part of administration work, I am curious how many translators have and if so - what duties do you assign to him/her.

Best Regards
Stanislaw


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
PC, Feb 24, 2010

PDA, and smartphone... and with proper software.

Why one more HF?


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:01
English
+ ...
Not yet... Feb 24, 2010

But lately I have been seriously considering it, not only for administration tasks but also household tasks and errands that fritter away my time and energy that could be better used for translation and editing (and sleeping). I suppose some people might say I need a housekeeper then, or perhaps a wife . . . I've started using the Paymo timer to track the time I spend on other tasks (not always work related) and I am amazed.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I have a PA Feb 24, 2010

Stanislaw Czech wrote:
I am wondering if it is reasonable solution for a freelance translator to hire a personal assistant


But in my case it stands for Partner Assistant

I bet there are quite a few spouses, girl- and boy-friends and maybe even some parents out there beavering away in an unpaid capacity!

I couldn't do without my stay-at-home hubby(who does all the invoicing, answers the phone when I'm not around, helps with photocopying etc - oh and there's the endless cups of coffee etc), but I'd have to be earning a lot more than I do before I'd start paying someone else.

I suppose it depends to a great extent on your country's rules for freelancers. As a micro-enterprise in France I couldn't offset the salary against tax - I pay tax on 66% of my income rather than getting tax relief based on my actual expenses, so business expenses really need to be kept to a minimum. And I certainly wouldn't like to get involved in being an employer in France. I already have enough nightmares nightmares induced by the red-paper here.


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 18:01
Spanish to English
Pays for himself Feb 24, 2010

Thanks to a happy bit of serendipity, I got a personal assistant some time ago. At that time I received a new assignment to translate daily news briefs in a field for a US company with operations throughout Latin America. The briefs (100-150 words) came in for each country between 9 and 11 a.m., and had to be returned in final form, with a special font and type color, etc. At the same time one of Mrs. D's nephews came to Lima looking for work. A bright lad with some accounting courses and a few years of college, I gave him a try and it worked out well. He was first used to check the mails, download the files, name them with my coding system, pass them through the processor, check format and font and save them (via LAN) to my desktop. After translation, he then recorded the data for each one and sent them out. All I had to do was translate.
His tasks expanded (typing image-sourced files, maintaining accounts, running around Lima on collections, going to the post office, local purchases etc .). He stayed with me over two years, finished his degree and is now a CPA with his own firm. His replacement was a part-timer (another nephew) who had recently come on board to assist in a major due diligence project that involved typing ten years of tax assessments and rulings for a local sub of a US company. This one lasted four years, graduating from timid with few skills to a proactive asset with good ideas and the ability to express them. He took a job as a laborer for a gas project and is now their assistant supply manager.
The third was no great shakes and didn't last long. I went without until finding number four, who is rapidly becoming a star.
I find that the time and effort I save by using a personal assistant more than makes up for the expense. Just keeping track of the jobs done and organizing paperwork is a lifesaver, without counting typing scanned docs (or cleaning ABBYYed docs), monitoring mails, responding to Spanish mails and telephone calls is a blessing, and sometimes other light tasks can be added (I use these lads to do all dates and figures in English before I get them- some times this can be up to 20 % of a word count).
Best of all, it's a pleasure to have someone else in the office to bounce ideas off, or even just to talk to.
Caveat: You want someone who is self-disciplined and capable of learning, not necessarily having all desired skills at present. And above all, honest. If there is any aspect that concerns you in the latter regard, don't bother. If someone cannot be totally trusted (regarding money, property, status of work, how long it took them to get to XXX, etc), stay away.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
"Billing Associate" Feb 24, 2010

I used to pay someone (actually, my sister-in-law) to work with my invoices. She basically checked in a couple of times a week by eMail, prepared and sent all the invoices; I would send her mails when I received payment so she could make note of that, and she would also check up on overdue payments with clients. At the time the service was priceless to me.

After about two years she had to quit. Luckily for me my invoicing process had streamlined a bit by then (she wasn't making as much money off me as in the beginning, although that's not why she had to quit). Still, if she said she wanted to take over again, the job would be hers in a heartbeat!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
How many hours a day of work can you have? Feb 24, 2010

That is in my opinion the critical question here.

If you hire a PA, you must make sure that he/she will be a person who can gradually take more and more varied tasks. This means good language skills in the languages of you main types of customers (so that eventually this person can eventually communicate with them on administrative matters), good computer skills (in order to do prepping work for you so that you can concentrate on translation), and flexibility in working hours so that he/she can adapt to your changing schedule instead of the opposite.


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:01
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Wife Feb 25, 2010

My wife's a real treasure -- she does all of my invocing, makes sure my business records are in order before the monthly delivery to the accountant, and takes care of my coffee and other such items a freelancer can't live without, all on top of her own part-time translation work and a handsome share of children-related duties.

With my wife in place, I've never seriously considered hiring an external PA. She's ace!

Maciek


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Dhiraj Khati  Identity Verified
Nepal
Local time: 04:46
Member (2009)
English to Nepali
+ ...
Best Reply Feb 25, 2010

Maciek Drobka wrote:

My wife's a real treasure -- she does all of my invocing, makes sure my business records are in order before the monthly delivery to the accountant, and takes care of my coffee and other such items a freelancer can't live without, all on top of her own part-time translation work and a handsome share of children-related duties.

With my wife in place, I've never seriously considered hiring an external PA. She's ace!

Maciek


I like the reply....


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Monika Elisabeth Sieger  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:01
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
My husband Feb 25, 2010

Fortunately, I have got my husband who deals with formatting, editing, calculating and from time to time researching.
He is dealing with invoices and applications. As well, he is doing the proofreading which drive me mad. And four eyes see more than two.

I work about 8 hours every day (weekends included) and besides I run the household etc. A normal female translator's life.
But agreed without my husband I couldn't manage all the tasks!
But he is simply the best as he has to calm me down when I am getting mad over the workload or a badly drafted original.

Thank you Michael!

[Edited at 2010-02-25 14:37 GMT]


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