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Earning my money as a freelancer?
Thread poster: Capesha

Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Oct 5, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

I started with proz.com nearly one year ago.

The last 20 years I always had in-house positions in the industrial field and the experience as a "part-time freelancer" is new and exciting.

I would really like to work as a 100% freelancer, my target is to start in 2008.

What is your experience: how long did it take you in getting established in such a way, that you really could live from the money?
Is it possible just to live from proz.com work (often jobs from agencies) or do you really need "end customers"?

I would be glad, if you could share some thoughts with me. Any criticism as well as advices / warnings are welcome.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:29
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jobs and agencies Oct 5, 2007

You need to differentiate between jobs from ProZ and agencies' jobs as such.
Yes, many agencies post jobs here, and that's a good thing. But you must also realize there's a lot more jobs out there than are posted on ProZ.

Once you have established relationships with one or more agencies, you'll find jobs will come your way without ever being posted on ProZ.

So, ProZ is a wonderful place to meet clients, but (IMHO) the jobs aren't the biggest part if it. It's meeting people (clients, colleagues, agencies) that makes this site worthwhile, in many ways, not just financially.

It makes up for not sitting around colleaugues and co-workers too...

Good luck!
Margreet


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
thank you Oct 5, 2007

thanks your sharing your opinion with me.
You are right - often agencies came back to me with further jobs, when we had a first contact and they had been satisfied.

You know, it is a strange feeling to me, when I sometimes get one job after the other and at other times I am waiting and nothing happens.
Obviously also freelancers need 1 - 2 days off a week.
But I do not know yet, how to handle the situation, when I leave my in-house position and there are days, where my email box is empty?....


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 00:29
Italian to English
+ ...
Off to a good start Oct 5, 2007

You should be able to build on your years of industrial experience, perhaps starting with some direct customers and maybe with an agency or two.

Generally speaking, then, you start off with your local knowledge and contacts, and from there expand through the internet.

It really is difficult to say how long it may take to be able to make a living solely as a freelancer, it depends on your individual financial situation in every sense of the term. For what it's worth, I believe the average translator earns around 30,000 euro per year, though some approach or even exceed 100,000, it depends on many circumstances, and either figure, and all those in between, can be a little or a lot, depending on the specific circumstances.

As mentioned, the jobs flowing through proz.com account for probably a fraction of 1% of the total market, but that is still a considerable amount, you can land jobs and meet agencies and colleagues through it, and it does help one to get through the day with its features like Kudoz and forums.

But, again, I would stress that you start of with your local knowledge and contacts, and expand from there. Twenty years is no small amount, therefore build on your specializations and personal contacts ... and ...

Good luck!

[Edited at 2007-10-05 09:08]


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 01:29
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
being a freelancer Oct 5, 2007

In order to make a living you need to establish good and lasting job relationship with several agencies/end clients, so you can ensure a constant work flow and regular payments. How long does it take? Id say this depends on many things - language combination, luck (how lucky you are to find such clients/agencies), patience etc. Proz is just one small part of the process. As Margreet said - Proz is better as a meeting point.

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:29
English to Dutch
+ ...
Link to poll Oct 5, 2007

Hi,

I'd written a lengthy reply and then I accidentally hit 'Cancel' instead of 'Preview' - I'll get back to you later, got other things to do !
For now, here's a link to a quick poll you may find interesting; I found it rather reassuring: http://www.proz.com/?sp=polls&poll_id=3442&action=results&sp_mode=past


Best,
Margreet


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
carefully hiding your sources? ;-) Oct 5, 2007

@bramasole: you just confirmed my thoughts: I need some regular, reliable customers. I already have some, but my language pair (EN-GE, FR-GE) is not so extraordianary seldom and the quanitity of firm contacts is not yet big enough to take the next step and quit my (safe) job.

It really seems that I have to think about my preferences and qualitities and try to contact customers in the industrial field directly. Is that what you meant?


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:29
Member
English to French
the mere nature of freelancing Oct 5, 2007

Capesha wrote:
...when I leave my in-house position and there are days, where my email box is empty?....

Don't worry, you will use your free time to tidy up your computer folders, do some accounting, marketing or mailing campaigns, rest, manage your pile of terminology, assess a new productivity program, get a deeper understanding of this new software acquisition, do the DIY you meant to do ages ago, etc., etc. and sharpen your pencils when you have exhausted all other options.
The only requirement to succeed is that such days occur less often than overbooked superstressing 18-h working days.
If you're not prepared to undergo ups and downs, don't go freelance...

I don't think any translator here lives off proz jobs only. From various sources (including http://www.proz.com/advertising), I estimate job offers posted here to... less than 2% of the worldwide translation business. My figures may very well be wrong, but it gives you an idea. Finding the 98% remaining is the harder part. A substantial part of business also comes from customers using proz to outsource, but without advertsing jobs. This is not negligible and in my opinion, this is where lies the main interest of proz.com in terms of business generation.

Anybody can become a translator, not anybody can make a comfortable living out of it, whatever the target customers (end companies, consumers or agencies).
Up to you and your skills (translation, technical, marketing, managing, accounting, customer relation, timeliness, etc.).
Browse the forums and make a sound decision; from there you will see that starting up can take anything between 0 to 3 years or more, depending on countless parameters, including luck, or lack thereof.

Enjoy your weekend,
Philippe


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:29
English to Dutch
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Hear hear! Oct 5, 2007

Philip pretty much wrote what I'd intended to write in the post I lost to the 'Cancel' button.
So 100% agree to that!

I'd just like to add that it's also a matter of health and sanity to keep busy in jobless times. Otherwise you'll find yourself checking your email a hundred times a day and not daring to go out in case you'll miss a job opportunity.

Also, like bale002 said, your experience is a strong factor in your favour.

If you save up a little money now to build a small buffer for the bad days, I don't think you've got a lot to worry about.

Best,
Margreet


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
Valuable advices Oct 5, 2007

Thank you so much.

@Bale002: your suggestion is so logical: why not using my experience and my connections at my location instead of starting world-wide and forget the companies in my neighbourhood?

@Philippe-Etienne:

If you're not prepared to undergo ups and downs, don't go freelance...


You hit the nail on the head! Exactly that is my problem and I need some addional time to find out, if I can handle the ups and downs.

@Magreet: you are so busy in sharing your experience. I agree to your last post: I will save up the earned "translation money" for bad days - and there are still some days / months, were I have my obligations here in the company.
We will see, what future provides...


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Italian to English
+ ...
Friendly advice Oct 5, 2007

Please don't take offence, but judging from your posts in this thread I think you would be advised not to market yourself as translating INTO English unless you intend to make use of a native speaker to proofread your work, or you work in highly technical niche areas where your knowledge of the correct terminology is more important than any grammatical errors you might make.

As others have said, Proz is more important as a place to "meet clients" rather than for the jobs advertised here. I see you're already active in Kudoz, which is a good way to raise your profile and get potential clients coming to you, rather than you having to contact them.


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
only into my mother tongue Oct 5, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

Please don't take offence, but judging from your posts in this thread I think you would be advised not to market yourself as translating INTO English unless you intend to make use of a native speaker to proofread your work, or you work in highly technical niche areas where your knowledge of the correct terminology is more important than any grammatical errors you might make.

As others have said, Proz is more important as a place to "meet clients" rather than for the jobs advertised here. I see you're already active in Kudoz, which is a good way to raise your profile and get potential clients coming to you, rather than you having to contact them.


Dear Marie-Hélène.
I mainly work in the technical field and I always prefer to translate into my mother tongue.
It is obvious, that my conversation does not always sound like that of an English mother tongue. I don't worry about this fact ( - but I am aware of it - and I think, that is important

[Bearbeitet am 2007-10-05 10:38]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Italian to English
+ ...
OK, that's good - Oct 5, 2007

Capesha wrote:

I mainly work in the technical field and I always prefer to translate into my mother tongue.
It is obvious, that my conversation does not always sound like that of an English mother tongue. I don't worry about this fact ( - but I am aware of it - and I think, that is important



- but your profile and caption alongside your posts says English to German/German to English, so (at least on this site) you are currently marketing yourself as translating into English - hence my advice.

[Edited at 2007-10-05 10:57]


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
Member (2006)
English to German
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Thanks for the advice! Oct 5, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

- but your profile and caption alongside your posts says English to German/German to English, so (at least on this site) you are currently marketing yourself as translating into English - hence my advice.

[Edited at 2007-10-05 10:57]


Thank you for drawing my attention to that fact.
Indeed I initially established my profile with en-de / de-en.
Take it as a sign of mindlessness - but I quickly realized, that the customer is always expecting 100% and that I am often struggling with those little words (on, at or shall I take in? ) - to make it short: my English grammar is not perfect...

I did not yet delete the de-en pair, but I should do so, as I really feel more comfortable to translate into my own language and know, that finally everything sounds smooth .


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interest languages and monolingual pairs Oct 5, 2007

Capesha wrote:
I did not yet delete the de-en pair, but I should do so, as I really feel more comfortable to translate into my own language and know, that finally everything sounds smooth .


Rather than deleting de-en altogether, you can mark it as an "interest" pair instead of a "working" pair. It is also a good idea to add your native language as a monolingual pair; in other words in your case, de-de.


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