How much time does it take to become a full-time translator?
Thread poster: s_mathon

s_mathon  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:45
Spanish to French
+ ...
May 14, 2009

Hello everybody,

I am a franco-mexican translator. I am new here. I have finished my studies a few months ago and I am starting as a freelance translator in France.
I would like to know how many time did it take for those who are already freelancers to have a full-time occupation in translation? And when were you able to earn enough money to live of your translation activity?

I have done some works, but not enough to pay all my charges. I have begun looking for clients 3 months ago. I know it can be long, and that looking for clients is a long-term work, but I would like to have some examples, to know if I am doing everything right.

Could anyone of you give me some advice?? It would really be very helpful.

Thank you very much!

Stéphanie.

[Edited at 2009-05-14 14:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-05-15 10:58 GMT]


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:45
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
I takes both ALL time and NO time :) May 14, 2009

FULL-TIME — to work full time.
(Almost) NO TIME — to make a decision to work full-time.

;D


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:45
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Start working with some local agency... May 14, 2009

... and try getting freelancier and freelancier every day...
Do jobs and look for clients in parallel.


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s_mathon  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:45
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
after how much time did you became a full-time freelancer? May 14, 2009

Yes, thank you, that's what I do, but I would like to know how much time in average does it take to have a full-time job as a freelancer and at what moment is it possible to live from this?

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Lany Chabot-Laroche  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:45
Member (2009)
English to French
Depends on you May 14, 2009

s_mathon wrote:

Yes, thank you, that's what I do, but I would like to know how much time in average does it take to have a full-time job as a freelancer and at what moment is it possible to live from this?



Some people are able to achieve that within 1-2 years, others will take over 10 years to get there. Overall, it all comes down to you.

You need to have what it takes to market yourself properly in the first place. Once that is done, you will probably get some tests here and there from agencies and/or clients, you then need to give quality work to keep getting work from those clients/agencies.

Also, never stop looking for more work, some agencies/clients might stop using your services for various reasons, and you need to have a backup plan if that happens.

Good luck.


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:45
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Actually, May 14, 2009

we all are freelancers, if we don't get salary...

Work with several agencies. Drop the agencies that give you less than 15% of monthly income just to save time by not keeping them in mind (it is difficult to keep in mind even the names of people, if they represent less that 15% of you income). Such agencies are not stable and you cannot rely on them. In parallel, look for the clients and long-term projects. Never lose good and stable agencies and long-term projects — you can always outsources minor jobs if you have other...


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:45
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
it depends May 14, 2009

s_mathon wrote:
how much time in average does it take to have a full-time job as a freelancer and at what moment is it possible to live from this?


Everything depends on your productivity. Knowing youк need, the daily productivity, and the rates you can/may charge... So, we come up with the following simplified ratio:

Daily need :: (Current daily productivity x Current rate)

Play with the values in the right part of the ratio. You cannot have the rate too low. You cannot have unlimited productivity. The truth is somewhere in between.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:45
Member (2002)
German to English
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It will always change according to the particular circumstances May 14, 2009

By ordinary standards, I could not have lived on the money I earned during my first year as a freelancer. However, I did live on it, because I had a flat of less than 30 square metres (I think 28 square metres including the balcony, in fact) and paid a very low rent for it. I moved to a larger one with a higher rent shortly prior to my second year as a freelancer, which just happened to be a year of terrific economic boom. Therefore the work came pouring in.

I did not start as a freelancer without previously already having clients. In other words, I did quite a lot of translating before I became a full-time freelancer. I translated (among other things) in the office where I worked all day, and I translated for agencies in the evenings and at weekends. When I left the office where I worked all day, that office became yet another client.

If you just started off as a freelancer without a base, you would have to have a lot of money saved up first - at least enough to live on for a minimum of a year. If you then earned enough money to cover 6 months in the first year, you would still have 6 months' savings left at the end of the year, and be able to do the same thing for a second year. If, in the second year, however, you earned enough to cover 9 months' expenses, you would still have a 3-month reserve left for the third year ... and if, in the third year, you earned enough to cover 12 months' expenses, i.e. as much money as you needed to live off, you would again still have a 3-month reserve at the start of your fourth year in business ... for that new computer that you would need by then.


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:45
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
There are stories and stories May 14, 2009

I guess you are expecting to read something that is motivating.

When my last job as a corporate translator ended in March 1994, I decided to become a full-time freelancer. By that time, I already had one or two clients for whom I did some freelance work. I thought to myself that within a year I would be able to determine if being a freelancer paid. I then startet seeking more new clients. By the end of the following month, April 1994, I already had all the work I could have wished for. Paraphrasing our colleague Sergei, it took me (almost) no time, but it takes all the time because you have to make an effort to keep you existing clients and/or get new ones.

Good luck.

[Edited at 2009-05-14 17:44 GMT]


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s_mathon  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:45
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone May 14, 2009

Thank you everybody for your answers.

I think it is not the best period (crisis, ...) to find clients, but I have already some work, after just a few months of searching.

I think I will continue looking for new clients the next months, and if really I see I won't be able to live from this, I may choose another job.

Anyway, this forum is very useful.

Have a nice day.


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Andreia Santos
Portugal
Local time: 18:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Availability May 14, 2009

Hi

It took me almost 6 months to become a full-time freelancer after finishing my studies and after 6 years I can proudly say I'm more than happy with my career!
One key to success is to be available for translations (even if you have to work at night/weekends in the first years). Once a client is happy with your work, he will surely send you more work or knows someone who needs a translator...
Reply to job posts, send CVs to companies you are interested in... and do your best!!


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