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When to start calling yourself a freelancer
Thread poster: KKastenhuber

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:06
Russian to German
+ ...
Apr 20, 2010

Hello fellow translators!

I've been studying translation at university for 6 years now. Our teachers encourage us to start translating in real life conditions before we graduate, and I think they're very right doing so. I have even managed to get some small translation jobs outside of university, but I got the impression that most clients see no need to pay a translator who calls herself a "translation student". Of course I'm grateful for any experience I can get, but still, I don't see why I should work for free or very little money when I'm actually doing a good job.

I have studied long enough to know that I'm not a bad translator, but I'm lacking the self-confidence to call myself a "freelancer" just now. I just changed my profile on Proz today from "student" to "freelancer" in order to be able to apply for a specific job that I think I'm qualified for. (I hadn't even realized that was possible before today.) It does feel a bit like lying about myself, though. Am I just overly humble? Would it be okay to call myself a freelancer even though I haven't finished university yet, given that I only apply for jobs that I'm qualified for without actually having a degree yet?

I do think it's kind of silly to automatically consider a student's work "low quality" (or simply not worth the money) compared to a freelancer's, when it's not a requirement to go to university at all in order to be a freelancer.

When did you start calling yourself a freelancer (in your Proz profile, or just generally)? What does it take to be one? Is it possible to be both a student and a freelancer at the same time? (Obviously I don't intend to live off what I earn through translations, so time is not an issue here.)

Thanks for sharing your opinions and experience!
K.


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Johannes Mueller  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:06
Dutch to German
+ ...
I think that... Apr 20, 2010

you can call yourself a freelancer as soon as you start working as a freelancer- regardless of any studies. It's not like you are a lawyer who needs to study lawin order to became a lawyer- just do it and call yourself a freelancer.

If Proz charges less from students, then I would call myself a student (if I were you), but for the rest.....

I used to work for an agency that was only accepting applicatiobns from students, and lots of agencies require a diploma, but unless you do a sworn translation only few people care.

Have a great day!

J.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:06
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I guess immediately Apr 20, 2010

Well, you seem to have it figured out already:
- you want to work in translation, but not at student wages, so I guess that makes you a freelancer.

A freelancer however, is somebody who is looking to make a living out of translations, so failing that you are either a student or somebody with a rich spouse, and you just 'do' translations to keep you occupied.

With 6 years of study and a little bit of experience you have probably studied more than a lot of people on this site, and quality does not come with studies anyway - translation is a life long training for excellence...

And yes if you just start out (either after your education or without training) your work does require a little more attention than experienced translators, but you can also ask other students or your teacher to proofready the texts (time permitting) or contact a more experienced translator yourself to handle the proofreading.


So, welcome to the world of Freelancers...!

Ed


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:06
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
student & freelancer Apr 20, 2010

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


I'd just like to reply to this part:


A freelancer however, is somebody who is looking to make a living out of translations, so failing that you are either a student or somebody with a rich spouse, and you just 'do' translations to keep you occupied.


That's what I was trying to say by pointing out that I'm NOT intending to make a living out of translations. I simply cannot do this, as I'm still involved with university and getting a degree is my priority number one. On the other hand I do have a lot of time on my hands that I could (and want to) spend translating. I guess what I'm aiming for is a smooth transition from university to job.

I guess I'll be a "student who works as a freelance translator" (or something along those lines) from now on then.


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Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:06
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Freelancer Apr 20, 2010

Dear KKastenhuber,

Remember always that, differently from Prince Charles of United Kingdom, you may change your profession at any time, and no one of your potential client may ask you about everything you made in your professional life.

Change profession, I mean that today you may be a freelancer, tomorrow an employee on a translation outsourcer, and on next year an owner of a translation agency, and so on.

Most professional careers went such professional paths! I think that very, very few potential clients want to know what you did in the past on an every day basis.

So, if you do not get satisfied as a freelancer, you always could change. Of course it costs.

Indeed, Prince Charles has only one profession: wait until his Mom dies. What he may do if he abdicate? He has to start work hard. But I think he may like his profession.

On the other hand, see catholic priests, if they went out from their Church, on what other profession they may work?


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:06
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm aware of that. Apr 20, 2010


Remember always that, differently from Prince Charles of United Kingdom, you may change your profession at any time, and no one of your potential client may ask you about everything you made in your professional life.

Change profession, I mean that today you may be a freelancer, tomorrow an employee on a translation outsourcer, and on next year an owner of a translation agency, and so on.


I am very aware of that. I was merely asking about whether I could call myself a freelance translator (e.g. when applying for a job) while I'm still a student, as it seems to imply a difference in quality from a client's perspective.

Oddly enough, while almost all jobs offered on Proz are restricted to members who are not students, it's possible to have a student membership with a freelancer's profile type and its benefits.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:06
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
no no no Apr 20, 2010

If you want be a professional, and get some professional tariffs and you think the qualily of your translations is professional - you are a professional (and a freelancer who just happens to be doing a study on the side, which means you will not always have time to take on new projects).
But that is no different from any other freelancer who has to pick up the kids from school and drive them to a football training..

If you think the outsourcer should seriously take a second look at the translation you provide and have a second professional translator take a look at it with, because, and the rates you work for are so low this is still profitable for the outsourcer - you should call yourself a student. In which case looking for an internship at a translation agency for a couple of days a week might be an interesting idea...

Ed


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
The meaning of freelancer Apr 20, 2010

Freelancing is a tax arrangement. It means that you are responsible for your own taxes, and implies that you are registered as a freelancer. If you are not registered as a freelancer then you shouldn't call yourself one. It would be deceitful as you would be misresprenting yourself, and depending on the quality of your translations, may attract criminal liability.

On the other hand, if you are freelancing and paying your taxes etc. the fact that you are still studying would not affect the fact that you are a freelancer, even if translating is a only part-time activity.


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:06
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Misunderstanding? Apr 20, 2010

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

If you want be a professional, and get some professional tariffs and you think the qualily of your translations is professional - you are a professional (and a freelancer who just happens to be doing a study on the side, which means you will not always have time to take on new projects).
But that is no different from any other freelancer who has to pick up the kids from school and drive them to a football training..

If you think the outsourcer should seriously take a second look at the translation you provide and have a second professional translator take a look at it with, because, and the rates you work for are so low this is still profitable for the outsourcer - you should call yourself a student. In which case looking for an internship at a translation agency for a couple of days a week might be an interesting idea...

Ed


I don't really get the point of this posting.

Obviously, if I'm going to claim to be a professional, I'm also going to work like one. (And I would never knowingly deliver a bad translation once I accepted to do it, no matter how low the payment!) I'm not trying to trick employers into giving me a job that I'm unable or unwilling to do. Quite the contrary: I feel competent enough now for doing "real" jobs with real payment. I just won't always have time to take on new projects, because I want to finish university. I do not intend to saddle myself with a workload I cannot cope with and end up delivering bad work.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:06
German to English
+ ...
Check out the situation in your country Apr 20, 2010

Tatty wrote:

Freelancing is a tax arrangement. It means that you are responsible for your own taxes, and implies that you are registered as a freelancer. If you are not registered as a freelancer then you shouldn't call yourself one. It would be deceitful as you would be misresprenting yourself, and depending on the quality of your translations, may attract criminal liability.

On the other hand, if you are freelancing and paying your taxes etc. the fact that you are still studying would not affect the fact that you are a freelancer, even if translating is a only part-time activity.


This is highly country-dependent. Check out the tax and legal situation where you live.


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:06
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks - good advice! Apr 20, 2010

Tatty wrote:

Freelancing is a tax arrangement. It means that you are responsible for your own taxes, and implies that you are registered as a freelancer. If you are not registered as a freelancer then you shouldn't call yourself one. It would be deceitful as you would be misresprenting yourself, and depending on the quality of your translations, may attract criminal liability.

On the other hand, if you are freelancing and paying your taxes etc. the fact that you are still studying would not affect the fact that you are a freelancer, even if translating is a only part-time activity.


Thanks. That was actually the kind of response I was expecting and hoping for.

Would there be any negative consequences if I registered as a freelancer right away, knowing that I won't be earning much through translation during the first few months/years (because I'd only do it part-time)? I would definitely love to be able to call myself a freelancer and not "just" a student.

Daina Jauntirans wrote:
This is highly country-dependent. Check out the tax and legal situation where you live.


Thanks. Will do.

[Edited at 2010-04-20 14:33 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Need local advice Apr 20, 2010

KKastenhuber wrote:
Would there be any negative consequences if I registered as a freelancer right away, knowing that I won't be earning much through translation during the first few months/years (because I'd only do it part-time)? I would definitely love to be able to call myself a freelancer and not "just" a student.


That's something that can only be answered by a freelancer in Austria, so posting in the German forum might be useful.

If you were based in France, my answer 6 months ago would have been "massive negative consequences, such as social security payments being maybe more than 100% of income!!!", but things changed recently.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
The situation in Spain Apr 20, 2010

which probably isn't very useful but at least it is one perspective.

Here we can earn up to the national minimum wage (on a monthly basis - that is we shouldn't really offset one month of low income with another in which we earned over the monthly national minimum wage - that is, we should pay social security in respect of months in which we earn over and above the monthly national minimum wage) without paying social security. Moreover, registering as a freelancer means that we can deduct expenses.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:06
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
it's clear then Apr 22, 2010

KKastenhuber wrote:

I don't really get the point of this posting.


If I had 0,02 cts for every wannabe translator, cv and email I receive from all over the world, from "translators" claiming top quality translations for rock bottom prices I'd be rich!!

But your approach is good - you only take the jobs and volumes you can handle and are comfortable with ! - so you are a professional!

For Proz I would call myself a Freelancer, perhaps your Linkedin should say the same... I would not call myself a student anymore...

Ed

[Edited at 2010-04-22 15:49 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Professional student? Apr 22, 2010

I don't mean any teasing or criticism, but what a lot of studies!

KKastenhuber wrote:
I've been studying translation at university for 6 years now.


I won't be earning much through translation during the first few months/years (because I'd only do it part-time)


As someone who left education at 18 (along with the majority of kids who didn't stop at 16 back in the 70s), it seems an awfully long time.

I'm sure you ought to have the right to earn some serious money by now. It seems to me that you are already a lot more professional than an awful lot of "professional translators", so go for it, and good luck.icon_smile.gif


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