What should I do before start as a freelancer?
Thread poster: Felix Xu

Felix Xu
Local time: 00:00
Chinese to German
+ ...
Oct 14, 2014

I'm a translator from China with almost 20 years experiences in translation among German, English and Chinese. And now I want to start as a freelancer worldwide but I'm really confused as if all my experiences do not work, because this area has its own rules. The question is:
Are there some experiences could be shared for example some tips or a part of checklist for the beginners?
Thanks a lot for any answers.

[修改时间: 2014-10-14 08:23 GMT]

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:00
English to Polish
+ ...
... Oct 14, 2014

You will need to:

1. assert your credibility;
2. be different from your competition (e.g. fill a defined niche, appeal to a narrow target audience etc.).

For #1:

1. get your diplomas and certificates together, translated if necessary;
2. get some certificates in general, the more widely recognized the better (both for language command and for translation skills, for writing skills if applicable);
3. capitalize on all sorts of formal qualifications you can wrap up;
4. get testimonials from previous employers and clients and recommendations from any famous professors or other public figures you may've worked with;
5. your CV must be absolutely top-notch;
6. get some samples of your work online.

For #2:

Chris Durban: The Prosperous Translator — Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee
Judy Jenner, Dagmar Jenner: The Entrepreneurial Linguist
Corinne McKay: How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator; same: Thoughts on Translation
Marta Stelmaszak's blog at www.wantwords.co.uk and her presentations on YouTube

For website, logo etc.: http://websitesfortranslators.co.uk/webdesign/

If you want to seek clients through Proz.com, it won't hurt to get a paid membership and, more importantly, the Certified Pro badge, which is by no means a formal translation certification but simply a somewhat highly publicized internal feature of Proz.com that identified translators somewhat tested for reliability.

[Edited at 2014-10-14 17:42 GMT]

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:00
Member (2007)
+ ...
With 20 years of experience you know how to translate, so that's a start! Oct 15, 2014

1. The differences in the process between in-house and freelance translating might be:
a) having to use various CAT tools and other tools as required by clients
b) having to receive and deliver files in the format specified by the client
c) having to work at a greater distance from the end-client i.e. less guidance in general, and NO BOSS!

2. Additional skills you will need might be:
a) marketing (not a "might be"; that's a definite requirement and you need to acquire that skill urgently). At the very least you'll need a freelancer's CV, NOT an employee's CV (http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Creating_an_effective_CV_/_resume) and a top-quality ProZ.com profile, if you'll be using this site as your showcase (http://www.proz.com/guidance-center/additional-resources/#webinars)
b) business admin (another definite), including negotiating, invoicing, book-keeping, payment chasing... plus of course making sure your business meets your country's requirements
c) risk management, to reduce the risk of working with poor clients and to avoid being scammed (http://www.proz.com/about/translator-scam-alerts/)
d) IT knowledge to deal with all the points in 1 and 2 above

3. Differences between the two jobs (apart from obvious things like working hours and place), might be:
a) In-house translators tackle everything the company needs; freelancers only offer to do what they do best, plus (in selected cases only) what they're likely to be able to do better than others. An example: in my pair, I would be unlikely to produce a better translation INTO French than a French native speaker, so I don't offer EN>FR. The same probably doesn't hold true in your pairs but you should still make sure the non-Chinese target is perfect before delivery (even if that means having an out-of-Chinese translation proofread). For the same reason, we often specialise in a limited range of subject areas.
b) In-house translators are told what texts to translate; freelancers decide for themselves which texts to accept. Don't let your CLIENTS treat you like an employee: you have the right to say "no" (politely).
c) In-house translators have a set salary and conditions; freelancers negotiate both at the start of a relationship with a client and then possibly again for every job for that client. Don't let your CLIENTS treat you like an employee: you have the right to set your terms and conditions (price, payment method, payment deadline...).

Bear in mind that it takes time to build up a solid client base. So you'll probably have a lot of spare time at first to either take on some sort of part-time salaried job (flipping McDonald's burgers?) or to do some intensive reading, studying and marketing.

Good luck!

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