Getting into translating (Dutch -> English) part time.
Thread poster: Danatru
Danatru
Canada
Feb 23, 2015

Hey all,

I would like to get into translating as a part time job if it is a viable opportunity for me. I've lived in Canada for 15 years, my English is good, but don't have any education beyond a secondary school level. We still speak Dutch at home, my written skills are not great, speaking is good - aside from grammar issues, and reading is almost fluent.

I have full time work on a dairy farm, but I would like an additional source of income on the side, something I can do in my spare time, i.e. at night. Is translating a good option for me if I can only dedicate a few hours per day to it?

And if so, what kind of further education should I look into first, or what kind of specialization should I explore?

I apologize if I'm re-hashing older threads, the forums are a bit overwhelming, thought this would be a good place to start.

Many thanks,

Danatru


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:29
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Options Feb 23, 2015

Translation would be an option for you if you can offer skills in a specialised field, for example dairy industry documentation, which I imagine is produced in copious quantities that require translation.

Much more than studying or acquiring degrees in qualifications, consider that what the end-user is looking for is proven skill and competency in the practical business of translation. Many translators have no specific translating qualifications at all, but because they translate very well and have demonstrated the fact, do very well for themselves.

But the most important thing is: specialisation. Nobody can translate every type of document. By specialising, you are differentiating yourself from everybody else.

Oh, and one more thing: despite the fact that many voices are raised to the contrary, one should only translate into one's native language.

[Edited at 2015-02-23 16:43 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I imagine you're talking about your English skills here? Feb 23, 2015

Danatru wrote:
We still speak Dutch at home, my written skills are not great, speaking is good - aside from grammar issues, and reading is almost fluent.

Anyway, whichever language it is you're talking about, if your "written skills are not great" then you can never expect to translate into it as a freelancer. An inhouse translator may work both ways, as their company has made an investment in just one person, but there's no reason for the client of a freelancer to accept anything less than the best.

I have full time work on a dairy farm, but I would like an additional source of income on the side, something I can do in my spare time, i.e. at night. Is translating a good option for me if I can only dedicate a few hours per day to it?

As Tom says, dairy would probably make a good specialisation for you. However, I'm not sure you're wise in looking on any freelancing job as "income on the side". Whether you're a self-employed translator, web designer, plumber or whatever, you're going to be looking at months, maybe years, of investment before it pays well. First, you need to build a client base. And you'll likely come across a big problem: deadlines. Well, they're a problem to all of us, but if you only have a few hours per day then you're going to find them a massive problem. A full-timer may decide to put in 3 long days to satisfy a deadline for 10,000 words; it would be unlikely that the client would allow you to spread the work over a couple of weeks. Also, don't forget that translation is intellectually demanding and so not ideal after a full day of work.

Having said that, where there's a will there's a way. If the motivation to be a translator is there, I'm sure you can make it work. But if the principal motivation is money, I advise you to look for a more high-yielding cash-cow.


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Danatru
Canada
TOPIC STARTER
Feedback Feb 23, 2015

Tom in London wrote:


Oh, and one more thing: despite the fact that many voices are raised to the contrary, one should only translate into one's native language.

[Edited at 2015-02-23 16:43 GMT]


I definitely consider English my native language, not Dutch.

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Anyway, whichever language it is you're talking about, if your "written skills are not great" then you can never expect to translate into it as a freelancer. An inhouse translator may work both ways, as their company has made an investment in just one person, but there's no reason for the client of a freelancer to accept anything less than the best.


I appreciate that and am aware that I would have to brush up on my written skills!



And you'll likely come across a big problem: deadlines. Well, they're a problem to all of us, but if you only have a few hours per day then you're going to find them a massive problem. A full-timer may decide to put in 3 long days to satisfy a deadline for 10,000 words; it would be unlikely that the client would allow you to spread the work over a couple of weeks. Also, don't forget that translation is intellectually demanding and so not ideal after a full day of work..


Deadline are also my main concern, I don't want to take on something I cannot do. If there are sufficient jobs out there that could be completed over a few days, a few hours a day, then maybe this is something for me. If it is all many hours and complete asap then I should probably look into something else!

I understand it is intellectually demanding, but a physically demanding job after a full day of work is not ideal either, I've been there, and done that. And I don't want to be tied down to something away from home, in case of emergencies, busy days, etc.

I know I have the brains to do this, I'm just here to figure out if it's a feasible option for me and if I could deliver good service considering my time limitations!

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Having said that, where there's a will there's a way. If the motivation to be a translator is there, I'm sure you can make it work. But if the principal motivation is money, I advise you to look for a more high-yielding cash-cow.


Don't be milking the cow jokes!

[Edited at 2015-02-23 19:11 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:29
English to German
+ ...
Don't let yourself be exploited! Don't overwork yourself! Feb 23, 2015

Danatru wrote:



Sheila Wilson wrote:

Having said that, where there's a will there's a way. If the motivation to be a translator is there, I'm sure you can make it work. But if the principal motivation is money, I advise you to look for a more high-yielding cash-cow.


Don't be milking the cow jokes!

[Edited at 2015-02-23 19:11 GMT]


Don't think you have to work for low pay as a translator. Completely false. Professional translators work for professional rates. And every translator should be a professional. Otherwise, you're just getting exploited and it hurts the whole industry. People who charge little or, worse, give in to demands on job boards with low paying projects are not doing themselves or our profession any favors. No matter if you're doing this part-time (say 2-3 hours every day) or full-time (let's say 6-8 hours every day, 5-6 days a week), you need to charge adequate rates. Especially since busy times are often interrupted by times with little or no translation work.

Translating is a highly sophisticated activity and therefore demanding on your mind and body. I don't think it's a good idea to combine it with lots of other physical work - you'll work yourself sick. And not getting paid adequately for it is unacceptable.
My two cents.

Here's a link for you to get a basic idea about what you should charge. I don't agree with everything on it but it contains quite a few good points. See below.

And I don't condone the practice by people who might be doing this for "fun" and charge inadequate rates because they have other money or a "money shaker." If they can't see that they're just being exploited by outsourcers who profit greatly from that kind of behavior, I can't help them. But it's bad for all of us.

http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator


[Edited at 2015-02-24 05:50 GMT]


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