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Thread poster: Sara Freitas

Sara Freitas
Local time: 09:03
French to English
May 24, 2002

I\'m looking for some advice from established translators...I have been working for an agency for almost a year doing English training and translating...I feel like I\'ve gained enough confidence to go out on my own on a part-time basis. I have heard that it is really tough to make a go of freelancing when you have another job, even if it is only part-time.

Another question...I have found a \"portage\" organization for billing and payments, which I think is a good solution for me, and I know I will need to invest some money in the following areas to really get started: office equip (fax machine especially and maybe a laser printer), memberships (is going \"Platinum\" profitable, especially when I have little freelance experience and a very un-impressive profile page on ProZ?) and mailing to agencies...lastly...CAT it profitable for me to invest in CAT at this early stage?

I think I am pretty realistic about investing at the beginning and not actually making any money for a little while, but I\'d appreciate your help in setting priorities!! Thanks!


Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
French to English
Start specializing May 24, 2002

Hi Sara,

You don\'t say what country you\'re in - the situation does depend a bit on where you are. If you are in France, you will have to go through all the formalities necessary to set yourself up as a \"travailler indépendent\". It\'s easier here in the UK.

I have two pieces of advice for you:

1.Start specializing now. You need to translate in a field you know really well. If you don\'t understand the French text, you can\'t translate it.

2. Join a professional translators\' association and get to know other translators in that field who will help you and tell you which agencies to contact, which to avoid etc. Generally people seem to have found cold-mailing pretty inefficient.

Good luck!



Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
German to English
+ ...
The $64,000 question! May 24, 2002

Hi Sara,

You\'ve asked the perennial question! If you ask 100 different translators how to get started in the business, you\'ll probably get 100 different answers! A lot depends on your location (both nationally and regionally), your expertise, etc.

Working part time can work as well, but, as you say, can be difficult. You need either an understanding boss or a flexible working arrangement, because your mobile should always be on to accept or discuss translation work even on the days when you\'re officially doing the \'day job\'! But it is very difficult to just take the plunge on the offchance that the work will come flooding in.

With respect to hardware, I wouldn\'t worry about a fax machine if you\'ve got a computer. These days, more and more work is being sent by e-mail (including purchase orders, etc.) and I even do most of my invoicing by e-mail. I very rarely send or receive faxes nowadays, and I can always do that on the computer if I need to.

The most important thing you need is a quick(ish) computer that is reliable, and a good internet connection. The internet is rapidly becoming the most valuable source of reference out there and, especially if you\'re starting out, you won\'t be able to afford to go out and buy yourself a whole reference library.

ProZ membership: to be honest, it\'s difficult to know whether it pays for itself. My theory was that ProZ is a valuable resource to me, and I wanted to support it. I\'ve never got a job posted on ProZ, but I very rarely bid on them. What I do get is lots of direct contact with people through ProZ mail, but it is difficult to quantify whether that\'s because I\'m platinum, because I have a relatively high profile in the KudoZ arena or anything else.

CAT software is another difficult one. Few people will dispute that it has merits, but the extent of these merits does depend on the kind of work you do. For example, if it\'s creative, waffly stuff, the benefits are going to be smaller than if its very dry, repetitive and highly technical. But there are free alternatives around that are supposed to be usable, so that might be a good alternative at the moment (the software\'s called Wordfast, I don\'t know much about it myself but I\'m sure somebody else does!)

Anyway, hope this helped and didn\'t confuse the issue too much icon_wink.gif



Lydia Molea  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:03
English to German
+ ...
Same situation May 24, 2002


I am in a similar situation, I have a part-time job also (and a very understanding boss). I started taking freelancing seriously about 1 year ago, and it is slowly but surely picking up and jobs are coming in more and more constantly / frequently. The beginning can be very frustrating. I registered with different translator sites, agencies, etc. Show presence, and sooner or later it will pay.

For me, ProZ did pay for itself. I was a non-paying member for a few months and then upgraded. I received quite a bit of enquiries and just the other day I got a job.

Wordfast seems pretty good, I am just getting around to figuring it out. I am not willing to invest in CAT software just yet.

I have e-fax through aol, saves the fax machine.

The problem with the part-time job is that sometimes you have to take urgent jobs and you don\'t get much sleep during that time, and free time, such as weekends, can be non-existent, but I wouldn\'t recommend giving up this \"security\" at the beginning.

I hope this helps & Good luck!



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