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A few questions when setting up as a freelancer
Thread poster: Luke Hubbard

Luke Hubbard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
German to English
Aug 23, 2018

Hi,

I have a few questions regarding setting up as a freelancer. I finish my MA in January and after that, I will be looking at sending my CV to agencies to hopefully get some work. I am trying to get a few things sorted now so there is less to do at the end of January.

The questions:

1. How do you invoice and sort tax out? Do you invoice a few days after the submission of a translation and what sort of invoice do you use? Simple template online? Also with
... See more
Hi,

I have a few questions regarding setting up as a freelancer. I finish my MA in January and after that, I will be looking at sending my CV to agencies to hopefully get some work. I am trying to get a few things sorted now so there is less to do at the end of January.

The questions:

1. How do you invoice and sort tax out? Do you invoice a few days after the submission of a translation and what sort of invoice do you use? Simple template online? Also with tax, do you have an accountant or do you sort yourselves out?

2. GDPR - I've seen already that many translators are unsure whether they need to sign up for this, what is the overall consensus?

3. Which CAT tool would all recommend? From my uni course, we've only had access to a couple of free CAT tools and therefore unsure whether to use MemoQ or SDL Trados?

4. I was thinking of creating a website. Would you recommend this now or once I've got myself established?



I think I have my rates sorted for my work as I used the rate calculator here and to start with, I would go towards the lower end of the scale until I've got more experience.


Do you have any other advice for setting out as a freelancer?

Thanks a lot

Luke

[Edited at 2018-08-23 15:07 GMT]
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My answers Aug 23, 2018

The questions:

Q. How do you invoice and sort tax out?
A. That's a big question. The fact that you're asking suggests that you need to get yourself an accountant. I would recommend that you look for a small accountant who's local to you and who you can get to know personally. Big accountancy firms charge you a fortune and never really know who you are, nor do they care.

Q. Do you invoice a few days after the submission of a translation and what sort of invoice d
... See more
The questions:

Q. How do you invoice and sort tax out?
A. That's a big question. The fact that you're asking suggests that you need to get yourself an accountant. I would recommend that you look for a small accountant who's local to you and who you can get to know personally. Big accountancy firms charge you a fortune and never really know who you are, nor do they care.

Q. Do you invoice a few days after the submission of a translation and what sort of invoice do you use? Simple template online?
A. (a)To keep my life simple I usually issue all invoices on the last day of the month - unless the client specifically asks me to put in my invoice sooner than that. (b) I have my own very simple template invoice (as a Word file) that I use for all clients. I just save a copy of the file and change the data.

Q Also with tax, do you have an accountant or do you sort yourselves out?
A After many years of experience I now do all my own accounting but when it's required I have an accountant I can call on for occasional guidance or clarification.

Q. GDPR - I've seen already that many translators are unsure whether they need to sign up for this, what is the overall consensus?
A. I don't know what the overall consensus is but my own understanding is that I don't need to sign up for anything. All I would say is: be careful not to send mass emails to people you don't know and who didn't ask for them.

Q Which CAT tool would all recommend?
A I do not use any CAT tools. They seem to be widely used by translators who do a lot of repetitive work (technical manuals etc.) but they would not be suitable for the kind of translations that I do.

Q I was thinking of creating a website. Would you recommend this now or once I've got myself established?
A I once thought it would be a good idea to create a website. It was an enormous task that took up a lot of my time, and nothing came of it.

Q.Do you have any other advice for setting out as a freelancer?
A1 Be professional in all your doings.
A2 Don't translate out of your mother tongue, no matter how fluent you may think you are in another language.
A3 Don't expect the work to come pouring through your door. Becoming established is likely to take several years.
A4 Specialise. Don't say you can translate anything and everything.

Good luck!
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Ricki Farn
Teresa Borges
Christine Andersen
Jorge Payan
Jean-Yves Préault
ahartje
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
French to English
Virtual legwork Aug 23, 2018

Luke,

Each of your questions is very wide-ranging. You also raise the matter of rates and a final "miscellaneous" category. Very general questions will probably attract very general answers. Also, if all 5 areas are dealt with in one same thread, with everything getting intertwined, it is going to be difficult to follow.

Why not start by conducting a search of previous posts on each of these subjects here? You should be able to whittle things down a little and target y
... See more
Luke,

Each of your questions is very wide-ranging. You also raise the matter of rates and a final "miscellaneous" category. Very general questions will probably attract very general answers. Also, if all 5 areas are dealt with in one same thread, with everything getting intertwined, it is going to be difficult to follow.

Why not start by conducting a search of previous posts on each of these subjects here? You should be able to whittle things down a little and target your questions more specifically. You might consider providing more information about yourself, the type of work you want to do, the type of clients you wish to have, where you are based, and so on. The latter is very important for business structure and taxation, for example. CAT tools are also a very personal thing, again you are likely to find a lot of info on here.

There is no translator starter-pack. Part of the attraction of the job is that you can adjust to fit. Consider who you are and what you want and following further research, I think you will find a lot of the information you are looking for is already out there.

[Edited at 2018-08-23 15:44 GMT]
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Ricki Farn
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hmmmm Aug 23, 2018

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

There is no translator starter-pack.


Hmmm...that gives me an idea....



 

Luke Hubbard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Aug 23, 2018

Hi Tom and Nikki,

Thanks a lot for your replies.

I live in the UK (Surrey) and my specialisms are marketing, tourism and football texts and I am also a trained copywriter. I am happy to find agencies as well as direct clients.

I already have an accountant for my current job so may keep them on, but depending how organised I am with invoices etc, I want to try and sort my finances out by myself. I think I will learn all these skills once I start, it's gett
... See more
Hi Tom and Nikki,

Thanks a lot for your replies.

I live in the UK (Surrey) and my specialisms are marketing, tourism and football texts and I am also a trained copywriter. I am happy to find agencies as well as direct clients.

I already have an accountant for my current job so may keep them on, but depending how organised I am with invoices etc, I want to try and sort my finances out by myself. I think I will learn all these skills once I start, it's getting the first few jobs in and finding my feet - and I can't wait for the journey to begin.

Thanks again

Luke
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:20
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A few thoughts Aug 23, 2018

Lukeh17 wrote:
I finish my MA in January and after that, I will be looking at sending my CV to agencies to hopefully get some work.

I'd do that sooner rather than later. The majority probably won't respond at all; some will respond immediately but will only want you to fill out applications forms, sign mountains of contracts, do a test etc.; a few might be interested and you might even get a small job out of them, but don't expect tons of work straight away. That hardly ever happens in freelancing, whatever service you're supplying. There's nothing to stop you invoicing while a student (in the UK at least) and in my experience the end of the year "silly season" is a magnificent time for a newbie to be available for work. Many of us who are well established prefer to take the whole two weeks or so off, so agencies are often crying out for replacements.

Questions 1, 2 and maybe 4: How about finding out if your local Chamber of Commerce or similar organisation does courses on running a small business? Maybe your uni does? It doesn't have to take an immense amount of time but there are things you need to know before you start that shouldn't be learnt by trial and error.

Questions 2, 3 and 4: Invoicing and CAT tool could be covered nicely by investing in Plus membership of this site. It would also give you access to loads of other things you probably need. It's good value for money for beginners. It may seem a lot of money at the moment, but it could pay dividends in the long run.

Do you have any other advice for setting out as a freelancer?

Vast amounts, far too much, in fact! Why not search this site? Apart from the forums and articles, check out the Site Guidance Centre; attend the "Meeting Clients" free webinar; consult the Risk Management and CV Wikis; sign up for Scam Centre notifications...


 

Luke Hubbard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 23, 2018

Thanks Sheila,

I will do some more research on here and I want to also do the SUFT course by ITI as that looks extremely useful - won't probably be till spring now but that will be good as I will a couple of months into my new career.


 

Kari Peltola  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
English to Finnish
+ ...
My thoughts Aug 24, 2018

For regular clients, I send an invoice at the end of the month. If I only do occasional jobs for the client, I generally send the invoice together with the translated files.

I do the taxes myself. I'm registered as a sole trader in the UK and not liable for VAT, and I find the self-assessment pretty straightforward.

I would recommend creating a website. Personally, I don't really find clients directly through my website, but although the results are hard to measure, I b
... See more
For regular clients, I send an invoice at the end of the month. If I only do occasional jobs for the client, I generally send the invoice together with the translated files.

I do the taxes myself. I'm registered as a sole trader in the UK and not liable for VAT, and I find the self-assessment pretty straightforward.

I would recommend creating a website. Personally, I don't really find clients directly through my website, but although the results are hard to measure, I believe it conveys an image of professionalism and has helped me to land new clients and increase my rates when applying for jobs and contacting agencies.
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Luke Hubbard
 

Luke Hubbard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Kari Aug 24, 2018

Thank you Kari,

Your idea of invoicing regulars at the end of the month sounds good - once they've paid do you include that money in the month you did their work or the month in which you received the money?

I need to read more about VAT and GDPR - I'm guessing I may not need to register for VAT but will see.

I understand what you're saying about a website and also it's a way of marketing yourself without business cards and social media too.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
French to English
Official and formal sources Aug 24, 2018

Luke Hubbard wrote:

... once [the client has] paid, do you include that money in the month you did their work or the month in which you received the money?



I'm not sure what you mean by "include" here. In the most basic accounting terms, a credit entry is made when the money is received, not when it is invoiced. Your accounting is a real-time record of financial activity, money in, money out. If you have not received money from the client, it will not appear on your bank statement and so you cannot include it in your accounting.

It might be worth doing an online basic accounting course. There are lots of MOOC out there. Any comments on here on things as important as accounting are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Mine included! Forums are informal and accounting and taxation mistakes can be costly. So whatever you do, get information from official and formal sources.

Luke Hubbard wrote:

... template



Again, you need to know what the legal requirements are for your type of set-up depending on where you are based, etc. It's usually very straightforward. Again, official sources.

[Edited at 2018-08-24 17:05 GMT]


 

Kari Peltola  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
English to Finnish
+ ...
Invoicing and accounting Aug 24, 2018

once they've paid do you include that money in the month you did their work or the month in which you received the money?


I use cash basis, so the payments account for the month I actually receive the money. This makes preparing the tax return quite simple, I can just export a spreadsheet from my online bank and sum the income and expenses.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:20
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You do as you're told Aug 24, 2018

Luke Hubbard wrote:
do you include that money in the month you did their work or the month in which you received the money

Nobody can really answer that for you, Luke. Even within one country, some people may need to do their tax returns on the basis of amounts and dates invoiced, while others have to declare amounts received. So find out from your own tax authorities. There will also be various data/statements to include in the invoice (e.g. re VAT) to comply with local tax laws.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Your rates Aug 25, 2018

Luke Hubbard wrote:

Hi,

I think I have my rates sorted for my work as I used the rate calculator here and to start with, I would go towards the lower end of the scale until I've got more experience.


Do you have any other advice for setting out as a freelancer?

Thanks a lot

Luke

[Edited at 2018-08-23 15:07 GMT]


Hi Luke, good luck. I wouldn't advise you to set your rates too low as you will find it difficult to raise them after. After all, you are going to deliver professional work - at least I hope, and if you've successfully finished MA in translation, you should be able to do so - so you should be able to set your rates for professional work, experienced or not.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 03:20
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
invoicing my 2c Aug 25, 2018

Luke Hubbard wrote:

Hi,

I have a few questions regarding setting up as a freelancer. I finish my MA in January and after that, I will be looking at sending my CV to agencies to hopefully get some work. I am trying to get a few things sorted now so there is less to do at the end of January.

The questions:

1. How do you invoice and sort tax out? Do you invoice a few days after the submission of a translation and what sort of invoice do you use? Simple template online? Also with tax, do you have an accountant or do you sort yourselves out?

Luke

[Edited at 2018-08-23 15:07 GMT]


You have some good answers here already, but here's my 2c:

* Invoicing: most agencies treat my invoices as incoming at the end of the month, regardless of when I send them, so I just send them at the end of the month -- at least for regular clients. (Caveat: public holidays in your recipient country may vary...). Sending invoices at the end of the week/month allows you to collect up several jobs into the same invoice.
However: Some clients (particularly one-off direct clients) will request (and pay!) an invoice immediately, and occasionally new agencies will request an invoice early on. Equally, you might ask a new client to pay your first invoice when it reaches XX amount, as part of your risk limitation.
* Have some kind of calendar tracking system for when you expect invoices to be paid and when you may need to send reminders, particularly when you're working with new/unknown agencies (but do do your due diligence here before accepting work!)
* Invoicing: here in Germany, at least, there are regulations specifying information that must be included on an invoice. Check the regulations for your country.
[ETA] Some agencies also have a preferred invoicing form/format, or specific information they ask you to include (e.g. job number). I suppose you could insist any valid invoice *should* be paid, but I try and follow agency guidelines where they're given. (You might also consider what language(s) you plan to use for your invoices).


[Edited at 2018-08-25 08:34 GMT]


 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 03:20
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
discounts Aug 25, 2018

Luke Hubbard wrote:

I think I have my rates sorted for my work as I used the rate calculator here and to start with, I would go towards the lower end of the scale until I've got more experience.


Do you have any other advice for setting out as a freelancer?

Luke

[Edited at 2018-08-23 15:07 GMT]


Oh! Oh! I have another tip: Decide what you want to do about CAT (repetition) discounts and watch for agencies wanting to impose discounts on you that you haven't agreed to, and/or discounts for "repetitions" from dubious agency-provided TMs.


 
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