how to start up
Thread poster: Wouter Vanhees

Wouter Vanhees  Identity Verified
English to Flemish
+ ...
Jan 3, 2007

Hi everyone,

First of all I'd like to send all of you my best wishes for 2007!

I'm planning to establish myself as a parttime freelance translator (English > Dutch; based in Belgium) soon, but have some questions where your valuable input would be highly appreciated. My questions actually cover a couple of topics, but I decided to bundle them together in one post and enter it in the 'getting established' forum. I sincerely hope that this was the right thing to do...

Ok, here goes...

First, how do you process an order? Do you send the client a PO with detailed information on the job, price, deadline, method of payment, method of delivery,...? Is it standard practice to ask the client to confirm this PO? Any suggestions on this topic?

I also have a question on CAT-tools. Does anyone use OmegaT? Would you recommend it?

And then there are the payment options. I'd like to offer a couple of payment options, like the classic bank transer, Paypal (I'm thinking of getting a Premier-account) and Moneybookers. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Is Western Union an (affordable) option?

My last question is on the subject of sustainability. In my opinion, it's possible for a freelance translator to operate a sustainable business, however small it is. I think that, for a lot of freelancers, it'll all come down to creating a sustainable home offce (using recycled materials, 'green' webhosting, perhaps a bank account an an 'alternative' or a 'sustainable' bank,...). What are your sentiments about this? Does anyone work with these issues in mind? Does anyone have any other suggestions on how freelance translators can introduce sustainability in their daily business?

Thanks a lot in advance for all your input!

PS: I know my Proz profile isn't very informative, but I'm planning on totally revamping it soon.


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:37
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Re: How to start up Jan 3, 2007

[quote]wv64212 wrote:

Hi there,

Well, one thing is good, you seem to have thought about your "company" before starting and set some goals and objectives.

First "parttime freelance" sounds like you have another job, study or your spouse has a salary. That is good, because the translation world has flexible workload and flexible payment delays.

An order is processed either by confirming the PO from a client (usually another translation agency I suppose, certainly when starting your business) Or confirming whatever deal your made with a direct client (by e-mail or fax) with the deadline, number of words, price, etc.
This confirms the offer and should give you the guarantee this client is actually going to pay you in the end...

Most of my confirmations are usually a simple e-mail, with "go ahead, we've got the green light from the end user"
but that is simply because I've been working with these clients for a longer period of time

Sorry, don't use OmegaT

The payment options sound good
- bank account with IBAN and SWIFT details
- Paypal and Moneybrokers
- unless you're houling in big amounts from "far away" countries Wester Union is probably too expensive

Your green office: we'll that's entirely up to you. Most of my invoices go out electronically, so there is not a lot of paper involved. If you are currently using recycled paper, green energy etc, this should not cause any additional costs.

I don't know many people that specifically call themselves "green translators". I do my shopping in a biological supermarket, but don't use recycled paper...
You would probably make a good impression with clients like Greenpeace etc...

I do not see the usual questions about "getting clients', 'prices', etc, so I guess you've figured that out already...

Well that's about it I guess,
Good luck!


esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:37
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
I use OmegaT Jan 3, 2007

and positively recommend it. No other CAT tool can beat this (free one) on ROIicon_smile.gif


Marc P (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:37
German to English
+ ...
how to start up Jan 3, 2007

wv64212 wrote:

I also have a question on CAT-tools. Does anyone use OmegaT?


Wouter Vanhees  Identity Verified
English to Flemish
+ ...
thanks Jan 4, 2007

Thanks for your input!

If anyone else has suggestions or tips on any of the issues I raised, they'd be very appreciated.

Another quick question: does anyone use efax (fax via email)? Would you recommend it? It would save me the cost of buying a fax machine, but I don't know if it's consumer-friendly, both practically and financially speaking. Are faxes (classic or via email) still used a lot overall in the translating business?

Indeed Ed, I said parttime since I already have another job. My plan is to start out small (it's a microbusiness really), and take it from there.


Veronica Coquard
Local time: 08:37
French to English
Tag wv!! Jan 4, 2007

Have a look at this advice, and take your time reading through the forums. They can be of great help.

It's refreshing to see a translator concerned with the environment. On the other hand if you are going to read the forums a lot I would suggest you print them out so that your eyes don't explode!icon_smile.gif

Tot siens!


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:37
German to English
+ ...
Sustainability - very interesting Jan 4, 2007

I think this is a great question and probably deserves its own thread. I have thought about and tried to incorporate some sustainable practices in my business.

I do buy recycled paper sometimes, but not always, and try to print on both sides of the paper when I can. Otherwise, I try to hold on to computers and other equipment as long as I can - my printer and phone/fax are 6 yrs. old and going strong. They will only be replaced when absolutely necessary. Same goes for my cell phone. I generally use computers for 4-5 years - doesn't sound like a lot, but you have to find a balance between sustainability and usability/efficiency.

Probably the largest impact that freelance translators can have is created by simply working at home. I have no separate office to maintain (light, heat, etc.) and no commute. Our family of 4 is able to get by with one car - I know this is the norm in many countries, but less common in the US.

I ruled out an account with our local bank, because the costs were too high and a large corporate bank is better for international business. I do have a personal account with a local credit union, though.

Our family is also working toward a more sustainable approach to our lives by buying organic food (currently we buy local organic beef and then other products as we can) and buying things like gifts from either a fair-trade store or other stores with products by artisans.

By the way, you might be interested in this site where you can calculate your ecological footprint:

[Edited at 2007-01-04 17:32]


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