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Freelancing for a Living
Thread poster: Ozgur Demirel

Ozgur Demirel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to Turkish
+ ...
Sep 10, 2011

Is it possible (under normal circumstances of course) ? Simple as that.

I'd like personal experiences, advices and ideas if you wouldn't mind. Thank you.


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 20:12
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Of course. Sep 10, 2011

Simple as that!

I make all my money from freelance translating, and I consider myself to have a decent income (well above the Greek average) and a great work/life balance.


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Alexandra Pirotte  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to French
+ ...
Not for everyone Sep 10, 2011

I would say it’s possible, otherwise no one would ever attempt to do it. However, freelancing is not for everyone. You need self-discipline (no boss to look over your shoulder). You must also be able to wear several hats (marketing, book-keeping, etc.).

I have started freelancing relatively recently after working in a salaried position for a number of years. So far, I find that the freelance lifestyle suits me just fine. I’m receiving help from a start-up incubator for all the things associated with official paperwork and accounting. That’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I can just concentrate on developing my client base, and of course on providing great translations!

As to whether it’s possible to make a decent enough living as a translator, I can’t answer that question yet. Once I’m flying on my own, so to speak, I’ll be hammered by the punishing taxes that we have here in Belgium. I may decide to take my business (and purchasing power) elsewhere then...


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Ozgur Demirel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More curiosity Sep 10, 2011

That's great, Dave, especially considering the bottleneck Greece is going through for more than a year now.

Thanks for the insightful post to you too, Alexandra.

I'm quite interested in how freelancing mechanics at home works. Do you tend to earn a sum that you gnaw on for your dry months or is it possible to sustain a regular income through freelancing.

Also is it possible to proceed through this road without committing yourself to a translation agency ?


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Sonja Kroll  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:12
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Anlamıyorum Sep 10, 2011

How could we have a gazillion of fulltime freelancers around here if it was not possible to make a living of freelance translating?

> Also is it possible to proceed through this road without committing yourself to a translation agency ?

Perhaps, but why would you? However "committing" seems to be the wrong term, as you are just working with them.


Edit: It might be a bit difficult if you stick to the rates you mention on your profile.

Second edit: To me personally, "perfectionist" and translating into a language which is not your mother tongue seem somewhat contradicting. This notion is supported by your sample translation into English.

[Bearbeitet am 2011-09-10 16:42 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:12
Member
English to French
Time management Sep 10, 2011

Ozgur Demirel wrote:
...is it possible to sustain a regular income through freelancing.

Yes, it's not a side-job for pocket money. I don't have any dry week, and there are only 24h in a day. Between these two high and low thresholds, I can say my workflow is consistent.
Income is a different matter, as you may well invoice in June a project that took you half of May, so payment for May will be low, and payment for June will be high.
Ozgur Demirel wrote:
Also is it possible to proceed through this road without committing yourself to a translation agency ?

You don't commit to agencies, you commit to assignments. If you can't take on a project, you can't.

Aside from translation, the most difficult thing to do when freelancing is manage time. Without killing yourself and without losing business. As a ballpark figure, I had to fit in more than 200 deadlines last year. And take 4 weeks of holiday without e-mail

Good luck,
Philippe


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Been doing this for 18 years now... Sep 10, 2011

...and being the only breadwinner, supporting my family all the way through. Nevertheless it is a hard job and a continuous balancing act. What you should consider is, among others, the cost of living in your country and the taxes for a freelance professional. In many countries, as for instance Italy, where I come from, is about impossible to make a living due to the taxes. All my savings, while I was in Italy, ended up in taxes and it is money I will never see coming back in any way (e.g. retirement).
I honestly have no esteem for those which use translation as a side job. It is a full-time profession as any other.


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Ozgur Demirel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Anlatıyorum Sep 10, 2011

Sonja Kroll wrote:

How could we have a gazillion of fulltime freelancers around here if it was not possible to make a living of freelance translating?

> Also is it possible to proceed through this road without committing yourself to a translation agency ?

Perhaps, but why would you? However "committing" seems to be the wrong term, as you are just working with them.


Edit: It might be a bit difficult if you stick to the rates you mention on your profile.

Second edit: To me personally, "perfectionist" and translating into a language which is not your mother tongue seem somewhat contradicting. This notion is supported by your sample translation into English.

[Bearbeitet am 2011-09-10 16:42 GMT]


That's a great deal of constructive input, thank you.

About my rates in my profile, how else could I be penetrating a well-saturated TurEng market if I do not offer a competitive rate for the beginning of my translation career ?

Mr. Etienne, I loved your post indeed.

The general perception of, at least in Turkey, whether freelancing being sufficient to support you solely or not stems from it being run from home mostly. It emits a sensation of hobby, rather than a professional commitment. However I've decided that I wanted to do something I loved for a living. Still I have to consider what I may get in return.


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Ozgur Demirel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
18 years of breadwinning, eh ? Sep 10, 2011

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons) wrote:

...and being the only breadwinner, supporting my family all the way through. Nevertheless it is a hard job and a continuous balancing act. What you should consider is, among others, the cost of living in your country and the taxes for a freelance professional. In many countries, as for instance Italy, where I come from, is about impossible to make a living due to the taxes. All my savings, while I was in Italy, ended up in taxes and it is money I will never see coming back in any way (e.g. retirement).
I honestly have no esteem for those which use translation as a side job. It is a full-time profession as any other.


I could never guess I'd encounter "winning bread" as an idiom used in English.

About taxes, I'm not really sure if Turkish Ministry of Finance regulates freelancing translators making them liable for taxation.

Translation has turned out to be my full-time job, ma'am -I'm glad to be on the good sides with you. ^^


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matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:12
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Yes, it's possible. Sep 10, 2011

If you want a steady workflow you need to spend a significant amount of time on marketing. There will be many clients out there who need your product (if you can deliver what you promise) but they don't know you yet. When they all know you, have worked with you and are happy they will offer you work regularly. No PM wants to have to search the archive or the web to find a translator, they prefer to use the people they trust. When you know them you will be in a position to select those clients you wish to give preference to.
Get your name out there and little by little you will begin to see returns on your time. Eventually you will have to turn work down.The process may not be fast but if your product is good you will succeed in the end.

Good luck.


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Ozgur Demirel  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:12
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Connections Sep 10, 2011

Thanks. Actually, when in a business, marketing your product seems almost more important than your product -not to say that it is so or should be so, don't get me wrong- in a populated competing environment.

"Having connections" is an incentive. I reckon you still need a kickstart of luck to your career if you are to exist and last without any connections. However I've never seen determination missing the target either.


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
* Sep 10, 2011

Ozgur Demirel wrote:

Is it possible (under normal circumstances of course) ? Simple as that.

I'd like personal experiences, advices and ideas if you wouldn't mind. Thank you.


Let's consider an example of an artist. Can an artist live by selling his pictures? One can and another cannot... So it is .

[Edited at 2011-09-10 23:05 GMT]


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Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:12
English to Polish
+ ...
. Sep 10, 2011

Sonja Kroll wrote:
How could we have a gazillion of fulltime freelancers around here if it was not possible to make a living of freelance translating?


Alexander Onishko wrote:
Let's consider an example of a artist. Can artist live by selling his pictures? One can and another cannot... So it is .


exactly my thoughts

[Edited at 2011-09-10 19:53 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:12
Italian to English
The best will always sell Sep 10, 2011

Hi Ozgur,

First, identify language combinations+specialisations where your translations are demonstrably better than most of the competition. Second, identify language combinations+specialisations where there is a thriving market. Then compare the two language combination+specialisation sets.

You will probably find partial matches, i.e. lucrative areas where you can do only decent work or not terribly profitable areas where you excel. Draw up a training strategy to improve your competences in order to be able to do the lucrative work really well.

Remember that you as an individual transaltor are unlikely to survive if you try sell on price (anyone can get a rough and ready translation for free from Google). However, if you sell on quality to a clearly defined market, you will eventually make a name for yourself and clients will come to you. Obviously, when you already have plenty of work on your books, you can start quoting the next customer a higher rate. If it's turned down, it won't matter but if it is accepted, you are well on your way up the greasy pole.

Bol şans!


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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:12
English to German
+ ...
It depends on the country Sep 10, 2011

Here in Switzerland as a high-price country you probably cannot live on freelance translation, with the exception if you have got a few high-volume customers, that can, however, disappear from one day to the other. Lots of the translations for Swiss customers go outside as far as India for one fifth or so of he local price.

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