Poll: The hardest thing about starting as a freelancer is/was:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:03
SITE STAFF
Sep 11, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "The hardest thing about starting as a freelancer is/was:".

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:03
Member (2008)
English to Italian
all of them Sep 11, 2009

Well, it is a combination of these things, first you need to find clients, then you need to keep them, and in order to do that you need the proper tools, and since the day we started we have ahad to deal with the administrative part of the job...

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Paola Prodan  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Finding clients! Sep 11, 2009

When I started working as a freelancer, more than 10 years ago, I filled lots of agencies' aplication forms (on and off-line) and sent lots of CVs. But it took 6 months to receive a job from my first client. When I thought that I would never work as a freelance translator and that nobody was interested in the kind of work I was doing, my first client contacted me for a translation job. It was a very happy day!

Happy translating.
Paola


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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 12:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
How about "None"? Sep 11, 2009

I decided to become a freelancer after gathering a good number of potential clients. That was exactly 20 years ago. I borrowed a fax machine from a friend of my husband's, prepared a nice introduction letter, grabbed the Yellow Pages and sent "unsolicited mail" to banks and technology companies (my only fields of expertise at the time).

The number of phone calls I got in the next few days was such, that I had to derive some "urgent" projects to my previous in-house employer, a small agency whose owner I will never be able to thank enough for her kindness and encouragement.

That was an unexpectedly thrilling experience

Best of luck to all of you, young colleagues. It's much harder these days, but YOU CAN MAKE IT!


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 16:03
English to French
+ ...
None Sep 11, 2009

None of them actually but I was lucky.
Even though I had a full time job, I always translated a little on the side, not really for the money, more to help people out and keep my skills up to date. Later, when freelancing became a possibility with the advances of technology, I wanted to keep busier in order to let my son grow up without having his mother on his back all the time.
The more I translated, the more I liked it. It was much more stimulating and gratifying than my full time paid job. Customers seemed satisfied: they kept coming back for more.
As I was earning the only income, I decided to play it safe, keep a part-time paid job and started working part part time as a freelance translator. When my son was nearly through higher education, I decided to try and see whether I could spend my days without the IRL contacts.
I never advertised anywhere nor even sent my CV if not requested to do so (but I did answer a call for tender for a framework contract with the EU). I was not in a hurry and not eager to become rich either.

FYI: I graduated in 1974 and became a full time freelance translator in September 1999.

[Modifié le 2009-09-11 13:43 GMT]

[Modifié le 2009-09-11 14:04 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:03
English to Russian
+ ...
The difficulty is inside Sep 11, 2009

Looking at a few younger colleagues I am occasionally mentoring, I'd say the hardest thing for most people is overcoming the feeling of insecurity and the fear of not getting any assignments. My advice to those who are afraid: you don't become a freelancer overnight, do it gradually, let the freelance work gradually displace your permanent job.

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maryblack  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:03
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Getting paid (on time)! Sep 11, 2009

By far the hardest and most stressful thing about being a freelance translator for me is not finding or keeping clients, it's getting them to pay on time. Come the end of the month, I never know who will pay me and for what. There are months I get a windfall and for some unknown reason everyone decides to pay either early or on time, and others when literally nothing comes in (when it should!).

All of my clients pay - they're not defaulters. It's just that the complicated inner workings of many Spanish businesses and especially government organisations are beyond me, and actually I sometimes suspect they either follow no set logic or simply are at the whim of the available funds.

Employees always get paid at the end of the month. Why are freelancers the ones that get withheld payment when circumstances are tight?

Am I the only translator who never knows what their bank statement will say?!?!?


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Susana Valdez  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:03
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
To know when to give up and when to keep on it Sep 11, 2009

Anton Konashenok wrote:

Looking at a few younger colleagues I am occasionally mentoring, I'd say the hardest thing for most people is overcoming the feeling of insecurity and the fear of not getting any assignments. My advice to those who are afraid: you don't become a freelancer overnight, do it gradually, let the freelance work gradually displace your permanent job.


I agree with Anton. The most difficult thing and what people ask me more is when to know enough is enough.


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katyayani
India
Local time: 20:33
English to Kannada
Encouraging! Sep 11, 2009

I have just started with freelancing with all dreams of an ideal linguist. Well, as I go through the practical difficulties in finding clients, I am loosing heart.

Thanks to all my global seniors, who are kindling the light of hope. It makes me feel encouraged.


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:03
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
not hard so much as challenging Sep 11, 2009

finding clients was not as hard as I thought. However, i have to admit it would have been harder, slower and more challenging before the internet and all the sites like this one! PROZ was a huge help, as well as MSN ,SKYPE etc. None of it has been really terrible, because I was very determined and motivated once I got started. Also, because of my language pair, I found quite a few french-english jobs almost immediately. THe only major challenge was money and technology. My aging laptop soon became obsolete. It was only when I finally started making decent money (and got an inheritance) that I finally was able to get a nice new laptop.

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xxxAguas de Mar
Letting go of the permanent job Sep 11, 2009

Anton Konashenok wrote:

"... you don't become a freelancer overnight, do it gradually, let the freelance work gradually displace your permanent job.


I also agree with Anton, the most difficult thing was letting go of my permanent job for fear that the translation work would not keep coming, but the fear has proved to be unfounded, at least in my case.


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:03
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A combination of the above, but... Sep 16, 2009

While finding clients was a challenge, I had never done any type of administrative work before. Keeping track of invoices, billing, tracking my income for taxes, learning how to forumlate invoices (and how to get clients to pay on time), were all *far* more challenging than translating, learning CAT tools, or finding clients.

While it is true that you need clients above all else, the administration stuff took me 2 years to figure out. And I still don't like it much...


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