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Poll: How long did it take you to get fully established as a freelancer?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:13
SITE STAFF
May 14, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take you to get fully established as a freelancer?".

This poll was originally submitted by Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 14, 2014

Define "fully established". I started in TEFL and gradually began to combine it with translation about 20 years ago. I haven't done any teaching or "coaching" (haha) for a few years now, in fact I don't recall how long ago it was, at least five. Tempus fugit...

PS: I was freelancing as a TEFLA teacher most of the time anyway, except for the odd summer course, even before I got into translation.

[Edited at 2014-05-14 08:23 GMT]


 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:13
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Definition May 14, 2014

''Fully established'' as in getting all your income from freelancing and being able to make a decent living on that without having to rely on part-time jobs, for example.

I would really like to hear from the 7% who voted ''less than one month'' - fascinating!
-----

Edited the ''definition'', hope it is all clearer now. Now please don't say ''define decent''!icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-05-14 09:16 GMT]


 

Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 12:13
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Other May 14, 2014

I have been working freelance part-time for over a year while working in another part-time Job (doing something completely different). I have quit my other part-time Job and will be going full-time freelance from the 1st of June. Will see thenicon_smile.gif

 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:13
Turkish to English
+ ...
Other May 14, 2014

I am afraid you would have to define 'fully established'.

I benchmark my performance against average earnings in my native country of the UK, and define 'success' as equaling or beating that figure. I came within striking distance in 2007, but have so far never achieved that target. I have spent around 12 years of my life as a full time freelance translator.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:13
Turkish to English
+ ...
Not that simple May 14, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

''Fully established'' as in getting all your income from freelancing. I don't see the difficulty, Neil.

PS: I would really like to hear from the 7% who voted ''less than one month'' - fascinating!


In that case, I first ever became a full-time freelance translator because I was offered one months' solid translation work, I was in a job I hated and was still in a probationary period with that employer during which I could resign instantly, and that it is exactly what I did. So, for the first month I became instantly established (i.e. I got all my income for that month from freelancing), but then I found it difficult to get a regular flow of work, so had to do other part-time jobs to keep going - i.e. I became 'unestablished' in that not all of my income was coming from translation. I don't think it is that simple.


 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:13
French to English
+ ...
Other May 14, 2014

Quite apart from the fact that it's over 25 years ago now and I really can't remember, I started freelancing when I left my in-house translator post on maternity leave. I haven't really stopped since, apart from the year my younger son was born and he was far too demanding a baby to give me any time to work! I was certainly "fully established" virtually immediately in the sense that I had enough work to keep me busy from my work contacts, but I just expanded the business gradually as the boys grew up and I wanted to take on more work. I certainly didn't work full-time until my younger son was 16 or so, because I had other commitments. I was lucky in that my (now) ex-husband had a good salary, so my freelancing was just the icing on the cake in the early years. When I got divorced I still had the cushion of maintenance payments for the children for a while, so I suppose that gave me time to work up to full-time self-employment.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Either a week or a lifetime May 14, 2014

By your definition Diana it was instant - I quit my first in-house translation job after four months and then all my income was from freelancing. I managed to keep myself busy from the start and after 18 months I took on my first employee to help me.

On the other hand, much of this work was for cheapskate agencies and I'd take pretty much whatever was on offer. It took a few years to get to the point where I was able to pick and choose properly - and maybe 15 years to get to where I am today when I generally do only the jobs I fancy and all at a good rate. But there's still room for improvement.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:13
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Straightaway May 14, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

"I would really like to hear from the 7% who voted ''less than one month'' - fascinating!


As soon as I shed some part-time language teaching commitments which I was beginning to absolutely loathe, I jumped in at the deep end. 'Full-time work' at the time meant actual translating and doing my own sales. Of course, income was sporadic but it was my entire source of income.

Looking back, I'm surprised at how resourceful I was. icon_biggrin.gif


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:13
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other / immediately May 14, 2014

In the sense that Diana meant - pretty much immediately
I started freelancing ten years ago and I often had more work than I could handle from the outset. I am better, but not perfect, at negotiating and balancing that now of course.

I still don't consider myself to be 'fully established' by my own criteria though - I think there is still room for finding a cosier niche in my markets.


 

David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:13
Member (2009)
French to English
Depends May 14, 2014

What does 'fully established' mean here? I have read the subsequent clarification, but it still seems open to discussion to me.

Do I still have other jobs? No, I never had any to start with.
Do I make a lot of money? Not really. I am neither poor nor rich.
Do I have regular clients? Yes, but see previous answer.
Am I qualified, properly registered? Yes, but I had that from day 1.

For this these reasons, I answered 'Other'.

[Edited at 2014-05-14 09:45 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-05-14 09:46 GMT]


 

Maria Arruti  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:13
Member (2012)
French to Spanish
+ ...
< 1 month May 14, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:


I would really like to hear from the 7% who voted ''less than one month'' - fascinating!
-----



[Edited at 2014-05-14 09:16 GMT]



During the last months of my translation studies, I did an internship at a translation agency. At the end of it, the PM suggested that I work as a freelance translator (not as an in-house translator) as they wanted to continue counting on me. They started to send me regular work and two weeks later I got my first big project - the translation of a book. I have never lacked of work since.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Other May 14, 2014

Not long enough

icon_smile.gif


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:13
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Difficult to say exactly... May 14, 2014

For several years I had an in-house translator post and I freelanced part-time, so when I started freelancing full-time I had a client base already established...

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
15 Years May 14, 2014

It took me 15 years of part-time work as a translator to gain my independence. That was many years ago, 1971-1986. From the time I quit my full-time job in 1986 I was soon able to equal and then exceed what I had been making before. I believe I contributed to developing the local translation market where there was a lot of need and very little supply, but it took a long time back in those days, and there was no Internet. It was a long road but it paid off.

 
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