Poll: How long did it take you to make a living from translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:17
SITE STAFF
Aug 27, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take you to make a living from translation?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Aug 27, 2015

Straight away (I started in-house)...

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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 01:17
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Usually Aug 27, 2015

you are not going to go freelance without having any permanent (in-house) position first.

When I saw that my freelance-related workload had been growing steadily, I left the company - just because I could earn much more as a freelance translator.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other - no time at all Aug 27, 2015

Like Teresa, when I early-retired from my in-house translation job on a Friday, I had work waiting for me the following Monday. It was a large contract. That was 23 years ago, and I've hardly had a break since.

[Edited at 2015-08-27 08:45 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 27, 2015

I don't really know. I was working as a TEFL trainer before getting into translation full time, which happened gradually.

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Paul Stevens  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Previous career Aug 27, 2015

I worked in international insurance with Lloyd's brokers for 20 years before deciding, at the end of the 1990s, on a change in career. I had no clients to take with me, so, to supplement my income whilst trying to secure a decent level of income from my translating business, I took on various other part-time jobs for 2 or 3 years, which I ditched when I reached the required level of income from my freelance work.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Judging from all the doom-mongers on ProZ... Aug 27, 2015

... a more pertinent question might be how long you think it will be before you are no longer able to make a living from translation...

Not long, in my case, what with all the hoards of one-cent-a-word Swe-Eng finance specialists waiting in the wings in the Third World.

Back on topic, translation paid the rent from day 1, thanks mainly to work from my previous employers.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good times Aug 27, 2015

It took me more than a year to land my first few clients as an independent translator in New York City. Why so long?

1) I had arrived at the Big Apple in December 1990 with no job prospects; but I had a place to stay and my father agreed to support me until I found a job (not a translation job per se, mind you).

2) After spending a whole year sending about a hundred and one typewritten resumés and attending monthly meetings of the New York Circle of Translators, I started making some reliable contacts.

3) Around December 1991, one of those contacts, a Spanish interpreter, gave me the contact information of a small agency in Queens that was looking for a bilingual employee for a bank. Not a translation job, but, hey, I was going to take it!

4) I landed a 4-hour-per-week part-time proofreader job with the agency (it took some convincing) in January 1992. I stayed with the agency until November 1992, when I got a 9,000-word technical translation job, my first project.

Then I started getting phone calls by word of mouth. With the additional increase in income, I was able to leave Brooklyn for the Upper East Side (Manhattan). I made it in New York, all the facts supported it. That gave me the big boost of confidence to keep working as a translator for the next 24 years.


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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2012)
French to English
Other Aug 27, 2015

I don't make a living from translation.

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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 00:17
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
within the first month Aug 27, 2015

I was forced by circumstances and had no other choice. I was alone with my first baby and he had a congenital disorder. There was no choice and no time to think.

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Billh
Local time: 23:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Had to learn Spanish first from scratch - Aug 27, 2015

and that took two years - then plunged in and started working with agencies. I couldn't cope with being in-house - that would mean having a boss, going to an office, etc. Not my style.....

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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I don't Aug 27, 2015

I don't make a living from translation, I just pay bills.

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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:17
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other, Aug 27, 2015

I lived with my brother for the first two years after graduation, and translation was a secondary source of income. Then I opened a beverage distribution company, and spent 11 years without touching a translation. Then, I left the company and started doing translations again, but again as a secondary source of income.
Only less than three years ago, I decided to give up in-house jobs and dedicate myself full time to translation, and I'm living exclusivley on that ever since.
So, I really cannot answer this question with anything but "Other".


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