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Poll: What do you dislike the most about working as a freelancer?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:49
SITE STAFF
May 2, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you dislike the most about working as a freelancer?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nicole Blanc. View the poll results »



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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:49
Member (2006)
German to English
Other May 2, 2016

Paying taxes

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Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:49
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
Other - time management May 2, 2016

The near impossibility of planning a work schedule, since one day you may have nothing (or perhaps a whole week with very little) and suddenly a huge job that perhaps even forces you to work long hours over the weekend.
My solution has been to have a flexible side-business to fill in the gaps.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:49
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Boring and May 2, 2016

badly written texts, what a proofreader of mine called "making a silk purse out of a pig ear"

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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:49
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same here May 2, 2016

Leticia Klemetz, CT wrote:

The near impossibility of planning a work schedule, since one day you may have nothing (or perhaps a whole week with very little) and suddenly a huge job that perhaps even forces you to work long hours over the weekend.
My solution has been to have a flexible side-business to fill in the gaps.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:49
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other May 2, 2016

The uncertainty of freelance work is worrying and exciting at the same time, but what I really, really disliked was the need to seek out potential clients and then sell myself to them to hear something like: “You are too expensive for us!” Fortunately, it gets easier with practice and… a good clients base!

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Hussein Dayow Idow  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:49
Member (2016)
Somali to English
+ ...
lack of potential clients May 2, 2016

What worries most is when you don't have a potential clients that regularly contacts you for small or big projects. Worries alot when the time frame to deliver is very little and you have to submit a quality work. I hate also subcontract my work. I get delayed work. Not quality one. Pissies me off.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:49
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Erratic work flow May 2, 2016

Like others here, I suppose the most annoying aspect of freelance translating is the erratic flow of work - rarely knowing how busy you'll be from week to week. However, I've got used to that. In general, I love freelancing and wouldn't go back to being an employee for anything.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Arguing about rates May 2, 2016

I have my rates, to the best of my knowledge, they are good market value, a time-proven good cost/benefit ratio.

I keep translation and financial costs separate, so my clients may choose the best financing option, if they are not paying COD. I make it very clear that while I am a good translator, at the same time I am a very bad (= expensive) choice for borrowing money. I keep full transparency on payment methods, since many clients don't know that while they don't have any expense from using PayPal, as there is no free lunch, my net receivables will be deducted by 10%, so they must top it up.

I don't give any discounts when requested. According to my book, if I did, this would render my rates "dishonest"; an attempt to rip'em off in case they failed to ask for a discount. Of course, while I charge for everything I do, I'll try my best to spare them from having me do anything I see as unnecessary.

If my offer is not considered adequate by any prospect, it's okay, they are free to move on, go find someone cheaper.

In spite of all this, some prospects obdurately insist that I MUST accept their rates, their payment terms & methods, and take their jobs! Sometimes it gets unpleasant before I manage to shake these off. This is one skill I have been working to develop, but haven't got it 100% effective yet.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Arguing saps energy May 2, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If my offer is not considered adequate by any prospect, it's okay, they are free to move on, go find someone cheaper.

In spite of all this, some prospects obdurately insist that I MUST accept their rates, their payment terms & methods, and take their jobs! Sometimes it gets unpleasant before I manage to shake these off. This is one skill I have been working to develop, but haven't got it 100% effective yet.


I've been living in a bubble. I seldom have to argue over rates. However, sometimes I have had to make my point across when I spot punitive clauses in a potential client's contract. You know, the ones that start with Translator will indemnify the Company, including all legal and lawsuit fees, in case of breach of confidentiality, loss of market share, etc.

American and European prospects usually do one or two things when they contact me:

1) They accept my rates
2) They kindly ask if I'm willing to go 2 cents lower (about a 10%-20% discount, actually)

Of course, the third thing is I never hear from them.

Interesting reasoning on discounts as veiled rip-off. Gotta think on that one!


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Potential clients May 2, 2016

Hussein Dayow Idow wrote:

What worries most is when you don't have a potential clients that regularly contacts you for small or big projects. Worries alot when the time frame to deliver is very little and you have to submit a quality work. I hate also subcontract my work. I get delayed work. Not quality one. Pissies me off.


Hello, Hussein. In an ideal world, we would all get at least 3 emails or phone calls a day from potential clients asking us to do this or that translation. Sadly, several factors outside of our control come into play:

1) Supply exceeds demand: there are too many translators offering services and not enough demand to support them.
2) Globalized participation: anyone with knowledge of two or more languages (an unemployed doctor, an underpaid nurse or engineer) with a computer and an Internet connection can claim to provide translation and interpretation services.
3) Paperwork required to work with certain translation companies: I found it far easier to work with a medium-sized company, for whom a simple email or verbal agreement is enough. Our word is our bond, and there's never a need to lawyer things up.

Cheers from Ohio.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:49
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other May 2, 2016

Never knowing if/when there'll be work which makes it a little challenging to plan ahead. On second thought, this is "uncertainty" makes out the charme of freelancing.

As Michael stated, paying taxes is also a handicap...and not a charming one, either.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
What's wrong with paying taxes? May 2, 2016

When I was growing up in Argentina, we consumers (everybody) paid anything from 13% to 21% on VAT. I had to change my mindset upon arriving in New York City in 1990. While the US government levies a federal tax on income on everybody (but those living below the poverty line pay less or pay nothing), different municipalities, states and counties charge different levels of tax. Of all the states I've lived in America, only Minnesota gives its residents a tax credit (or refund) for money paid in rent. Yes, it is true!

New York City is, in my mind, the ideal place to work as an independent translator (or for a diplomate translator as I know like to call myself): you get calls from agencies up and down town for interesting interpreting jobs, interesting and varied translation assignments, etc. At least, that was my life back in the mid 1990s.

Other advantages: I didn't have to drive a car or pay car payments. My material needs were limited to what I could fit in a 300 sq ft 5th floor apartment with no elevator. We New Yorkers make great use of every corner, nook and cranny.

The big disadvantage? the city agency in charge of collecting taxes for the privilege of doing business in NYC and equivalent to about 6% of my annual income.

The more complex our societies become, paying taxes become a fair necessity. How fair, how much and for whom are some of the existential questions we all face.


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:49
Member (2008)
English to Italian
other May 2, 2016

Michael Harris wrote:

Paying taxes


Let me add: Paying taxes in a country where up to 65% of your income can fly away for taxes.

Nothing against taxes for me, just they are too high in Italy, and in case you get sick or you have any problems nothing covers you.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Discounts up front May 2, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:

American and European prospects usually do one or two things when they contact me:

1) They accept my rates
2) They kindly ask if I'm willing to go 2 cents lower (about a 10%-20% discount, actually)

Of course, the third thing is I never hear from them.


This is a blatant non sequitur.
If they accepted your rates, unless they reckon their stupidity as being beyond belief, they shouldn't be asking you to lower them!

Mario Chavez wrote:
Interesting reasoning on discounts as veiled rip-off. Gotta think on that one!


It is sheer logic.

Envision this:
1. You say your price is 10.
2. Client hires someone else who offered to do it for 9.
3. Considerate client tells you not to wait up all night for the order. They already hired someone for 9.
4. You ask: Why didn't you tell me? I would take this job for 8!
5. Client grumbles: Why didn't YOU tell me???

So I tell them right away.

As I said, I keep translation and financial costs apart.
Considering that:
a) PayPal deducts from my pay 6.5% in fees + 3.5% in lower-than-market exchg. rate;
b) Interest rates where I live (Brazil) are around 15% per MONTH (sic!),
... on every quote, I take the trouble to offer three different prices, depending on payment method/term.

A client paying COD via bank transfer will save 16.7% if compared to paying via PayPal in two weeks.

I think this is much better than granting a 3~5% discount merely because they had the chutzpah to ask.


Right now I have a private prospect who simply won't give up.
I have a special plan for translating books in my otherwise "idle" time (e.g. between projects). The turnaround time swells four-fold, and the price is 30% lower.
He wants me to translate his book at 2/3 of my already 30%-discounted price. In order to add insult to injury, he is trying to convince me to receive in three monthly installments what was stated to be COD.
I politely told him to find someone else. Now he's willing to drive 60 miles tomorrow, to come here to discuss a "Plan B" personally with me.
I politely explained him that my special for books is already "Plan Z", and I have five large jobs going right now and for the rest of the week. No time left for browbeating.
Again, I nicely told him to find someone else to do it. The colleagues I usually refer to and recommend charge exactly the same I do and, AFAIK, none of them has such a discounted plan for books.
I hope he gives up.

This is what I dislike about being a freelancer. If I were Megacorp, Inc. this guy (and others) would be negotiating with my security guards at the gate.


Re: paying taxes
Once I had a Norwegian boss who taught me about it.
I began a phrase with "I must...", he halted me with a gesture, and explained:
"There are only two things you MUST in life: pay taxes and die."


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