Questions for translators who've been both in-house and freelance
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Oct 3, 2008

Hi everyone!!

Here're the questions -

Did you/ do you find that working as a freelancer gives you more freedom to choose the jobs that you accept? Or is that an illusion?

Did you/ do you ever find that in-house you had to deal with all the jobs that came your way and that you were spread too thin? (ie anything from legal to technical to botany to general?)

Do you feel like more of an expert in your field of specialization working as a freelancer?

How many of you freelancers out there have been choosy about their assignments, and has it been financially viable?

I've been both in-house and freelance over the course of eight years but these are some of the questions I haven't quite resolved yet.

Thanks!!


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Indra Sofyar  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 13:36
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Both in-house and freelance are fine! Oct 4, 2008

Hi there,

Yes, being a freelancer you are free to choose the subject of your preference. Limiting the jobs to accept will not harm your financial viability because your financial turnover is dependent on your marketing strategy, not the job you choose. Becoming a freelance specialist in a certain field of translation, e.g. a legal translator, is also financially promising if you are well equipped with some marketing tools to let others know you.

In-house background is a good capital for becoming a successful freelancer. Thanks to my experience as an in-house translator, now I am able to access most subjects and feel confident to determine one(s) as my field(s) of specialization.

A penny from me. Good luck!

Indra


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 00:36
English to Spanish
Eight years? Me too... Oct 4, 2008

Q: Did you/ do you find that working as a freelancer gives you more freedom to choose the jobs that you accept?

A: I had freedom of choice as an in-house translator, too. My boss knew what his translators were good for. (He used to ask.)

Q: Do you feel like more of an expert in your field of specialization working as a freelancer?

A: Yes; the many jobs I've accepted during this time have allowed me to feel more comfortable with some subject matters, and I've come to specialise in a couple of them.

Q: How many of you freelancers out there have been choosy about their assignments, and has it been financially viable?

A: Yes, I am choosy all the time; nevertheless, it is financially viable.

Pros & Cons: As an in-house, I miss my secure biweekly payment and the peace of mind it gave me; as a freelance, I am sunken in a fierce competition (which means no peace of mind), but I earn more than ever thought before.

Hope these answer your questions.
Have luck!


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Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some answers... Oct 4, 2008



Did you/ do you find that working as a freelancer gives you more freedom to choose the jobs that you accept? Or is that an illusion?


When I was a freelancer I used to do any job that came through. I feared losing a customer if I rejected a job from them.

So, no, I didn't feel I had more freedom.




Did you/ do you ever find that in-house you had to deal with all the jobs that came your way and that you were spread too thin? (ie anything from legal to technical to botany to general?)


No. When I was working as an inhouse translator I always got jobs from my field of specialisation but it was a big company with many internal and external resources.

I always got jobs from my field of specialisation.


Do you feel like more of an expert in your field of specialization working as a freelancer?


On the contrary, I felt more specialised when I was an in-house translation.



How many of you freelancers out there have been choosy about their assignments, and has it been financially viable?


I hardly ever rejected a job when I was a freelancer. I was making more money than when being in-house but I was also working longer hours.


I've been both in-house and freelance over the course of eight years but these are some of the questions I haven't quite resolved yet.


Me neither... I think that, for my type of personality I am happier working in-house than as a freelancer (more or less secured earnings, at least for the short term, more stability regarding the types of projects, some things are easier, like getting a mortgage) but this is me and my personal experience.

Daniel


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Tadzio! Anyone else? Oct 4, 2008

Good to know your earning power has gone up. You were lucky in-house to have a choice - my experience in-house was that you take what you are given - and at times for me that wasn't areas in which I was particularly comfortable. Many times though, it was things I loved. Loved that paycheck twice a month + health insurance, pension too!!

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More or less the same, but... Oct 4, 2008

When I worked in-house (localisation really) I had to do whatever my boss asked me to.

When I switched to freelance (creating my own little company with a partner), I started doing whatever my customers asked me to. I.e. we take care of everything the customers send and we don't make any decision about what jobs we do and what jobs we don't. We do them all and try to juggle priorities to please all customers.

But the big difference is that I could not sack my boss, but I can say a customer good bye if he pays late or becomes unreasonable or loses his/her temper too often. This has only happened once in 12 years, but it was good to be able to inform the customer that they needed to hire another team.


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MGL  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:36
Russian to English
My answers Oct 4, 2008

Did you/ do you find that working as a freelancer gives you more freedom to choose the jobs that you accept? Or is that an illusion?
Absolutely, but to a certain extent. As an in-house, I was made to perform multiple functions in addition to that of translator, and I didn't have a choice about that. At the same time, as a freelancer, I can turn jobs down of course (and I do), but during those times when it's more famine than feast, I'm definitely less picky. I still won't take anything in a field I'm not comfortable with.

Did you/ do you ever find that in-house you had to deal with all the jobs that came your way and that you were spread too thin? (ie anything from legal to technical to botany to general?)
Yes, but my in-house did not have such a wide range of fields. It involved one general industry and some specific fields in that industry.

Do you feel like more of an expert in your field of specialization working as a freelancer?
I earned one of my fields of specialization precisely because of my in-house experience.

How many of you freelancers out there have been choosy about their assignments, and has it been financially viable?
There are certain services I do not provide anymore, simply because I loathe doing them and I no longer am financially "forced" to do them. Certainly it has made room in my schedule for jobs I like more. But what I would really like best of all at this point would be a week off

[Edited at 2008-10-04 22:16]

[Edited at 2008-10-04 22:16]


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone.. Oct 5, 2008

Just seeing the other replies!! I guess it all depends on what company you end up with if you're in house. The last in-house post I had involved a broad variety of jobs - which I was not allowed to refuse. As such I feel quite prepared to face the outside world, having seen these topics and been revised by more experienced translators. I haven't put enough effort into specializing as a freelancer, preferring to accept what comes my way to keep the bills paid - but I do see how with marketing I could perhaps move into doing jobs I love more, and I can now definitely refuse jobs I don't feel comfortable with...a luxury I didn't have in-house. Glad I got my mortgage and credit card approved while in-house though!!

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Catriona Thomas
Local time: 07:36
German to English
Freelance vs. In-House Oct 17, 2008

I turned freelance this summer after having worked as an in-house translator for a major German law firm for 10 years. My response to your questions at this present point in time is:

Did you/ do you find that working as a freelancer gives you more freedom to choose the jobs that you accept? Or is that an illusion?

Yup, I do find I have more freedom to choose jobs and the variety of jobs has increased, some stemming from my degree which dates from the dark ages and some stemming from my hobby, where a company urgently required assistance for an English-language publication. I find the variety good for the breadth of my expression and flexibility as a translator, although not all assignments pay as well as legal translations.

Did you/ do you ever find that in-house you had to deal with all the jobs that came your way and that you were spread too thin? (ie anything from legal to technical to botany to general?)

All in-house work I did was legal material, but spread over all fields of law. All jobs had to be dealt with, yes. I sometimes say there's nothing in German law I haven't seen, but there are always surprises lurking round the next corner...... 10 years of experience in the legal field is proving to be invaluable as I gradually set up my own business.

Do you feel like more of an expert in your field of specialization working as a freelancer?

I feel like an expert in my field of specialization because I spent 10 years in the field as an in-house translator. I freely emphasize this fact in negotiations on rates and the like.

How many of you freelancers out there have been choosy about their assignments, and has it been financially viable?

I tend to go for assignments seeking a specialized translator. This excludes many agencies offering very low rates, although some will pay decent rates if (i) they are desperate and (ii) require a specialist who can deliver at short notice. That's fine by me. That's my business. So yes, I am choosy, but also in the sense that I don't go for assignments I cannot deal with satisfactorily (in my case technical material; I have no technical understanding).

It's early days for me yet, but my job satisfaction has increased tremendously, and my earning power is looking good as well so I am cautiously optimistic despite the absence of a Christmas bonus and holidy pay (it does take a while to adjust to being a freelancer.....).


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well, salaries being what they were Oct 17, 2008

Katio wrote:

It's early days for me yet, but my job satisfaction has increased tremendously, and my earning power is looking good as well so I am cautiously optimistic despite the absence of a Christmas bonus and holidy pay (it does take a while to adjust to being a freelancer.....).


It initially looked like I wasn't getting a bonus when everyone else was, but was making two salaries the rest of the year.

And after a few years, the months that people got a bonus, it seemed that I also got a bonus


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